Having really enjoyed yesterday's return to patch birding I was keen to get out again today, if only for a short while.
In the event I could only find an hour or so mid-afternoon; hardly the best time of day for birding but sufficient for a quick stroll around one of the sites I missed yesterday, Ufton Pools.
|Marsh Tit - you can look for the two-toned cheek|
panel all you want - but you'll only be sure it's not a
willow tit once it sneezes 'pitchoo-pitchoochoo'!
Photo: Neil Cheesman
I like Ufton, or at least I admire it - if only for its stubborn refusal to easily offer up its secrets. In theory it should be full of great birds, and I'm sure it is. But in practice it's damned hard to find them. The trees and scrub are close-packed, the perimeter path leaves a lot of the interior out of range, and the number of walkers and dog-walkers seem to encourage the birds to stay out of sight.
As ever then, this was a pleasant stroll without too many birds. Plenty of coots and moorhens on the Horseshoe Pool, a welcome grey wagtail, a few chiffchaff working around the edges, and across the rest of the site large numbers of highly mobile small birds in flocks.
Blue tits were very much in evidence, three marsh tits were kind enough to call when an identification was required (the call being the only reliable way to ensure they weren't willow tits), and finally I was delighted to add treecreeper to my weekend haul.
The whole weekend was great, and served to remind me of patch birding's great paradox: while doing it I spend virtually every moment hoping and straining to find an unusual, rare or otherwise 'special' bird; but whenever I reflect afterwards on why I continue to do it, I come to the conclusion that it's because I enjoy the way it grounds me in my normal everyday surroundings, helping me find joy, uniqueness and wonder in even the most ordinary finds - the wood pigeons, the house sparrows and the blue tits.
Bird of the weekend: None of them, and yet all of them. Nah, that's not true - it was definitely those sky-dancing ravens ;-)