Sunday, 8 April 2012

Hi Jynx! & the bogey bird.

Every birder has or had one so they say- some have several- I have a number! I am of course referring to the 'bogey bird'- a species that, for a given individual birder, remains stubbornly difficult to connect with. The species in question is not necessarily a rare species, it is just difficult to be in the right place at the right time to see it! This can be especially so for species that typically turn up in the UK as passage migrants, or seasonal visitors with a restricted range. Species like alpine swift, arctic warbler and roller come to mind, although even the humble quail or little ringed plover can be hard to catch up with- unless you live in a 'hotspot' for the species concerned. This inability to connect with your 'bogey' may go on for years, sometimes even decades and the species in question can become a bit of an obsession- mine certainly is! It is sometimes frustrating when you learn that, with apparent ease, other birders connect with the species you have sought for so long. This is especially so when they did not even set out to see the bird in question and even worse when they don't really appreciate the fact that they have it on their list! Then of course there is the real torment of dipping out and being informed that 'your' bird has just been seen by dudes or grockles 20 minutes before you arrived! You have to be able to laugh at yourself sometimes!

For me, being at sea during many key spring and autumn migration times has proven very frustrating!  Of course this is all part of the 'fun' of birding. I think that over the years my birding exploits would have been rather boring if I had not dipped on heaps of birds. For me, part of my birding adventure continues to be wondering and hoping if I am going to see a particular target bird when I venture into the field.

The wryneck (Jynx torquilla) is my bogey bird extraordinaire!  I have lost count of the times I have dipped out on this species. I have narrowly missed them in the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Norfolk, Yorkshire, Aberdeenshire and mainland Shetland. Take last autumn for example- I dipped out six times in five days looking for four individual birds. Admittedly I was a day late on Portland, then the next day on the south Devon coast path I missed a bird by three hours. Over the next three days I dipped on two separate occasions at Porthgwarra and twice more in the Nanquido valley. On one occasion I was at the Hayle estuary enjoying very nice Baird's and buff-breasted sandpipers when the text message came through saying that the Nanquidno bird was showing well from the '5 bar' gate near the mill. As I knew the site well I set off immediately and less than an hour later I walked down to see the bird, only to find a 'birder' and his two young sons actually in the field and stomping through the undergrowth in an obvious attempt to flush the bird from cover! When said 'birder' saw me by the gate he sheepishly came over and explained that the bird had been feeding in the open but that they wanted to get closer views, and so had climbed over the gate which caused the bird to dive into the brambles and that they were trying to get it to come back out! Although my mind was full of expletives I somehow just mumbled something about 'better luck' next time and headed down the valley muttering to myself the whole time about 'everyone knows heavily flushed wrynecks often sit in deep cover for hours'. I sat on a rock and looked at the sea for a very, very, long time............ 

..........I headed on deck this morning and this LBJ came over the waves, sat over my head for 30 seconds, flitted to the main mast for 20 seconds more, then continued flying north. I'm not sure but I think I heard it laffing!!! I'll get it on my UK life list one day- hopefully! Happy days!! :)

Wryneck- simply stunning!


  1. I don't know whether I should congratulate you, or commiserate!!!

    I spent yet another day looking for my bogey bird today. Oh I've seen them, or rather I've seen the bluey-green and orange blur... You'll have to check my Blog to see if I finally succeeded!

  2. Well just seeing a wryneck is amazing no matter what location so I would say congrats! Good luck with the 'blur'- hopefully it will call before it flashes past so you can be prepared for the high speed shot!