Rare bird causes a huge flap
YOU have to be so careful when you are dealing with nature experts – especially when it comes to the birds. You see, some people would even take that the wrong way?
According to the internet – a birder seriously pursues the hobby of birding while a twitcher travels long distances to see a rare bird to tick off his/her list.
Referring to a birder as a twitcher is hugely defamatory, although I haven’t yet heard of anyone being taken to court.
So when a rare bird turned up on Little Woolden Moss, close to Cadishead in Salford, the other week, there was a great deal of twitching on the nature reserve belonging to the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and north Merseyside.
Yes there definitely were twitchers heading in our direction to see a stone curlew, a bird last seen in Greater Manchester in 1963.
That means anyone younger than me wouldn’t have actually seen this bird on home turf so it was a major occasion if you were a birder or a twitcher.
I was a toddler so I wouldn’t have remembered.
When someone told me there was a stone curlew on the Moss, I had no idea what an important sighting this was.
That was until David Steel got in touch.
David is the moss land birder supreme and when he gets excited about something you know it is important. David was the first person to see the bird and managed to get some photographs too.
With a lot of these rare birds it’s just a brown non-descript little thing or it has a slightly greyer chest or darker beak.
That wasn’t the case with the stone curlew, this is a really wonderful looking bird.
The first thing you notice is its bright yellow eyes, which help it to forage for food in the dark – night vision eyes and you can tell there’s something special just by looking at them.
Then there are the gangly legs, with thick knees.
Those knees have led to its nickname which is ‘thick knees’, which didn’t take a lot of thought.
The bird is also called the wailing heath chicken because it screeches, a similar call to curlews, who also nest in the moss. The stone curlew is the size of a crow with a large head, to accommodate those laser eyes, and all in all is a fabulous bird.
In spring and summer migrant stone curlews generally stick to south east England and breed in small numbers.
Up here it’s a rare sight which had both birders and twitchers twitching and elbowing each other out of the way.
●● The rare sighting of a stone curlew on Little Woolden Moss, Salford