The success enjoyed by the Shetland boys including The Llama, The Pie and Fray Bentos, as I have now decided on calling him, in being involved in identifying a Lanceolated Warbler prompted me to think of the one that got away.
Without reference to my notebooks I’m not too sure of the exact date, I’m downstairs and too lazy to go upstairs now for the books, but I was on St Mary’s in 2000 and was walking up Penninis with Tony Shephard, Neil Howes and the late Phil Holloway. After we passed the allotments Neil and Phil marched ahead through the first big rough field while Tony and I went off piste somewhat.
I followed a higher sheep track and Tony was a bit lower down when a Locustella warbler did that Locustella thing – it crawled over my feet almost. ‘Shit Tony – a tiny Locustella has just walked in front of me and into this clump of grass’ I said as I dropped to my knees and Tony rushed up. Pulling back the grass the little fucker just stared at us and then snuck away left. Tony and I just looked at each other and both were 99.999999r% certain it was a Lancy.
We shouted the lads to get back and help relocate it but they were slow on the uptake and the field was huge with just us four in. What to do? We needed back up so called up Dick Filby on the CB and got a reasonable crew to search the field. Despite much searching the bird was never seen again. It could easily have crept off anywhere including through the walls.
Now what, well given such brief views there was no real chance of putting in a record as there was so much we hadn’t seen to clinch the ID. In our heart of hearts though we were knew what it was… the one that really did get away.