On Sunday 14th October news broke of a new bird for the UK, White – Rumped Swift at Spurn. It being `a bird on the wing` species, a twitch would be unpredictable, yet a few people went on the Monday and dipped.
Monday 15th October, Evening news then broke of a Gray Catbird at Land`s End, Cornwall. An American species which is found down through the US, Eastern & Central, and Canada, but not Northern Canada, and winters in Mexico down into Central America.
Shock waves hit the birding community with this news, even I thought ” gotta see it “, even though I have had the species in the hand before ( In Canada ). The Birding Community then questioned the find, and when the first photo appeared, the rest is History. This was a second for UK after the first on the 4th October 2001 at Anglesey, which was twitched but seen by a very few properly. With this in mind, this was going to be a Big twitch.
All week the news kept coming through on RBA, Showing well, Elusive, not seen for 5 hours, morning is best or as it goes to roost, the weather being a factor. My friends had been and seen it, it was getting to the point of, “Please stay !” My Son Ryan (RAP), was bending my ear, when could we go ? I had thought Friday afternoon, but the traffic had got to 5.5+hrs travel and the thought of a Dip and coming home was not going to happen.
Friday 19th October night at 22:00 we left. It was due to take 4.5 hours to drive down but it was only 4hrs 10 mins and we were at Lands End. We found the car park, parked up and got sleeping bags out and got our heads down. At 07:00 we were up, and got the gear together and were off to the wall of the car park as per the directions given on BF.
The Sunrise was stunning and it did look like an Unlucky Saturday may happen until, At 07:47hrs, one of the Welsh lads standing by the side of us called the bird ” on the wall by the bramble” and then gone. And then again a couple of frantic minutes of constantly scanning the small wall and Boom ! There it was, Gray Catbird….. Awesome and Relief ! The Catbird then dropped out of site, Ryan hadn`t got onto it as it was really brief on the wall, but then it was in the small Sallow bush. I then heard the camera go off and Ryan say “got it”. I was like ” What ? ” and there on the camera screen was the below photo. ” Wow” how quick was that. Just a record shot, but job done really.
The Catbird then disappeared and about 20 minutes later the Birders on the other side of the field were watching what we presumed was the Catbird. It popped up a couple of times in various locations and was on show sometimes and calling it would sit up for a good 5 minutes at a time and then vanish, it seemed to me that it was on a circuit of the field.
A couple of times other so called Birders decided to get in a better postion and were soon told to get back, much to their disgust from the look on their faces. Is it that hard to work out that 50 People are stood in one postion for a reason, it appeares that it is, Pillocks !
The circuit theory soon proved correct as it then appeared on the other side of the Birders at other end of the field, and at 08:55 the Catbird had comeback round to its roost site by the tyres. I said to Ryan ” hope it pops out on top ” and sure enough it appeared in the middle of the Bush and then sat on the top in full view about 50 feet away absolutley mega views of a Mega bird. We couldn`t have wanted for better views. We left after the Catbird dropped down as anything would not of come near those views.
A Mega Bird in a stunning location and just what October is all about.
Photos: Sony A77ii with Tamron 150-600mm mk1.