Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Eagle has landed!

Things have been a bit crazy here since the return from the States. As already mentioned I lost my internet signal as O2 decided to sell to Sky. Unfortunately Sky tell me they can't provide me with a service so I'm waiting for my BT service to kick in on the 9th.

I'm writing this from Starbucks in Hull (bijou) whilst waiting for my locking wheel nuts to be drilled out due to the local garage over-tightening them!

Anyway, that's my problem.

Quite a bit to catch up on when I'm re-connected. For now though I thought I'd share a few pearls of wisdom with you regarding my weekend twitch to see the SHORT-TOED EAGLE in Dorset.

News broke on Saturday afternoon...I was driving ...for a change!

I didn't see the first record on the Isles of Scilly in 1999. I was living another life then. So, I was keen to connect with this one. Problem. I was working Sunday!! A few hurried phone calls at the finish of my shift and I'd managed to do a swap with one of the lads. Thanks Ian. I'd just done 4 long days and I'd been up since 5.30am (cue violins) but that was incidental as Tony Dixon picked me up at 10pm from home. We carried on to Hull to pick up Richard George and Erich Hediger. Through the night we (well Tony) drove.

We arrived around 4.45am. It seemed as long to drive through Dorset as it did the previous 250 miles! We parked in the allotted field and waited. It was very misty and the bird (not surprisingly)wasn't in view. We were assured it had been seen however?

Around 7 the mist lifted and fortunately the bird was in full view sat on a branch in a pine tree.

courtesy of Tony Dixon
There was the usual performance regarding twitching behavior. I posted my thoughts (maybe foolishly) on Birdforum! A copy is posted below. The great thing about my blog is I have full censorship control!!!

"Hello All,
I was there on Sunday morning from dawn. Initially everything hunky dory on the hill. Mist starts to clear allowing superb views with little heat haze. Looking through my mates Swarovski with 45x eyepiece I had fantastic views down to yellow eye. Wow...what a bird!!!

Then things start to go pear shaped.

The inevitable (and sadly predictable) slow creep started to take place. Initially one or two bodies appeared below us…then 20, then 50 etc etc. Once the floodgates are broken it's only natural that others will follow, feeling their good behaviour is somehow futile now as the majority are closer, enjoying "better" views. I can understand the pull to do this. Just for the record I remained with the righteous minority on the hill with a strange mixed feeling! We all wanted to see it fly...we all did.

Let’s face it the optics these days are amazing. At least part of this encroachment is driven by the need for closer photos...there I've said it! My optics comment did include cameras. Even I can take a decent pic for my blog with my point and shoot Pany.

This isn't about the moral high ground (excuse the pun!)'s simply about being unselfish. Many write on here about camaraderie...I'm all for it BUT this scenario doesn't fit...does it?

Later I heard comments like "it wasn't bothered". A classic hindsight comment.

My point is this...


Consider this...

If you were traveling down to see this magnificent bird but couldn't make it for dawn for various reasons i.e. family, work, traffic etc. you'd be hoping/praying it wasn't flushed before you got there, we’ve all been there right? The bird leaving of its own problem…well, maybe a little!

The birders who went down the hill (sounds like a song!) could NOT possibly have known they wouldn't flush the could they? If you arrived to find out it had been unnecessarily would you feel? Dare I suggest you might be a tad irked!!!

Nothing will change...but maybe things will improve...I live in hope!

I'm sure some will no doubt disagree. Hope no-one gets too upset. It's just my opinion you understand. We're all entitled to one...

Good birding to you all

Alan Whitehead"

I managed a decent if distant flight shot as it took off. I must admit I'd fell asleep in the morning sun!


Stringer said...

Well said Alan, I totally agree – selfish behaviour with no regard for the bird or other birders arriving later on.

I notice your mate Tony Dixon got as nice pic of the perched eagle from the ridge too !

Alan Whitehead said...

Very astute of you. That was a tad awkward! Everyone makes their own decision. Mine (like yours) was to stay put.