Monday, 17 November 2008

A Twitch!

I average 2 - 10 off patch twitches a year, so not that many. For me to be lured to twitch something, most of the following boxes need to be ticked.
  • has to be 'fairly' close (i.e in the south west)
  • has to be a 'very good' chance of seeing it
  • has to be a bird that I WANT to see
  • helps if there are several rarities/scarcities in the area I'm going
  • the local patch is quiet
Well four of those five boxes were ticked for the Dark-eyed Junco that turned up yesterday near Yeovil. Phil texted me when he received the news yesterday afternoon, and I'd soon made plans in my head to go and see it late morning today. But that plan changed!

For some stupid reason I woke up at 04:15 this morning and really couldn't get back to sleep! I sat up in bed, turned the laptop on and saw some gripping pictures of this American beauty. I then realised I actually had quite a lot to do today, so thought sod it....I'm off! I very rarely leave for a twitch pre-dawn because I like to know if the bird is still there first, but because it wasn't far to travel I just got up and went! I knew Bun was desperate to see it, and that he would be awake and plodding about before work, so bundled him into the car and drove northwards til' we got here...

Then we got to here....

Which looked like this......

Then found the target house, number 25.....

Then instructions were to walk up the side of the house..... (you can see Bun in the distance in the following pic!)

And here's a close up of the wall surrounding the garden of number 25.....

Did we see it?......Oh yes! At about 07:20 in the gloom a flash of grey and white directed my eyes onto the star bird sat on top of this very wall, but it only stayed on view for a couple of seconds. There was no further sign til' about 07:45 when it reappeared perched briefly on the wooden gate, giving a few rare bunting-like 'ticks' as it flew in. It was great to see it, but I hadn't even got my bins onto it yet! This was soon changed though after an invitation by the very VERY kind home owners. Our view of the garden then became this........

A small garden, but good enough for a Junco!

It soon came out and showed well on the tree at the end of the garden, before dropping down behind the small shrubs where it only gave partial glimpses. It disappeared for a short while, but at about 08:30 reappeared in the tree before dropping down onto the bird table where it spent a couple of minutes feeding. What a totally AWESOME bird!

So where are all my stunning pics??? Well there aren't any! The double-glazed windows didn't help, neither did the lack of space. But just before it flew off after we saw it for the final time I managed a quick video clip. It is short, if you blink you may miss it - but it does show the bird well. Take a gander....

There were actually plenty of birds around here. Lots of Fieldfares and Redwings flying around, and the birder who found the Junco had a Firecrest briefly. It was time to come home, we were back by 10am.

I spent nearly all of the rest of the day doing odd jobs, including a fair bit of time in the garden where several small flocks of Redwings flew over west.

p.s. all the 'site' pictures were actually taken as we drove off as it was dark when we arrived!

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