With my angling adventures leaving so little time for 'proper' birding at the moment, I'd almost forgotten what it was like to add new ticks to my life list. As a result, the two 'lifers' I added on Sunday afternoon came as a bit of a bolt from the blue.
After concluding a chilly morning's fishing at Jubilee Pools, I dashed off to the nearby Brandon Marsh nature reserve to meet the family for lunch and perhaps, I thought, a quick stroll down to the pools. As it turned out the family was quite amenable to the idea, so with bins and scope in hand we scooted down to East Marsh for a family birdwatching session.
My son is still at an age where he finds it easier to use a scope than bins, so as soon as we arrived in the Wright Hide I attached the hide clamp, levelled the scope, adjusted the focus - and found a pair of red crested pochards staring back at me. These exotic ducks, nearly all of them descended from escaped captive birds, are not so uncommon as to make them hard for a committed birdwatcher to find - but for some reason they had eluded me for the best part of ten years. A nice surprise.
Moving on to the main East Marsh hide, a second surprise awaited. From this angle I had views over a second, and much wilder, lifer - a wood sandpiper, a striking wading bird presumably stopping over for some rest and recuperation on its way north to breed.
Two years ago almost to the day I recorded here that, much to my annoyance, a pair of wood sandpipers had passed through Brandon while I was away for the weekend. So if I record here and now that I missed the recent influx of Warwickshire ring ouzels, plus the nightingale at Brandon and the wood warbler at Draycote, perhaps in two years time... well, one can but hope.
Anyway, the updated life list is here - 213 species in all, a miserly haul for any serious birder but they've all given me a great deal of pleasure over the years, and that's all I really care about.