After the MEGA alert at 7:23am of Lesser-crested Tern in Norfolk, I made some inquiries and found out it was found by Paul Lee, whilst walking his dog. Considering Paul Lee has an exceptional record of finding rarites I had no choice but to give it go. This would not please my wife. She has been reassured that no birds turn up in Britain to late September. How wrong can I be....Sooty Tern, Barrow's Goldeneye, Trumpeter Finch etc etc.
The last twitchable Lesser-crested Tern was "Elsie" in the Northumberland Farnes, which was in the days that I did not twitch outside the Southeast. Why? Why? Why?
Ian Barnard got to my house at 9:00am Saturday morning, and just the two of us went to Norfolk. We did not think we would have much chance in re-located the bird so we spent the day birding in the interior. At 4:45am Geoff & Alan Clewes refound the bird flying west at Overstrand.
Fortunately Ian and I were still in North Norfolk at this time, so we drove as fast as possible to Cley.
We got to Cley at 5:45pm and you guessed it we missed it by 11 minutes. Andy Stoddard saw the bird fly over the beach, this was missed by many assembled birders watching with their scopes from the beach at Cley.
I decided to walk to the Blakeney Point Sandwich Tern colony. The walk took 1.5 hours each way and it is impossible to get views of the 1600 Sandwich Terns that breed there unless permission is granted.
Ian and I decided to spend the night in Norfolk. There was no point getting a B&B. Reasons being:-
1. First light is at 4:00am and you really would not be getting value for money.
2. Keeping the twitching cheap gets valuable browny points with "her in doors", also known as the "Boss".
We got up Sunday morning around 4:15am and started sea watching at Cromer. At 5:40am my Sussex compatriot "Ian the lucky bugger Barnard" found it flying east, Alan & Geoff Clewes managed to get views aswell. But I got in a total panic...and ran around like a headless chicken. I ran over to where Ian was sitting had a scan with my bins and saw three Terns (not tickable views) so ran back to my scope and Lesser-crested Tern at this stage was in front of the sun. I simply missed tickable views. The other three were celebrating.
Ian spent the rest of the day feeling like how I wanted to feel. But Ian was quite prepared for a gruelling day in order for me to see this bird.
Later on that morning I met a guy called Ben who's local patch was Overstrand. Ian & I teamed up with Ben and went searching for the Tern. Ben thought the bird would only get as far as the rocks at Sea Palling.
So off we treck, no sign. Ben went back to get his barbeque started and we drove back towards Cromer for the evening fly past. At 9:33am the bird was seen at Happisburgh between 9:20am and 9:30am. At this stage we were slight NW of the bird, so we decided to stay put. For the next 2.5 hours pager messages of possible sightings were occuring. We finally connected at 11:55am at Waxham.
We watched the Tern sit on the rocks til 13:00pm and then decided to go home...Well how's does the saying go "All comes to those that wait". Well thats certainly been the case on the last two tern twitches.
Total cost £45 petrol, £2 tolls & £0.70 parking.