|Hoopoe, Hilmarton Wiltshire, 10/11/2019|
The drive was highly unenjoyable and I was very pleased to finally turn off the motorway and calm my nerves with a coffee in a farm shop cafe not far from Shireoaks. There had still been no reports of the Hoopoe but that was hardly surprising considering the weather. I mean, who would be stupid enough to be out in such inclement conditions looking for it? Mmm....Who indeed! We left the sanctuary of the warm and dry car around midday and walked the half mile down the farm track towards the farmstead where the Hoopoe had been. We saw the weather vane in the shape of a Pheasant from afar but there was no Hoopoe perched on it as there had been on both days previously. We checked everywhere where a Hoopoe might be, garden lawns, orchards, house roofs and even inside a barn but to no avail. We tried hard for an hour but it was obvious that the bird had indeed departed and you couldn't blame it one little bit! Soaked to the skin we retraced our way back to the car and drove disconsolately away.
As we neared Nottingham I had a brief moment of inspiration and suggested to Mrs Caley that Rutland Water wasn't so far away and that we could have another go for the Red-necked Grebe that we'd already failed to see twice before already. Since dipping the last time I had found out that the Grebe liked to hang out to the East of Old Hall next to the South Arm of the reservoir and so far we had only searched to the West. The rain had actually abated by the time we parked up next to Old Hall but it was still a very dreary day as we walked out to the edge of the South Arm. I did a quick check for the Grebe but could only see the usual Great Crested Grebes, Coots and Tufted Ducks there so we walked towards the Eastern end. Here you follow a path that reaches the water after a hundred yards or so. There we stood under a find Oak tree and I scanned the bay formed by the promontory that the Old Hall stands on. The first bird I saw was another Great Crested Grebe. The second looked far more interesting and I hesitantly said to Mrs Caley, "This might just be what we're after". I set up the scope but the bird had disappeared, presumably dived to fish. When it resurfaced I quickly refound it, this time with the scope, and lo and behold I had it, the Red-necked Grebe! Third time lucky!
It was the second time this year that we'd saved a failed twitch by heading off somewhere else in order to add a year tick after our jaunt across the M62 to see a pair of American Golden Plovers after dipping a Little Crake at Blacktoft Sands in September.