Sunday 16 September 2012

Viz-migging Season

Regular readers will know how much I dislike twitching. The thought of needing to go for a bird is not one I enjoy, but being completely feeble-willed I continue to put myself through it. In spring and autumn entire weekends can disappear as I hoon it round the country. So it was with no small amount of joy that this Saturday morning, in the height of the "silly season", I realised there was nothing I needed to travel anywhere for, and that I could sit on my ample backside in the garden and stare at the sky. The two current megas, one in Dorset, the other at Rainham, have already been ticked-off my little bird-spotting list; bar trying to get some better photos of the Crake I need not worry about them at all.

Shades on, bins at the ready, I dragged a deckchair into the garden and plopped into it. Wonderful. Viz-migging is difficult to describe, much like seawatching; certainly it does not translate particularly well into razor-sharp prose. How to describe straining to see a Yellow Wagtail that has called four times, at first ahead of you, then behind you, and to snatch the briefest glimpse of the final bouce that takes it over the bordering trees and over the limited horizon? Or the delight I feel as a couple of Meadow Pipits squeak over; always a rare garden bird here. The totals for my 'efforts' are not impressive, and it's possible I may also have fallen asleep a couple of times. In fact I've already mentioned the highlights, the only other birds of note were a single Swallow zipping south, and s handful of stratospherically high House Martins. Admittedly the after-lunch period of a very warm day is not the best time to be viz-migging, but the feeling of knowing you have absolutely nothing to do is one of the best feelings in the world. No to-do list of domestic tasks left by the galivanting Mrs L, no new computers to install, no dishwashers to unstack, no megas to twitch. No cleaning, no filing, no cooking, no shopping. Nothing. My time was my own.

As the mornings get darker, my window of opportunity to get out on the patch gets smaller and smaller, and viz-migging in the pre-dawn from the garden with a nice cup of tea is one of the best ways to rack up birds. In the past it has netted me Siskin, Waxwing and Crossbill, each one greeted with whoops of delight. And just like seawatching, you never know what might happen. Although yesterday I had a fairly good idea.....

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