My decent(ish) finds in Feb 2012: 1 Yellow-browed Warbler Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Water Pipit Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Smew Loe Pool 01/02

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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The ups and downs of twitching

I have to admit, I’ve never quite understood the appeal of following directions on a bleepy grey box, just to stand amid a crowd of over-excited, bearded, middle aged men. Then again, getting up at six in the morning to stand amid a field of cows in the cold, wet rain or sea-spray is just as nonsensical: each to their own I suppose. In fact, one could even argue that the former at least offers a reasonable probability of encountering something unusual , even if the “unusual” is as likely to be some bizarre aspect of human behaviour  as anything else. However, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve done anything remotely resembling twitching, and as such, it’s been quite a long time since I witnessed such bizarre behaviour.

Nevertheless, today saw me “twitching” a Dusky Warbler on the local patch.  It was hardly a twitch as for the first 15 minutes or so, I was the only person there. Nevertheless, after about 10 minutes  I found it, and was watching it when along came three bearded, middle-edged men. I casually mentioned that I was watching it and they casually mentioned that their bleepy grey box told them it was by the entrance to the farm track and so they set off to look for it there rather than where I was watching it. Curiously, they didn’t see it and soon gave up and set off to search for some cranes and white-fronted geese instead. Although viewable for most of the morning from publically accessible areas, in their wisdom they thought it better to march straight across several privately owned fields in order to see them.  They didn’t as far as I know, but their departure coincided with the arrival of said geese, evidently flushed, and also a cracking 1st winter Pallid Harrier. Their departure also coincided with the arrival of two local birders in the shape of Andy and Dougie both of whom were afforded excellent views of said harrier.

I’m not quite sure what the moral of this story is. It’s not often three birders that rarely stray from their patch are treated to a combined total of nine patch ticks (if you count sub-species), two lifers (or UK ticks at least) and three self-found tick in the space of 20 minutes, so perhaps the moral is go twitching more often? Andy and Dougie graciously awarded me the kudos of finding the harrier, but methinks they are just avoiding the paperwork:-)

Edit: occasionally there are some additional perks to twitching (see here). 

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