18 Feb 2011

A waif from Siberia

News that an Oriental Turtle Dove had been retrospecively identified from photographs in Oxfordshire before Christmas was treated with dismay by birders far and wide! Despite a thorough search by locals it seemed to have disappeared. Roll forward a couople of months and it turns up again in a garden a few streets away!

Plans were hatched but ended in tears. A solo effort was required. Arriving very early in dark I wandered around the surrounding streets to keep warm before finally pitching up outside No. 41 The Leys where the bird had got into the habit of visiting for a free food handout. Not expecting the owner, Steve, to allow people in again I waited on the pavement with two other birders for the bird to fly over and hopefully show in the trees at the back of the garden. More people turned as it was announced we were going to be allowed in! Shit - I'd left the camera in the car. There was no way I was walking back to where I'd parked and perhaps miss getting in to see the bird having missed it once already.

Shoes off and a fiver for good causes and the lucky first group were ushered in to view the garden. As the light intensified I suddenly saw the bird fly into the top of a tall ash at the back of the garden. Nervously we waited but the bird got spooked and flew. Tensions rose but suddenly it was back again preening and biding its time in cover.

Suddenly it flew onto the bird table and from there on to the lawn. What a beautiful little bird. Why had  I not taken the camera with me? All  I got was these crappy shots using the crappy camera on the iPhone.

Since 1889 there have only been 8 records of Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove in the UK and only 3 have been of this sub-species orientalis making this a rare bird. Coupled with the fact the majority of records have been short stayers (1-2 days) and on Scottish Islands or in the Highlands it was always going to be popular & I predict a riot over the weekend. Another one struck off my most wanted list..................


johnnicklin345 said...

Hi Phil

Top bird,and well done.
At least you still got some record shots to reward you for all you're effort.
Imagine though,if you'd been the only Birder there,forgotten you're phone as well,and the owner didn't have a camera !

Cheers Denzil

Phil Woollen. said...

Thanks Denzil