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Wed Dec 18, 2013, 03:51 PM

In Britain, bird-watching gone wild

Garry Bagnell is cruising down an English country road when his beeper lights up with a bulletin. A shorelark — a distinctive bird with yellow and black markings — took a wrong turn somewhere over Norway and is getting its bearings on a beach an hour’s drive north. Time to step on the gas.

“I need that bird, I need it,” said Bagnell, a 46-year-old accountant and hard-core practitioner of British twitching, or extreme — and extremely competitive — bird-watching. “When a bird you haven’t seen drops, you’ve got to chase it. That’s going to bring me up to 300 [different species] spotted for the year. You don’t understand how competitive this is. For some people, this is life and death.”

Beyond these shores, the world of bird-watching may be a largely gentle place ruled by calm, binocular-toting souls who patiently wait for their reward. But in Britain, it can be a truly savage domain, a nest of intrigue, fierce rivalries and legal disputes. Fluttering somewhere between sport and passion, it can leave in its path a grim tableau of ruined marriages, traffic chaos and pride, both wounded and stoked.

This is the wild, wild world of British twitching.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-britain-bird-watching-gone-wild/2013/12/14/87d5766a-61a3-11e3-a7b4-4a75ebc432ab_story.html

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