Category Archives: Twitching

The Glossy Ibis ; a rare bird in Victorian Nottinghamshire

Glossy Ibis is a bird from warmer, southern climes such as the Mediterranean. Even nowadays, it is quite a rare species in the county:

glos ibis

On October 27, 1909, a single bird was shot by Fred Smith at Misson in the very north eastern corner of the county, almost in Yorkshire. This latter county had, for reasons unknown, received an influx of at least fourteen birds during this month of October 1909.  The orange arrow marks the spot. The county boundary with Yorkshire, to the north west, is indicated by the perforated line and must be only a few hundred yards away:

Untitled

Two interesting letters to Joseph Whitaker tell the story.

Dear Sir,
I have the pleasure of dropping you a line in reply to yours, duly received. A man named Fred Smith, who I fear is a shocking poacher, shot the bird, Glossy Ibis, in question. His wife took it to a game dealer, at Doncaster, whose name is Borrill, his shop being in St Sepulchre Gate . He gave her the large sum of one shilling for it, after endeavouring to get it for sixpence.
A doctor bought it from Borrill and is having it stuffed for the museum. I am sorry to have forgotten the doctor’s name, but no doubt the game dealer would tell you if you wrote him. You will forgive me, I hope, for not knowing your book.
I also love birds and used to keep a great many – once I had 46. We still have a few in a good-sized aviary in a greenhouse and my little daughter aged 11  is much interested in birds and has lately acquired several volumes at a cost of £3.10 shillings on the subject.
Yours faithfully,
FW Keane

Glossy_Ibis_1700_e

Joseph Whitaker followed the clues and two months later, he received further information from Dr Corbett himself:

9, Priory Place,
Doncaster
11. 11. 09

Dear Sir,
Mr Borrill showed me your letter re-the Glossy Ibis. All I know of it is that it was exposed in his shop with other wildfowl & I was, fortunately for me, the first to “spot” it & purchase it for the local museum of which I am the curator. If ever you are in Doncaster I shall be pleased to show it to you.
Yours truly,
HH Corbett

Anybody who missed that dead specimen in Doncaster in 1909 had a very long wait to see another Glossy Ibis in Nottinghamshire. In the winter of 2013-2014, a single bird was seen in a flooded roadside field next to the Peugeot Garage in Lowdham, near to the River Trent in the south of the county. southern Nottinghamshire:

lowdham

Most people who wanted to see a Glossy Ibis were able to watch this particular individual which was very amenable and reliable in its appearances. It attracted a steady stream of admirers, and was very easy to see::

Watching an Ibis copyright a

A more spectacular species of Ibis to occur in  Nottinghamshire in the future might well be the Sacred Ibis. This bird normally lives in sub-Saharan Africa, but, in actual fact, there is a healthy feral population in western France. It would not be outrageous for them to cross the Channel:

Ibis

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Filed under Criminology, History, Nottingham, Science, Twitching, Wildlife and Nature

A Twitch in 1817

A twitch doesn’t have to involve a bird. It is becoming increasingly fashionable to twitch animals. I have twitched a Steller’s Sea Lion on the Brisons, a pair of sea stacks just off Cape Cornwall, which is in Cornwall, funnily enough. And I succeeded in my quest. I saw this amazingly lost creature, who, by rights, should have been sunning herself in Vladivostock Harbour. I saw her, on and off, for several years, in actual fact:

Steller Sea Lion
I have twitched a Bottle-nose Dolphin in Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. It frequented the River Trent at the back of of a supermarket car park in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, Netto, if I remember correctly. It was there from January 25th-30th 1999, although I turned up on January 31st. And guess what? Well, this is all that I saw:

beaten

The following account is of a twitch for a sea-creature. It took place in the summer of 1817 in Massachusetts, and this is just one of a huge number of accounts. It came from Colonel TH Perkins on August 15th 1817. I have made one or two changes to make it easier for a modern reader to understand but other than that, there are no differences:

“The first appearance was in the summer of 1817, in the harbour of Cape Ann:

a Cape-Ann

And here is the more modern, less charming version:

a goolge YES easrthzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And conceivably, this map is the best one for all the English people who think Boston is a market town in Lincolnshire:

map ann (2)

Back to the story:

“I visited Gloucester with Mr Lee. On our way down we met several persons returning, who had already visited the place, and they reported to us that he had not been seen for two or three days past. We, however, continued our route to Gloucester, though with fears that we should not be rewarded with a sight of the monster which we sought.

