Saturday, 3 April 2021

I cracked

I decided I'd try the dangerous pick me up of a twitch which we all know can go horribly wrong. 

I was awake Thursday morning at 4am and it was then that I decided that I'd go to see the Mockingbird in Devon. I had no plan and I didn't even really know where to go. I checked on line and found a road as a reference thinking I'd be ok once I got there. I left at 4.30am after explaining to Suzanne that I was going birding as I couldn't sleep. A solo run but under normal circumstances I'd have been texting Jim to share my mad plan. We sadly haven't shared a car since last March prior to the original lockdown.

The journey south was without issue M25, M3, A303, M5 etc and I was parked in Iona Avenue before 8AM. I really don't like these twitches around peoples houses but I couldn't help think this might be my only chance of ever seeing a Northern Mockingbird in the UK. I walked up the road and down the alley where I found three birders with step ladders looking over a back garden fence. I was thinking it couldn't get much worse but I'd managed to see the bird sitting in a Holly bush in the garden took three quick record images and carried on walking. At the bottom of the alley was the main road and two birders had plotted up here with scopes, crossing the road I too could now see the bird in my scope and this was a much more comfortable experience. The guys plotted up in the alley were understandably asked to leave soon after by the home owner so I was pleased I hadn't hung about there. I can't help wonder why there's no bucket or just giving page set up for this bird, it seems to have been poorly managed as a twitch and I guess the pandemic hasn't helped but a just giving page could be done after the event with everybody that's seen it donating. It could still make a few quid for a local charity and that alone could generate a more positive experience between birders and residents.

Northern Mockingbird

The "large" crowd (makes you wonder how many have already seen it)

Now my plan was to go see the Cirl Buntings at Labrador bay do a little sea watch pick up a couple of bonus year ticks and go home but the American Herring Gull had been reported down at Newlyn harbour so I acted on impulse and pointed the car in that direction without considering the long journey home. By around 11am I was parking up at the harbour which I know well having seen an Iceland Gull there last year. I walked down the slip way to find three like minded guys but no sign of the gull. A Rock pipit grabbed my attention and whilst taking some images of it I noticed what looked good for the AHG flying over me. I returned to the harbour asked the other guys again if they'd seen it and they replied that they hadn't but as I checked the five gulls now drifting around a couple of yards out I could clearly see the middle bird was indeed the American Herring Gull and my three amigos now had their life tick too. We enjoyed great views for the next hour or so before all departing for home. Also on the small beach was an odd Herring Gull type bird with yellow legs which I called as a Yellow-legged Gull but it didn't seem quite right, maybe a hybrid.

2CY American Herring Gull 

Rock Pipit

A great day with two Yank lifers which really lifted my spirits. I accept it's not for everyone but for me it's was just what the doctor ordered.

Year list now 123

Life list now 420

Herring gull on the yellow legged bird

Newlyn harbour

NB: The camera isn't fixed but by changing it to a different mode I got some pics from it.

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