19th February – Turtle Dove Twitching

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Bird Watching
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A 3:30am Saturday blast off, yet again in the rain. We are on our first ‘twitch of the year’ Co-ordinates had been entered in tomtom, and the calculated travelling time of 3 hours exactly doesn’t deter us from going. Off we go to Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. Our quarrie, the Oriental Rufous Turtle Dove. The bird had been present since December, when it was miss identified as a ‘dodgy’ pigeon. But once the photos fell into the right hands, their was no doubt of it’s species. The bird frequently performed in one of the occupants back garden who kindly gave access to birders  – for a small donation of a fiver – going to a good cause, of course. All week we had been monitoring it’s behaviour patterns. We came to the conclussion that an early arrival was best. Allthough a sighting was almost certain – Birding isn’t like trainspotting, these birds don’t follow a time table, they can dissapoint you anytime they wish – usually at weekends. We are next to a Manic Depressive guy from Stoke who ‘Dipped’ on the Tuesday, but is in much better spirits today – he has brought his lucky dog – can’t fail, can it? Friday, great views to all.

A wet drive all the way, we arrived at 6:15. Found the house. We are 4 doors away, about 70+ in the queue. Still dark, still raining. The occupants have made it known that they will allow in the first group (15) in a t 7:30am. In they went…out they went. No signs. Glum faces. About 8:45. A few hundred now have joined the queue. Day has just broken. We have only moved forward a couple of yard, but enough to offer us a glimpse inbetween two houses on to some trees. First Bob checks out the trees, then myself. A couple of Jackdaws nowt much else. We notice an increse in Woodpigeons perching in the trees. About this time our guy from Stoke gives us some advise ‘Don’t call out if you see the thing, as hundreds of twithcers will decend on us, and we won’t get a view. Sound advice. A continue to check the tree tops, my eyes trained on a new arrival. Can’t seem to see the very obvious white patchs displayed on the necks of the other Woodpigeons. Hmmm? Another check – No white patch…It’s only the dove we have come to see. I punch the back of Bob to get his attention…I punch him harder…What? says Bob. Its’ on the tree I whisper. Just then all hell breaks loose as we are in a scrum to get a view, allong with all else. I mange to rescue a telescope before it hits the floor.

Oriental Rufous Turtle Dove

Oriental Rufous Turtle Dove, Chipping Norton, Oxon.

The two and a half hours in the rain, and the 3 hours jouney to get here, all forgotten. Handshakes all around. It’s like New years day at the chimes. The bird flew shortly after, but was quickly relocated close by, where it stayed on view for a couple of hours for all to see. Celebs at the twitch included LGR Evans who did his best to control the crowd,  and we managed to chat with the stars from the ‘Twitching’ Documetary – The Craig family including Mya Rose Craig. As it happens, Mya gets her first view of the bird through bob’s scope.

Celebrations in order with the lots of Ginsters Cornish Pasties handed out, and Cups of Oxo..Happy Days. Ozzy want’s to get back in time for the Dale’s big match versus Southampton – talk about wanting the cake…..30 minutes later we here it’s called off – Waterlogged. Why should we be surprised..LOL


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