I had already satisfied myself, from conversation with several persons who had already seen him, that the reports in circulation were not mere fables. All the townspeople were, as you may suppose, on the alert, and almost every individual, both great and small, had had sight of him, at a greater or less distance:

etching

“The weather was fine, the sea perfectly smooth, and Mr Lee and myself were seated on a point of land which projects into the harbour, about twenty feet above the level of the water, from which we were distant by about fifty or sixty feet. Seated in this way, I observed an agitation in the water at the entrance of the harbour, like that which follows a small vessel going five or six miles an hour through the water. As we knew there were no rocks where the water was this broken. I immediately said to Mr Lee that I had no doubt that what I had seen was the sea serpent in pursuit of fish. Mr Lee was not looking at the spot which I was talking about, and had not seen the foam of the water, the animal having immediately disappeared.
In a few moments after my exclamation, I saw on the opposite side of the harbour, at about two miles distance from where I had first seen, or thought I saw, the snake, the same object, moving with the rapid motion up the harbour, on the western shore”:

drawing (2)

“As he approached us, it was easy to see that his motion was not that of the common snake, either on the land or in the water, but evidently the vertical movement of the caterpillar. As nearly as I could judge, there was visible at a time about forty feet of his body. It was not, to be sure, a continuous body, as from head to tail he was seen only three or four feet at a time. It was very evident, however, that his length must be much greater than what appeared, as, in his movement, he left a considerable wake in his rear. I had a fine telescope, and was within less than half a mile of him. The head was flat in the water, and the animal was, as far as I could distinguish, of a chocolate colour. I was struck with an appearance in the front part of the head like a single horn, about nine inches to a foot in length, and of the form of a spike. There were a great many people collected by this time, many of whom had already seen the serpent. From the time I first saw him until he passed by the place where I stood, and soon after disappeared, was not more than fifteen or twenty minutes”:

erp banded (2)

“I left the place fully satisfied that the verbal reports in circulation, although differing in detail, were essentially correct. I returned to Boston, and having made my report, I found Mrs Perkins and my daughters disposed to make a visit to Gloucester with me when the return of the animal should again be announced. A few days after my return I went again to Cape Ann with the ladies; we had a pleasant ride, but returned unsatisfied in the quest which drew us there.”

BRM2493-Sea-Serpent_lowres-2000x1616

This particular sea serpent was seen regularly around Cape Ann until 1819 at least. Indeed, the east coast of the United States seems to have been a good place for would-be sea serpent twitchers, with records dating back to 1638:

new_england_sea_serpentxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Don’t think I don’t have my own story to tell:

On October 25th 1988, I went to the Isles of Scilly to birdwatch. I crossed over on the ferry, the Scillonian. For two or three hours during the crossing, I remained on deck with my binoculars, eagerly scanning the storm tossed waves for seabirds.

Scillonian_III-01 xxxxxx

“At one point, I noticed what I took to be the head of a Grey Seal, which broke the surface perhaps a hundred metres away. It was dark in colour, and I could see a forehead, two eye sockets, and an obvious snout. I didn’t really think twice about it, and it remained there for perhaps two or three minutes. Then, suddenly, a Gannet flew directly above it, and I realised from a comparison of sizes that the head must be at least a metre and a half, if not two metres, across. And that means it cannot have been a seal !”

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Filed under Cornwall, Cryptozoology, History, Science, Twitching, Wildlife and Nature

The First Ever Twitch

As I mentioned in a previous article, there is a difference between a birdwatcher and a twitcher. A birdwatcher will sit, as I am doing now, and watch whatever birds come to the feeders on the patio. He may go for a walk in his local wood and just see what he can find:

A5 blue tit

Or take a stroll along the beach, taking care to have his binoculars, and probably his telescope and tripod, to hand. He will have a rough idea of what he is going to see, but nothing is pre-planned:

Guillemot06cccccc

A twitcher is somebody who finds out where a rare bird has been seen and then sets off in an effort to see it. In previous articles, I have revealed how I used to be a twitcher. As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, I used to be a “twitcher”, the sort of birdwatcher who might travel hundreds of miles to see a species which is rare in whichever country he lives.I have already published articles about a trip to Dorset for a Terek Sandpiper:

another terekxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I told you about going to Norfolk for a River Warbler:

