With the lack of oppurtunities to get out birding recently and the 2 MEGAS I needed not available to the masses, the Calandra Lark in Lincs moved on quickly after reportedly being present the night before and the Rock Bunting in North Yorks. never being seen again, I decided to do a bit of day-dreaming - what's new there I hear you ask!!
Listed below are the birds I would most like to see in this country, I'm not too fussy and will take them in any order!
Bridled Tern - My most wanted bird with 2 successful dips!! The first of these came on one of my very first twitches back in 1984 and I still remember it as if it was yesterday. We were birding the area around Waxham, Norfolk and decided to check if there was anything about. Obviously before the time of pagers and Birdline so it was a case of phoning Nancy's cafe in Cley. I remember Simon coming back to the car and telling us of the continued presence of the Bridled Tern at Rutland water, Leics and a male Collared Flycatcher in Margate, Kent, what a cracking double that would be. Well, it would have been if we had seen either of them! Arriving at Rutland, we were told that a certain top lister had flushed it and it was never seen again!! Cheers mate, whenever I've seen him at a twitch since, I've wanted to kick the *!*?!$* in the shins!! Anyway, with one dip under the belt, it was onto Kent. Sleeping in the car overnight, we awoke to no sign of the bird. Scant consolation came in the form of ticking Ring necked Parakeets. Collared Fly had to wait until the next year at Holkham and even then I had to wait another 19 years before it was accpeted by BBRC!
The next attempt for Bridled Tern came for the long staying bird at Cemlyn Bay, Anglesey. Again with my Dad, we travelled overnight and missed it as it flew out to sea early morning, no worries though, it did this most days so it was a case of waiting for it to fly back in as it did every other day during it's 3-week stay. Of course, we waited all day on the beach and it never came back and was never seen again.
There's been a few records since those but none that have ever been really "gettable", wouldn't have minded being in on this "little twitch" though.
Belted Kingfisher - Like most of us on April Fools Day 2005, I didn't believe the Belted Kingfisher report at Shugbrough Hall, Staffs, so didn't leave work. Regretted it pretty much ever since. Was there at first light the next morning along with a couple of thousand other birders and no BK. Excitement grew when it came on the pager late morning, only to realise that it was actually now at another site, Eastrington, East Yorkshire and less than 20 miles from my house!! A mad dash back north, found us all dipping the same bird twice in the same day. It was refound, this time much further north in Aberdeenshire a few days later and I couldn't go. I'm sure there'll be another at some point, just hope it's not another 20 plus year wait for it.
Siberian Rubythroat - A massive dissapointment was the twitch for the Rubythroat on Fair Isle in Oct 2005. News broke early afternoon on 23rd October while I was at Spurn. A phone call was made straightaway to RBA to see if there was any interest in a charter flight if I could arrange one. Wasn't expecting much following the popular bird on the same island 2 years earlier. Luckily one of the RBA team still needed it and along with a friend from Norfolk, we made our way to Blackpool Airport early the next morning. There was no sign first thing and just as we were giving up, news came through that it was still there and the twitch was back on! Twenty minutes later we were in the air on our way north. We were met at the airfield on Fair Isle and given a lift to where it was last seen but there were no other birders around so it was up to the three of us to refind it. Time ran out and we had to return to catch our flight home, no consolation whatsoever was taken from the Black throated Thrush or Arctic Redpoll we did manage to see. We left the island thoroughly gutted, with me personally vowing never to return to the "Magic" isle.
I still think it's only a matter of time before we have a twitchable one on the east coast, with Spurn or Old Fall at Flamborough with my tip, so here's hoping!
Steller's Eider - Being slightly before my time, the Male on the Outer Hebrides would have been my idea of the perfect bird, spectacular bird in a spectacular setting. For some reason I couldn't get the enthusiasm for the more recent Scottish female, although I did the see the bird which got a few people's pulses racing between Cley and Blakeney a few years back, could have been an awesome Norfolk blocker but just turned out to be a funny looking Eider, at least I didn't make the journey for this one! Wouldn't mind it being a male like the long stayer Hebridean bird, but would happily settle for another chance at a female.
Little Bustard - With well over 180 records for the UK, probably the commonest bird I still need. Never twitched one so thankfully haven't dipped on one, surely only a matter of time before we get a long stayer that is accessible. Rumours of one photographed in Norfolk last year are intriguing, but are hopefully just the rumour mill in over-drive!!
Caspian Plover - Males only please!!! Just because they're such a stunning looking bird. With the recent one in The Netherlands reported to have flown off in a westerly direction, hopes were high, but as yet, we're still waiting.
Hudsonian Godwit - A real blocker this one, with no recent records. Another bird at nearby Blacktoft RSPB would be much appreciated as that was just before I started birding. Although my Dad was birding at the time, he didn't realise the significance of this bird and said that he'd seen plenty of Godwits at Cley so turned down the offer of a lift, whoops!!
Glaucous winged Gull - As much as I hate gulls, in particular twitching them, this is one of the ones I'd like another crack at. They're just so bloody unpredictable, especially when they're on a rubbish tip. I dipped the bird in Cleveland in 2009. Went on the Sunday for it, when the tip wasn't in operation and there was no sign all day. It was back the next day but Amy was flown to the Intensive Care Unit at Alderhey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, 2 days later with Chickenpox Pneumonitis and that was that.
Hawk Owl - Wow, what a bird. I think this probably has to be at the top of most birders wish lists, except of course those lucky few who saw the 4-day bird on Shetland in 1983.
Wood Thrush - Oh my god, what a blocker this would have been! Picture the scene, ran for the boat on St Mary's, Scillies, over to St Agnes but waited for my Dad to catch up and missed out on being one of the 39 who saw this Nearctic Thrush back in October 1987. Weather conditions prevented any other boats from getting there that day and there was no sign the next day when boats could again sail. To make matters worse, we were staying in a flat with SJMG and DF at the time and had to watch as they celebarted with a miniature bottle of whisky when they returned home later that night!