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Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Surf Scoter Farmoor 27th March 1998

“Every Friday afternoon since the early nineties, I have been making a routine walk around F1. On 27th. March 1998 I was walking towards the car park when a bird flew overhead. Gathering my scattered thoughts together, and with my eyes finally connecting to my brain, I realised that I had just seen a drake Surf Scoter! This was a species I believe had only been sighted inland in the UK on just a few occasions.
With mounting panic I hurried back to F1 hoping that the bird had landed and not just flown over, stopping now and then to scope for this rarity. I had retraced my footsteps back to half way along the causeway without a sighting at this point. Dejected and miserable that I had not found the bird, I sadly walked again in the direction of the car park. Pausing to look at some Goldeneye, and admiring a splendid male I was amazed to see the Surf Scoter amongst them!
A second panic attack, what if it flies off without anyone else seeing it, would I be believed? My journey to the car park seemed to take for ever. Looking around desperately for a warden to access his phone. (this was in my pre- mobile days.) and without finding one, I hurried home to use my land line to spread the news.
The first people I contacted were Peter Allen and Steve Heath. Steve phoned Ian Lewington who quickly spread the word. My last sighting of the celebrity was on the evening of fourth April when he allowed me to get within ten metres of him as though as a farewell gesture. Oh if only I had had a digital camera in those days!”

© Dai John, Oxford, 8/12/08.

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