Friday, 8 May 2015


Last year I managed a British tick every month until July, but after a disastrous start to 2015, Little Bustard-wise, this year did not exactly get off to a flyer. It wasn't just a lack of opportunity but a lack of rarities which I have yet to see, the inevitable diminishing returns of twitching taking their toll.
Red-throated Pipit: a long way from home, but at least I didn't have to identify it 'on call'...
Workshy and retired birders will scoff at this, but conscientious breadwinners, burdened by full-time employment, will surely recognise what I mean when I say that there is nothing worse than a short-staying mega which turns up during the working week and bales before you have even plucked up the courage to ask if you could be relieved of parenting/shopping/DIY duties on Saturday for a bit of R&R. If travelling the country in a state of heightened anxiety can be described as R&R.  
...and thankfully it turned up the day before I went 'on call'
Spring is usually the time of maximum frustration as short-staying megas tend to turn up at inconvenient times and not hang about. Spring 2015 seems to have bucked the trend though, with the star birds turning up on weekends, lingering for a bit and even coming back for seconds after an initially brief stay. So much so that, since the start of April, I have been able to see a Greater Yellowlegs and a Hudsonian Godwit within one county of my home in Dorset, a Great Blue Heron in slightly farther afield Scilly, and a Red-throated Pipit on the edge of the Peak District. Three of which were new British birds for me in consecutive weekends.
Hudsonian Godwit - a mere (Meare?) 60 miles from home, and on a Saturday
News of the Yellowlegs and the Godwit also broke sufficiently early in the day to allow me to nip out before the rest of the family were fully mobilised and get back before I was really missed. Even the Pipit could have been twitched on the day of its discovery, though being 5 hours away I am not sure 'I'm just popping out for a paper' would have cut the mustard by way of an excuse, so I had to wait until the following day for that.
Greater Yellowlegs - even closer at 56 miles from home. And a big thanks to the staff at Titchfield Haven who returned my lost memory card - a credit to Hampshire County Council who run the reserve!
Of course this fortunate streak must come to an end - probably this weekend, as I am again 'on call' and have to stay within an hour or so of HQ - precisely the constraint which deprived me of the chance to clap eyes on the Little Bustard at the turn of the year. So I guess I'll just sit tight, ride it out and put away my twitching boots for the next few days. Unless of course that breeding plumaged male Rock Thrush decides to pitch up on Portland. Preferably on Saturday...
The Great Blue Heron arrived on a Tuesday, but had the decency to stay until the weekend

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