25 February 2020

· Wirral ·

A fleeting visit to RSPB Burton Mere. Yesterday and the day before, the reserve tweeted that a long-billed dowitcher had been showing. I had to Google it. The bird is a vagrant wader that rightly belongs across the Atlantic. I’m no twitcher, but it would have seemed perverse to be passing so nearby and not to see if I could spot it.

News had evidently spread. The car park at the reserve was much busier than usual. I got chatting with an elderly, clearly expert, birder, and walked with him to the hide where the bird had been spotted. The hide was jam-packed with other birders, each of them sporting seriously expensive telescopes or binoculars. I felt very much out of place, and left after a short while, having established that the dowitcher had flown off 20 minutes earlier.

I was much more comfortable away from the crowd. I took a couple of nice photos of a long-tailed tit; spent 10 minutes looking for bearded tits at their preferred reed-bed, but saw only coots; then headed off to the bunker hide to watch large flocks of lapwings and starlings wheeling about, preparing to roost.

A lovely way to spend an hour and a half.

Long-tailed tit
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Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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