Saturday, 6 October 2012

Woodlarks, Twitter and naming things

It's funny how birds that 'come your way' do so with a great fat dollop of chance. This afternoon I went to Canons Farm and decided to park on the eastern boundary of the recording area in Holly Lane West - I normally park on the opposite side. Because of that decision I found myself walking across a stubble field that ordinarily I wouldn't even look at (for those that do detail this particular field has been christened Pipit Field). Three passerines got up in front of me and quickly settled again. Through binoculars I couldn't immediately see them so I slowly edged closer, more in hope than expectation. After a couple of minutes one came into view, followed by the other two. Each bird's generous supercillium that met on the nape (in a 'V') gave the identification game up quite quickly as three smart Woodlarks paraded in front of me. I didn't need to use my scope that hung redundantly by my side as they were very close.

Then the farce started. I knew that the Canons Farm Boy Wonder, David Campbell, was having phone trouble, but I sent a text and left a voicemail all the same. As I was doing this the birds took off; the short-tailed calling larks circled as if to return, then seemingly pitched down in the Buzzard Field area (all Canons fields have names - many that I don't know the name of). I decided to try and find David - and any other birder on site - rather than try and find the larks again for fear of flushing them away. I managed to get hold of Roy Weller by phone, and send out a group text to local birders, but spent the following hour storming over the considerable recording area without seeing a single birder!

To cut a long story short David (after dexterous use of technology to get birding gen delivered to his ailing phone), Roy and Paul Goodman finally joined me in the general area that the Woodlarks had been, but our search was in vain. This is only the second farm record of this species, with my record of November 2007 being the first. I doubt that it will be the last.

Two things came out of today. I activated my old Twitter account so that information can get out to interested birders who's phones might be playing up. Secondly I'm going to try and remember the names of the fields, woods, gateposts and haystacks of Canons Farm, because it's a lot easier to describe where something is by using two words.

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