So exactly what is a ‘twitcher’? Or a ‘tick’? Or a ‘patch’? Let’s start with the easy one.
A ‘tick’ is a new bird for one of the lists that a birdwatcher keeps – a life list would be all the birds they’ve ever seen, a year list those they’ve seen that year, and so on. And it can get complicated – you could have a year list for your patch, your county, and the UK, for example, or a worldwide life list as well as a UK one.
‘Twitcher’ gets used by the media and public at large to mean birdwatcher, but really it’s a term used to refer to those birders who are willing to travel long distances, sometimes at all hours or any expense, to add new birds to one or more of their lists.
And a ‘patch’? Well, that’s up to you. For some birders, it’s one specific site, maybe even their own garden. For others, it’s a wider but still relatively small and well-defined area, less than a county, certainly.
SMEW A male Smew is the sort of bird which patch-watchers crave: scarce and spectacularly beautiful
MANDARIN Exotic and derived from escaped stock they may be, but Mandarins are certainly pretty
GREENFINCH When you haven’t had one on your patch, they are surprisingly good-looking birds