Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Thursday 1st Jan 2015, Little Bustard Twitch




Twitchers at dawn on 1/1/2015 at Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya Rose Craig


It was the first day of the New Year and we were heading to east coast of Yorkshire for an extremely rare bird, a Little Bustard, from Europe.  A couple of days before, on the 29th December, one had been seen on the south coast just in flight.  It was seen by one person and although lots of people tried, it could not be relocated.  The news was tantalizing and frustrating at the same time.  Then the next day, on the 30th December 2014, a Little Bustard was seen on the Sussex coast, again in flight and again not relocated.  The strange thing was that this was the second Bustard that this birder had found in Britain…what are the chances of that??  It is very likely that these were the same birds that had managed to get here from France


On the very last day of 2014, New Year’s Eve, the news came out late morning that a Little Bustard had been seen in flight on the East coast of Yorkshire near Bridlington.  This one was later relocated and some birders managed to get there in time to see it, as it was showing until dark.  A friend of ours, John Pegdon, who is a big twitcher, dropped everything and even managed to get there from South Lincolnshire and see the bird.   With the history of the two other birds being seen flying away, I was not feeling optimistic about the bird still being there the next day.  It felt likely that the next day was going to be a huge dip.



For New Year’s Eve we had been invited to a party in our village.  It would have been rude to not turn up at all.  So Dad stayed at home to go to bed as he was not feeling great and had to drive whilst Mum and I went to the party.  The plan was that we got home at 10 pm, so that we could get up at 2 am to leave.  There was a possibility that the bird would fly out of the field at down, never to be seen again, so we could not be late leaving.  Once we got to the party, Mum and I got talking to our friends and so we ended up celebrating the New Year and getting home at 1 am.  Dad was not impressed and an hour later we were up again.


A Young Birder's First Twitch of the Year


It was lucky that Dad was driving, so that Mum and I could catch up with some sleep in the car.  When we got to where the bird had been seen the day before, it was swarming with twitchers lined up along the side of the track for (what seemed like) miles waiting for the sun to properly rise, hoping for the bird to show and praying it was still here. 


Twitchers waiting to see Little Bustard on 1/1/2015, Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Photograph and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


As we hurried along the line of 500 twitchers, I was feeling tired and anxious about whether the bird would be there.  When suddenly, we could hear people talking excitedly, and then saw them moving fast down the line, before discovering that birders down the line had seen the bird. We sped up, asking people if they actually knew where the bird was. 




Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Twitchers looking for 
Little Bustard at Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Photograph and copyright Chris Craig




Twitchers looking for Little Bustard at Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Photograph and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig




Once we found someone who had their telescope on the bird, we asked for directions.  He gave us directions and at the same time let us look through his scope. Once we had we all seen the bird, a new British Bird for all of us and also a world tick for Mum and me, we had to contain the strong urge to do a victory dance before setting up the scope with giant grins on our faces.  We stayed there for a few more hours, taking turns admiring this lovely bird. It did not move much but did move his head and body from time to time, giving slightly better views.  It was also lovely to catch up with some great old friends.




Little Bustard on 1/1/2015 at Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Photograph taken by and copyright Mark Rayment


This gave us a chance to get over the fact that we had managed to actually see a Little Bustard as well as inventing theories about it being the ghost of the one from exactly 27 years before, 1st January 1988.  Dad was in his late teens and had stayed sober on NYE to drive down to the South coast to twitch a Little Bustard.  He also gave a lift to a car load of friends.  The bird was seen once, flying out of a field with half the birders there seeing it and the other half missing it.  Dad’s friends all saw it, but he missed it…which he has never got over…until now!  His friends said that there was subdued euphoria in the back of the car on the way home that day and some friends liked to remind Dad of the day whenever they bumped into each other.



Little Bustard on 1/1/2015 at Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Photograph taken by and copyright Mark Rayment


Twitchers at Little Bustard Twitch on 1/1/2015, Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Photograph and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Twitchers at Little Bustard Twitch on 1/1/2015, Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Photograph and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



As we were driving home I fell asleep, smiling with the fact that I had managed to see such a rare bird.  500 miles after our start and 17 hours later we arrived home ready for the exciting year of birding to come.



About the writer


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig


Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker.    She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world.  She has recently been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people.  Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter



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