Now I haven't seen a summer-plumaged Dotterel since 1997. I tried on my birthday, but dipped a bird reportedly 'showing well' at Blakeney. There had been a small group - three to five - at Choseley Barns since mid-April, but they were distant, and I wasn't really tempted. Last night, the total rose to 23 and by this morning, it was 24. That - plus a sister-in-law cancellation - was enough to make me swing into action, so I quickly compensated Sharon for her missed family time by suggesting lunch at her favourite gastropub in Thornham. Which just happened to be within a mile of the score of Dotterel. Which showed very nicely, thank you very much. And without cashing in any brownie points. Result.

James Lowen 


9 May 2015  LSD

Back in the early 90s, when my hair was long and my dress sense frankly bizarre, an event involving a car full of UEA student twitchers resulted in a new euphemism. As the carload - and us - dipped a Great Reed Warbler in Kent, the UEAers went off for a clandestine toke. Their 'cover' was 'popping round the corner to see the Garganey'. And thus it became known, among an admittedly tiny fraternity of long-haired, poorly-dressed birders, that 'Garganey' was slang for spliff. This was the first of a handful of bird / drug euphemisms. Speed was 'Needletail' (superfast swifts), Ecstasy was 'Blue-cheeked Bee-eater' (obvious). And acid (ie LSD) was 'Dotterel', simply because the flocks in which they turn up each spring are known as 'trips'.