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Sunday, January 13, 2008

13th January

Snow Buntings at Salthouse, several Lapland Buntings were amongst them.

I would not class myself as a serious twithcher, if I were then my British list would be well into the 400's rather than just approaching 400. My criteria for going to see a rarity, is that it has has to be within apporoximately an hour of where ever I am based when the news breaks. I have just returned from a weekend visiting my in laws in Norfolk, it has been on the cards for some time. While there I took the chance to pop along to Cley to see a White-crowned Sparrow, a very rare vagrant from North America (2nd British record). The bird had been present for over a week. A large number of people would have seen the bird throughout the week, but I was expecting large numbers to be present over the weekend. The bird had been coming to seed kindly left on a drive by the owner, this was done to allow birders the chance to see the sparrow.The drive had high walls on either side, so being in the right spot was essential. I arrived on site at 6.55am and there was already a crowd of over 50 already there. I took my place behind the group in a position that I had been told offered the best chance of seeing the sparrow. Even though I could see the drive clearly I had taken the opportunity of packing my mother in laws small step ladder, so I returned to the car to collect it. I had asked another birder to mind my scope and spot, as I returned several other birders said " that's good thinking". The bird seemed to have a routine of turning up to feed around 8.30am. As that time came and went the crowd had swelled to over 300 people. If and when the bird showed a lot of birders were going to be unable to see the bird as the walls denied them any chance. They would have to wait their turn. By now my feet and hands were beginning to get very cold as the temperature was touching freezing point. Then at 8.50 a whisper went out "there it is", the raising of binoculars was like soldiers sloping arms. The sparrow began to feed on the drive, its black and white striped head very obvious. Cries of get back began to fill the air, as those who could not see tried to crowd the gateway. At first they backed off. I allowed several birders to use my steps as the bird showed for approaching two minutes. The bird then stood proudly on the drive looking quite magnificent before disappearing out of site in to the garden. When I looked up either side of the gateway was packed with selfish inconsiderate pratts who have know brains.
I thought that is it I am off, by the time I had pushed my way around the back of the masses the pratts were now sitting in a semi-circle in the road like little children. I then headed off to do some birding at Salthouse.

Over the weekend other goodies were Divers, auks, 10.000 plus Pink feet, 2 Tundra Bean Geese, Hen Harriers, lots of Marsh Harriers, Barn Owls, waders and a stop off on the way home for Hawfinch.


debbiepledge said...

Glad you saw the sparrow, but confirmation (if it were needed) of why I avoid twitches like the plague. I'd rather see a nice photo of it instead.

Tony Duckett said...

I would normally leave it a while before going to have a look at a rarity. On the odd occasion, I have been lucky enough to be able to get there before the masses. I find more and more people just have know idea of how to find there own birds and really on others.
I hope things begin to pick up in the park soon.