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First UK twitch

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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 23:01   #26
Kev Rylands
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As with others can blame Birdwatching magazine and Richard Millington for the introduction to twitching. My first were local jaunts after picking up crumbs from the grapevine; Ring-necked Duck at Frimley GPs in Feb 87 and Rose-coloured Starling at Christmas Pie in Nov 87.

Next a Spotted Sandpiper on a family visit to the Isle of Wight in Apr 88 and then thanks to the media overage the Golden-winged Warbler in Feb 89 and it was downhill from there...
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 00:27   #27
Julian Thomas
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First solo twitch from home was the Cemlyn Bridled Tern in Jul 1988, but technically my first rarity twitch was when I bumped into a birder called Andy Kornick in the Brecks in Jul 1986 - we did all the Brecks stuff together on the Saturday, then the Norfolk coast on the Sunday, starting with an eventually successful early morning vigil at Cley for Buff-breasted Sandpiper (still a BB rare at the time). Took me a few more years to get into twitching regularly, hence some gaping holes in my list to this day.
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 01:10   #28
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Pec sand, frodsham, 1980, after finding myself in a splinter group on a local rspb trip. I ticked goldcrest the following day! Millingtons twitchers diary was like discovering a whole new world.
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 05:58   #29
Jonathan Williams
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Originally Posted by Frenchy View Post
The Staffordshire Nutcracker, with a Wilsons Phal added on too. Not bad for a first twitch.
Staffs Nutcracker was my first proper twitch too and I found that Wilson's Phal at Woolston Eyes near Warrington with my mum and brother but didn't realise what it was. I was 17 and didn't look in the back of my Shell guide!

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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 07:45   #30
Andrew Clarke
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First twitch was a first for Britain in the shape of the Marmora’s Warbler at Mickleden Clough, Langsett, South Yorkshire in May 1982.

I recall coming home from school and picking up the local paper (The Star) and coming across an article a few pages in. Decided there and then I had to see it and persuaded my dad to drive me up there when he came back from work that evening. “It’s only a short walk” I said and several miles of rough moorland track later with only an OS map and no precise directions we encountered a small group of blokes in Barbours and managed a look through a borrowed scope at this little dark blue warbler. The weirdest place for such a bird to be found, miles from anywhere. Always gets me wondering what’s lurking up in the hills unseen.
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 08:10   #31
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Lots of memories on here, the Brill White-tailed sea eagle followed by the Cuckmere Haven Little crake, Little egret at Tilbury docks. Not sure about others, I’m away and don’t have my notebooks here.
Happy days but I would have been better off going out birding more and learning common birds first. At that point I hadn’t even seen common Redstart, shocking.
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 08:24   #32
Simon Wates
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Only about 15 miles away, but the 1976 little bunting at Sandbach was my first actual twitch . Remember my 300th being the upland sandpiper at the same place.
That Little Bunting was my first twitch too...(or was it the Lesser Yellowlegs there?). Anyway, I went late in the LBs stay and had it all to myself for a couple of hours in my jenoptems. It was my first rare passerine.
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 10:46   #33
Dave Parker
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As soon as I got my driving license I was on the slippery slope to twitching. At first opportunity I drove to Stodmarsh (March 78) and duly ticked off Cetti's Warbler. I met another birder who told me he had just seen a Great Bustard and a Glossy Ibis and I thought "yeah right!" but following his instructions I ended up in a cabbage field with a Great Bustard all to myself. I kipped overnight in the car and had the Glossy Ibis flying in at dawn.
With the rarity bug well and truly caught, I was off to Littlehampton 3 days later for my first real twitch of an overwintering Serin. Happy days.
PS. Glad to see I was instrumental in Farnborough John's rocky road to twitching!
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 11:02   #34
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Always gets me wondering what’s lurking up in the hills unseen.
Rest assured, there's nowt! I spent 6 weeks doing a moorland bird survey this year and yomping up Mickleden Beck was often my commute to work. Other than the weather (which to be honest didn't really help matters) not a hint of the Med. Nowt, lad, nowt!
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 11:07   #35
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First proper twitch was Black-and-White Warbler at Prawle in Oct 87 also picked up Red-eyed Vireo which was found while I was there. Only heard about it on teletext and it just said S Devon but I had always wanted to visit Prawle for the Cirl Buntings (also a tick) so decided to chance it....

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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 16:24   #36
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Related: anyone know what the first twitch ever, by anyone, was?

