It was my birthday, so I decided to do something different – to go on a twitch. A twitch is the pursuit and observation of a rare bird. For other people, it’s an obsession, including chartering boats and planes to get to far-flung islands to see rarities. That’s not for me. I decided to go to Slapton in South Devon, close to home, in the hope of seeing the Laughing Gull which had been reported there. I stopped my van with a view of the sea and opened my presents.
I wandered down to the beach and The Gull wasn’t there, but plenty of birders were. I got a lift from one of the other camouflage-wearing men up and then down the long beach to look for it. No luck. I ambled down the beach looking at a gull when I realise that was it. The Laughing Gull. I’d found it. I lay down on the sand to get a decent photograph of it.
I suddenly realised that there were twelve or so other birders who had walked up behind me enjoying it too. Fabulous isn’t it?
Its natural territory is in North America. I have no idea whether it’ll get back there safely but gulls are quite long-lived, so I have hope. It’s one of the things which puts me off other twitches. The idea of seeing a tragically blown off-course bird with no hope of ever getting back and having a family is a bit tragic.
I’m getting ridiculous views:
I go back to my van for a meal and a fresh coffee and then decide to have one last try for some photographs.
I chat to a fisherman, alone on the beach and he gives me a Mackerel tail and throws it a few fish guts. I get the best views of the day.
It was a lovely day for a first twitch.
How far would you go to see a rare bird?