18 September 2006

Two day recap

Well, the weather was much better than we expected yesterday - no rain, no tornado, even a little bit of sunshine!

The trip out on the Boston Belle was great. Lynda and I managed to see a total of 52 bird species, all from the comfort of the on-board bar! This was birding as it should be! Comfortable seats, under cover, out of the sea breeze, and with a bar that was open for the whole 4½hour trip.

We set off from Boston at 12:15pm and headed down river towards The Wash. Some of the more interesting birds on this first part of the journey included Curlew Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Little Egret and the sheer number of gulls, especially Great Black-backed Gull.

After a little over an hour, we reached The Wash and headed out in search of sea birds. As it was, the lack of even a moderate breeze meant that there was very little in the way of bird movement out on the sea. We did manage to spot a couple of Arctic Skua that were chasing a tern in an effort to rob it of the fish it was carrying! Four young Gannets were also seen some distance away from the boat, as was a single Common Scoter.

As the sea watching was so quiet the boat headed up the River Welland for a while in search of waders and harriers over the salt marsh. Along here we found Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Knot and Whimbrel to add to the wader list along with numerous Marsh Harriers, two or three Little Tern and a group of eight or nine seals that were out on one of the sandbanks.

The journey back up The Haven, into Boston, was a little quiet compared with our outward journey but we did still manage to add Goldfinch, Rook and Meadow Pipit to our list. All in all, a great way to spend an afternoon - very relaxing, some good birding and even a pint of beer with my lunch!

So, onto today. After a rather late start to the day, by my standards, I set off for the short drive down the M1 to the Melton Grass Track Club, arriving just after 11:15am. By the time I arrived Gary had the car unloaded and had been through scrutineering. All I needed to do was check the car for fuel, make sure that all the wheel nuts were torqued up correctly and refit the front spoiler to the front bumper! It looked as though Gary had been a little too close to the track markers last time out!

The first race for Gary was a straightforward affair; he drew an outside line grid position and, after a flying start, was never headed on the way to his first win of the day. The second heat went pretty much the same way - a mid track start this time, another good run to the first corner and from then on the rest of the field only saw his dust!

Just one more heat before the final and a little more competition made it on track. A V6, 2.8 litre, Vauxhall that, due to a cooling problem, hadn’t made it on track in the first two races. We knew that the final heat might not now be so easy! Sure enough, when the race started the extra power of the Vauxhall - Gary only races a 4cyl, 1800 engine! - rocketed it into an early lead. By the end of the second lap, the M219 MG was back out in front! Three races, three wins!

The final was almost a re-run of the third heat - Gary was beaten off the line by the V6 power, spent a couple of laps climbing all over the back bumper of the Vauxhall before charging down the inside line and grabbing the lead with a little over a lap and a half to go. Four out of four!

The final race of the day was the East Midlands Open - a handicapped start race, open to the final winner of each class. This was always going to be a hard race but Gary made it a whole lot harder by totally missing the start! As the flag dropped, and the other cars set off, Gary was caught napping! Everyone else had made four or five car lengths on him before he even turned a wheel!

For around two or three laps he drove like a man on a mission, holding off the quickest car of the day, a twin motorbike engined class 7, before making a slight mistake coming onto the start straight. In the bat of an eye, it was all over. A half spin, a couple of seconds on the brakes and there was no chance of making up lost ground. All that was left was a few laps to go and play. That little MG sure can make the tyres smoke when Gary decides to have fun! He burnt more rubber in the last two laps than many cars do in a season! Once back in the pits his smile said it all - we lost, but that was FUN!

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