Wildlife

James Lowen 

Everything about that afternoon was perfect. Time and place I have already dealt with. But location: a glorious, sheltered little quarry in western Shetland. And with mates: my Shetland crew of Stu and Graeme and Rich and David and Kieran and Andy; but also friends Josh and Jon and Rebecca. And then there was the light - a photographer's dream. The sun was shining, and the UK's first Siberian Accentor let me make hay with a series of pleasing images. One graced Rare Bird Alert's tweet that they had passed 1,000 messages in a day for the first time in their history. 

Granted, the colourful Siberian miracle did not appear first to us. Judd Hunt and Hugh Harrop were granted that particular privilege. But when we received the news half-an-hour or so later, we were barely five minutes drive away. Right place, right time.  

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9 Oct 2017  Prophesy+1


One year ago today, I was in the exactly right place at the precisely right time. Which is odd (and fortunate) enough. But I also chanced to prophesise what would happen. Which is odder and more fortunate still.  

The world was perfect that Shetland afternoon one year ago. The only thing is... it was too perfect. It was twitching nirvana, in every way. It was the best it could ever be. And once the pinnacle has been reached, the only way is down. My twitching life has not been the same since - and I suspect it never will be. So that prophesy, that wondrous afternoon at Scousburgh, that brilliantly posh Dunnock, those images, that magazine - they now leave me pining, and ever so slightly forlorn.  

And another image - in the words of one of my publishers (the beady, slightly beardy one), a 'now legendary image' - has last week been afforded the honour of adorning the front cover of the October 2017 issue of British Birds magazine. This covers the rarities report for 2016 in which, of course, the UK's 13 Siberian Accentors have pride of place. It is my first cover for this illustrious magazine - and I am touched.