Saturday, 6 November 2010

Turned Out Nice!

Well, dear Reader, another tale of another search for another tick! 

If that prospect irks you at all, stop reading now.  I do not want to be blamed for deterioration in anyone's health due to raised blood pressure originating from my approach to ornithophilia.

Still reading?  Good.  Let's go!

Off west this morning in search of big black birds (as opposed to big Blackbirds).  Plenmeller was the site, and what a lovely one it was.

The departure weather was superb; clear; crisp and cool.  It remained that way until just past Haydon Bridge when it soon became overcast and 'foggy' due to low cloud.  Bloody typical, ten miles from arrival and bugger all to see!

Still, might as well give it a go, so on reaching Plenmeller Common, it was back to clarity:

Plenty of activity from these little fellas;

And after nearly three hours of scanning, nothing bigger than a crow, except................

Flying north, three birds, one ahead of other two, the rear duo Crows, the front one flapping and gliding, and flapping and gliding, the wing beats much more controlled and deliberate than a Sparrowhawk.  The bird itself was much more sturdier, and its direct flight path took it to within a few hundred yards and from bins to scope as it continued north and into a copse of trees, causing Red Grouse over which it travelled to scatter and the Wood Pigeons sunning themselves in the southern edge of the trees to get the flock out!

Good Lord!  What an unexpected surprise!  A Goshawk.  Not a first, but a first for this year.  After quite a few trips to Kielder with nothing to show for it, finally bagged one as an add-on.



  1. Hello Mr L

    I don't think anyone has issues with birders who want to see a new species, surely the most exciting element of birding is seeing something completely new for the first time ? What a buzz !!

    I think the kind of people who are obsessive listers/collectors are a different animal, as that recent BBC4 program highlighted quite well. These people spend their lives chasing birds, and every weekend revolves around where various bird information services tell them to go. I find it absurd that people will travel to Ireland to see a ship assisted crow when they still haven’t seen certain common species in the uk, and I find it disturbing that these individuals seem more concerned about competing in some” I’ve seen more birds than you” competition, than actually watching the birds, appreciating their beauty and learning more about nature.

    Even worse, some of the these people don’t even know how to identify the birds they are looking at, they are in too deep in my opinion ! It’s like someone has told them that to be a good birdwatcher you need to spend all your time twitching and have a big list ! The reality is the opposite, to really be a good birdwatcher you need to take your time and get to grips with commoner birds first, this is surely the most enjoyable part of birding too, learning about birds. I remember seeing my first goosanders on a local reservoir in staffs, and then watching them return every winter, I used to spend hours watching them ! One of my best birding memories that.... I still go back there some winters to see if they are there, always makes me smile when I see them.

    I think the reason many people moan about twitchers/listing (including me of course !) is because a proportion of the people racing about listing things these day, understand so little about birds, they may as well be collecting train numbers tbh !

    Please don’t get wrong, I’m all for people experiencing that buzz of seeing a new bird, it doesn’t get any better than that, but I cannot get my head around the idea that birding is a competition or sport, it isn’t. Birds are beautiful wild creatures and should be appreciated as such, not just ticked off some list before moving on to the next place for another tick off, that’s not birding in my opinion, it’s just listing things.

    Anyway, I have rambled on and ranted a bit.... sorry bout that...

    Any day you see a goshawk has got to be good, a nice reward for hours of effort in the field, congrats !

  2. Ghost of Gary/Spectre of Stringer/Nuance of Newton - thanks on three fronts for 'coming through' via the medium of the internet. I am grateful you have:
    Read my ramblings
    Commented in an essay-like fashion
    Delivered a much more constructive monologue than usual.

    This listing issue has got well out of hand from where I sit, and next year, my approach will be much more relaxed and less military-like. Any urge to add sightings together will be done so in private and thereby not interpreted as either bean counting or competing, both are which are counter productive at best or self-damning at worst.

    There is a lot of sense in what you say and to be fare, I agree with most of it.

    I do not think I will ever have the patience to flog a patch to death (that's a compliment), as you do, albeit that practice, when it yields a notable species, provides greater reward than following what others have detected. I am driven by the urge to see as much as I can as soon as I can. I have years to catch up on.

    Keep up your blog, it's a right rivetin' read and keep the advice coming.

  3. Hello, Gordon. First of all, I have never been a big fan of blogs, although i have been known to take a peek at yours and Garys. I really enjoy the humour which runs through both.
    As you say, this birder/twitcher thing has really took off lately. I could be wrong but it seems to me you are a bit of both? Like yourself, I love to see a new species for the first time (even though I refuse to travel more than an hour or so to see one). I also love my local patch (despite it being inland and crap for a percentage of the year). I walked this patch as an avid birder for 20 years, putting up boxes and putting seed out in winter, but during this time I got to observe and respect the more common birds. In my opinion this is the right way to start birding, sadly, the modern "bird guide" generation jump straight in at the deep end and chase around ticking off rarities before they know whats on their doorstep. It has been disheartening to see so many newcomers, like Gary says, have this mentality that you become a good birder by having a big list. I have to hold my hand up and admit I have done more twitching myself this year, although all relatively local stuff. But the Pallas`s Warbler at St. Marys finished it for me; the closest I have come to packing in birding and becoming a serial killer. All in all, you can never beat the sensation of a good "self found" and Goshawk certainly falls into that category.
    PS Thinking of starting my own blog(mainly because the DBC forum is now cack and I hate nerd forum),although it will soon fall by the wayside under another avalanche of DBC Lek bollox.
    Keep it up matey!