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First UK twitch

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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 18:59   #1
andyadcock
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First UK twitch

To continue the nostaglia but change the theme a little, what was you first ever, UK twitch?

I was in to birding for a long time but had no idea that twitching existed or was even possible. I remember salivating when I bought e.g 'Birdwatching' magazine, over such birds as Hoopoe and thinking, 'jammy sod, wish I could see one of those' and it was only when I met my eventual mentor, that I realised that the scene was out there.

My first twitch was a Bluethroat in Derbyshire c1992. I gave up twitching after the Long-billed Murrelet when I realised that I wanted to see more birds abroad and that the only way I could afford it, was to stop twitching in the UK. The only birds I've twitched since the Murrelet were Parrot Crossbills during the influx a few years ago as I happened to be home when they turned up in my home county, plus, it was actually a World tick.

I may pick up the reins again to some degree when I move back to the UK next year but I can honestly say, the move to World birding is not something I regret at all and I don't regret a single bird I missed in the UK as I've seen some amazing birds and places and met some wonderful people all over the World, including my wife at 5500m in the Nepalese Himalayas on a birding trip.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:04   #2
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Red-necked Stint (Blacktoft) and Pacific Golden Plover (Tetney Lock - 5th for Britain at the time) on the same day; not a bad opener. Means; bus, hitch, train, hitch, lift on back of tractor (!), lift from kind birder, train, bus.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:09   #3
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I may have twitched regular species such as Red Kite when it was restricted to a small part of Wales but 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.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:14   #4
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Rosss Gull at Seaforth, 1995? Never been colder!
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:14   #5
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Red-breasted Nuthatch, 25 November 1989, Holkam Pines

A corking day out

Last edited by Mike C : Thursday 11th October 2018 at 19:15. Reason: spellong
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:20   #6
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First I made under own steam was a public transport twitch to Britain's first Eastern Crowned Warbler (I'm 30).

Before that, I since realise the RSPB Phoenix local group trips were sometimes based around twitching whatever was on the pager including white-winged black tern at East Chevington Northumberland.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:29   #7
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The Staffordshire Nutcracker, with a Wilsons Phal added on too. Not bad for a first twitch.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:44   #8
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Forster's Tern, Bangor December 2000. Bought a Collins Guide at Conwy RSPB same day and I was hooked looking at the illustrations and sheer number of potential targets.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:45   #9
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November 1985. Nutcracker - westleton, Suffolk.

Age 17, cycled to Colchester station, caught the train to Darsham, via Ipswich, then cycled on to Westleton.
Dipped on the bird�� The highlight of the day was watching my mate who I was travelling with, pulled over and stopped to talk to a carload of birders who wanted directions. As they drove off, they ran over his foot ��

I got a lift the following week with my Uncle. We pulled up, threw a massive apple under the spindly apple tree, and minutes later the bird flew down, sat on the apple and smashed into it.

Andy.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 19:55   #10
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Cheddar Wallcreeper in its last winter, early April. About a week before its last show.

Went for a long weekend with two school friends from Southport to Cheddar then home via Wales. A wintering White Stork was somewhere near Oswestry. Someone had nailed the top of a "Stork" margarine tub to the fence and it was visible in the next field.

Plus Red Kites (2nd time I'd seen) when you had to go to mid Wales.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 20:24   #11
Adey Baker
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First proper rarity was a Baird's Sandpiper at Eyebrook Reservoir, Leics. September 1977. I had been to Eyebrook several times before, but had never seen so many cars parked all round the area! Quite impressed but realised that every subsequent twitch may be similar...

Prior to that, a much more exciting, though not strictly 'rare,' local-patch 'twitch' was a Great Grey Shrike, February 1976, less than a couple of miles from home. I failed to meet up with my mates on the Sunday morning and the route they took lead them to the shrike. I failed to relocate it on the Monday but got it the following day at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. So 'gripped,' 'dipped' and 'mightily relieved' - all the twitching emotions ticked-off in one fell swoop!
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 20:32   #12
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Apparently mine was for a lesser white front in Norfolk, 10th November 1991. My old exercise book from the time tells me I ticked Brent goose the same day! I was only 15...
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 20:52   #13
Larry Sweetland
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The Dummer Scops Owl in 1980 was my first twitch. My birding school friend's dad read about it in the paper, so we got his uncle to drive us there. had no idea about the 'scene' or 'grapevine' until then. Was completely bemused by other birders at the twitch talking about other rarities, including a Great Reed Warbler that was at Fleet Pond.....So we went to see the Great Reed on the train a couple of days later....So I was actually birding for a few years before I knew it was even possible to see a rarity, other than expecting to maybe see one in your life.

