January 8th, 2008, 10:10 PM
Never Mind the B*****KS
Despite going thorugh a severe phasing patch (my first for some time) I managed to drag myself out birding this morning and decided to go check out ducks, loons and grebes off Alligator Point. I walked along the beach to scan the large raft of ducks in mud cove and was rewarded with a couple of cracking Greater Scaup, a few 1st winter Smickers, a large group of Ring-bills, 2 Boneys, a Willet and a few Forster's and Royal Terns. The only divers I saw turned out to be Great Northerns. I took a few pictures of the gulls for some strange reason which all turned out ....e, mainly because of the ....py haze. One picture was worth keeping (barely), a 1st winter Royal Tern.
I then trudged back to the car and drove down Alligator drive checking the Starlings and Collared Doves for anything American. My reward was a trio of fine Brown-headed Cowbirds. The excitement was almost unbearable and I suddenly, found myself, wishing I was birding in Manchester grilling a flock of Herring Gulls. The back bay provided a little interest. 28 Boneys were feeding, along with a nice raft of 17 Slav Grebes. If only I could see the puzzled expressions on the yank birders who are wondering what a Slav Grebe is. It's actually good for you...there is a world outside of the USA and it is very very different to yours. For those who are wondering whether I'm fed up, the answer is yes. I was looking at the pics of the White-crowned Sparrow on Surfbirds yesteday and, even though I've seen lots here, I suddenly felt very homesick, longing to stand amongst a bunch of fellow Brits, having a laugh whilst watching a mega rare bird. I'm realising that the thing I miss the most about home, apart from Mum and Dad, are the birders. I miss the .... taking, the arguments, the stringing, the gossip, the sitting around drinking tea and talking about birds but most of all I really miss twitching. Over here I'm stuck with the extreme excitement of County Listing and chasing the odd rarity, most of which aren't even rare nationally. The only rarity that has got the blood flowing and the heart pumping since I left Blighty was the Green-breasted Mango and I waited weeks to go see that. I want to feel the excitement I felt when my pager told me there was an Ivory Gull only an hour's drive from where I was currently birding, driving there at highly illegal speeds and getting to touch the birds wing as it flew over our heads! Or when we chartered a chopper to go see a Veery, best 60 quid I ever spent....it cost Jenny a dishwasher! Running flat out for 2 miles to see Britain's first Short-toed Eagle only to find it was sitting out of view. Some of the twitches were heartbreaking, like driving non-stop for 6 hours to see a Terek Sandpiper only to be told a fecking jetskier had flushed it 5 minutes before I arrived. I hate jetskiers, wish I could torpedo the bastards! So I'm phasing a bit, infact I am phasing a lot. What? I've basically had enough of birding, I'm bored of it, I haven't gotten excited about a bird for ages, even the Broad-billed. When I'm out birding these days I can hardly be bothered to look at anything. I've been through patches like this before but not as worse as it is now. I know it'll get better, hopefully when Dad comes over and we go birding to Dauphin Island. Hopefully the Space Coast Festival will bring me out of this phase. The other thing that has been bothering me lately is telling people (over here) where I'm from. Usually the conversation goes like this...."Oh you have a lovely accent, are you Australian?""No, I'm actually from England""Oooooh whereabouts?""near Liverpool""Oh yes that's where the Beatles are from, but you're too young to remember them" I have that conversation about 4 times a day on average and have done since I came over here 4 years ago. At times I think I'm starring in that feckin' movie Groundhog Day! So the other day I decided that I'd liven things up a bit, much like Bill Murray did during the movie. I tried it out for the first time today."Well hello, you have a lovely accent, South African?" So far only two yanks have guessed I'm English!"No, close, I'm actually English, I'm from England, a small Island on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean""That's nice, whereabouts in England are you from?""I'm from Wassockton in Wassockshire""Interesting (5 second pause). Is that near London?""No actually it's near Dick's Head, which is about 300 miles North of London. It's famous for being the home of Sir Arthur Oglethorpe, who lead the Wassocks to victory against the French at Chateau Roquefort in 1367.""Who were the Wassocks?""A fierce band of mercenaries from Burnley""Wow, thats really interesting, well thanks for coming by, have a nice day" I haven't fecking laughed so much in years.