In a sensational interview given to North Downs and Beyond, a lapsed birder from Surrey has admitted to a series of rare-bird hoaxes that have fooled the nation.
The middle-aged man, who wishes to remain anonymous, has revealed a series of stunts that has seen released cage birds, remote controlled models and even a child in fancy dress fooling the UK twitching elite.
"I was fed up with the whole birding scene" he admitted. "I hated birds and I loathed birders. They just annoyed me, so I thought that I'd have a bit of fun to cheer myself up. I looked through the classified pages of Cage and Aviary Birds last autumn and purchased a Dusky Thrush which I released in Margate last November. Nobody found the damn thing even though it was remarkably tame and confiding, and then it went missing. I thought that little jape was over and forgot all about it. However, this spring it was found, only a few miles away from the initial release site. There are plenty of birders that have now ticked an escape. That made me very happy indeed."
Encouraged by this belated success, he found a supplier of remote-controlled toy Needletails in Taiwan. "That was the best thirty quid I've ever spent" he told me. "I spent a few days flying it around Cornish headlands, but again nobody saw it. I was going on holiday to Scotland, so took it with me and bingo! It was all over the pagers like a rash. The best bit was when the battery died and it fell out of the sky alongside a wind turbine. No birder that went to pick up the body noticed the wires hanging out of its backside - they were too busy shaking their fists at the propellers!"
His highlight came last week.
"I persuaded my four-year old niece to dress in a onesy that I had converted into something that looked a bit like a frigatebird. And for the price of a bag of Jelly Tots she agreed to sit out on the quay for an hour. When I saw those dudes snapping away at her, I could have cheered! If you look at the photographs of the 'bird' carefully, you can see the zip!!"
His only disappointment came when his released Great Black-headed Gull (obtained from a Russian bird dealer), was only seen by a few non-named birders who didn't carry cameras. "That would have been excellent" he said wistfully "if a full-framed image had been produced by the birders who actually saw it. All those big-listers would have been apoplectic". He claims to have drugged the gull in the hope that it hung around for at least a day. "Next time I will up the dose".
When asked if these pranks will continue, he would not be drawn. However, he hinted that he has recently purchased some decoy Murrelets from Canada, a Condor-shaped glider and some stuffed Scandanavian owls with a built in sound system, which, at night, "can fool Lars Svensson!".