The 15 year old and the Desert Warbler and the

Long-billed Dowitcher. 1979.

Excuse the glorious nostalgia. The two recent Desert Warblers have stirred the pot. Super tame dude in the Netherlands and super rare (first national record) in Norway have stirred the pot. How did my fascination with rare birds begin? My first ‘twitch’ I suppose was a White Stork (a BBRC rarity back then) in 1978 at Chirk, near Oswestry.

Then I found one! one of the most magic moments I have ever known. Well. A family asked me what this funny bird was. I looked though a telescope and quiet unbelievably there was bird… and somehow I knew what it was. I must have absorbed myself sufficiently in the bird book pages- including the ‘vagrants section’. I knew what it was  – a dowitcher- instinctively, immediately, I had a name for it…


Here, on my patch. Looking at an American wader whose image I had learnt from a book. An exotic name. From a far-flung land. I submitted a Dowitcher sp. and the powers said Long-billed.

That was 29th September 1979.

A few days later I was watching- a DESERT  WARBLER. 

A bird I had never heard of- from an even further flung land. I can’t remember exactly who was present, but Billy Morton was my constant sparing partner, Don Weedon, my RSPB man and Dougie Percival our YOC mentor. I was well catered for and we were off!

And so began the fascinating world of rare birds that had travelled enormous distances, with some kind of amazing story behind them. The wonder has never dimmed.



Desert Warbler, Meols, October 1979. The 4th British record by Tony Murphy

huge thanks Allan Conlin, Tony Murphy, Bill Morton, Don Weedon. Allan esp helped sourcing the old pic.

Don Weedon (1 of 1)

Me with Don Weedon, who seems to have hardly aged. My RSPB field officer in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. One of the highlights of this years Spurn Migration Festival was to have Don present. Bloomin’ marvelous!

One thought on “The 15 year old and the Desert Warbler and the

  1. linosabirding

    a BIG THANKS for that …
    for a Med Boy (person from Mediterranean or also a Mad person if you like 😉 NOSTALGIA is part of the salt of life, chiefly f it is a full special life

    so, thanks for sharing some of yours nostalgia :-))))


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