I DIDN'T WANT TO WRITE THIS BLOG POST but it might help get it off my chest. Probably my most painful dip ever (although I have pretty much banished memories of earlier disasters like missing the male Caspian Plover on St Agnes, the Black-browed Albatross at Hermaness on Unst and the Belted Kingfisher in southwest Ireland etc). These are all birds that I have seen abroad but not yet in the UK and this is one of the reasons I don't usually travel very far here these days. However, the fabulous young female Gyrfalcon at one of my favourite places tempted me out of twitching retirement. Where else can you see a tame white one like this? Newfoundland, Greenland and occasonally over here. I set off 30 years to the day after my first one, at Berry Head in Devon on 5 April 1986, picking Rocket up on the way. Well at least we're always guaranteed to have a good laugh even if we don't see what we are hoping for. Rocket forgot the Macc Lads CDs so, in between talking mostly nonsense, we were reduced to singing the songs instead. The hours soon passed between Lancashire and the port of Uig on Skye and we were excited in the hope of setting eyes on the big white falcon in a few hours time. Or so we thought. To cut a long story short we spent the best part of the next two days searching for it, checking at least one million fence posts and lochans on the pretty island of North Uist without a trace of it. It had changed its routine of the previous few days so we thought it must have gone. We even flipped over the dead swan it had been eating to expose some uneaten flesh and pulled out a lot of dead vegetation around it in the hope of a clear view if it would return. Unfortunately just as the ferry was leaving Lochmaddy the falcon reappeared along the entrance road to Balranald. 'That's a kick in the stones' said Rocket. We looked at going straight back by ferry or flying (£750 each, day return!) to no avail and the nine hours drive back home was rather quiet to say the least. Poor Ewan Urquhart had to drive all the way to Oxford! It's enough to make me want to give up but I don't suppose I will. The only small consolation was that at least the guys from Wolverhampton who had spent four days dipping on the falcon a few weeks before must have caught up with it at last.