I love it when the nice lady on the SatNav declares "You have reached your destination" and the Baby Black Death noses to a halt at a deserted crossroads 50 miles from the middle of nowhere on a crisp spring dawn - all you have to do then is find your bird.
Today's plan was perfectly simple - I was owed a half day off, so clearly the sensible thing to do was to pull out of Dempsey Towers at 4am, razz over to the east coast, see the Thayer's Gull near Elsham, then get back to Ainsdale for work at 1.30pm.
Unfortunately the juv Thayer's could not be said to have been in the most co-operative of moods this morning, and after arriving in Nowheresville, it took me three hours of tramping/running/driving like a lunatic around the oilseed rape fields west of the A15 before I could get to grips with the bird.
Great fun of course - a nice "old school" twitch.
Finally clapped the scope on the bird just before 10am, as it roosted and preened in a ploughed field beside Elsham Wold Industrial Estate.
About 200-300m away, so reasonable scope-age, but I was never gonna get good shots with an April sun shimmer over the soil.
Without descending into serious birding id stuff (somewhere like Martin Garner's Birding Frontiers is where you want to go for that type of mullarkey), even at the range I was watching from, it was a pretty striking gull; smooth smoky grey brown, with dark outer primaries, very pale underwing, and plenty of black in the uppertail.
Barred rump and a solid black bill.
When the sun broke through, the bird "bleached out", and seemed to show a bit of marking on the mantle, which I wasn't expecting, and it appeared darker around the cap and face, but when it comes to Thayer's, I'm as much in the dark as any other mortal - these are tricky critters.
I suspect debates over this bird will go on for awhile.
Kinda pear-shaped, indeed, when I showed these rubbish images to Chris Tynan when I got back to Ainsdale he remarked on how the jizz was like a Collared Dove - he was having a bit of a busy day, but I know what he meant!
Although distinctive, even a dark individual like this would be alarmingly easy to overlook in a Green Beach gull roost.
How easy would it be to miss? Pick it out of this blurry line-up...
Now imagine it's a December day with 90,000 gulls in a raging hooley off Taggs - get the picture?
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...