I remember the Dagenham Pine Bunting in 1992 being about 370ish for me, but by then I'd pretty much lost interest and was doing very little active birding and almost zero twitching. I then rediscovered birding in a big way in 1992 with a visit to Thailand. Then BANG...Still don't think I've seen 400 in UK but hit 5000 globally a couple of years ago.

Starting to find I can barely get to the local park now, being a dad and stuff. Still like hearing Redwings though and all that.

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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 21:01   #14
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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.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 21:04   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Sweetland View Post

Starting to find I can barely get to the local park now, being a dad and stuff. Still like hearing Redwings though and all that.
Ditto, and the arthritris..

My eldest daughter just gripped me with Californian Condor.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 21:12   #16
Larry Sweetland
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My eldest daughter just gripped me with Californian Condor.
And me! The last ones were in cages during my 8 month stay in the SW USA!
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 21:15   #17
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And me! The last ones were in cages during my 8 month stay in the SW USA!
Apparently easy now in the Grand Canyon where they have a viewing point.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 22:05   #18
Jon Turner
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Apparently easy now in the Grand Canyon where they have a viewing point.
Saw 2 wing-tagged individuals there not long after they started releasing them. Massive!
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 22:20   #19
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I usually mention my three-tick day on 31 December 1983: Spoonbill, Red-breasted Goose, Ring-billed Gull. But that was almost more like a day out birding than a twitch. However:

January 1984. Olive-backed Pipit in Dave Parker's back garden in Bracknell. Fabulous views at short range with a cup of tea in the hand. With plastic runners down over the carpet no need even to remove shoes.

Following day, White-tailed Sea Eagle at Brill. Except it wasn't when we arrived. Someone drove up as me and Mum (know-nothing newbies) were assimilating the fact that this enormous bird wasn't going to be easy, shouted "418 to Oxford" and was about to shoot off again when I stood in front of his car and said "what?" to which the answer was that the bird was in a tree somewhere along the A418 on the way towards Oxford. Worrying about finding the spot, we tried to follow and used the map after we lost him.

"I think this is the spot" I remarked as we found a stretch of road with parked/abandoned cars littered everywhere and the thin dark green line that marks the presence of a crowd of twitchers. A huge brown cigar was sitting in a tree, with a big hook sticking out of the top end sideways. The hook is still stuck in my mind.....

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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 22:21   #20
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Saw 2 wing-tagged individuals there not long after they started releasing them. Massive!
Are they actually tickable there now?
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 22:32   #21
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Are they actually tickable there now?
Dunno! But pretty much all of them have to be recaptured from time to time to undergo lead detox from eating remains of animals shot by hunters and contaminated with bullet fragments. So you could argue they're not self-sustaining yet.
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 22:37   #22
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Can.' remember the exact year, but around 1974, as teenagers we all caught the bus from Leicester to Belton in Rutland, a long walk via Alexton to Eyebrook reservoir nr Uppingham for the 19th (at the time) UK Kildeer.

In a sense it wasn't a true twitch as this was one of our regular bird watching trips along with the other local spots that were reachable by public transport, bicycle or whoever's dad could be conned into giving us a lift, although we did go specifically for this bird.

My first trip out of the county was an organised school bird club outing to Weeting heath for Stone Curlew the following year so I suppose if a "twitch" is defined as a special trip that would be it. That does raise the question though. If you go to a regular spot for a specific bird rather than simply as a general patch trip does that count as a twitch. (for eg I have been to Rutland Water for several specific birds as well as for "normal" planned outings)
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 22:54   #23
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Little Crake at Cuckmere Haven,East Sussex-March,1985

I heard about it from the Tony Soper nature programme on tv..until then I knew nothing about a rare bird grapevine.

There the bird was clambering around scope tripods and I thought this twitching lark is a piece of cake..little did I know .
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 22:56   #24
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I normally say the Black-winged Stilt family at Holme on 28th June 1987. I had seen them on The Really Wild Show first.

A few things through the autumn whilst learning how to drive that year & after passing my driving test on 28th January 1988, I spent the weekend twitching Kenfig, Tregaron, Slimbridge & Chew for Pied-billed Grebe, Red Kite, Lesser White-fronted Goose & Ring-billed Gull.

All the best
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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 23:38   #25
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New Bins purchased on the Friday, first ever''Twitch'' (c3.5 hr.drive) on the Saturday March 11th 1978. Walked up gradient path to the top, hearing (my then earliest ever Chiff Chaff), said to my colleague that's a good omen! with the sun behind us and looking down into the quarry, if memory serves....just two other people present (might be a few more nowadays :)

A few minutes passed, then from the right below eye-level, perfectly lit....the ''crimson wonder'' sailed past on Butterfly wings that were sporting white ''headlights'' with each downward flick. Truly unforgettable...as was Cheddar Gorge, and I can't wait to see another...especially in my viewfinder.
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