And I'm not talking a Shergar burger. The other day I managed to break even my own enviable record for vehicle breakdowns, hence the consideration of an equine substitute.
Last week I had taken the car to the garage for a new exhaust as there were more temporary welds than pipe left and picked it up on Thursday. Forty minutes later (!), while off on a shopping trip the bloody thing refused to change gear and I was stuck in 4th on the A499. There then followed another garage visit, 24 hours of gearbox behaving, another failure, a lift home form the AA and now major surgery for the beast. Fingers crossed.
So I've been walking and bussing it and seen a few things on the way. Saturday last took me around Aberdaron and Rhoshirwaun then back home. A moulting adult Mediterranean Gull was between the two villages with a vocal Golden Plover and five Common Snipe overhead then a Short-eared Owl again on Mynydd Rhiw during a brief flurry of snow. Today the Pwllheli heronry at Pont Solomon was busy with several birds on nests and some building work occurring. A Lesser Redpoll was over the Cob Pool with a Reed Bunting calling away.
At troubling transport-less times like these I'm glad I'm not a serious UK lister as there are some
very nice birds around, from a Pied-billed Grebe in Somerset to a Harlequin
Duck in the Outer Hebrides. Although I've tried it, duck twitching is not really my thing. Years ago I met a very keen premiership twitcher who
was studying at Bangor University and he mentioned the possibility of
sharing a lift (and fuel costs) to a few birds if I required. A
breathless phone call from him about a Redhead on a lake in the Midlands followed or was it about a Bufflehead? I forget. Both these web-footed prizes were available over a matter of a few months. Words like 'underwhelmed' came to mind. The general idea was to drop everything and stare at
tarmac for hours before hopefully connecting with a couple of dodgy
possible escapee wildfowl. Having seen Redhead, Canvasback et al at a private backyard collection in Sheffield years ago I refused the offer of a lift.
the next call was regarding a possible car-share to view not one - but two - Harlequins that had turned up somewhere in Scotland. Now he really had my attention and the adrenaline was pumping. I then asked if these real wildfowl were males
or females and remember the shock in his voice when I again declined a tick on
finding out they were a couple of girls. Give me a stunning drake Harlequin on a winter seawatch past Porth Ysgaden one day! Funnily enough the phone calls ended after this last refusal.
I've kept my listing gearbox in selective mode ever since... essentially it's got to be very special or of great local interest to get me racing around like a headless chicken. The Abersoch Royal Tern from a few years ago springs to mind and ticks both boxes. Roll on the next one...