Saturday, 8 May 2021

To Tick a Mockingbird

With my self-imposed two-hour drive twitching limit, the Devon Northern Mockingbird was always our of range, as much as I would have liked to have seen it. 

This remarkable bird had turned up in the middle of the late winter lockdown (on 6th February), causing a lot of frustration for twitchers- well, for those who stuck to the rules. Fortunately, it stayed put and many birders including some members of Team Birdo connected with it following the easing of the rules in March. The mockingbird finally decided to move on with the arrival of spring, on 7th April having delighted hundreds who made the pilgrimmage. Amazingly, the bird was refound the following day at Pulborough, West Sussex where it delighted birders for two days, before disappearing again. It seemed to be heading east- next stop the continent perhaps? 

Having vanished for the best part of a month, the plucky Mockingbird was then discovered in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea on the Northumberland coast, yesterday. Unbelievable! I checked Googlemaps which proposed the journey would be one hour 58 minutes. The Mockingbird was now within range. Twitch on! 

After a quick and fruitless visit to Bank Island first thing, I headed home for some shopping and child care. The hours ticked by, but the news from the north was positive. I finally got leave to depart shortly after midday, and headed up the A1 in diminishing rain. Newbiggin seemed a little dreary in the overcast wet and windy conditions, but the welcome from the locals was friendly, and I soon found a parking spot and was directed to the bird. Unfortunately, it had just flown off out of sight. I spent a nervewracking ten minutes in pouring rain standing behind some garages on a bit of waste land, surrounded by high walls topped with broken glass. Lovely! 

Thankfully, the Mockingbird suddenly reappeared in a favourite tree - cracking. The gathered birders walked round to the car park behind the public toilets (from one glamourous location to another!) and we all got great views of the bird as it sheltered from the rain. After a bit it flew across into a garden, where it fed from the feeder, being partially visible through the gaps in the fence. Not a bad garden tick for somebody!

I drove home listening to The Boo Radleys. Harper Lee would have been proud.



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