Monday, 6 March 2017

A dunnock from Russia

Twitching: 260km, 160 minutes driving, 4 hours waiting, 2 SECONDS of bird. It is no wonder, as I said so many times before, that I rarely twitch. I am just so bad at it although there was enough pleasant social interaction today to make the day an enjoyable one!

After having tried quiet hard to find my own one this autumn I had given up hope of seeing a russian dunnock so it was difficult to resist going for the bird found less than an hour and a half’s drive from Oslo on Saturday and successfully twitched by quite a few yesterday. The pictures were suitably mouth-watering and although a bit skulky it sounded like everyone left happy yesterday.

I arrived on the dot of 10 o’clock to see a few birders being invited into the warmth of the finder’s house. It transpired that after up to nearly two and a half hours wait everyone had got to see the bird about 15 minutes before I arrived. I joined a couple of others who had recently arrived and we stood staring at the feeding station. Standing still and waiting at the last known spot is not my strength at a twitch so I soon went off searching other gardens. I did this a couple of times and after the second wander I came back to be told it had popped up and shown wonderfully for the 4 birders present just minutes after I left at 1035. I felt great frustration and the immortal Top Gun line “Never, ever leave your wingman” kept flowing through my mind and I decided that now I would just stay put. Of course I couldn’t manage it and as other birders arrived (having travelled further than me) and over an hour passed I went wandering a few more time with seeing, but more importantly not missing the bird.

By 1305 we were just three left looking. The other two discussed getting their car and sitting in it (it was cold!) to watch from and one of them went to get it. He stopped to look at another feeding station (where I had been looking when the bird was seen at 1035…), found the bird and rang his mate! Over hearing the conversation, I ran the 150 metres lifted my bins, saw something that I assumed was the dunnock, raised the camera and fired off 6 shots. Through the view finder I could see that it was actually the dunnock before it then disappeared. Raising my bins again I then saw what I assumed was the bird flying into another garden and didn’t see it again. So for once I had a bit of luck but this was hardly the great views of a fantastic rarity that I was hoping for (that being said they were better than my last two ticks of PG Tips and Pechora Pipit).

Checking my shots I saw that they were all horribly over exposed but in one of them I can see what all the fuss was about. It was then my turn to be invited into Lars, the finders house, where I warmed up, was served cake and coffee but unfortunately didn’t see the bird out of the kitchen window.

Now I just hope that there weren’t any speed cameras on the route today – I didn’t notice any but in the back of my head I have this nagging feeling that I should have….

A russian dunnock aka Siberian Accentor (sibirjernspurv). PSE managed to rescue a rather over exposed picture and that is without any of the is RAW nonsense.

a male Yellowhammer (gulspurv) was rather easier to photograph

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