I have seen a few birds recently that I did not find. When you travel to see a rare bird you did not find this is called twitching. The use of the word itself comes from the behaviour of otherwise normal people who when having a nice meal with their families and becoming aware of a rare bird start to become nervous and visibly distracted to the point that conversation becomes futile and they start to grimace or twitch. At some point before the end of the meal they jump up scattering cutlery all over the place, grab their optics and anorak and run to the car, and with a screech of tyres and a cloud of smoke disappear into the distance. Work, family and all other responsibilities are cast aside, possibly for several days, until the target bird has either been seen or all possibility of it being seen has passed, at which point they will slink back home, euphoric or manically depressed, and try and resume normal life until the next rare bird turns up.
I am not a twitcher. Not any more, not really. In the past some shades of the above behaviour may have been observed by loved ones, but largely I have recovered and spend most of my birding life locally. Recent Vultures, rare Terns and mega Shearwaters have all been sniffed at, not for me a wild chase across the country.
But I did just see this.
What a stunner! An adult summer-plumaged Pacific Golden Plover. This spangly little number has been hanging around on the Northumberland coast for around a week now, and....
...hang on a sec I hear you asking. Northumberland? As in the Northumberland about five hours from London? Yes that one. No, I didn't twitch it. Well, not really. We are worried about the likelihood of a second lockdown later this year, and like the first one that would mean that I would not be able to visit my parents and sister for several months. As such the kids and I are fitting in one more visit to Fife this summer, and there are two ways you can get up here by car - the west coast via Birmingham and Penrith, or the east coast via Newcastle and, er, Boulmer beach.
Northumberland is superb. When you live cheek by jowl in London the sense of space and solitude is palpable. We reached Boulmer (via Druridge Bay CP which is currently hosting a White-winged Black Tern, would have been rude not to...) at about 1pm and walked up the coastal path to Longhoughton Steel. There were birds everywhere - hundreds of European Golden Plover and with them their far rarer cousin. I've only ever seen one, and for the kids it was a lifer which they were obviously delighted with. Remarkably Henry has also seen an American Golden Plover in this country, so for him this completes the set. Obviously as a sixteen year old with an image to preserve he couldn't fully express the emotions he really wanted to, but I could tell he was pleased. I sent the below photo to Mrs L who had remained back in London to guard Chateau L and do some DIY, saying that there was still hope. She said I was kidding myself, but I think they'll remember this particular bird. They keep dredging up surprising nuggets of birdy knowledge that I inserted many years ago when they were more portable and less able to say no; in later life they may yet find a love of birds, and if they do I will be able to proudly present them with some lists I've been quietly keeping...
*cough* I, er, found that plover last Sunday :) I am glad you enjoyed your visit to my patch Jonathan. Great shot too, as expected...ReplyDelete
Superb bird Stewart, an absolute belter - you must have been delighted when your scope paused on that one! Took photo from the top of the grass, would have preferred to have been lying on the beach but quite a few folk there and there was a risk of flushing it and looking rather foolish!Delete
Yes, good to see your serious camera and lens getting some action. Very nice indeed!ReplyDelete
I hope your kids take to birding. Neither of my sons did, though Rob does love fishing. Too many terminally dull twitches I suspect. Mind you, they both have some cracking birds on lists they don't care about!
Yes I think I killed off any nascent interest in the same way, and at this moment, aged 13 to 16, I think we are safe from any immediate rekindling. But never say never, or at least I hope so. So much of what people spend their free time doing seems to me utterly frivolous bordering on downright depressing, whereas birding (albeit with a few ups and downs) has been enduringly fulfilling.Delete
My daughters used to enjoy carrying my tripod etc - or so I thought at the time. Many pics of them wet but apparently happy. I am now informed otherwise and although they are interested in wildlife generally the birding aspect has long gone.ReplyDelete