Sunday, 11 September 2011


This week has been a particularly bad week for most birders in Oxfordshire (good for the county though), 2 firsts (new bird species) for the county and most local birdwatchers have “dipped” them.
“To dip” is a term used in birdwatching, mainly by “twitchers” who travel to see a rare bird and miss it.
I have also come across this term in the forces and it has similar negative connotations.
This past week has seen a Pallid Harrier on Blewbury Down that was seen and photographed by one observer and a Citrine Wagtail at Farmoor reservoir that only stayed for a couple of hours. A handful of lucky observers managed to see the Citrine Wagtail but most “dipped it”.
The emotional side of dipping can be quite severe in some, especially if you have just driven all the way to Aberdeen, caught a flight to Shetland only to find the bird has gone! As well as spending up to £500 on the trip the bird was not seen and the emotion can be very demoralising.
Some people just accept it and hope there will be another one, but others become quite devastated as twitching is a very competitive business.
Most “twitchers” keep a British list, County or Patch list and strive to increase this in either finding their own rare species or travelling, sometimes long distances to see other rare species that have been found. It’s one of those “bloke things” mainly.
I’m the “cup half full brigade”, disappointed but hope another will turn up sometime.

Also yesterday there was some consolation for birders at Farmoor as it also hosted some scarce species for the county, a Little Stint, 3 Black-necked Grebes and a White-winged Black Tern.
I spent approx 5 hours each, looking for the Harrier and Wagtail but saw neither. Fortunately I had seen both species before in the UK but not in my local county. Here’s to the next one!
Well done to both finders of these major rarities in the county.

Pallid Harrier @

Citrine Wagtail @

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