Where STW stands for sewage treatment works. An acronym that birders know well but is more lost on the general public. After all, the latter don’t flock to such places for their leisure whereas the former know them as honeypots. (Oh, and Weston is Weston-super-Mare.)
So the bird became my 193rd Avon species, which puts the county as numero uno British county above Somerset. I hadn’t realised that a red-legged partridge at Marshfield took me on to 191; only that by not counting it as a grey partridge (unlikely anyway), the year list wasn’t going anywhere. Then Chew Valley’s Iceland gull joined the list on Wednesday for 192.
Nice though this higher count is, it pales compared with only my second landmark in almost 20 years of birding. The first was a firecrest at Thompson Common in Norfolk more than ten years ago.
I found that bird; I wasn’t following someone else’s sighting. And it’s a rare species.
Likewise, the glossy ibis. I was at the STW entirely on a whim so when I saw the bird… well, first off, it obviously was a glossy ibis. Even asleep with head tucked well away, there’s no mistaking the bird. Even so, I thought, “This must be something else; someone would have reported it by now.”
My next impression was that it was a long-stayer and no longer worthy of mention. Then that it was an escape (from where?) It took that long to realise that I was possibly the first person in Avon to set eyes on the bird. And there’s the historical point: it’s apparently only the county’s sixth record.
The Twitterverse was suddenly alive with my tweet. It was a Big Thing.
Strange, for a day that had begun with a blank at Sand Point. One merlin had manifested itself. That takes me back to the first day of the month when a small dark falcon flew across Bedminster station. I had it as peregrine but it was too small, too dark. One of Bristol’s black pigeons? No pale rump, and no zigzag to its flight. I’m pretty sure this was my second urban merlin. That was a good start to the month.
It continues to be notable, not just for the ibis but for my earliest lesser whitethroat, by nine days, and again at the STW. (You can remember what that stands for now, can’t you?)