This was my first day on duty with the NRCC. Once the birds were marked on the Friday at Nottingham it was off with the feeder wagon up to Newark to meet up with Merv and the birds were loaded onto the transporter with the help of Mick Wilson and his son.
.Myself and Merv then set off up the A1 to Wetherby where we put some diesel in the lorry and then away we went heading North. We drove as far as Berwick where Merv had to take his 45 minute break so we rested there for a while.
At this point I chose to make contact with Brian Garnham to discuss the plan for Saturday. The information that Brian provided was very positive for a Saturday liberation and I agreed with Brian I was hoping for a liberation between 8:00 and 9:00am weather permitting. We arrived at the liberation site at Dunbar at 9:05pm.
I let the birds settle for 10 minutes once Merv had put the transporter in a suitable spot ready for Saturday morning. At 9:15pm I started watering the birds with the help of Merv who shone a light so as the birds could see the water. Soon the birds began drinking, it took us approx 1 hour to finish watering then myself and Merv had a quick cup of tea and got bedded down ready for an early start next day.
At 5:00am on Saturday, the day of liberation, I was up and looking through the window to a very nice blue sky that was starting to appear through the night sky. There was a west north west wind that was blowing a little cold at that time. I checked the birds were OK, checked all the crates to see no strings had broken and all the buttons were secure. I then started to top up the water.
At 5:30am the phone rang and it was Bobby Graham of the Penthills Federation. He informed me that it was his intention to liberate at about 6:00am. I spoke with several other Scottish
Federations and then spoke with my own weather team at 5:45am, collecting information for the line of flight. I was checking down around the London and Norwich areas and along the coast as this is where I knew the birds would be heading. I spoke with Ian Bellamy at 7:00am and asked him to put a message on Lib-Line and the website. I agreed with Brian I would speak with him again at 8:15am and if all was well we would liberate at 8:30am.
After a chat with Brian and a few others at 8:15am I decided to liberate at 8:30am in a strong west north west wind. The lids dropped away and they went like a shot straight towards Berwick. The birds were seen striking for home over Holy Island at a good pace. Myself and Merv checked all the baskets to see there were no birds sitting back and then we shut up the basket lids, packed away and headed home. Darren Shepherd NRCC Convoyer