Sunday, November 3, 2013


When I was a young boy I received a book on birds which, as far as I can remember, was called Spotting Birds as part of a package of natural history books. What I was really after was a book in the collection on prehistoric animals as that was my real passion as a child, and no right-minded birder would touch a book called Spotting Birds! Anyhow, this book whose cover was adorned with a beautiful Bluethroat and whose pages contained exotic species such as Bee-eaters and, you've guessed it, Hoopoes, sowed an ornithological seed that lay dormant for some years. At the time I did go out and look for these mythical birds in a local quarry and I was not that disappointed when my searching proved fruitless; birding without binoculars isn't easy and anyhow I could easily go and see skeletons of the mighty predator Allosaurus and its prey Camptosaurus at the local museum!
Fast forward a good few decades and it is incredible to think I have seen all three of these colourful birds in Britain; indeed, I have seen at least three different Hoopoes on the Wirral Peninsular.
I have only ever photographed Hoopoes abroad so I was delighted when one recently turned up near Rhyl. Although it took two visits for me to even see the bird, and it proved quite elusive at times, it was well worth the effort. It has been described as the avian equivalent of a butterfly, and who can deny its quirky beauty with its zebra striped plumage, curved bill and outlandish crest that all signify something exotic.
In addition to being difficult to pin down at times, the weather wasn't exactly conducive to photography but with a bit of patience I managed some acceptable shots.



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