A Bird’s Eye View

Dear Editor

Well, they do say a warm welcome awaits Canadian visitors to Tiree.

I was lost, tired and hungry after riding the weather system across the North Atlantic, and could easily have perished. Instead, I found sheltered gardens buzzing with tasty insects on a remote Scottish island, where I could rest and feed, and where I was protected from over-zealous ‘twitchers’.

The Great British Twitcher is a peculiar species: dark muted plumage adorned with paired neckwattles which flick up to the eyes when stimulated, their characteristic call of “have you got it?” joining the dawn chorus.

Rarely forming lasting pair-bonds, they migrate in loose flocks of (mostly) males and are tunnel-visioned when pursuing their prey. Feverishly competitive, they are prone to exaggeration and territorial clashes when hunting. They tick a lot.

I’m glad I didn’t land on public land on the mainland. I could have been surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of these strange, twitchy predators each desperate to take rapid-fire multiple shots. The stress and disturbance caused by such scrutiny could have finished me off as surely as if I had plunged into the Atlantic.

So my thanks to all on Tiree who made my unscheduled visit to your continent so safe and fascinating: that Birdy-man and the Ranger-lass who ensured that all twitchers were masked and herded into socially distanced groups, and the neighbouring water-bearers who prevented unprepared twitchers from dehydrating.

The weather is too cold for me now, so I’m heading south. Perhaps I’ll stop off in Spain for a bit, hopefully avoiding Los Twitcheros.

– Y B McFly