Thursday, 9 October 2014
Last Friday and over the weekend I noticed reports emerging on the local yahoo group and other various bird groups that a Hoopoe was showing well at a location about 30 minutes drive away from my home.
On Tuesday the reports were saying that it was still there and showing well. Now, I don’t normally attend ‘twitches’ but on this occasion, as Hoopoes don’t put in regular appearances in this neck of the woods (they are classed as mega rarities) and as I’d never had the opportunity of seeing one before, I made an on the spot decision to go and see if it was as good as they were saying…and I wasn’t to be disappointed!
Once I arrived at the location the bird was easy to find…I just had to follow the direction in which all the ‘scopes and cameras were pointing and there it was, busily feeding on the ground in a small horse paddock next to a farm house, about 10 meters in front of the gathered throng and seemingly oblivious to the constant rattle of the camera shutters!
I was lucky enough to find a space between two fellow photographers, who kindly shuffled along to let me in, when to my amazement the bird came even closer, too close in fact, as it momentarily ‘disappeared’ behind the small picket fence in front of us. However, it was soon back out and giving us all good close views once again.
Slowly it worked it’s way over to the other side of the paddock and disappeared from view underneath a gate. It was eventually relocated about ten minutes later on the other side of the farm buildings (where it was less windy!).
I’d spent the best part of two hours admiring and photographing this amazing little bird, and I’d got my life tick, so decided it was time to head off home.
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
As an added bonus this long staying Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) was giving good, if rather distant, views as it flitted between the ground and the fence posts in an adjoining paddock.
And now a little rant……..
While watching the Hoopoe I witnessed some behaviour that made me realise why I don’t normally attend ‘twitches’. By their very nature twitches usually involve lots of people gathering in one particular place to observe a rare bird. The normal situation is that they watch/photograph the bird (which on most occasions is already lost, stressed or confused) from a respectful distance. Unfortunately some people cannot help themselves and try and get as close to the bird as possible.
On this occasion I witnessed somebody, a renowned and self styled guru of British birding (you know who he is!), and who frankly, should know better and at least try to put on a better example, crawl along on his belly into the owners property to get closer to the bird and by default keep it from moving closer the the other watchers who had respectfully stayed back waiting for the bird to ‘come to them’. Sadly this is not the first time that I’ve seen this person display this sort of tactics.
My advice is if he wants to get better/closer photographs he should invest in a better camera and a ‘bigger’ lens and respect the birds space!