Monday, April 20, 2015

In Beds with Lady A

How crestfallen would William Amhurst (Governer General of India 1823-1828) be if he had any notion that a bunch of tardy birders would be peering into a random area of private woodland in search of an exotic/introduced/plastic/feral/whatamidoinghere bird named endearingly after his wife.  William Amhurst?  Who?  I do admit to having large gaps in my knowledge of history, but even those that are Historically learned may struggle to recall the life and times of the Governer.

I believe the story goes something like this.  So the good Lady wife subservient to the Governer's position often took walks through the Burmese forest edges to escape the tedium of day-to-day political meetings and plans to establish the British Empire through military force.  During these tranquil moments, she began to notice the delights of the forest floor, the sounds, the trees, the birds - and a pheasant that particularly drew her attention.  With the help of the waiting staff at the incumbents residence, a few of these exotic pheasants were collected and brought back to England where they were released as exotic pets into the Bedfordshire countryside.  Well something like that anyway.

From there, they established a small self-sustaining population deep within the deciduous woodland.  A clandestine creature that despite its gaudy appearance, skulks deep in the undergrowth away from the prying eyes of mankind.  They called it the Lady Amhurst's Pheasant.  How romantic.

That is until it came to light that this species is supposedly on it's way out and so over the course of the last few weeks, a small army of twitchy birders (like me that had overlooked this species) congregated along a steep footpath adjacent to the village of Lidlington.  Peering through a wire fence, the incongruity of the situation was not lost on me.  A short ride where it supposedly appears for a matter of seconds, the sounds of screeching types from the nearby Vauxhall test track quelled any sense of its indigenous environs.  Finally hearing it call distantly through the dense woodland, it began to creep closer and closer, calling every five minutes or so, until..... we gave up and headed off after a three hour vigil.

I felt a little guilty.  Lady Amhurst would not have been pleased with my pathetic attempts of trying to see this bird.  It did of course migrate thousands of miles from south-east Asia (albeit in the first-class cabin of a luxury ocean liner) to be here.

To be honest, hearing it was enough for me, for if I had seen it, I would have struggled to have added this to my British list.  All the same, I'm happy to have been in Beds with Lady A.

Lord and Lady A

The Prof and I bemused with our morning's work headed back to the patch where on meeting Lol and JP, were rewarded with a rare sighting of a Rook that on getting site of Lockwood, dashed madly out of the area.  A lucky escape, but only my third for the patch.  Two Little Ringed Plover had settled on exposed margins, and a couple of Common Sandpiper on High Maynard doubled the wader count.  A flock of House Martin flew through.

We all headed over to East Warwick where a lone Lapwing stood resolutely against the bank and a couple of Greater Black Backed Gulls gluttonously scrapped over some dubious fishy offerings.

The day began and ended with another introduced species - a bemused Red-Legged Partridge was found scampering anxiously along the vehicle track alongside East Warwick.  A mega bird for the patch - it's a funny game this.


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