Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Local Yankee twitch!

Just 40 minutes away from my home, a male Dark-eyed Junco turned up in someones garden in East Coker, just outside of Yeovil in Somerset. Today was the first good opportunity for me to go to try and see this American bird.
On the way down, I got diverted due to an accident on the main road to Yeovil, this all added to the tension! Eventually I got there, a quiet road in the small village of East Coker. A lady waiting in a car (birding widow I think) directed me to knock on the door of the house where the bird has been showing and I was invited in by the owner to look for the bird from his conservatory! How gracious of this man to let total strangers into his home. I took my boots off and joined the many other birders packed like sardines (I exaggerate a little bit) into the conservatory which looked out onto the very small back garden. There were plenty of bird feeders out there and bird seed was scattered on the bird table and on the roof of the shed (I think the scattered seed had been put down specifically for this bird). Apparently the Junco had been seen about 1/2 hour before I arrived and not since! Sigh.....
The owner then came in and cheerfully mentioned that the bird very often disappeared for several hours at a time......more sighing......he then went upstairs to look out for it from a bedroom window and said he would let us know if it was about again.
About another 1/2 later, we knew something was up as there were hurried and heavy footsteps coming from above us! (-: The owner came bounding down the stairs.....apparently the Junco had just flown into the top of the large conifer which was dominating the small garden. We all craned our necks and bins to try to get a glimpse. Eventually I saw it in the conifer branches just above the shed and directed everyone onto the bird. It showed partially and briefly and then flew off! Nice to get a glimpse, but everyone wanted better views of this lovely bird. Another 20 minutes wait, and then it came back and settled in a small tree. It seemed to be pecking small insects off the branches. Again it flew off......another wait.........the tension had diminished somewhat amongst my fellow birders, but the atmosphere in that conservatory was still hot and steamy! After another small wait, it showed again, this time coming out onto the shed and showing well while eating some of the seeds that had been put out for it.
So, all in all, a very successful and well mannered twitch (they're not always like that!). The owner was a true gent for showing birders both inside his house and also looking after those that had to view from outside. He had a pot out for voluntary donations which would go to the RSPB which was a great idea. Here are some photos. They were taken in pretty poor light and through the conservatory windows so arn't the best but I'm very glad I've got them.



7 comments:

Eve said...

Wonderful Jenny!! I'm so glad that worked out for you!

Roy said...

Well done Jen, great stuff.
That's a good tick in the book.

Your are now a right "Twitcher".
Fancy invading someone's house!!! I dont know. {:)

I bet that's the most exciting that has ever happened in East Cocker.

Jenny said...

Hi Evie, thanks, I'm glad the Junco was still around, not like that Little Blue Heron a few weeks ago!!! (-:

Hi Roy, I'm what I would call a 'relaxed' twitcher, but mostly a birder. I have to say it was very civilised birding from a conservatory! (-:

Mary said...

That's wonderful! I wish it had a female with it :-) It really amazes me that you can show up at someone's house and they invite you in to look at a bird! I'm not sure that would happen here with strangers. I'm glad to know that our birds are given such a warm welcome :-)

Quiet Paths said...

Oh Jenny, I got such a kick out of your narrative. I could just see the whole thing; all of you crowded in there waiting for a peek at the elusive Junco. My Mom has these at her feeder around this time of year.

Jenny said...

Hi Mary, I think it all depends on how things are handled, specially in residential areas. Twitchers often get bad press and a minority of them do step over the line of manners and also welfare of the bird. This was a well managed twitch and the bloke who let us into his house was interested in birds and knew the level of interest to expect. And yes, wouldn't it have been great if there had been a Mrs Junco....

Hi Christine, I'm glad you enjoyed the hot and steamy atmosphere! I've seen many Junco in the States, but it was pretty special to see this smart male over here too! (-:

Mosura said...

WOW! That's fantastic and you even got photos. Good one!