In Search of the Pine Bunting, Not the Northern Lights.

Post 108: 10 February 2017, 1000 Mile Walk Challenge

Having recently spent two weeks in the Arctic in search of the Northern Lights, I had resumed my ‘bread and butter’ walking through my local village in order to continue with my 1,000 mile challenge.

Yesterday came as a bit of a shock as on a quiet lane, where it is surprising to see more than two dog walkers a day, I was confronted by loads of men walking towards me dressed in a myriad of outdoor clothing as though they were in the Arctic. They had tripods, huge scopes, hats, gloves, large boots, the lot. What was going on?

The last time my village had an invasion like this was when a hoppoe happened to fly in from Afro-Eurasia a few years ago. On that occasion traffic jams occurred, all due to a medium sized bird of about 10 inches.

This time it was worse as it was only 6.5 inch bird that was causing a twitcher invasion. They had come from afar as Burnley, Redcar, Leeds and such like. The bird being sought after was a mega rare Pine Bunting. I read that only about 50-60 have ever been spotted in the UK.


Due to strong easterly winds it had been blown in from Siberia, or somewhere like that, and it had decided to land in Yorkshire. After getting over the initial shock, it had taken up residence in my village with the local Yellowhammers.  This was not as daft as it seemed as their are strong similarities.

Apparently twitchers were falling off their chairs in astonishment at the news.

Now I think twitchers get their name as when such a rare sighting is electronically communicated to them, via their apps or whatever, they begin to twitch until such time as they can can get a confirmed sighting of the bird of their dreams. This can be an extremely painful experience for them if they are stuck at work or have parental duties that they can’t delegate to a long suffering wife or partner.

On seeing the tiny bird some were speechless.

Now it is one thing to spend hours outside in the Arctic or on the deck of the ship as I did in the previous two weeks to see and photograph the Northern Lights (see previous blogs),


but to spend 13 hours in the cold looking for a 6.5 inch bird and then to spot it for 10 seconds only seems a bridge too far for me.

Having said that, today I got my big lens out, binoculars,and cold weather geared and decided to do a bit of bird watching on my walk today. So here it is:


No not THE PINE BUNTING but its mate the Yellowhammer.

There is always another day. I am just beginning to twitch, but have cured it with a glass of red wine. ……………………

Miles Walked 4.7

Calories 532

Steps 9,700

Average Pace 19.03 Minutes per Mile

Maximum Pace 7.55 Minutes per Mile

Elevation Gain 64.7 ft

Minimum Elevation 36.5 ft 

Maximum Elevation 74.6 ft






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