Yesterday though about 3pm the news wires started buzzing again that it had surfaced, this time on the north of the Wash at Friskney near Gibraltar point. It looked to be showing pretty well and seemed settled. Would it stick over night though as in Norfolk it had moved overnight both times.
I hit the road about 5am and got north of Peterborough quite easily. The road north from there is single carriageway and a steam of lorries and tractors slowed my progress. This started to create a modicum of stress as the pager went off just after 7 that the owl was still there. Then comes the stress of "what if it wakes up and flies off before I get there?". The lorries and the one-way system in Boston meant it was another 40 minutes till I got to the car-park. There were about 15 cars there and you could see a path leading out to the sea. The only problem was there were about 8 birders walking BACK along it towards us!! Had it flown? The man in the car parked next to me was on his mobile. "it has flown". Nooooooo, please not a 5 minute dip. "but its not gone far". His brother apparently was on the beach and feeding the info back. We both hurled our gear together and marched quickly out onto the marsh towards the sea. Apparently the owl had been moved on by a rapidly rising tide and it could move again soon. You could certainly tell it was almost high-tide, the path out was wet to say the least, often coming above the top of my boots. We could see a group of about 6 people all looking in one direction though. It took us about 10 minutes to get to them but even before we got there we could see a white hump sitting up on a tussock. It was still there!!!!!
It looked pretty relaxed and for the first 5 minutes jut sat there, annoyingly with a bloody great twig right in line to it.!!!
The only problem was the tide. The owl had moved to get its feet out of water but we were now standing in about 6 inches of water and the path back had disappeared. In an unusual collective act of sensibleness we all agreed we had to retreat so we gathered up our gear and splashed through the marsh till we reached the other birders there who were on dry ground. The owl stayed put!
After I suppose 40 minutes or so it decided it was a bit hungry though and it lazily flew off and settled on a large wooden cable roll which gave it a nice view over the marsh from which it occasionally flopped off presumably to hunt. It was now though very distant from us and photography became pretty much impossible - the photo below is uncropped off a 500mm lens with a 1.4x converter.
Eventually it dropped down into the grass and seemed to go to sleep so I took that as a call to go back to the car for coffee and to try elsewhere. When I left the crowd was still staking it out and new people were arriving all the time but I think I got views as good as it was going to get.
I next went to Frampton Marsh, an RSPB reserve about 5 miles away. It was actually pretty quiet with not a lot around but there was a feeling of Spring with a lot of birds in song, including this confiding reed bunting.
Elsewhere from one of the hides half a dozen ruff came in quite close whilst feeding on the marsh, one of which looks like its coming into breeding plumage.
and a kestrel was hunting a field near the carpark and had caught a small rodent of some sort.
All these were very nice but could only be be a very distant supporting cast to the owl. What a stunner she was and you have to imagine she will be bird of the year for me, and a lot of other people, by some way. Days like that are few and far between.