Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of....

I can't recall how many times while wandering up Axe Cliff  in the spring sunshine I've fantasized about finding a Bee-eater. It looks so perfect for them with all the insects about and a mile of wires along the roadside for them to perch on, and just half a mile inland. So late this morning when I got a text from Bun to say James McCarthy had seen a Bee-eater in Charmouth and it was heading west, that's where I decided to go, obviously more in hope than anticipation but there have been Bee-eaters all along the south coast in recent days so anything was possible. When I arrived at the parking area I could see Bun's bike there so I left the coast path to him and decided to concentrate on the road. After a couple of trips up and down seeing nothing I parked up again and decided to wait for Bun to get back and find out what he'd seen. In the mean time I just did a bit of birding from the car. I was taking a few shots of a juvenile Common Whitethroat when I thought I heard what sounded like a Bee-eater. It couldn't be though could it? I turned around and there was a bird on the wires in silhouette which certainly looked like a Bee-eater. I put my bins up and .....  it bloody well was!! I nearly fainted! There was a Bee-eater there, just where I'd always imagined seeing one. It was a lifer for me and made all the more special by being on patch and self found too! I took a couple of record shots and fumbled about with my phone trying to call Bun. I had forgotten my glasses and couldn't see what I was doing but fortunately it didn't matter because he soon appeared, just as the bird took flight. It flew straight over his head and out over the golf course. Bun was able to get the news out and Steve and Phil re-found the bird perched in a tree. It remained there for a good twenty minutes before being chased off by a Crow.

Once back at the car I decided to try another look on the wires along the lane and when I'd driven about a mile I saw not one but two Bee-eaters fly from the wires out over the fields. I was watching them when Phil arrived and just as I was telling him there were now two a third appeared, then a fourth and a fifth! Amazing stuff! FIVE Bee-eaters! They disappeared again only reappear further down the lane, where they gave some excellent views briefly, before circling high and vanishing back over the golf course. Unfortunately this time they weren't seen again, which was a shame as several birders had arrived from other parts of Devon and just missed them.

I've learned three lessons today

1) Always carry my glasses
2) Put some local birders on speed dial!
3) Dreams DO sometimes come true!


This was my original record shot.
 Surprised it came out at all I was shaking a bit!


This is when it was perched up for twenty minutes on the golf course.


Four out of five.
 Yes they are in this photo.


Small Tortoiseshell bites the dust!







European Bee-eater over Axe Cliffs.
 

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant Stuff Karen - & well done! Great pics too :-) Cheers Bun

Karen Woolley said...


Thanks Bun. Bet you're glad we didn't go for the Short-toed Eagle this morning now!

Brett said...

Great pics and a great find. Well done.

Gavin Haig said...

Very, very nice K. Unfortunately they were long gone by the time I got to look for them. I thought cycling the Axmouth lanes might be an efficient method...until I realised I was going up Stepps Lane for the second time!

Adam Hartley (Gnome) said...

Well done Karen, a great find!

Wilma said...

Beautiful birds, Karen, and you got some excellent photos of them on the wing. What great colors they have.

Mike Kilburn said...

Nothing better than a self-found lifer on the patch of which you get great pix! Congratulations!

Andrew Cunningham said...

Fantastic stuff, Karen. Well done.

Paul Redman said...

Well done Karen. Some nice photo's of the Bee Eater. Glad dreams come true!

Millymollymandy said...

That's just incredible - maybe there is hope that I might see some the other side of the English channel instead of having to go down to the Med! Lovely photos and congrats.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment everyone....I still can't believe it happened! ... If lightning wants to strike twice..Roller would be nice!;-)

Ian Andrews said...

A self-found first is always more exciting; I suffr a combination of self doubt and who do I tell first? It's great seeing you post again after what seemed an age over the winter. I'd have happily accepted a pic of Tescos car park with the caption "a herring gull was here earlier", back then. Your blog is wonderful; it keeps me sane when I'm away from home.