Early monday morning I got a message from Birdguides saying a Red Flanked Bluetail had been trapped and Ringed down Hartlepool. I thought to myself I wished it had been in our nets, then put my phone away and went off to work. Then while on my lunch I had a quick check on facebook to see what was going on in the world when I noticed Steve (Seggs) had commented on a White Throated Robin that had been trapped and Ringed - in Hartlepool! I frowned, and thought to myself he's gotten a bit mixed up so checked the sports news. But something made me go back to Steve's comment. I double checked it. It definitely said White Throated Robin. Again I shook my head and thought whats he written that for, its a Bluetail? So I decided to give him a quick ring. And thats when he told me the Bluetail had in fact been re-identified as a female WHITE THROATED ROBIN!!!! Erm, okay. This was a whole new ball game! Wooooooow! This was a Mega. And I was stuck at work with no chance of getting away till 5.30pm. Cack. This was going to kill me. I asked Steve to keep me up to speed with any info and begrudgingly trudged back to work. After what seemed like an ETERNITY 5.30 finally came around and I ran to get my phone. But I wasnt greeted with what I wanted to see. Steve's last text was to say the bird hadnt been seen in over two hours after relocating to the Doctors Garden. Bugger. The Doctors Garden is a private garden with high walls all around it so theres no chance of peaking over it. I decided what the hell I would go down anyway just incase. In the meantime Derek Lawrence had rang me to say he was down there hanging about to see if it re-showed, along with a couple of hundred other birders!!! I think its possible I may have possibly went a tad over the legal speed limit and reached Hartlepool in around 20 minutes. I quickly met up with Derek and he told me people were getting excellent views of the bird! How? I asked him, but when I got round the corner it quickly became obvious how. I have no idea where they came from but there were loads of big ladders propped up against the garden wall with hoardes of birders scrambling up to get the view they were so desperate for. Not just that, a couple of vans had pulled up alongside the wall and people were climbing onto their roofs to see over the wall. It was an incredible scene. Incredible, ridiculous, hilarious, choose whichever word you think applies. I personally had never seen anything like it before. I have to confess I did feel quite embarassed, especially as the local residents and various media types were watching in amazement. But as embarassed as I felt it didnt stop me from climbing on top of one of the trucks to get my view of the special little bird. And what a bird it was. It may have been a female but it was still quite fantastically beautiful. It definitely rated high on the cute scale ( see Derek Charltons excellent picture above as proof). After 10 minutes of watching the bird sitting right out in the open giving superb views I gave my place up to the next person patiently waiting in the considerable queue behind me. Myself and Derek L looked at each other and grinned knowingly. We'd just had fantastic views of an exceptionally rare bird right on our doorstep. We'd had worse days.
To top things off the pair of us nipped down the road to Seaton Carew to see a stunning male Red Backed Shrike in the dunes behind the golf course. It was showing exceptionally well for the small audience that had gathered and it was a fitting end to a superb evening.