1971 was the year when at the grand old age of eleven I became a compulsive birder. Over the previous year or so I had quickly outgrown my 'observers series' bird book and would longingly troll the shelves of any decent bookshop looking at more serious volumes. (I obviously developed my nerdy bookworm tendencies about that time!). Christmas 1971 was pretty awesome, as my parents bought me my most longed-for book, a brand new copy of P.A.D. Hollums' 'The popular handbook of British birds'- the volume still sits on my 'bird book' shelf to this day. The book was a revelation and I spent every spare moment of indoor time studying the birds and learning as much as I could. For some inexplicable reason I was always drawn to plate 32 and repeatedly looked at the gyr falcon- in particular the white morph Greenlandic birds. I wanted to see one of those more than any other bird on the planet and the fascination with white-morph gyrs has continued to this day. I saw my first white- morph bird in a zoo some years later and although the bird was totally awesome, I felt a profound sadness that such a splendid individual was caged and just sat hunched on a fake tree branch. Anyway, 3 days ago I took a tourist boat out of Ilulissat, Disko bay, Greenland. We spent almost 3 hours amongst the ice flows and bergs watching countless iceland and glaucous gulls flying amongst amazing scenery. Whilst casually scanning the ice I noticed the head of a bird which I immediately knew was really, really, special. It flew up briefly and I saw it was a magnificent gyr falcon- a white morph!! - that had been feeding on an immature glaucous gull. The bird showed really well for about 5 minutes, flying around the boat and landing on several ice flows and small bergy bits. Everyone onboard was very excited, including three of Demarks top birders! I was so excited I took plenty of rubbish snaps- shaking the camera, impatiently focusing and generally flapping- but I didn't stop smiling throughout the encounter and did manage a couple of shots to remind me of a truly beautiful bird- and one quest I can now remove from my bucket list too! Now I just need to find one to add to my UK life-list!
|the WOW factor!|