I've just returned from a quick trip to Reading Services, which were very lovely. A nice way in which to totally quash any resurgence of twitching angst. I've not twitched anything for a very long time, not counting the Rubythroat a few weeks ago. Or the Wren in Arizona. Or that Thrush. Oh. What I mean is that I've not made any meaningful attempt to up my UK list for ages and ages. My last tick was from the comfort of the armchair, which frankly is how I like it. However you do see more birds if you leave the house, and if I look at my year lists over the last few years the total has gradually slipped to below 200. 2015 was a paltry 183, and part of that is to do with random birds you pick up whilst chasing something else, something I simply don't do as much of these days.
And this morning reminded me why. Dipping. Well, I'm actually not sure if driving to Reading services can officially count as a dip if the bird was in Gwent, but the thought was definitely there. It was a Broad-billed Sandpiper, a bird I've dipped once in Essex and never subsequently had another shot at. But Newport? Ugh.When it was reported this morning I tweeted that there was no way I'd be going for it and then left immediately.
I met Matt in Egham, a place I know well from student days, and a convenient place to dump one of the cars. Spirits high, and £6.60 carefully counted out for the bridge, we set off west. And to cut a long story short, so did the bird. Bugger. We waited in Reading for a while doing some hasty research on the site and trying to guess what it might do, and decided it would be sensible to give up and go home again. Thus starts my 2016 twitching career. Whilst it was nice to catch up with Matt who I have not seen for a while, and who appears to travel even more than I do, it highlighted everything I remembered hating about twitching. Starting with not seeing the bird of course. Why do people do it? Why did I think I wanted to? Pah.
Anyhow, I was home before lunch - much to the delight of my youngest who had been eyeing up a second bowl of soup - and so now I have the chance to go and see no birds in Wanstead, which up until eight or so this morning had been the original plan. As that famous Carthaginian said, I love it when a plan comes together.