I have recently being experiencing a deep-rooted sense of shame! I mentioned in my previous post that I'd missed out on a lot of good birds of late. Some of these are birds I have gone for and missed and some are birds I've missed out on because I couldn't or wouldn't go for. But it's not just down to plain old bad luck. I started to think about it late last night having dipped on the Bunmahon Purple Heron yesterday. I ran a check in my head and realised that the list of birds I have missed in the last year is really quite shameful. But they fall into several different categories, allow me to explain by way of examples.
Example 1 - 'couldn't get out of work'
Baillon's Crake - Great Saltee Island, Co. Wexford
Stuck in work when news broke that Saturday. I wasn't too worried as its not a bird that's been on my horizon or wish list but still the first Irish record since 1858.....and it showed really well!
Red-flanked Bluetail - Shite Lane, Galley Head, Cork
This one really hurts, couldn't get out of work on the day news broke and the next day it was gone!
This category happens to many of us, not too shameful really but painful especially in the case of the RFB.
Example 2 - 'dipped'
Least Sandpiper and Semi-palmated Plover - Blackrock and Ventry, Co. Kerry
In this case I actually took time off work to see the birds. A trip to Kerry was timed too late for the Least Sandpiper, seen the day before but gone when I got there. But the Semi-palmated Plover was down to poor judgement. Another birder present on the beach said he thought he had it in his scope, I ignored 'gen' given to me by those who'd seen it and spent 2 hours studying what turned out to be a Ringed Plover (no palmations). I should have trusted my own instinct that time.
Purple Heron - Bunmahon, Co. Waterford.
Spent an hour looking but gave up. Lack of preparation meant I hadn't realised that Bunmahon is quite far from Cork. By the time I reached the site I was tired and p#*ssed off. With no sign after an hour and getting cranky I headed home!
Surf Scoter - Garretstown, Co. Cork
Again down to poor prep and bad planning. A dash from Macroom to Garretstown (further than it sounds) left me with very little time and a hungry wife in the car (it was past dinner-time!!). I had to scope the area as quick as possible and for that reason probably overlooked the bird. I've seen several of these in the past but I was frustrated with myself for making a balls of the whole thing!!
Ring-necked Duck, The Lough, Cork
Bad luck here, a nice drake showing well on The Lough. I went twice but never saw it.
'Eastern' Olivaceous Warbler - Mizen Head, Cork
Bad luck again, got the 'gen', went on time but it was gone. Couple of lads had driven from Leeds overnight to see it also but dipped, so not as bad as that for me. But one I'd love to see and photograph well all the same!
Example 3 'Too lazy to go when the news broke'
Pallid Harrier - Ballyvergan, Co. Cork and Tacumshin, Co. Wexford.
I was busy enjoying my Saturday when news broke of a Pallid Harrier at Ballyvergan Marsh. A 1st for Ireland (well done Owen) and not too far away either. Plenty of time I thought (what was I thinking....seriously!!) and said I'd go when I had a minute. Of course it was long gone when I finally got around to going there. In the case of the Wexford bird, if I gone early in the morning and with specific 'gen' it might have been possible. I didn't really deserve to see 2 together during last Autumn ('A tail of two Pallids')
Montague's Harrier - Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork
Showing well at the Old Head, again a Saturday bird. If I'd put down my coffee, gotten up off the couch and out I'd have seen and maybe even photographed this one. Its an Irish tick for goodness sake!
Rough-legged Buzzard - Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow
A pattern emerging here, anyone would think I don't like BoPs! P and I were staying up in Rathnew and checked the farm at Glenroe briefly but it was long gone and I knew it was.....dumb-ass! Up to then I wasn't bothered going.
Example 4 'Too hungover to go'
Booted Warbler, The Cunnigar, Co. Waterford
Self-inflicted so there should be no sympathy for this one. At least I've learned that even if you do feel rotten you should go anyway. You won't remember how crappy you felt when you look back (see Knockadoon 'sore' Head).
Example 5 'Not arsed going'
Bearded Reedling, Tacumshin, Co. Wexford
I'm not sure what category these fall into. I could file them under the heading 'dipped' as we missed them also the same day we missed the Pallid Harrier at Tac. I may go back....maybe.
Northern Harrier - Tacumshin, Co. Wexford.
OK, I admit it. I may not be such a big fan of BoPs as other birders are and as I used to be one time. Maybe because it's not hugely different from Hen Harrier and because I find flight shots tricky, I didn't bother to drive to Wexford (or Wicklow) for that one.
Great Reed Warbler - Great Saltee Island, Co. Wexford
Too much effort for a skulker and I'd seen loads in Latvia and Mallorca. Should have gone really though!
Great Grey Shrike - Slievenacloy, Co. Antrim
Too far to go but having seen one in Latvia last summer I'm sorry I didn't. Stunning birds!!
I could go on!! I'm not really that big into twitching or listing. I enjoy seeing certain birds; Warblers, Flycatchers, Thrushes, Chats, Nightjars, Swifts, Hirundines, Terns (especially marsh terns), Owls, Waders, Gulls and Shrikes etc. I should probably move to Spain!! But the list of what I've missed is really, shamefully very long!! All joking aside there are other priorities in my life apart from birds.....my wife (of course), work and sometimes I just don't feel like making a 6 hour round trip to see a bird (or longer). I remember deciding to stay on cape clear when news broke of a Siberian Stonechat, Yellow-breasted Bunting and Paddyfield Warbler. There were good birds on cape too that time (though not as rare) and I was enjoying myself, those few days off were about relaxing and enjoying some birding not dashing around adding ticks to my list.
Anyway, I think the lesson is for me, be selective about what you want to see. If you decide to go for something, get as much 'gen' as you can up front, be patient and try to enjoy it, be philosophical if you don't see the bird.
And I have still had the odd successful trip.....Desert Wheatear, Canada Warbler, Pied-Billed Grebe, White-throated Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Myrtle Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow Warbler/Northern Waterthrush etc............so not all bad really.