No Such Thing As Bad Weather Just Inappropriate Clothing

Mugimaki Flycatcher Thai 1

A male Mugimaki Flycatcher this one enjoyed on a hot dry day in Thailand!

It took a long time to realise that there is no such thing as bad weather for birdwatching but simply you are wearing inappropriate clothing! The number of days I shivered and got soaked to the skin, and felt really miserable, just because I did not have the right gear to cope with the conditions. Thinking back there are many days where I suffered but one day was a water-shed moment (see what I did there) and I vowed never to suffer needlessly ever again.

Back in November 1991 news reached us of a potential new bird for Britain – a Mugimaki Flycatcher – a species I had never even heard of before let alone seen! Was it real? Surely an escape from an exotic cage bird collection? But many twitchers, keen birders that like to add new birds to their lists, were getting fidgety about the bird, what if it was wild even though it had come from so far to the east? Would everyone be gutted if they did not go to see and it was then accepted as an official new bird for Britain? So many questions about this eastern flycatcher but no certain answers, what to do? Great friend Ted Abraham, a very keen twitcher indeed, was adamant that we should head over to Sunk Island on the Humber Estuary and look for the bird. I was far from convinced I was in the “must be an escape” camp but Ted was very persuasive and after all a day out with great friends looking at birds can’t be bad?

In the small hours of the morning of 18th November 1991 I was at Ted’s door on the Wirral tapping gently so as not to wake the whole household. Luckily Ted was up and ready to go and full of excitement at the thought of a new bird for the UK. Ted had agreed to drive on this occasion, something I was very pleased about after a long tough week at work working crazy amounts of overtime I had been looking forward to a relaxing Saturday! Heading east over the Pennines on the M62 it began to drizzle, drizzle turned to rain, rain turned to heavy rain, oh no. Reaching Sunk Island it was chucking it down and I was keen to stay in the car and see if the weather improves but oh no Ted was worried we might miss the bird so we set off to a god forsaken clump of willows and got hammered with rain! My coat was already leaking water by the time we reached the willows and no water-proof trousers back then, why not? Doh!

There were a few other hardy, crazy? souls also stood in the lashing rain all looking equally deshelled and soaked. Somehow Ted was still positive and thought the bird could pop up at any moment, really, in this? After two hours or so, I cannot remember seeing a single bird in that time I suggested we head back to the car and have a break, Ted was having none of that, what if the bird showed just briefly while we were away, we were staying put in the rain.

As you can probably guess the Mugimaki Flycatcher never did show again and it has to rate as one of my most miserable days ever spent looking for birds. I don’t think we saw a single bird of note all day and conversation on the drive home was sparse to say the least!

So the lesson was learned the hard way don’t let inappropriate clothing ruin your time in the field! Ever since then I have thought long and hard about the kit for each outing and tried to select the appropriate clothing so that even missing a great bird doesn’t have to be a totally miserable experience! These days we are so lucky there are many great manufacturers to choose from but if you are birdwatcher there is one that really goes the extra mile to provide superb kit designed for what we do, Country Innovation, a British company based in Somerset and highly recommended!

Alan ready for whatever the weather throws at him - Country Innovation Avocet jacket.

I currently use the Country Innovation “Avocet” jacket and oh for one of these at Sunk Island I might even have talked to Ted on the way home! This proper birding kit and made to last with rugged zips, hard wearing fabric and everything that I need from a birding jacket. It is of course totally waterproof and windproof, long enough to extend well below the waist so when worn with good waterproof trousers I am totally dry. The Avocet jacket is roomy enough to be worn with layers underneath so it really doesn’t how cold it gets I am always warm and dry. The Avocet Jacket has pockets for all your birding bits and pieces some easily big enough for your field guide and can even accommodate our bridge camera which reduces the need for an extra camera bag very helpful indeed - if only I had had the sense to get Country Innovation kit years before! Check out their fantastic range of products here…

You won’t be disappointed and you can stand for hours not seeing birds and not get wet and cold! Next time a Mugimaki Flycatcher arrives in the UK I am ready for it! Country Innovation kit is simply superb and we highly recommend it if you heading out to watch birds and wildlife.

Ruth kitted out in her "Lady Avocet" Country Innovation jacket very snug and dry.

Of course Ruth totally agrees and also swears by her “Lady Avocet” jacket that is tailored for women so often neglected in the outdoor clothing market. Ruth says “My Lady Avocet Jacket fits perfectly and I know I am going to be warm and dry whatever the weather throws at me!”

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds is to join one of our Birdwatching Trips and learn a lot about the birds you are enjoying too. We have tours suitable for all from beginners to experienced birders that are seeking particular species. Just drop us a line here and we can arrange a perfect custom tour for you!

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you as soon as it is safe.

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