Two birds of my most-wanted birds for sometime now have been the Wryneck and the Hoopoe. Well I got a Wryneck only 30 minutes from my home last month so now I was looking out for a Hoopoe. Since I've been birding, I've only known of a couple of opportunities to see one in the UK and they were a bit too far to travel. So when one of these lovely exotic birds appeared in West Yorkshire this week, it was too good a chance to miss.
I'm not really a twitcher, preferring to take the opportunities of seeing a rare bird only if they crop up within about a two hour drive from home. I have occasionally gone further, but with a backup plan of what I'll do if the bird is no longer present - birds can fly you know, and often do! So a longer twitch often involves planning an overnight stay and a visit to a nature reserve which I wouldn't normally get to see.
However, for this bird no such planning was needed - I just jumped in the car and drove up the M62 and A1/M1 for about an hour and twenty minutes and there it was. And I mean literally there it WAS! I parked the car in a suburban street, walked down a ginnel for about five minutes to the Collingham and Linton Cricket Club and there was the bird was feeding on the outfield of the pitch in front of a crowd of about fifteen people. Easy-peasy and just the way I like it!
The light conditions were variable throughout the day but the bird was never very far away and it was easy to lie done on the grass verges just outside the pitch boundary perimeter to get some low profile shots. It was feeding voraciously on bugs and grubs in the grass and could maintain extended periods of spearing the soil with its long, decurved beak, rarely moving off with out finding something to eat. This is well demonstrated in the video below: