35 Birds I'd Like to See in 2012.

Bean Goose
Ruddy Shelduck
Red-breasted Goose
Velvet Scoter
Green-winged Teal
Black Grouse
White-tailed Eagle
Quail
Honey Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard
Stone Curlew
Great Shearwater
Jack Snipe (21st Jan.)
Common Crane (7th Apr.)
Caspian Gull
Glaucous Gull
Roseate Tern
Long-eared Owl
Tawny Owl
Hoopoe
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (26th Feb.)
Citrine Wagtail
Woodlark
Shore Lark (7th Apr.)
Water Pipit (29th Feb.)
Nightingale (6th May)
Icterine Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Crested Tit
Bearded Tit (19th Feb.)
Penduline Tit
Chough
Common / Mealy Redpoll
Red-backed Shrike
Bee-eater

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Tuesday
May222012

Cream-coloured Courser.

Full and embarrassing disclosure. On Sunday evening I had no idea what a Cream-coloured Courser was. On Monday morning, when the news broke on Twitter, I presumed it was a butterfly and went back to whatever it was I was doing. Work. Yes, I was doing work at work.

Of course it wasn't long before the penny dropped. A seriouspropermegabird was in Herefordshire, and I was at work. Hmmm.

I ducked out of a Monday evening twitch for reasons which - as I type this entry, images of the bird seared into my retinas - now seem idiotic. I won't elabourate. Needless to say on Monday evening the net (well, the important, birdy part of the net) was awash with Cream-coloured Courser porn. It soon became impossible not to go. So I did. After the traditional, interminable, pre-twitch day at work in Cheltenham I was on the road at 1700hrs.

One hour and 40 minutes later, after encounters with slow moving cars, slow moving delivery vans, slow moving articulated lorries, slow moving articulated lorries with trailers, very slow moving tractors and an impossibly slow moving JCB, I arrived at Kington Golf Club. The course sits on top of Bradnor Hill. The single track road up was something of an obstacle course. Relaxed birders going one way, frantic, nervous birders going the other and not nearly enough passing places. Still, plenty of people looking pleased meant the bird was still present, and still showing well.

I parked as close as I could to the 'No Cars Beyond This Point' sign (really, go as far up as you can... your feet will thank you) and began the walk up to the 8th fairway. A beautiful location. I actually marvelled. Warm, sunny, soft blue sky with a stunning panoramic view. I probably saw Wales.

Bradnor Hill and surrounds.The disadvantage of coming in the evening is that the margin for error is small. The advantage is that on a day like today the light is terrific. This meant the Cream-coloured Courser - feeding without inhibition on the fairway - looked a billion dollars. For me, this is Waxwing beautiful. If it could talk, it would hypnotise in a delicious foreign tongue. You watch this bird, and you're somewhere else.

Cream-coloured Courser. Yes you read that right. CREAM-COLOURED COURSER.Perhaps 30 birders were present, holding a respectful distance from the bird. Everyone was relaxed. Once again, this probably had a lot to do with the bird's compliant behaviour, but still this is not to be underestimated. Makes the world of difference. It was a joy to be up there.

Fan club.I watched it for nearly 45 minutes. I took lots of photos, offered scope views to anyone who didn't have one and boggled at the views when I had them.

Stunning plumage.The black and white v-shape on the back of it's head (and grey crown) was so striking.

Feeding.There were lots of sheep.You don't need to see any of these, but I simply HAVE to show them.I was reminded of the Dotterel I sat with on Cleeve Hill in the pouring rain. Same clockwork movement over the ground, but never really going anywhere. Same feeding motion. Extraordinarily upright though, and fond of ducking down for little apparent reason. It also walked along with it's head cocked or turned to 45 degrees (some people remarked that it looked a little comical. I can see that). It was watching for food, but also watching us. Not that it cared.

I see you.I had to drive back, so my notes about other birds are restricted to "lots of Meadow Pipits, lots of Skylarks and one singing Cuckoo."

It was hard to drag myself away from the Courser. Why? I may never see one in Britain again. It was beautiful. The light made it look like a work of art. It is a work of art.

There were quite a few last looks through my telescope, and quite a few more last photographs (even though I knew I wasn't adding anything new). So I left, looking back only once at those still watching.

I mustn't linger here. If I do, I'll probably write a sonnet... so I'll finish with a simple message. If you are reading this, and you are a birder, and you can get to it in time, you have to see this bird. I'm thrilled to have it on my list and in my head, and dearly hope it sticks around so that anyone who wants to see it can.

Goodbye.

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