Birdwatching v Twitching

The wildlife here continues to come up with some lovely surprises.

We’ve had jays in the garden. I’ve seen them before in the UK, but always in flight and from some distance away. However, the other day we saw one in the cherry tree and then later on another one (although it may have been the same bird) down on the lawn obviously after insects or worms amongst the grass.

They’re fantastic birds with a brilliant blue flash on their wings that seems almost neon-like.

Yesterday we had this handsome creature down on the lawn:

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Not a great photo, admittedly, but it was taken using the Lumix’s 10x zoom without a tripod through the window (and afterwards cropped and enlarged) as I didn’t want to spook this green woodpecker like I did the other day with the jay.  (Otherwise I’d have a shot of that too.)

Meanwhile, birds of prey seem to be more evident now that it’s autumn. If we don’t see buzzards and at least one kestrel when we drive though the countryside it’s quite unusual.

Talking of birds, we watched a program about twitchers on BBC4 the other night. Twitchers are birdwatchers who approach their hobby in a manner akin to trainspotting. It’s all about seeing as many birds of different breeds as possible and then getting ranked in a sort of league table. It’s a very serious hobby indeed and expensive too as if you’re a serious twitcher and you hear about a rare winter visitor 400 miles away, you’ll drop everything and hare off to see it, regardless of cost.

Not so much people who watch birds, really, but people who see and then record them.

The UK’s top twitcher seems to have set himself up as regulator of the whole UK twitching scene. For some reason, his fellow twitchers kowtow to him in a sickening way. Offend him, apparently, and you’re completely fucked as far the twitching scene is concerned. God knows why, as he struck me as a total areshole who had a very high opinion of himself for no discernible reason. 

Equally unedifying was the married couple who took their 8-year old daughter twitching. Although the kid had some interest in birds, it was hardly surprising when she appeared to lose this after she’d been hanging around in a cold and windy field for 4 hours whilst mum and dad waited to see a particular bird.

Another twitcher had driven fucking miles before catching a ferry to Ireland to chalk up another species for his list. He ended up missing the bird, but rather than go and look at some birds whilst he was there, he chose to sit in a bar and drink beer. Now, beer’s great and sitting in a bar drinking it is a pleasant thing to do, but it says a lot about his attitude towards birds that he only seemed interested in seeing a new one. This same twitcher was particularly well-organised with all the items he’d purchased for his hobby meticulously recorded in a little book. It bordered on OCD…

OK, it’s a harmless hobby compared to some, but it just strikes me as a shame that those involved in it seem more interested in ticking off the names of birds rather than marvelling at their beauty.

And speaking of beauty, here’s a photo of part of the barn wall here:


Autumn – summed up in a few square feet…

3 Responses

  1. We have a family of jays that regularly visit the garden birdtable for peanuts (in shells, mostly) which they then bury. That’s probably what your visitor was doing, or trying to locate other caches.

  2. […] Birdwatching v Twitching ( […]

  3. […] Birdwatching v Twitching ( […]

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