River best shot (1024x721)
Twitching was a very popular pursuit when I used to do it, back in the 1980s and 1990s. Here is a Golden-winged Warbler:

gol wing

And here are the crowds that went to see it in Kent, myself included:

golden%20winged

Even now, a very rare vagrant may attract several thousand twitchers over the course of the bird’s stay.
Twitching first began, on a very limited scale, in the 1960s, when news of a long staying bird, such as the Dusky Thrush in Hartlepool during the winter of 1959-1960, were circulated by letter and postcard:

DuskyThrush2

How long has twitching been going on? What bird was the subject of the first twitch? I thought about this for a long while and my eventual conclusion was that it was possibly the Houbara Bustard present in Suffolk from November 21st to December 29th 1962.
Here is a Houbara Bustard. They are very rare birds:

Sweet-Houbaraxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

And they will get even rarer if the Pakistani hunters in Baluchistan continue to think that this is sustainable hunting:

Pakistanis-last-year-in-Baluchistan-Province- xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Even if the Houbara Bustard wasn’t the first ever twitch, the photographs reveal that this was very much an event in the distant past:

telescpope (2)

Just look at the clothes.
Just look at the car.
Just look at the telescope!
The bird was about the size of a turkey. It fed in a mustard field and could also be found in a stubble field:

hounbars 2

Here is another view:

bustrde (2)

The Suffolk Houbara of 1962  was a rather eccentric creature and it often seemed to prefer to walk rather than fly. It could frequently be observed very easily by parking the old Morris Oxford at the side of the lane between its two favourite fields, and waiting for it to saunter past:

bustard

The full story of this bird, in much more mature and scientific prose can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Storks in Victorian Nottinghamshire

The White Stork is a very large and spectacular visitor to England. People have asked me on many occasions why we think that babies are brought by storks. My answer has always been that a good number of new babies have a red mark on their forehead when they are first born. This mark is triangular and it looks as if their head has been grasped for a considerable period of time in a stork’s beak. My own daughter certainly had the mark on her forehead when she was first born, although it usually fades with time.

Victorian Nottinghamshire recorded a number of storks, and in actual fact, the very best records come from the era of King George IV, Beau Brummell’s “fat friend”.  In 1825, therefore, a single bird was killed near Bawtry on an unrecorded date during the year:

white-stork-113589 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Four years later, in 1829 an entire flock of these magnificent birds was seen on the River Trent at the very same location as the 1825 individual:

white-storks-flockxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Two of them were subsequently shot as they overflew the nearby market town of Bawtry. Look for the orange arrows:

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On Monday, April 12th 1915, a single bird was seen in flight over the road between Nottingham and Mansfield. The observer was Sir Herbert Chermside :

220px-Sir_Herbert_Chermside

In 1899 Sir Herbert had married Geraldine Katherine Webb, the daughter of Mr W.F.Webb, the owner of Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire. The poor lady was to die in 1910 without any children.

Sir Herbert immediately typed a letter to Joseph Whitaker, as soon as he reached home after seeing this wonderful bird:

“This morning a specimen of Cicogna Alba passed across the Nottingham-Mansfield high Road (sic) at 9.50 a.m. between the Pilgrim Oak and the Hutt House, the bird was in Spring plumage, with legs and beak very bright:

bilyl_leleka_pislja_opysu xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It was, I think, a hen bird, and passed directly over me within easy gun shot, flying relatively low, over the tops of the Beech trees by a few feet. It is possibly a War Refugee from the Low Countries.”

