To Twitch or not to Twitch

One thing that I have been deliberating in this big year so far, is the idea of twitching. For those who are up to speed on birding terminology, this may seem an odd thing to say- many assume that twitching and birdwatching are one and the same. Not so- twitching is a whole different bird game. Whilst birdwatching mainly involves watching birds in all its forms- in the garden, on a reserve, on a walk or by chance, twitching is far more specific. On a twitch, people will travel the length of the country to add another ‘tick’ to their year, UK or life lists*.

 

Twitching attracts a different type of birdwatcher. If you’re travelling far and wide looking for something rare, it seems all too often that the person in question is more interested in ticking a new species off a list, than observing birds in the locality in general. Whilst I don’t really twitch myself, the impression I get from other birders is that its a far more manic affair, becoming more frenzied the more unusual the bird. Twitchers don’t give off an overall impression of being great bird lovers. Whilst I love just watching birds in general, however common the species, twitching seems more akin to ‘collecting’ birds by ticking them off a list, than enjoying them for what they are and what they do. I’m sure there are lots of twitchers who do enjoy the birds themselves, but its not always obvious when observing them in action. I find the birding community much more friendly and receptive when not rushing around at high speed.

 

I think this was summed up best by a conversation I heard between two birdwatchers right at the start of the year. They were discussing twitching and that neither of them had ever felt the need to get involved in this type of birding and one of them came out with this gem- ‘I think its one of those things like drink and drugs- you have to go through that phase at some point to get it out of your system’. I couldn’t put it better myself, that is exactly how it seems.

 

Whilst becoming a twitcher doesn’t appeal greatly, without ‘ticking off’ some more unusual species this year I’m not likely to beat Chris in our big year. I may have a confession to make on this front, which I’ll save for another day- I need to confess all to Chris first…

 

Look at this chaos- twitchers flocking to see a white throated Robin in Hartlepool in June 2011:

More recently, a local twitch of a Spanish Sparrow attracted this massive crowd last weekend:

* ‘year list’- list of wild birds seen in the present year in total (what Chris and I are competing on), ‘UK list’- all the wild birds you have ever seen on UK soil (or air), ‘life list’- all the wild birds you have seen anywhere, ever.

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Earthflight- Asia and Australia

Although the budgerigars of Australia were by far my favourite part of this week’s Earthflight, as usual the whole programme was amazing. I can’t really put into words the sights of this week, but if you have 5 minutes to spare, these clips are worth a watch:

Pigeons at Mehrangarh being pursued by a Long Legged Buzzard. The way this bird hunts the pigeons from their roosts is brilliant. This has to be the first bird battle I’ve watched that I’ve actually been rooting for the predator to win.

Japanese /Red Crowned Cranes being surrounded by their predators- Red Fox, White Tailed Eagle and Steller’s Eagle (look at the size of that Bill!). These cranes are beautiful and look so serene calmly sparring against the eagles. Whilst I noticed this last weekend with Redpoll, these cranes look like the cardinals of the bird world.

Demoiselle Cranes were shown being hunted by Golden Eagles and a Peregrine Falcon. These birds look like bald men with wispy white hair and considering I always like birds with a bit of character, I particularly enjoyed these cranes. Plus, any species that successfully migrates through the Himalayas deserves a lot of respect.

Demoiselle Cranes

All in all a brilliant programme which I intend to watch again whilst its still online.

Jo

Budgies!

So last night’s episode of Earthflight was fantastic as usual.

Whilst I previously had a soft spot for a budgie and thought I’d like my own, I’m now convinced that these are truly fantastic birds. My only obstacles are deciding what I really think about keeping one caged and whether I can eventually talk Chris around to the idea.

Budgies fly past Uluru

I previously blogged about the Europe episode and the aerial acrobatics of the starling flocks over Rome, this was beaten in spectacle last night. Whilst the Europe clip featured starlings being hunted by a lone Peregrine, this time around a Black Falcon returns empty taloned to its mate after being defeated by millions of budgerigars. Imagine the previous clip in full colour. The budgies even managed to stop off mid chase for a quick drink in amongst the chaos. Every time the falcon came close the budgies fell straight downwards escaping its clutches.

Whilst I can’t find the exact clip,  I have managed to find footage of the swarm. The whole episode is available on iPlayer at the moment, so well worth a view whilst it’s still online.

 

Only one episode to go and then I’ll have to wait until the box set is released.

Jo