This story will do no favours to my insistence that I am not Twitching this year. However when the report of a Hudsonian Whimbrel literally 10 miles from home came in, I was very tempted. I spent the afternoon at work mulling my options round in my head. Finally an idea sprung to life, ask the community on Twitter what they thought I should do........... GO! Was the resounding answer! Next issue was that I really wanted to spend some time with my long suffering wife Kayleigh, and our 20month old boy Bradley.... simple! Take them along too. She doesn't bird and therefore the idea of Twitching is very alien to her, none the less she agreed and with Brads all snug in his car seat and my kit packed we headed for Church Norton.
If you read my last post then you will realise this is much the same place as I went for the Black Winged Stilt and a two minute walk from the Church Yard where I watched Spotted Flycatchers! I know the site well so within 25 minutes of leaving home we were at the car park..... so glad that Kay came with me, the car park was overflowing! Kay agreed to stay in the car, that was she could make sure I could just jump out and the car wouldn't block anyone while I was gone, it also meant that Bradley could stay asleep!
I walked down to the beach and soon found a group of around 30 scopes all peering out in the direction of the harbour. After asking a couple of the guys present they said the bird was hunkered down in the long grass on one of the muddy islands in the harbour. Every so often the bird would poke its head up out of the grass before dipping back down and slowly moving right. It wasn't long before a few guys admitted that they weren't even sure that was the right bird, but all the other Whimbrel in the harbour had been checked and that was the last one left...... Great! We could be watching a completely bogus bird! We needed the bird to fly....... we waited......... and waited...... I began to scan other birds in the area in case we missed one...... then......... ITS UP! 3 of us spotted the right bird, and proceeded to check off the features. The rump was brown and so was the tail, with no white tips to be seen. The other real difference was the underwing, which was cinnamon-brown and
appeared completely uniform in flight as opposed to the Eurasian Whimbrels white ground colour
This bird had come from a different part of the muddy island.... we had been watching the wrong bird! The Hudbrel settled nicely on the front of the island in the water and began to feed and preen allowing us all to take in all the features and ensure that this was definitely the right bird! By this point the group had swelled to around 50 birders on the beach all very happy to get their target. A group of 3 Eurasian birds landed close by allowing a nice comparison.
On the walk back to the car I checked briefly for the Spotted Flys but they weren't to be seen. I will still maintain that I am not twitching this year but some things are definitely the exception to the rule!