The Pilgrim Oak or Gospel Oak stands opposite the Hutt at the main entrance to Newstead Abbey. This is the Hutt:

thre hutt

The Pilgrim Oak was the place where pilgrims would stop and read the gospels before entering the Abbey (not the pub). The age of the tree is unknown but it was already quite large in Lord Byron’s time. The American author, Washington Irving, described as “a venerable tree, of great size” when he visited the area in the early 19th century:

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Here is the Pilgrim Oak in both spring and autumn:

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Joseph Whitaker would have been totally gutted, to use the modern expression, that a non-birdwatcher had seen such a wonderful, spectacular bird, and he hadn’t:

white-stork-hungary-2007

Just under a week later, on Sunday, April 18th, Sir Herbert wrote again to Whitaker confirming the identity of a bird that he had already seen in many locations in the Middle East. This must really have twisted the knife, although, of course, unwittingly:

“I wish that you had seen the Stork instead of I (sic) although it is the first one that I have ever seen in England. Last year I was in the uplands of Algeria, south of Constantinople on the day of their arrival in very considerable numbers (early March) at the Dardanelles on the shores of the Sea of Marmora , 17th March is the day of their arrival. A day’s march from Gallipoli on the eastern side, they have a great assembly place-for both spring and autumn.

White-Storks_1164flock xxxxxxxxxxx

The natives allege that in Autumn, the birds of the year pair there, before the migration.”

All the way through this account, I have deliberately used the phrase “White Stork”. This is because there is a Black Stork as well. This is a much rarer bird, and one which I myself have yet to see:

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In Victorian times there was just one report of this species being seen in the county. This was an unfortunate individual which was shot during the autumn of 1871 at Colwick by Mr John Brown of Old Moat Hall. Joseph Whitaker was told the facts in a letter from Mr P. Musters of West Bridgford. As Old Moat Hall is in Cheshire, I suppose we can presume that Mr Brown was a guest of one of the members of the extended Chaworth-Musters family, who were rich landowners in Nottinghamshire.

As far as I can see, their possessions included Annesley Hall, Colwick Hall, Wiverton Hall, Edwalton Manor, West Bridgford Hall and for Sundays, Felley Priory.

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A minibus trip to Norfolk

Friday, November 4th, 1988

.
(An extract from my old birdwatching diary “Crippling Views”)

.
A new venture this time. An official  General Studies Birdwatching trip to Norfolk, taking the Sixth Form with me in a hired minibus. One thing is for certain, though… They’ll all get a lot of lifers… And I hope for one as well, the Indigo Bunting at Wells, which may just have lingered on from the previous weekend. There is every chance that nobody has really looked for it since then. The main priority, though, is to make sure that there is a constant stream of birds for the students, always as obvious and as spectacular as possible. We start at Cley-next-the-Sea, and then we plan to work our way steadily back westwards along the beautiful Norfolk coast. Look for the orange arrow:

Untitled

Arnold’s Marsh provides us with two nice birds, a late Curlew Sandpiper and a very spectacular Knot, still in bright brick red summer plumage:

red knot xxxxxx

Further along the East Bank, we find a lovely Stonechat, obviously prospecting for an overwintering site:

Stonechat%20-3 xxxxxxx

At the far end, there is an exquisite flock of about a hundred or so Snow Buntings, flying with their tinkling calls up and down the shingle bank:

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Unfortunately there is no sign of Boy George the famous Glaucous Gull, whichever plumage he may be in now, white adult or coffee coloured juvenile:

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There are no Waxwings either at the traditional haunt of Winterton. So off we go to Wells, stopping only briefly to look at the goose flocks at the side of the coastal road. The lads are delighted to see a Snow Goose which they all insist has flown in the previous day from Arctic Canada, despite all my vigorous explanations to the contrary:

snow goose0df3f5bbxxxxxxxxx

We get to Wells where I spend half an hour looking for The Bunting but without any success, either down by the old toilet block, or down in the Dell. It must’ve moved on or perhaps it’s been recaptured by its worried owner:

Indigo-Bunting1 xxxxxxxx

As we walk back to the car park, I see a starling like bird in silhouette. It flies over our heads and I don’t really pay it any attention, until it comes in to land. Instead of landing on the top of a nearby tree, it clings to the trunk like a woodpecker. That’s enough to attract my attention and when I look through binoculars, I soon realise that it is a Waxwing:

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That is when the fun starts because we have only two pairs of binoculars between four of us and one pair is broken. Added to this is the fact that all the lads are very inexperienced, and it takes each one of them a really long time to find the bird on the tree trunk. There’s a lot of shouting, a lot of counting branches to the left and branches to the right, until the bird finally gets bored with it all and flies off. Two of the three without binoculars see it properly but, sadly, the last one does not. Holkham and Lady Ann’s Drive provide a couple of new birds for us, namely Golden Plover, and the almost jet black Brent Geese:

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Amazingly enough, though, there are no Egyptian Geese to brighten the day. Titchwell is a little disappointing, with all the Marsh Harriers departed for sunnier climes and the Spoonbills that were asleep at the back of the pool three years ago also seem to have moved away. All we find are wigeon and teal.:

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Still the lads are pleased. Indeed in a lot of ways, they teach me a thing or two. Any nice bird they see is a source of almost innocent wonder to all of them, particularly if it has more than three colours.

