If there is one thing I have learned is that, in birding, nothing is guaranteed. Birds often decide whether you see them or not. Years of guiding has taught me one valuable lesson…never guarantee that you will be able to show a person a species of bird.
However, when it comes to easy birds, that rule is often thrown out the window. And so it was when Skyler contacted me. He is a serious birder and has travelled extensively. He was visiting Ireland and had a ‘wish-list’ of target species. I looked through the list…some very tough ones in there such as Red Grouse, Water Rail, Woodcock, Grasshopper Warbler and a few other toughies. However, there on the list was one easy bird…a Rock Pipit. I replied that the majority of the species were hard to find and there were no guarantees…except for Rock Pipit. I remember writing the words: Rock Pipit - no problem!
So Skyler arrives and off we set birding for three wonderful, hard days in the field. We score on just about everything (including a superb roding Woodcock and a group of three Long-eared Owl fledglings). However, all of the usual spots in Wicklow for Rock Pipit are empty of Rock Pipits. Hmmm…that’s odd.
‘No problem!’ I announce. ‘We’ll be in Wexford tomorrow…that is Rock Pipit heaven.’
So off we go to Wexford…happy with the tough birds we had managed to locate and go in search of the easiest bird on his wish-list. We search the seaweed-strewn beaches of Carnsore Point. No joy. Nethertown beach…no joy. Carne Beach…no joy. Where are all the Rock Pipits gone?
Eventually we swing into Kilmore Quay. ‘They’re always along the walls,’ I reassure him but try as we might, there is not a single Rock Pipit to be seen. Despair is descending upon me (guides will know that feeling) when suddenly on the wall before us is a bird with a beakful of food. I lift the bins…it’s a Rockit!
This dull, drab but obliging bird was my saviour. Lesson learned…never guarantee seeing a bird no matter how common they are.