Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Dirty long distance twitching for another British first

Early afternoon on Saturday, news came through of a Red-winged Blackbird found on North Ronaldsay, Orkney by Simon Davies. A first for Britain no less, which broke the serenity of what was going to be a nice long weekend of local birding combined with a wedding anniversary dinner that evening. Anyway, it was worth more than my life to bail on the latter, but by dawn the next morning (Sunday 30th April) I'd got myself to a small airfield in northern England for the usual process that I'd organised the afternoon before...

It didn't take long before news came out that the Red-winged Blackbird was still there. These days, it isn't the waiting anxiously for a phone call from someone on site to confirm as it used to be - Twitter's the way forward. After a relatively quick, thankfully uneventful flight we landed on the short gravel runway and got chauffeured to the site by those good eggs from North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory. Things were on lock down, as the bird was feeding out of sight in a pretty thick iris bed. If everyone descended on the specific place, it'd have been carnage for potential breeding species so quite rightly Simon and his team were doing some damage limitation for the appreciative crowd - a controlled, sporadic walk through of the area to allow people to see the bird.

And that is exactly what happened - on three occasions, the bird flew from the iris bed, perched on a wire and then scrubbed around near some gas canisters. And then went back to the iris bed and that was that.
Red-winged Blackbird North Ronaldsay, Orkney 30th April 2017
Worst views of Red-winged Blackbird I have ever had? For sure. Most expensive Red-winged Blackbird I have ever seen? By some margin. That's the twitching game - still do it, still live for it. Happy days.

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