Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A Bit of Twitching

Male Sparrowhawk, Winthorpe
If you have read bits of my blog before, you may have guessed by now that I don't go in for thrill seeking hobbies or white knuckle rides. Apparently this doesn't make me boring, just a comfort seeker. Therefore we can assume that I have the required amount of endorphins [whatever] behaving themselves in my brain and plenty of adrenalin whizzing around my body and so don't need to push myself [just as well] into jumping out of aeroplanes, off of tall buildings fastened to a rubber band or to go white water rafting, I'm not saying I wouldn't like to try [yes I am], but I'm quite happy not bothering.

And anyway, I've had a fair few thrills bird watching, you can be minding your own business in one half of Mere hide at Gibraltar Point - the noisy half, seeing as the GOM is usually whispering in mega-decibels - when you get a whispered shout from the quiet, studious, serious side to 'come and have a look at this.'

Well, what is a girl to do with an offer like that? Yes, I went. There were three men all wanting to show me their equipment. One had got a posh digital camera with various attachments, trained on an obliging dragonfly. It was truly amazing, I could see it breathing. I was then nice enough [I can be nice, just not very often] to act dim while they explained 'thorax' to me.

Mystery Bird
I may even have mentioned once or twice before [repeating oneself is an age thing - get used to it], we don't actually have to go looking for wildlife as we've got plenty at the caravan aka 'the manor', including this little chap who visited for three days and was never to be seen again - sorry about the poor photo quality but they were taken with my old, less zoomy camera. My brother in law - a much more knowledgeable twitcher - went back to his very first theory [after a little light research], that it was a Canary crossed with a Chaffinch that had escaped from an aviary.

Back to the thrills of Gibraltar Point ... On one occasion we set off on our way around and couldn't help noticing an over-excited group of people [aged variously between 20-70], all wearing shades of green and khaki. They also sported the obligatory walking boots with thick socks over their trousers.

Female Sparrowhawk, Gibraltar Point
Bearing in mind that the routes most of them took are accessible by mobility scooters and wheelchairs - this bunch made my decision of NOT wearing the proper 'twitcher' uniform so much easier.

They were all carrying binoculars [as was I, plus my camera], half a dozen had spotter scopes set up on tripods and were looking intently at a tree in the middle distance. 'Oooh, must be something good if they're all this excited' methinks, so we asked ...

'It's a Yellowhammer!!!' - yeah, right ... So I have to ask myself 'am I getting blasé in my old age or what?' We'd seen three Yellowhammers a few days before and I don't remember walking around and waving my arms about like this lot - but I suppose they may well be repressed thrill-seekers. We saw lots more of them on our usual route [we do sometimes go on a different route if we need a bit more excitement]. We concluded that they must have been on a bus trip from a bird watching club or maybe just escapees from somewhere not very secure.

We have seen some - not particularly rare, but hard to spot - birds at Gibraltar Point including a Goldcrest who positively refused to pose nicely, hence the blurred photo. but to be honest we go there more for the walk, change of scenery and fresh air, oh and to see the seals on the sandbank when the tide is out.

I remember one occasion last year that we went to test my lovely new gadget [again]. I took photos of damselflies, dragonflies and even managed to spot and take a few shots of a Whitethroat. Upon looking at the photos in situ, the GOM wasn't convinced.

As we got back to the car park, he wondered off to look at the information board and when he got back to us [my chum with an equally new, but less gadgety camera and I] waiting at the car, he grudgingly admitted that I could well be right - or in his professional opinion, it was definitely a Sea Buckthorn ... Yes, you and I know it's a bushy plant with orange berries, but I didn't see the point in arguing. He didn't really believe me until a week or so later.

Sea Buckthorn
It was late, but I was in a writing mood so I was sat with my fingers poised - all four typing fingers - above my keyboard. grumpy had just gone to bed to read; when I heard this odd noise. It sounded like a strangled gasp. It turned out to be himself trying not to laugh out loud. He'd found a Gibraltar Point leaflet amongst his pile of books and was laughing at a picture of Sea Buckthorn. I do hope no one was passing our caravan at about 12.30am, it was definitely rocking with laughter ...


  1. Well Julie, you certainly made me smile, especially as we used to have, in our class at school, a girl called Sue Buckthorn!
    I'm no expert with feathered birds. I blogged last week about these small birds that run everywhere. I'd never seen one fly. I put a few pictures up and a lass from Yorkshire said -
    "E by gum, we've loads of those up 'ere. They're Red-legged Partridges". I'd never of known.
    I reckon your unknown bird is a 'Finch'. How about that? :)

  2. Hi, Bernard, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    We too decided the 'mystery' bird was definitely a finch of sorts after passing through a myriad of different birds - starting with ... ahem, a Yellowhammer.
    Nope, I've never - knowingly - seen a red-legged partridge.

    Glad I could make you smile, for a thorough grump I spend a lot of time laughing at life in general and even more so at my grumpy old man.

    We have the saga of 'Jigsaw puzzles' coming up soon in which the GOM has yet another starring role ... hmmm.



Be nice, I'm very sensitive.