Has to be for a particular individual bird, not a species in general
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 17:34   #37
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Had a few local ones initially but my first “Proper” twitch was the 1w Indigo Bunting on Ramsey Island 23rd Oct 1996. It was a choice of twitching that or the “Great Dot” in Cleveland. We made the right choice as I have since seen Great Knot, but there’s not been another twitchable Indigo Bunting.
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 20:14   #38
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I think my first proper twitch was the Brown Shrike on 2009 which shows my age a bit
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 21:41   #39
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My first twitch, pre-birdline and pre-internet or mobiles/pagers - a photo in "The Times" had me heading to a small suburban garden in Bracknell, and after a short wait, I and the assembled small crowd were treated to the surreal sight of an Olive-backed Pipit pumping its tail under the pines - my first rarity! I think it was 1984?.......
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 13:35   #40
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Way back before I twitched to any real extent I recall seeing occasional newspaper articles, the Bracknell OBP & Cuckmere Little Crake both stick in the mind, both mentioned upthread, complete with grainy b & w photos (the Crake crossing someone's foot, or something like that) but the one that got me moving was a short couple of paragraphs, no photo that I can bring to mind, about a Stilt Sandpiper at Frodsham in spring 1984. Took the bus out there on 29th April, and dipped. Did pick up a tick though - Little Ringed Plover (tick number 169). This didn't exactly fire a starting gun on my twitching career, but I did start to travel a little further afield, a week in Dorset picking up Wilson's Phalarope (182) and Ring-billed Gull (183) during a visit to Radipole (I found the Phalarope, an adult female and Dorset's first I believe, independently of whoever saw it first, the reserve warden presumably, while one of the on site volunteers was directing me onto the Gull). I even caught up with the Stilt Sand in the end (189), after its sojourn down to Sandbach, when it was back on the Weaver Bend in September that year, along with a White-rumped Sandpiper (190 - do you remember when Frodsham used to be great for yank waders?)

My first successful twitch was courtesy of the wireless, a technological advance in terms of information dissemination compared to newspaper articles. A chap called Eric Hardy used to do a little countryside piece on local radio, waxing lyrical about the season's first flowering of the Blunt-leaved Swamp Orchid, or the gentle rutting behaviour of the Western Hedgehog Beetle, all that kind of stuff but, from time to time, he would report on local rare birds, soit was compulsory listening each week. Not always the most reliable of information sources (as one of my contemporaries put it "if you told 'im you'd seen an Upland Sandpiper under your bed 'e'd put it on 'is show") but his report on the continued presence of a Pied-billed Grebe at Aber Ogwen (Spinnies LNR in new money) had me reaching for my British Rail timetable. A train ride out to Llanfairfechan on 20th December, a long walk along the coast followed by a long stake-out in the hide paid off, with the bird emerging from the reeds at the back of the pool for a couple of minutes before disappearing into cover again (193). While memorable even today this still didn’t kick things off in earnest, although I did continue travelling to well known sites to try and track down scarce but regular species, Suffolk for Avocets etc (204 - much more range restricted species back then!), Hampshire for Honey Buzzards (212), Anglesey for Roseate Terns (215).

The archetypal twitch though, that “get-the-news-get-in-the-car-and-go” deal was something I didn’t experienced until August 1985. Well, sort of. It wasn’t quite like that, but it was close enough. By now I had started meeting and keeping in touch with other local birders too, and one of these, Gary Healey, suggested a week at a bird observatory was a great way to catch up with good, possibly even rare, birds, so we booked ourselves a week at Spurn, where we saw… very little! The rarest bird on offer was a Pec Sand at Beacon Lane Pools, one of the few scarce species I’d already seen back then (Weaver Bend, July ’84, 186). Best of the rest was Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Bonxie (we missed a reported fly-over Marsh Sandpiper). It was, however, an extremely important trip, because it put me in the midst of a group of keen rarity seekers when news of the Cley Little Whimbrel broke…. There was a mass desertion of Spurn overnight, but with cars all filling fast, and us reliant on public transport, the only lift Gary could score for us was with someone who wouldn’t go until news on the day was positive. Happily it was (presumably via Nancy’s,but I don’t recall in detail), and we were on our way, on an August Bank Holiday Sunday, Spurn to Norfolk, three of us in a Mini. The guy taking us wasn’t much of a twitcher; he was keen to see everything on the WP list, but just as happy to see it abroad as in the UK, but reckoned Little Whimbrel would be tricky anywhere so would be worth catching up with here. When we arrived early afternoon the bird had gone wandering, and we ended up milling around with the crowd, reportedly numbered into 4 figures, until news broke that the bird was at Salthouse. (How the news travelled around back then is hard to imagine now, without mobiles, internet etc, but I suspect CB radios were involved.) Gary and I had lost our driver by now. We were on the Beach Road at this point, I think, and thinking we’d have to walk or hitch headed back down to the A149 where we managed to hail, of all things, a black cab! We were whisked along to the duck ponds at Salthouse and on trying to pay our fare were told, “don’t worry about it mate, I’m a birder too”. And there it was, Little Whimbrel (217), one of the best rarities I’ve ever caught up with, a three decade blocker and counting. Things began to pick up after that, various lifts with various other birders, as well as good old public transport, picking up such goodies as Forster’s Tern (222), Ivory Gull (224), Rock Thrush (229) and Red-necked Stint (230) over the next twelve months, before heading to Scilly for the first time in October 1986. You could say I was hooked.
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 13:51   #41
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Talking of Spurn, the one and only time I've ever experience a true 'fall' of migrants. c1992, Redstarts and Flycatchers in almost every bush, so much so that you actually had to be careful not to run over them on the road.

