11 Jun 2015

11 June 15 - Reasons To Be Cheerful: Lists Three

Having been twitching since the very end of 70s, there aren't many Ticks that turn up these days. I prefer to work my local Dorset patches & as I only go for Ticks or rarities that really appeal, I don't end up go twitching that often. But UK or English Ticks will get me heading off as quick as I can. I don't have the pager with me at work, as I can't realistically get out anyway. Having had an early lunch on Tuesday 9, I didn't check the news after lunch until I was leaving work. Damn the ninth UK record of Hudsonian Whimbrel had been found at Pagham Harbour. Had I heard earlier in the afternoon, then I could have got away in time to rush there after work. Checking the news on the Wednesday it was showing all morning & I could get away early that afternoon. Got out of work, only to find problems on my train line & the trains were suspended. I ended up frustratedly walking back to work. The only consolation was there was negative news that afternoon. But it was seen again in the early evening so clearly it hadn't gone very far. The following afternoon, the trains were running without incident & I could get out early. I arrived at Pagham in early evening & ten minutes later was watching it on the edge of the marsh. Sounded like it was much closer & better views that some of my mates had a couple of days earlier. Unfortunately, I didn't have the camera. I didn't bother with grotty digiscope photos through the phone camera as the quality just isn't impressive. So I will rely on photos taken last year in California.
Hudsonian Whimbrel: Hobson County Park, Seacliff, California, US (20 Nov 14)
There are a number of reasons I twitch. Firstly, I obviously keep a List. Well several actually: UK & Ireland (as when I started Birding there was a combined UK & Irish List); UK List; English List. This Hudsonian Whimbrel was a Tick for all three Lists hence the corruption of the title of Ian Dury's excellent track Reasons To Be Cheerful: Part Three. The English List isn't a sign I take a pro UKIP view or English Nationalist view, but purely that where I have carried out most of my twitching & so the English List is actually quite good. The Hudsonian Whimbrel was 492 for the English List following BOU rules. I also exclude Rock Dove as I do not believe there are any wild pure Rock Doves in England & I refuse to count the crap individuals that walk around in our town centres. Hopefully, 500 for England isn't too many years away.
Hudsonian Whimbrel: Hobson County Park, Seacliff, California, US (20 Nov 14)
Another reason for twitching is the experience of seeing species & looking at them properly in UK light. When I saw thse two Hudsonian Whimbrels, then it was a quick look at them to confirm the identification, before carrying on to scan the rest of the beach. I only dropped in on this beach for 15 minutes before moving on & so there wasn't the time to really appreciate them. But secondly, even if I had spent longer looking at them, then I didn't have any Whimbrels with them to see the subtle difference between the two species. I say species as that is the BOU view, whereas the Clements Checklist that I follow as a World authority, still treats it as a subspecies of Whimbrel. To my eyes, the Pagham individual had a more obvious & broader supercilium & a darker line through the eye & a paler throat, than the Whimbrel it was associating it that afternoon. It also seemed longer billed, but I didn't get to compare that side by side with the Whimbrel. Obviously, in flight the brown (& not white) rump was conclusive. So I'm now ready for this Autumn to find Dorset's first record in Brands Bay.
Hudsonian Whimbrel: Hobson County Park, Seacliff, California, US (20 Nov 14)

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