I’ve just come back from a day in Norfolk – that’s why this post is a little after 1800.
I like birdwatching! I went birdwatching yesterday, I went birdwatching today, and I expect I will do some birdwatching tomorrow.
Most of my birding today was at the RSPB nature reserve at Titchwell – I like Titchwell (partly because they do very good bacon rolls but also because there are always birds there). One issue with Titchwell is that it is difficult to go to Titchwell without meeting sonme people I know – and that’s very nice, very nice indeed, but it does cut into the birdwatching (unless they show you some birds which quitye often happens). Today I met three groups of people I knew which was really lovely. It was slightly odd sitting in the cafe at Titchwell waiting for the arrival of a delicious bacon roll (almost the first meat (2 lapses) I’ve eaten since 12th Night) and hearing a man at the next door table saying ‘We had Mark Avery talk at our conference in Sussex on Saturday. He just stood up and talked without slides or notes’. I wonder4d what was going to come next but apparently I got away with it! The group talked about Hen Harriers on Winterwatch, Chris Packham. Mountain Hares being shot on grouse moors and Gavin Gamble’s e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting which they said they were going to sign but hadn’t got around to it yet!
But the main reasons for liking Titchwell are that it is an attractive place, that it is a very familiar place to me (my first visit was probably around 1971) and that there are always lots of birds. What did we see today? Long-tailed Ducks on the sea were good birds, Red-crested Pochard on the freshwater were, well, birds, I missed the Water Pipit, there was a good variety of ducks and waders and a couple of Marsh Harriers were over the reedbed. But seeing the sea is a treat for those of us hailing from Northants, and the sunshine was good.
On the way home I stopped in at Eldernell on the Nene Washes and saw several Short-eared Owls, a couple of Barn Owls but not the six Cranes that I saw there yesterday evening. But I overheard a few birders hoping to see a Hen Harrier and bemoaning their rarity these days.
Birdwatching makes me look harder, at least at some aspects of the natural world, and so I see more. And being in touch with birds is being in touch with how the seasons are changing. Anyway, whatever it is, I’m hooked and have been for decades.
I use the excellent Birdtrack to record my birdwatching records because that means i know where they are, and can have a look at them pretty easily, but they also help uild up a picture of seasonal and annual changes in bird numbers. If you don’t already use Birdtrack then do, please, consider using it from now on.
I couldn’t help but notice (it’s there on the screen when one logs in, in red letters and numbers!) that I’ve entered 92 bird species onto Birdtrack in 2018 – that seems quite good to me although I’m not really sure why (although last year it was only 50 species by this date!). There will be a few species missing – eg Tawny Owl because I’ve heard a few but I don’t often bother to put them in as casual records – but I guess I’ve seen about that number of bird species. And I couldn’t help notice too, that Lee Evans has seen 184 species – twice as many as me. Phew! I must get out more.