After last weekend's fox-related excitement at one of Warwickshire's best-known reserves, I found myself back on patch at Napton Reservoir this morning. And I found myself thinking: why are some place 'sexy' and not others (I hasten to add I mean this in a birding sense).
There are some reserves and locations that are heaving with birders day in and day out. Then there are others, such as Napton, where there are virtually none. Obviously a lot of this is down to what people think they might find in a given location. But a lot of that feeling is driven by a site's historical record of turning up 'good' birds. And, as the FTSE and housing markets have been helpfully showing us in recent weeks, past performance is no guarantee of future returns.
Today at Napton turned up nothing new or unexpected, the Cape Shelducks having moved on (see photos a couple of posts back, including the comments). But then nor did Ladywalk last week, Brandon Marsh on a great many occasions before that, and so on with a number of our better known reserves. Yes, I know each of those turns up the occasion 'mega' rare bird, but then so do most places if you watch them long enough (I refer you to Napton's greatest recent hit, a Ring-necked Duck).
So, there you go. Well known reserves are a con, past performance is no guarantee of future returns, go and find your own obscure location and watch it until something rare turns up (and then email me and tell me where to find it).
Still, on the bird front, I at least found pretty much everything I would expect to at Napton and then Ufton Fields. In among 90 or so Coot were eight Shovellers, half a dozen Gadwall, a pair of Wigeon, just over 40 Tufted Ducks, Mallards lurking everywhere, a Great Crested Grebe, six young Mute Swans with two adults, 50 or so Common Gulls among the hundreds of Black-headed, a Great Heron, trees and bushes full of Fieldfare, Redwing and Blackbirds, and great many crows (Carrion, Rook and Jackdaw), a few of which were lazily mobbing a Buzzard. At Ufton I found the smaller birds - Willow, Coal, Blue and Great Tits (see 'fighting' photo), Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, a fly-by Sparrowhawk and a Green Woodpecker.
Bird of the day: Shoveller (Anas clypeata), a favourite of mine among the ducks. Most easily and frequently seen in the autumn and winter months, it is clearly identified by its bright terracotta and white patched plumage (male) and of course its distinctive shoveller bill.