Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.

Saturday 10 April 2010


Thursday and Friday have been the warmest days of the year and I spent most of the 48 hours indoors. Being a self-employed graphic designer and journalist often means that deadlines get in the way of other more enjoyable activities. I did manage to get out in the mornings for a while with Annie up at Spynes Mere, but still, sunny days don't always equate to good birding for some reason.

Having said that, I did see the Whitethroat both days, showing well and still in the same place as before, three Snipe and a couple of Sparrowhawks. One in particular was circling high above us for some time and we got a really good view of him. I say we as Annie took an keen interest (one for the notebook) as while she finds bird watching about as interesting as I find a day out at Ikea, she does like birds of prey. The Sparrowhawk above us was an impressive sight - the sun was shining and the speckled underside of the bird stood out well against the cobalt blue sky (alright, that's enough of that). Annie also commented on how the bird steered as it circled using its tail feathers. It was good to watch.

It also was good for me as I've only seen flashes of Sparrowhawks up to now. They seem to appear out of nowhere and then clear off before I've had chance to get a good look at them. Only about a month ago I was looking across The Moors when this bird flashed across my vision in a failed attempt to catch something - there was quite a commotion - it was so quick I couldn't work out what it was at first and what it had tried to catch, but it was soon apparent as it flew off that it was a Sparrowhawk.

This is always the problem for me. Getting enough of a view of a bird to guarantee I will be able to make an accurate sighting. I don't always go with my hunch, even though I'm occassionally proved right later. A case in point was the sighting of the Black Redstart the other week.

That had been a funny old day. I'd already walked for ages without much to report when I bumped into Graham James just as I arrived back at my car. He was quite excited as he had received a text to say that a Black Redstart was on view below the Watercolour Mound in some small trees. I tagged along, but we saw nothing.

I then went over to the same spot a couple of hours later and after waiting for a good 20 minutes, the bird reappeared. Great stuff. What was interesting though was that another similar bird was close by the little fella. I had a feeling it was a female, but didn't want to chalk it up on the Surrey Birders site I belong to because I wasn't sure. Annoyingly, the next morning a female Black Redstart was spotted in the same place, so I'm now sure I saw a male and female at the same time.

That's the balance you have to strike in this game - having confidence in your hunch against being over-confident and getting it wrong.

1 comment:

  1. You can be sure, Neil, that you don't have to be a newcomer to birding to make mistakes. We all do it. The good thing about the Holmethorpe birders is that, through our local grapevine, there is normally someone who will be able to come and take a look at any bird you are not sure of. Birding is a lifetime's learning curve and, despite what some birders may claim, nobody knows it all. There is something new to see and learn on every birding trip. It is just that that keeps us coming back for more.