Monday 13 April 2015

The best way to see Lady A

Well it ended up being a two tick weekend. After successfully getting from London to Southampton within the four hours that the Greater Yellowlegs was present (skillful stuff this twitching lark), the next day I bagged the last Lady Amherst’s Pheasant in Beds. Heard only, but what a stunner! The delicate coughing noise it made was like the sweetest music you can imagine. Much like Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Lady A’s is a bird that is much better heard than seen – especially the gaudy male. If you see it, it’s basically confirmation that it’s completely plastic, I mean no real birds actually look like that. No, thankfully this one remained hidden in a thicket for the entire four hours of my vigil, making its presence known frequently and often. Each time it squawked I crossed my fingers it wouldn’t be closer, wouldn’t be about to cross the open ride, but fortunately it remained faithful to a part of the wood that nobody could see for the entire time. Some brief trepidation when a birder stood a bit further back and higher up called it, but I managed to convince myself that I was only seeing a Wood Pigeon perched in a tree, so avoided that particular pitfall. Others weren’t so lucky and have deluded themselves out of a tick, whereas mine remains as pure as the driven snow. Yet more people were unlucky enough to have it strut into the open a few hours later, and then again at last knockings, but I’d left by then, thrilled by the whole experience of not seeing the bird through a wire fence but having it call every two minutes from somewhere nearby. So a hugely profitable weekend. Had it been the other way around, and the Greaterlegs been heard only and I’d seen the Pheasant, I’d be looking at a total write off - a bird that sounded like a Greenshank and a bird so fantastically colourful it couldn’t possibly be genuine. As it was, it was a complete tick fest from start to finish. I love it when a plan comes together.

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