BIRDING. The joy of going out watching birds, any birds the more the merrier. Could be in the garden, park, nature reserve, anywhere really.
TWITCHING. Going specifically to see a rare bird. The name derives from the nervous twitch that comes on as you near your destination.
DIPPING. Not seeing that rare bird you dropped everything to rush off to.
MEGA. A very rare bird.
Back in the day I used to have a radio pager that would give me up to the minute information and directions to all the rare birds in the Country. I gave up the pager due to cost but still receive weekly emails. Whilst reading this week’s offerings a headline caught my eye, a ‘mega’ in the neighbouring County of Suffolk and at the same site another major rarity! Checked the old interweb and both were still present on Wednesday. Now, I haven’t been twitching since 2016 when the Lemming used to accompany me (Mrs H didn’t like the crowds and madness involved). But I have a bit of spare time on my hands and an old urge came over me, no faffing around to get ready for work, the joy of retirement! So as the Ramones sang “Hey ho lets go!”
After a 50+ mile drive (Disclaimer. I was travelling to exercise so not strictly breaking lockdown rules 😉) I was faced with a mile hike (the exercise bit!) on a wind swept shingle ridge to reach the shore pools the bird was on. Was I getting that nervous twitch? Slightly, some old feelings never fade away. Half way I met a returning birder “It’s showing down to 20 feet”, relief, I could see a small group of people up ahead, let’s hope it doesn’t discover it’s wings.
I can imagine some of my American readers thinking “Oh it’s only a Greater Yellowlegs” but put into context this is only the thirtieth of this species to be found in the UK and for me it is a ‘lifer’ a first sighting. The shorebirds, also called waders, are my favourite family of birds and are not always found on shores or wading! (see https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/woodcock-snipe/) And now, with this very confiding bird, I have seen 62 species.
I did mention at the beginning there were two rare birds present. When your lucks in. After a couple of hours snapping away at our American visitor the other flew in landing on an island in the pool. It was an Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschenis try saying that after a couple of beers!). This gorgeous little bird had pitched up on our east coast all the way from eastern Siberia or Alaska. Sadly it stayed out of range of my lens, I have a record shot and if you squint you can see what it is. I had thought I might post the image but no, it’s a bit poor to be truthful. Oh I might as well but don’t laugh!
Have a great week!