Tuesday, 21 May 2013


On Friday I went to bed early excited at the prospect of getting up early and teaming up with the others to find something good at the farm, after an arrival of scarce migrants on the south and east coast. Despite turning in at about 9.00pm I only started to drift off around 11.00pm. Dreams of Hoopoes and Red-backed Shrikes around Horse Pasture were then interrupted by the pager screaming at me from my desk. Half-asleep, I looked at remarked 'Oh, Dusky Thrush in Kent... that's good', then went back to bed. Hang on....  that said DUSKY THRUSH IN KENT!!!!!!!!!! I texted a couple of people, set my alarm for 3.30am and tried to get some sleep but by the time 1.00am came around and I hadn't so much as sloomed I thought the best thing would be to drive to the site there and then and hopefully feel tired enough to sleep in the car pre-dawn following the drive. Just as I left my flat, Ian replied to my text that I'd sent earlier and I told him that I'd changed my plans and was on my way but could pick him up. He reluctantly agreed, dumbfounded at my plan of action. It turned out we weren't the nuttiest of them all, though, as on arrival at 3.00am there were already some people present! We unsuccessfully tried to catch up on our sleep before the first rays of light diffused through the sky, our signal to start searching.

It was a big cemetery and nobody really knew where to look so the assembled masses systematically filtered through the grounds, looking for the bird or for a gravestone/tree that matched those in the images of the bird online. People seemed to find the right area and we stayed there for a little while before scouting other areas. Of course we soon saw people dashing back to the theorised location, dodging headstones on the way. We joined the stampede and soon were on the female DUSKY THRUSH as it perched atop a small tree. The excitement and relief coming from everybody was more noticeable than perhaps any other twitch I've been on, this really was a grade-A rarity and it didn't give any trouble in terms of viewing. Numbers of people had swelled to hundreds and whenever the bird flew to a different tree there was a bit of a mass movement and this most probably prevented it from feeding as much as it would have liked, but at least people became a little calmer as the morning progressed. Just before 8.00am, having had several good views of the bird, Ian and I headed home.