 

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“I have just had a Female Eider Duck come in shot to night…”

The male eider duck is a particularly beautiful bird:

male-eider-duck-i xxxxxx

It has a much imitated call. This is a recording by “markwilmot”:

A female eider is a much drabber bird than the drake, and arguably, is barely recognisable as the same species:

eider duck female xxxxxxxxxxxx

Eiders are common enough birds around our coasts, particularly in the north east, but inland, they remain very much a rarity. This report details the only Victorian occurrence in Nottinghamshire:

“According to “The Zoologist” magazine, a female eider was shot near Nottingham on November 16th, 1882.  It had been attracted to the area by the large number of acres of farmland under water at the time and its acquisition brought the number of Notts species to 240.”

The unrecorded wildfowler who shot this rather drab, but extremely rare bird, immediately took it to Mr J Stanley the “Art Naturalist and Sporting Trophy Mounter” of 5, Trent Street, in the City of Nottingham. The wildfowler was probably ignorant of the bird’s identity, but he would have been well aware of its value. For his part, Mr Stanley would have bought the bird from him without a moment’s hesitation. Look for the orange arrow:

trent st

Mr Stanley knew very well what the bird was, and he knew equally well who would pay a very large amount of cash for it.  At 8 o’clock that evening, therefore, he sent a note, presumably by hansom cab, to Joseph Whitaker at Rainworth, some fifteen or so miles  from his shop. Again, look for the orange arrow:

rainworth

Mr Stanley must have been more or less totally certain that Joseph Whitaker, an avid collector of rare birds killed in Nottinghamshire, would pay him handsomely for such a rarity. Stanley’s note read, spelling mistakes and all:

“I have just had a Female Eider Duck come in shot to night in our Medowers it is left for me to buy if you have not got one & you would like it Please to right by return & oblidge your

faithefully

J Stanley”

Joseph Whittaker, of course, came immediately to Nottingham, perhaps even in the same hansom cab in which Mr Stanley had sent the note:

1998-20707-hansom-pp

And Joseph Whittaker duly bought this exceptionally rare prize, although, unfortunately, we do not have any record of the price he paid.
Thirty years later, though, in 1913, Fred Smith, described by Whitaker on another occasion as “that shocking poacher”, was to charge him seven shillings for a pair of sheldrakes, a relatively common species, so we can only guess at what price was paid for a genuinely rare bird.

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The rarest bird I ever saw

(An extract from my old birdwatching diary “Crippling Views”)

Tuesday, September 20, 1988

Another bit of excitement, this time at Pitsford in Northamptonshire, where there is a Sociable Plover, first discovered apparently by a teenage birdwatcher, late on Sunday evening, flying around with a flock of Lapwings. The Sociable Plover, not the teenager.

Here is a Lapwing:

lapwing1a480 zzzzzzz

And here is a Sociable Plover:

plover

I have a free afternoon from school on Tuesdays, so I decide to leave at one o’clock, directly from Period Five. So as not to look an even bigger idiot than normal, I take a pullover and a pair of jeans to change into, as well as my telescope, tripod and binoculars. I religiously ring Paul, as I always do, to ask him if he wants to come, but he’s at work, I also ring Alan to unmake a previous date to go looking for Hobby at Clumber Park that evening. Surprisingly enough, he also has a free afternoon, so we decide to go for the bird together.
It’s only about eighty miles to Pitsford, so we arrive there about three thirty. Look for the orange arrow:

midlandszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

It is obvious where the bird is supposed to be from the great tangle of parked cars. Quickly, we park too, and head on out there. It is a marshy area, with a very long shoreline, and a lot of distant birds. Look for the orange arrow:

cayseway

Unfortunately none of the distant birds is a Sociable Plover, although a winter plumaged Grey Plover, seen through a heat haze at a range of about four miles, does cause quite a few hearts to flutter, mine included.

