I was hoping to have completed my Arizona review by now (before Christmas). Domestic events have slowed things down somewhat...as they always do.
Sometime ago I checked my "pending" list and found out that the ROYAL TERN I saw in Wales in 2009 has been accepted! I was waiting to add this dependent on what I saw next?
(I was very fortunately at my Mother's in Bury on the 20th June of that year when the news broke. This enabled me to reach Llanduno just in time to see it. Must admit I'd almost given up on it being accepted and hadn't checked for a long time. There you go!)
As you can see I'm nearly there...500 that is. I'm hoping for a special bird to break the landmark...something special...not just rare.
Yesterday's events confused things still further. Again I'll explain.
Bud was having his morning swim in the sea when at 10.05 the MEGA Alert built up...
"MEGA Kent Empidonax flycatcher sp Dungeness at fishing boats and showing well"
I cooly/foolishly carried on with the doggy constitutional while I chewed it over. I often do this and always say to myself later that I won't do it next time?
I'd seen the ALDER FLYCATCHER on Blakeney Point in 2010 (was it 5 years ago and I'll NEVER forget the walk) but having been over the pond on a few occasions I knew there were other "empids" and I also knew how difficult they can be to identify. In fact some reputable American birders say they can't be identified in AUTUMN unless they call!
Fortunately I had 2 days off and I figured it would be wise to go...just in case.
I made a few contacts but it seemed I was on my own, so it was Game ON!
I contacted Trevor Charlton. He texted back to tell me he was in Kent! That was handy. He reckoned he'd be there within the hour and he'd let me know the latest. I managed to miss the turning for the A1 off the M18 which left me to negotiate the M1. What joy. Is there another country that would put up with 30 miles of 50mph? Crazy!
This super highway put a good hour on my journey and I crossed the QE2 bridge around 2pm. By now it had become "probably not Alder". Encouraging. The weather was deteriorating rapidly though with ominous black clouds ahead of me. Updates confirmed this "elusive in poor weather".
I arrived on site around 4 and it had now become "probably Acadian" which was VERY encouraging! Dungeness is a grim place, even grimmer in heavy rain with impressive dark clouds. I joined the huddle of around 100 birders and soon found Trevor. He told me it would show around the cottage intermittently, even perching on the benches and water butt. I was reasonably confident but the weather didn't look like clearing anytime soon. After around 30 minutes...it showed...briefly...by the water butt...
Then ON the water butt...
The best pic I got was when I moved around the side of the house and fortunately the bird popped out onto the back of the chair...
An incredible record. The 3rd "Empid" record for Britain. The first 2 assigned to Alder (first in Cornwall in 2008).
The BIG question is...which species?
Online forums have been rife with opinions...I steer clear these days as I seem to upset people easily!
I CAN have my opinion on here though...hope it doesn't upset you. My viewing stats are still very encouraging and I thank you all sincerely for taking the time to read.
So what do I think? There are ELEVEN species of Empid! Two points...it's large billed and has a long primary projection. I'm a great believer in structure. For what it's worth...
I think it's an Acadian
...and as a result it becomes my...
So maybe I've made it to the magic 500? I hope that explains the confusion?
25 years of Birding. I've missed many due to a variety of circumstances and some have much bigger lists than mine. I hope to have many more years ahead of me to build on this. I intend to pursue ALL the species I haven't seen yet in Britain. I still have restrictions i.e. work! BUT I have far more flexibility now, which improves my chances of connecting significantly.
Here's to the next one...maybe on Scilly next month...2 MEGA's there today!!
Footnote: BUBO seems to agree and has very swiftly added it to it's list!
Apologies for the strange layout on this post. A computer glitch which I can't be bothered to re-do!