After spending the day in school getting to grips with metamorphic rocks in Geology, I was picked up afterwards by good friend Allan Conlin and together we headed off up to the Audenshaw Reservoir in Greater Manchester to twitch a KENTISH PLOVER which had turned up the previous day but we were both too busy to head up. This particular Kentish Plover as I was informed is the first male for Manchester since 1947! So this was defiantly a bird I wasn’t going to miss.
After over an hour’s driving up through the M56 and along the M60 trapped in horridness traffic for god knows how long, Allan & I eventually found ourselves at the Audenshaw Reservoir, which when we got through the fence and up the steps to look over the reservoir to see how big of a task it would be to find the plover, we found ourselves in amongst in the thickest layer of midges I’d ever seen, there were thousands of them. It wasn’t too surprising to look up above the swirling mass of flying insects to see that the skies above were alive with Sand Martins, Swallows, House Martins and a lone Swift. It was such an incredible experience to be a part of. Walking along the paths on the edge of the reservoir trying to pick out a Red-Rumped Swallow from the masses of swallows and martins above, Allan and I found ourselves slowly turning into swallows and martins as we were ingesting midge after midge after midge. On my hand alone I counted over 10 midges with well over 20 on Allan’s back.
We may have only been here for the Kentish Plover but we also managed to see much more than we bargained for: White Wagtail, Great crested Grebe, Grey Wagtail and one of my favourite birds of the day, Goosander were all about the place.
When we finally reached the part of the reservoir were we could view the plover we were greeted by young Yorkshire birder Darragh Hudson and his uncle. I first met Darragh back in March when we both done a “double dip” of Glossy Ibis at Gowy Meadows and Surf Scoter at New Brighton. After catching up with Darragh which was great, it was time to see the bird which me and Allan had travelled all this way to see, Kentish Plover. A bird which is now extinct as a breeding species in the UK and is now only seen by a handful of birders each year as it’s now been reduced from a former breeder to a scarce migrant.
The Kentish Plover was simply spectacular to observe, especially as it’s the first male Kentish Plover to be found in the Greater Manchester area since 1947! This was by far the most exciting twitch I’d ever been on; the night before I went to bed at 9:30pm but didn’t get to sleep till 2:30am! What made the day that little more special was the fact that within the space of just three minutes I’d seen not only the Kentish Plover, but also Ringed and Little Ringed Plover, not many people can say that.
After spending about 10mins watching this cracking little wader with Allan, Darragh and his uncle, a black cloud which had been encroaching on us ever since we arrived had finally come above us and it wasn’t long till the heavens opened and we had to make our way back to the safety of the car.
On the way back to the car me and Allan came across 2 Little Ringed Plover which put on a good show before it was finally time to say good bye to Audenshaw and good bye to Darragh & his Uncle.
A great day, with great birds and all with great mates, it couldn’t of been any better.