Saturday 23 June 2012

Midnight Madness

After a full work at week, and a busy one at that, what better way to calm down and chill out than have no sleep, set off for Liverpool at midnight, see an extremely rare vagrant, continue to have no sleep, and come straight home again, arriving before lunch. I don't know about you, but I find this the perfect start to a lazy relaxed weekend. As I sit here typing this, I find myself thinking how bizarre it is that this morning I was on Merseyside, but such is the life of the occasional twitcher.

A normal 5am in Wallasey

The drive was fairly straightforward. Once news that the Little Swift had roosted, it was just a question of getting there for first light to be quids in - very little danger of dipping. When we arrived though, dipping was a distinct possibility. Although still pretty dark, some people were scoping a suspiciously dead-looking Swift-shaped lump in amongst the pigeon spikes on the roost building. Had I just driven through the night to discover that the object of my desires had karked it? I started scoping it too, just to make sure. Was that the wind fluttering the feathers, or was it breathing? Twitchers desparation began to set in. People began mumbling that it might be breathing. Was it the bird though? It must be, surely, how many other Swifts would have roosted on this random building? Oh dear. It was one of those awkward situations where you don't want to raise your suspicions that in fact you did dectect a hint of life, as it makes you look like a twitcher very much lacking in moral fibre.....gradually a few surreptitious conversations were had. The speakers weren't sure, and they weren't claiming it as definite, but the bird had moved. Ergo, tick.

Not looking good...
Then another bloke turned up and said, "What's that on that window ledge, it's got white on it". All scopes swung left - well blow me down. Sod whatever the dead bird was, the bloody Little Swift was in fact a few windows along, and definitely alive, though how alive we were not sure, as it continued to do nothing bar heavy breathing for the next two hours - meanwhile Common Swifts cruised around perkily. If anybody was wondering what time holidaying Little Swifts get up in the morning, the answer is shortly before 6am. It cocked its head a few times, and then was off. Hurrah!

Not looking especially comfortable

Perking up
Well thank god for that. It was definitely alive, but it would have been sad to have ticked a moribund bird. Nick and I watched it feeding with Common Swifts over the Mersey for an hour or so. It was easily picked out amongst the other birds, having shorter and wider wings and a much stubbier appearance. Other than when it left roost and flew over my head, it never showed particularly closely, but nonetheless excellent views. And the dead bird that panicked us all? In better light, it revealed itself to be a Common Swift, and about half an hour after the Little Swift woke up, it too woke up and flew off as if nothing were wrong at all. See, it was breathing, and had not been mere fantasy born out of the fear of dipping. This made me feel much better.

With nothing more to really add to this masterful twitch, we then headed straight back to London, as I had things to do. I hit the proverbial brick wall around Birmingham and pulled over for a power nap, but was safely back home by lunch, with most of the day stil ahead of me. I usefully spent it napping.

Tick and run


  1. Good you got shots as two days from now you'll probly be unable to remember the bird cos you were so knackered!

  2. Interesting post. Would love to find more resources like this. I will have a look at your blogroll - hope you have one! :-)

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