Two weekends ago my birding friend (Phil) and I embarked on what was to be my longest "Twitch". I have never really classed myself as a twitcher. I prefer to stay local and if something rare is around, casually stroll along and see if I can find it.
On this occasion, the lure of Britain's 7th ever Hooded Merganser (if proven to be truly wild) was too much for us to resist. A 5:30am meet saw us heading down the M6 before we knew what had hit us. It never dawned on me that it wouldn't be there, as is my nature to be positive at all times. 180 miles later we arrived in Wiltshire at the correct site, to be told by a friend of Phil's that it had, to use his words, "buggered off". The air in that particular car park turned blue for several minutes as the three of us exchanged expletives of varying types. If I was keeping a list of English swear words I'm sure we ticked most of them off at this point.
So, what do you do when you've travelled 180 miles on a Sunday morning to to see a bird that wasn't there? Get straight back in the car and drive to the next target bird is the correct answer. Fortunately for Phil (who had kindly volunteered to drive) and I, it was on our way home. Well it was 25 miles further north if the truth be told, but we were heading in the right direction.
Enter the Penduline Tit! 'Please be there' I thought, as we parked up again. Joy of joys, it was there. Not very easy to see it must be said. I think we waited for 10 minutes or so for the two birds to show in the freezing cold. They didn't make it easy for us to see them either. Superbly camouflaged in the bulrushes. They stayed distant, but it was hard to complain when they had at least bothered to turn up, unlike the Hooded Merganser. It was a life tick for me, so was happy. Shame the pictures were not better, but it could have been a lot worse I suppose.
From now on, I'm limiting my twitches to a 50 mile radius. That's the plan anyway.