Thursday, 9 April 2009

Pantomime Birds

Perhaps they only need the briefest of explanations, there the ones that are always behind you or in the opposite direction to the one your looking. There the ones that can remain hidden and unseen until you've walked right past them or stepped on them. Here is my top five personal Panto birds:

1. Honey Buzzard, my first ever sighting came whilst watching a posing (don't they all?) Woodchat Shrike at Scarborough Castle in the early nineties. It was the Shrike that was oblivious to what was behind him as we were all scoping him when the Honey Buzzard came in off in the same scope view.

2. Tawny Owl, as an eager exploring 13 year old I was wandering in Holywell Dene with an accomplice searching for nests. We found what must have been an old Crow's nest at the top of a gnarled Hawthorn. Mid way through climbing the tree a Tawny Owl that must have been roosting part way up flew out missing me by inches and scaring seven colours of crap out of me. No idea how I missed it.

3. Iceland Gull, yesterday's white devil, dancing behind me as I stared at an empty ocean desperate for anything to fly across the stormy vista.

4. Great Skua, seawatch at Church point and eventually I guarantee that whilst your intent on turning that Fulmar on the horizon into a Cory's, a Bonxie will fly over your head. I should count myself lucky I think there's at least one local birder who may have had the same panto with Long-tailed Skua.

5. Pheasant, any birder worth his/her salt will have a had a few Panto moments with Pheasants. Stroll along minding your own business and then suddenly in a rattling ball of hellfire one leaps up from under your big toe and gives your blood pressure an unwelcome lift.

Come on share your Panto Birding moments in the comments.


Steve Gale said...

Alan, my pantomime birds include:
Woodcock: like the Pheasant, a heart-attack inducer
Herring Gull: try eating a sandwich on Brighton beach without one of these brutes creeping up on you to mug the grub
Jack Snipe: no there's nothing here...ooops, almost trod on it!

Anonymous said...

I`m not sure if it`s in the same context, Alan. But Starling would make it onto my list. There`s been many a time when i`ve looked up expecting to see (from the calls) passage Wigeon, Curlew & Swallow (to name but a few) and only to find out it`s one of the local Starlings doing an excellent impression.

Anonymous said...

I would have to say red grouse up on the moors, gets me every year!

Graham James said...

Hi Alan, The wife and I were watching Wheatears at Dungeness Bird Observatory when three birders approached us and asked where the Wryneck was. "What Wryneck?" The one that they had seen drop 10 feet behind us five minutes previous. We never did get to see it!