27 June 2013

Aaaand..... it's gone!

Scores of twitchers flocked to the Outer Hebrides to see a bird that has been recorded just eight times previously in the UK in nearly 170 years - only to see it slain by a wind turbine...

The White-throated Needletail - the world's fastest flying bird - was thousands of miles off course after turning up at Tarbert on the Isle of Harris... There has not been a sighting of
the species in Britain since 1991 when a single bird was seen four times - in Kent, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and finally Shetland...

"It is tragic. More than 80 people had already arrived on the island and others were coming from all over the country. But it just flew into the turbine. It was killed instantly."

He added: "The corpse will be sent to a museum but obviously this is just terrible. Some people will have lost the cost of their flights. 
I had to look up "twitcher."  It carries a different connotation from "birdwatcher."
Twitching is a British term used to mean "the pursuit of a previously-located rare bird." In North America it is more often called "chasing", though the British usage is starting to catch on there, especially among younger birders. The term twitcher, sometimes misapplied as a synonym for birder, is reserved for those who travel long distances to see a rare bird that would then be ticked, or counted on a list.

The term originated in the 1950s, when it was used for the nervous behaviour of Howard Medhurst, a British birdwatcher. Prior terms for those who chased rarities were pot-hunter, tally-hunter, or tick-hunter. The main goal of twitching is often to accumulate species on one's lists. Some birders engage in competition to accumulate the longest species list. The act of the pursuit itself is referred to as a twitch or a chase. A rare bird that stays put long enough for people to see it is twitchable or chaseable.
It's basically a crazy birdwatcher.  Perhaps I'm a butterfly twitcher, but the longest I've traveled to see a specific butterfly was only about 30 miles.

Title explained:

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Wife and I watched "The Big Year" the other night (Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and Jack Black as competitive birdwatchers). Definitely recommended if you're even mildly interested in such a premise. Some good laughs and they seemed to give birding respect, rather than use it as a butt of jokes.


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