Friday, 10 February 2012

Still blocking after all these years

Picture the scene, Old Father Time Steve is sitting in front of a public house's roaring fire, a battered copy of British Birds at his feet, a foaming glass of beer in his hand and a young, eager twitcher at his side...

Young twitcher: What did you do in the war when you went twitching Steve?

Steve: (Chortles) Oh we didn't have pagers and mobile phones then you know...

YT: (looks up in the air and tutts) Cut out all of that 'we had it bad' guff and tell me about the birds

S: Yes, well, er, most of them are commoner now you know. When I went to see an Alpine Swift at Fairburn Ings in 1979 it was an unblocker! Even the 'big boys' hadn't seen one. People still ran for Pallas's Warblers!

YT: (looking interested) Tell me about the blockers

S: (Glassy-eyed, staring into the distance with a smile) Ah, the blockers. I'm glad you asked me that. There are some of the old twitches that still have value now, that can get most birders all agitated and needy. Take the Cornwall Varied Thrush for instance...

YT: (visual gasp)

S: Yes, that was in 1982. Unblocked now for THIRTY YEARS

YT: Any others?

S: Oh yes (warming up to the theme). The year before I was on Scilly, when an Orphean Warbler took up residence. Nice bird that was... unblocked now for THIRTY ONE YEARS.

YT: Is there more?

S: Oh yes, the best. The best till last. Have I ever told you about the Wallcreepers?

YT: No! Did you use the plural there?

S: Oh yes (looking smug). After seeing one at Hastings in 1977 I went to a quarry in Cheddar and saw the wintering bird in 1978. Unblocked now for THIRTY FOUR YEARS

Older man standing at the bar: That's nothing. I was wandering down a country lane in Suffolk in 1962 when a Houbara Bustard ambled past. Unblocked now for FIFTY YEARS...

S: (crestfallen) oh...

YT: (ignoring Steve and speaking to old man) Can I buy you a pint?

2 comments:

  1. Ah yes, enjoy the gloating while you can Steve!

    Personally I'm getting all excited at the imminent extinction of Lady A's Pheasant...

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  2. Good call Gavin, having made the trip to Bedfordshire myself in the early 80s, that will be a good blocker indeed!

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