Passing through the Yorkshire Dales and close to the boarder with Lancashire, I spotted a couple of magpies on a stone barn roof having a conversation and a bit of a beak rub. At least I thought they were magpies. I did a double-take: no, no mistake – one of them had a bright yellow beak. We had driven on before I could whip out the camera and capture the creature. I thought it might be a mutation, but it wasn’t until I reached home and Googled it, that I was able to identify the chap. Without a doubt, and to my delight, it must have been a Yellow-Billed Magpie – restricted to the state of California in the United States, and inhabiting the Central Valley and foothills. For the first time in my life, I think I now understand the thrill of birdwatchers, and I’m going to wallow quite happily in my birdiness until someone comes along and bursts my bubble with a not-so-exciting alternative to my American migrant.


Image from Audubon.