Saturday, 23 March 2013
Hawing with Mr F
So the first Twite trip of the year and an early start. Too early for Mr F who forgot his bins. School boy error. The weather looked ugly, snow coming at you like a small dog, but once we had alighted at Box Hill/Westhumble it began to become a bit more insistent, like a small dog.
Nice place. As unlike London as you could possibly imagine. OK this bit was just outside London but where we were headed just inside and still well posh (see the map in full on Dom's website http://www.birdingetc.com/). I'd printed a map so what could possibly go wrong.
After about 10 minutes, we were lost. Not badly lost, but because none of the trails were on the map, fairly clueless. We headed up the hill. A very steep hill, but this being a posh place it had steps. After about an hour of faffing about and walking uphill, we found the visitor centre. Easy from there on in. Until we got lost again and had to ask directions from some dog walkers. Ignored them and got lost again. Finally we struck out on to open ground and the blizzard. Down hill to the car park, which we were to later find out was only a mere mile and a half from the station.
On the way back up to Juniper Bottom we met a guy who'd been there for hours and not seen anything. We carried on, and wouldn't you just know it heard Hawfinch calling from the depths of a yew. Job done. Then a small flock flew over, followed by a larger one. I tried to take a pic, but the view finder was full of snow. A soothing eye bath!
We gave it about an hour, but with no further signs, bar the calling from the yew, we went and got truly lost, doing a magnificent great circle round the hill to arrive back at the car park sometime later. We did however pick up 2 more Marsh Tit, a London tick for both Mr Fisher and myself. So a yay for that.
Not trusting my soggy map any further, or Mr F's gps on his knackered screen, I used the i-Phone. Easy peasey from then on in.
I had planned to pop into Beddington on the way back for Tree Sparrow, but as the train didn't stop there I decided against it. instead I went and dipped Wanstead's first Wheatear of the year, but really I was after the Great-crested Grebe Tim and Jono had found that morning. In the bag. Too cold to carry on I gave up. One of my better decisions.