Well this was a turn up!
I had just sorted though a vast pile of washing that has accumulated whilst I have had a bad illness spell, when I heard Paul swear loudly and come galumphing down the stairs. He was bearing the pager so I immediately went on the alert. “Crag Martin in Chesterfield at the crooked spire” Bloody Hell! Surely that cannot be right? Headless chicken response set in as we ran around getting ready and gathering our kit. We still couldn’t get our head round it, and there was a niggling doubt, surely it was a wind up? This all took about 20 mins. We set off of on the 30 or so minute drive up north. Soon twitter provided the news that Mick Lacy was the source of the news… it really was there. Surely a hirundine wouldn’t stay in Chesterfield town centre would it? As we passed The Anchor in Okerthorpe we got a call on the phone, Dan making sure we knew about the bird… he was also en-route, but towards the M1 rather than our route taking the A61. He gave us good directions to a car park next to the church as we had no idea where there was one! As we traversed though Higham the page informed us that there was no further sign… I rang Dan to let him know, we were all continuing now though, we had nothing to loose. However the feeling of impending dip grew.
Then we encounted roadworks, a steady flow of the things on the way in to Chesterfield. We could see the spire in the distance, this became more panicked and the tension rose massively as a message informed us the bird was back. It was hell seeing the tower in the distance and knowing the bird was actually around it but just to far away to see. As we reached the hill that leads up to the Crooked Spire Dan rang asking where we were as he was watching it and that it was proper mad. We were staring up at the spire as we drove up the road and suddenly saw a hirundine flick into view round the clock face! Turning into the car park we parked and hurriedly stuck a couple of quid in the machine. We could see the bird from there! Wow. Walking quickly round to the roadside opposite the church here we found a few people were gathered huddling in the lea of the buildings. Looking up at the tower we enjoyed brilliant views of this chunky hirundine whipping around the sides of the tower. It was favouring the sides that were in the shelter from the strong wind and spitting rain. The bird could be seen to be a darkish brown hirundine but the spots in the tail were really hard to see. I had a few goes with the camera but failed except for a few fuzzy blobs and a rear view.
Back end of a Crag Martin… Honest!
Whilst I was changing settings on my camera Paul watched the bird fly off towards the north. Never mind it had done this before it would come back wouldn’t it…… No it did not, much to the anguish of those birders who arrived just too late. Including quite a few of Derbyshire’s finest. The rain got heavier and the wind rose and we waited till dusk but no further sign.
It turned out Roy Frost found the bird whilst looking for Peregrines and had called in Mick T and Mick L etc as re-enforcements! It was a really surreal experience watching a 10th for Britain circling the icon of Derbyshire that is the famous Crooked Spire… Chezza will never be the same for me.
Chesterfields Crooked Spire looking imposing under glowering skys.