Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Twitching reflections

My last day off before a long stint at work. Still recovering to be honest after getting back at 3 am on Monday. It's an age thing. I've been reading some other accounts of chaps who've been chasing the BIG 3. Some connected with them all...congratulations, some “inbetweenies” like me, some sadly got none. Varying circumstances, strategies and luck abound.

To finish off this period (although the weather sill looks promising, even at this late stage) as I sit here watching the heavy rain pour down I thought I'd post a few final thoughts on this frantic period. There are so many variables involved in connecting with a particular bird. Although, some would say, it’s simple…drop everything, find the quickest form of transport and GET THERE! It's not that easy for most of us mere mortals!


How to get there? - depends where it is! If, like the CAPE MAY it's on the northern most Isle of Shetland it's going to take a looooong time by road and sea (I may have mentioned I don’t like being ON the sea). Personally I can very rarely get extended periods off work which coincide with the arrival of a MEGA I haven't seen. My circumstances are that I have managed to gain further employment at 56, for which I am VERY grateful! This combined with my pension and Louise's income (and support) enables me to chase selected birds when I can. We will still be marooned on Scilly for a week every October...there's worse places to be stuck. Also the odd foreign break will still be undertaken when possible, depending on funding!

As already mentioned, you pays your money…you takes your choice.

Charter Flight - Q. Is a bird worth £500/£600? A. If you can afford it...YES! 

Road and/or sea - Sure you'll save money, probably only costing 25 to 50% of a charter flight. Trouble is, you might save money but that's not much consolation if the bird has gone before you get there. (ASAP). The stress is still there with the flight but at least you know you WILL get there...you guessed it...ASAP! I suggest there's more stress involved the longer you have to think about the possibility of dipping!!! Again, personally I've reached a stage in my life were I've committed myself to chasing British Lifers when I can. I'll never be "top of the league" and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I don't compete with other Birders, I compete with myself! 500 before I die! Your life list is obviously dependant on the length of your life!!

I'm sure some people reading this will think I'm a Nutter! I can live with that!! Funnily enough since my new workmates have found out what I get up to sometimes they've shown a great deal of interest and support in my exploits for which I am eternally grateful.

I do it for a few reasons...most importantly...I LIKE IT! Enjoyment is key although it does seem more like an endurance test on occasions. I love all aspects of this wonderful hobby/obsession of ours from feeding my garden birds to chasing great rarities. It fulfils many of my personality traits...

I like a challenge and to compete (with myself), collect, travel, drive (fortunately, I have a wonderful old V70 D5), meet and support fellow birders. It's an adventure.

I've been accumulating my list since I saw my first MEGA on the second of February 1989...DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT...

...not a bad start…rarity wise rather than looks, I admit!! I should mention here in case you think I'm being a bit smug (which I'm not) that I did do one twitch previous to this with some lads from Grimsby in February 1987. I was still playing football and I lived in Scunny. I didn't even know what twitching was, I just went along for the crack in the back of a van...no seats! The target...can you guess? 

We gave it all day in freezing conditions in Suffolk but they were proved to be very elusive and mobile...I DIPPED! Again a great example of the ups and downs of twitching. Maybe there'll be another one day..although in this case I doubt it?

Sure I've missed plenty more over the years through work, family and other commitments. My holiday dip list is also quite impressive! Now though I'm in a better position to chase, with more flexibility to enable me to try for more. It's been great fun looking back over my list (something I definitely don't do enough)...some great memories. I'll have plenty of time to reminisce (and plan) over the dark winter months.

For me I'd liken it to a collection. I've collected ticks over the years (I hear a train coming). I know a few people who've jacked twitching in and I can understand that...I thought about it strongly myself on Saturday lunchtime!!! My collection is important to me however, so I intend to continue. I've invested great amounts of time...and money...chasing birds over the last 25 years and I ain't giving up now.

Another plus point that applies to twitching is the law of diminishing returns. Is that a plus point? I sometimes (try to) forget how old I am! Looking at my stats I've averaged 5 lifers a year over the past 10 years. That's not a lot of twitches. All the more reason to make the effort, I think you'd agree? There have been (quite a few) dips as well!

Here's to the next one...I'm excited about the next period of my life out here on the East Coast.

Was that the MEGA alert? Don't panic...it’s only a bird after all!? 

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