I had not long started twitching. I was keen, some would say rabid. Today's me would say that about 2008's me in fact. Back then I was getting all over the place. Two weeks before you would have found me in Norfolk ticking my first Red-flanked Bluetail, Pallas' Warbler and.....Yellow-browed Warbler! The weekend before that I had been in Devon where I'd seen a King Eider, and somehow between that I had also fitted in a Green Heron in Kent. All perfectly normal. Halcyon days.
Anyhow, back to the day in question - a Two-barred Crossbill had been frequenting a farm in Yorkshire somewhere. Bilsdale actually, I just looked it up. It is probably under water at the moment. Like all keen twitchers various phone calls had been made the night before based on the day's news, and on Sunday morning a car load of London birders made their way north, arriving mid-morning. In all honesty I can't remember much about it, but a line of birders were present up a farm track and sure enough the bird flew into a pine or onto a feeder or something and all of the collective anxiety evaporated. It is the same every time frankly.
With this early score we contemplated what to do next and hit upon the novel idea of doing some more twitching. Well why wouldn't you? Two birds were available. A Pied Wheatear at a caravan site somewhere up on the east coast which we dipped, and a Steppe Grey Shrike which we didn't......
|That is MY scope. Mine!|
I have posted this photo before, I know I have. I have also written about this bird before, probably several times. I don't care. It is still, 11 years on, a defining moment in my bird-watching career. If I were pressed to say what my favourite birding experiences were this would come very close to the top of the list every time. In 2008 it was bird # 284 and I ticked it off before Long-eared Owl, Willow Tit and Red Grouse. Yes, I was one of those twitchers I'm afraid. It's okay, I know better now, and my actual birding experience has caught up with my list. But the Shrike was still awesome.