I think it was the same time as a Booted Warbler, we were staying in the pub when news broke of one trapped so we went off to see it released. Pom sat on the beach, LEO in bushes, Red-throated Pipit, you just didn't know which way to run. Was the Great Snipe the same time, don't have my notes here?
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 15:30   #42
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my first rarity twitch was probably the cracking male Pine Bunting at Dagenham Chase with a great support act in the roosting Long-eared Owls.
Think that was mine too. It may have been preceded by the Uxbridge Ring-billed Gull but that was an utterly grim twitch (not that Dagenham is much nicer, but the birds were better :) )
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 18:49   #43
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Little Whimbrel...............wow!
Now there's a blocker!
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 19:20   #44
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Pied Wheatear, Spurn 1997
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 19:20   #45
JWN Andrewes
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Little Whimbrel...............wow!
Now there's a blocker!
Indeed. Expect the next one to be well attended. I may even have a go myself, just for old times' sake.
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 20:47   #46
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Little Egret at Titchfield Haven NNR,3 days into me starting work there on YTS IN `84. I had to wait until the end of work to see it and then ran to the hide to see it on the back edge of the river from the Suffern hide.
After that my first real twitch was Sora Rail at Pagham in `85. We were all looking for the Sora at the back of the mud along the reed edge but there was no sign. I looked down and the Sora was walking along the edge of the wooden board supporting the path under our feet about an Inch away from my feet. Very surreal and not easily forgotten. I have never gone for another in the UK as the views will never be forgotten. Luckily, I have had one in the hand in Canada `91 since. Unless one turns up in Hants, then I will see another in the UK.
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 21:27   #47
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Greater Sand Plover, Pagham, 27 Dec 1978 - so just approaching 40th anniversary! A bitterly cold day, a first for Britain, and the start of an on/off love/hate relationship with twitching.
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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 07:59   #48
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"August Bank Holiday Sunday, Spurn to Norfolk, three of us in a Mini."

You were lucky. There were five of us in a Mini when we went for it from Dungeness!

Best first twitch ever! Followed by a rather epic year on Scilly. Was there a better year than '85?!
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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 12:41   #49
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First few twitches were to sites in Worcs, first I can recall was Red-necked Grebe in September 1986. First out of county was Great Northern Diver at Belvide in Jan '87 followed by others at sites within the WMBC area - Whooper Swan & Waxwing - before my first mega, or at least it was at the time, was for the first GB Lesser Scaup at Chasewater. As this was also local, still being in the WMBC area, my first out of area twitch would have been Pied-billed Grebe at Kenfig in November '87.
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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 14:13   #50
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As with others can blame Birdwatching magazine and Richard Millington for the introduction to twitching. My first were local jaunts after picking up crumbs from the grapevine; Ring-necked Duck at Frimley GPs in Feb 87 and Rose-coloured Starling at Christmas Pie in Nov 87.

Next a Spotted Sandpiper on a family visit to the Isle of Wight in Apr 88 and then thanks to the media overage the Golden-winged Warbler in Feb 89 and it was downhill from there...
What a funny set of coincidences. Frimley GPs was my old patch until 1988 and myself and David Nurney confirmed the identity of the Spotted Sandpiper on the Isle of Wight at Seaview Duver in January 1988.

My first proper twitch was after school cycling five miles to Fleet Pond in 1975 to see a Great Reed Warbler, saw my second there in 1980

Cheers

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