Saturday, November 19, 2005


I've said it before: I'm not really much of a twitcher. But, as has been pointed out to me on several occasions this week, it's not often that a Gray-cheeked Thrush* turns up in Hertfordshire. And so, like many others, I was persuaded into going to see it.

I've been to see a few other Really Big Birds (Black Lark, Cream-coloured Courser, American Robin), but today's thrush was by far the hardest work. We stood around in the cold for more than two hours before getting a look at the little... beauty - for all of 15 seconds. When I did see it, the bird was partially obscured by twigs, leaves, branches and 200 other twitchers.

I saw Nigel Blake's superb Gray-cheeked portrait last night, which whetted my appetite. After spending all morning waiting around to see the bird, I thought, ha, at least he'll have sat around for hours getting cold like the rest of us. But it seems this was not the case - he dropped in while on his lunchbreak and the beast flew to within 30 feet of him. Talk about jammy...

Fortunately, the Red-necked Grebe at Priory Country Park, Bedford, was a lot more obliging. Like the Ferry Meadows bird of 2004, this one seemed not to be bothered be our presence on the shore, though it didn't care for barking dogs or screaming children.

Just as interesting was to watch about six Grey Wagtails come in to roost in bankside vegetation by a sluice gate - not something I've seen before.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

*It's an American bird so it gets an American spelling from me

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