On Saturday I went to see a bird. It was in Marlingford. It was a Great White Egret Egretta alba, and it looked like this.Except that it didn’t. For the sake of demonstration, if you have this picture on your monitor, walk to the other side of the room, squint your eyes and pour some water over your head. You will now have a similar view to the one that I had. You can come back now, as the demonstration is over.
I had never seen one of these birds before and was mildly pleased that I did see this one. And that’s all. Mildly pleased. I got to write it in my book and I got to mark it off on the Lister Demon© handbook (on three lists – Life, Norfolk and 2011) and that gave me a modicum of pleasure. You may have expected, and I kind of expected myself, to be full of joy and jumping up and down because I had just got a lifer and it was a bloody great big rare white bird and only down the road and it was bloody brilliant!! But it wasn’t. This was pure twenty-first century twitching, I found the information on Birdguides, it gave the directions to exactly where it was, I drove there, saw some twitcherers on exactly the spot described, the bird showed, the heavens opened, I left. Rubbish. Now I don’t go twitchering very often for just this reason, rare birds are nice but the whole process of twitching is unsatisfactory, and doesn’t come close to the thrill of finding a new bird on the patch and over the last couple of weeks I have had patch ticks which did get me much more excited – and that’s the rub I reckon. Patch birding is better than twitching, but I would say that wouldn’t I.
Moan over. Tomorrow it is March. March means migration. Migration in a coastal patch in Norfolk can mean only one thing. Wheatears, Sand Martins, Little Terns, Ring Ouzels. Four things then. Bring it on.