Although I do a lot of my birding by travelling to well-known nature reserves, I spend more and more time these days exploring my local patch - the area of land to the East of Leamington Spa in which I happen to live. It's a good patch with a nice mix of habitats - the River Leam, some flood meadows, woods (although not much mature woodland), mixed farmland, a canal, open parkland and some other open areas.
By focusing on watching my own county, and my own patch in particular, I have a much better chance of finding 'my own' birds, as opposed to joining many other birdwatchers seeing the same birds at a small number of very well watched reserves. I find that prospect quite exciting.
By staying away from local reserves and focusing my efforts elsewhere, in the last week I have seen 56 species in all, including the following: Pintail, a Peregine Falcon, Jack Snipe and Common Snipe, Red-Legged Partridge, Goosander (on the River Leam!), Green Sandpiper, Yellowhammer, Sky Lark, Willow Tit, Nuthatch and Kingfisher. Not all of these arerare by any means, but they were all a joy because it was me who found them (albeit with a very experienced companion on one trip - thanks Jon), and no one already knew they were there.
And that's what patch birding is all about for me.