Grey%20Plover% xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

There are some Curlew Sandpipers, a few Ruff , and a couple of Little Stint.

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The Pectoral Sandpiper, though, which has been reported for the last couple of days, seems to have gone:

pectoral_sandpiper_zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Eventually the disappointed crowd drifts away, in ugly mood, to the section of the reservoir where the Sociable Plover came in to bathe on Monday afternoon. Here, there are absolutely thousands of gulls, and to relieve the monotony of waiting, we look through the crowd for the lone Mediterranean Gull that has been tantalising the gull watchers for the last few evenings:

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No luck with that either, and Alan and I agree on a departure time of six thirty, as the last few minutes of daylight tick inexorably away. Finally, we are forced to admit defeat, and terribly disappointed, we trudge despondently back to the car. Fifty yards from the vehicle, I get my car keys out. We are just climbing over the fence at the side of the road, when a rather rusty car suddenly squeals to a halt, and a young man jumps out and screams:

“THEY’VE FOUND IT!!!!         THEY’VE FOUND IT!!!!   

We restrain him for a moment and ask him one or two simple questions like:

“WHERE???      WHERE???      WHERE???”

He burbles on for another ten minutes about crossroads and turns left and turns right and pubs called the Red Lion, houses with green doors and the third tractor from the right:

red-lion-inn-01

This is terrible. It is one thing if the bird is not there. That you can live with, difficult though it may be. But to be right next to the bird, and not to be able to navigate your way to it in the car, that’s something else:

socco plov xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It is cruelty of an unreasonable nature. The young man tells us to wait. He’ll call over all of the other birdwatchers, still standing expectantly on the edge of “The Marsh”. Then we can all follow him in a convoy, just like in the song and the film made from it:

This we all do, or rather, attempt to do. I am personally amazed at what staggering speed a rusty T Reg Datsun can achieve when provoked:

datsun xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

He must have rocket assisted take off in the boot. We are driving along country lanes at around ninety miles an hour, squealing the tyres on rustic roads which are really meant for bicycles or the odd haywain:

haywain

On the other hand, there is a certain logic that says if I keep fifty yards behind the lunatic in front, we cannot fail. Whatever bend the Datsun can get round, I can get round. Any emergency stop he is forced to do, I will have ample time to prepare for. It doesn’t work quite so well at “Give Way” signs, and we have a couple of close shaves. Nevertheless, after a fundamentally frightening drive down these little country lanes, we arrive at the tiny village of Old, where we find cars abandoned at crazy angles across the grass verge and even in the road itself . A great crowd of people is staring fixedly at the back of a distant field.

This Must Be The Place:

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one above OS

The field itself is in a rather strange condition, unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Nottinghamshire, with some areas recently ploughed, with lots of bare earth visible, but there is also a series of strips of stubble, all about six or seven yards wide. The Plover is out there with a large group of Lapwings, but it is a long, long way off. It takes a lot of careful and diligent searching, most of it done at comparatively high magnification, before Alan and I both find The Bird:

sooibla xxxxxxxx

It is nowhere near as colourful as the field guides would have you believe, and, indeed, it is completely capable of disappearing entirely when it stops moving around, and just sits down quietly, looking rather reminiscent of a clod of earth with two eyes and a beak. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fly at any point, so we miss the chance of comparing the wing pattern to that of Sabine’s Gull, and of seeing just how similar it is:

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Still, you can’t have everything. Indeed, the way that things have gone tonight, it would be difficult to imagine how much luckier we could have been.

In my career as a twitcher, that was the closest I ever came to not seeing a rare bird, but then still managing to see it.

Secondly, the Sociable Plover was the rarest bird that I ever saw, from a global point of view. Red-breasted Nuthatch has occurred only once ever in England, and so has Ancient Murrelet, and I saw both of them:

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The world as a whole, though, is not particularly short of either species. Sociable Plover however, at this time, some thirty years ago, was on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, chiefly because of over-hunting and habitat loss, two splendid ways of driving a species into extinction. At the moment, the Sociable Lapwing, as it is now called, has recovered sufficiently to be placed currently in the Critically Endangered category:

sociable-lapwing-bharatpur-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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