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Lapland Bunting, Malvern

North Hill, Malvern, Worcs

For only the third time in over a year, barring armchair ticks, my life list moves on, to 1069. This means the British list goes up too – 17 short of 300. When will I get there? 2015 at the present rate of progress, I should live so long. And the Worcestershire list hits 150.

Those are the milestones. What of the bird? I’ve been for Lapland buntings a few times; I’ve been for birds on Malvern a few times. Not a single success on either front thus far, so I was not hopeful. But I met a man who’d talked to a man who’d seen the bird where we were standing, somewhere on North Hill. More specifically somewhere near Chat Valley. I’d always wondered where that was, so at least I would take away that knowledge.

I did also learn that the bunting was associating with meadow pipits and they were easy to spot. It was just a question of picking through them and…

My God, one of them looked like a bunting and it had a damn great brown panel in its wing. That’s about all you need for Lapland. It has bunting-y facial markings – eyebrows, moustaches, ear coverts and whatnot – and it has a grey central stripe to its crown, which is also a good diagnostic.

I had a fair enough look until predictably a dog-walker disturbed it. You see why birders hate dog-owners? It’s not a random, irrational hatred. It’s rooted in an unavoidable conflict and the fucking dog-owners win every time. One of these days…

But today I won’t let it tarnish a life tick.

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