I did a couple of things last week that I wouldn't ordinarily do. One was twitch a bird, the other was related to this particular twitch and I'll come to it later...
So let me set the scene; I am in the company of four other RSPB staff returning from a three-day training event in the south. While we were away news of the white-throated needletail on Harris broke and a small number of us keenly kept our eyes on the bird's progress and its ultimate and well-publicised death at the hands of a small and solitary wind turbine.
Another bird regularly appearing on the pagers during this time was the singing melodious warbler in Nottinghamshire. A brief chat soon revealed that three of the five heading back north in our single vehicle all 'needed' this species on our British lists! The other two didn't keep lists and weren't the slightest bit bothered one way or the other whether we stopped off en route to see this scarce songster. So following lunch we said our farewells to the other RSPBers and headed north, melodious warbler on our minds.
It transpired that Paul, Kevin and myself, despite being keen birders, had all done something completely out of character. Not a single one of us had a pair of bins with us. So, we were off to twitch a bird with no optics whatsoever.
We arrived at Tiln, just outside Worksop, and followed the pager instructions to the bird's location. As we approached the area we could clearly hear the wonderfully mad jumble of the melodious warbler's song coming from a small plantation of young conifers and mixed shrubbery.
The bird was seriously out of view from the path but Kev soon found a well-worn trail cutting into the area and soon came across a small group of 'scoped-up birders.
We piled in looking like a bunch of oddballs; bright t-shirts, no optics, no indication whatsover that we would even have a clue as to what a melodious warbler was.
A quick chat soon put the assembled gents in the picture and we stood patiently waiting for the warbler to show. A few bursts of its brilliant song indicated that it was still in the same area and before long it took up position in its favoured tree and commenced to give great views. Of course with the naked eye, these views were absolutely terrible and it was only through the kindness of a couple of birders that we were able to get ace (and thoroughly tickable) views of the smart visitor.
While I fully expect I may once again be in a position of seeing a decent bird when without my bins (we all get caught off guard from time to time...) I truly hope that I never, ever turn up to see a lifer without the aid of some optical device again...