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.

Tuesday 7 June 2011


I didn't go to Hartlepool to see the White-throated Robin - I wouldn't be been able to even if I had wanted to - and I have to say I'm glad I didn't.

While I'll make a point of going to see unusual birds in the local area if I get half a chance, travelling for at least four hours to get a glimpse at one, no matter how rare a visitor to Britain, just doesn't interest me at all.

I read other blogs this morning on the adventure to the north-east, and I know I wouldn't have enjoyed it - I'd have enjoyed the banter on the way there, I'm sure - but being involved in a birding frenzy where you end up battling through a mass of other birders hell-bent on clambering over a wall just to say they've seen it... no thanks.

It's the same as the Oriental Turtle Dove in Chipping Norton, where hundreds of birders queued up for a view of this, admittedly, smashing bird, but the queueing-up-or-clambering-over-walls-with-hundreds-of-other-people-type birding is a soulless exercise, isn't it?

To me, birding should be, whenever possible, a relaxing pastime. I know there are moments of frustration and irritation when things don't go to plan - dipping is one of birding's necessary evils - but there's a danger that it can take you over, that your hobby takes control of you, that it becomes an addiction and, therefore, socially inappropriate. Then that is the time to take stock and reflect on what the hell you are doing with your life.

No, I'm happy to wait until something good turns up somewhere nearer to home. In the meantime, I've been focusing on my local patch at Holmethorpe Sand Pits recently, and managed to add Redshank (145) to my 2011 Surrey list, after seeing three on my local patch on Sunday afternoon.

Surrey (including Spelthorne) 2011 list: 145
This time last year: 138


  1. Neil, I enjoyed your post but am a bit unsure how socially inappropiate I am! I must be somewhat as I thoroughly enjoyed getting soaking wet dipping Dartford Warbler on Chobham Common for 2 hours on Monday morning. Must be better than work or driving to Hartlepool!
    Kind regards

  2. You're right, Geoff. Try again when the suns out! It's easy to see once it decides to make an appearance. I'll be walking around in the dark with a torch tied to my head tomorrow night as I'm off to look for Nightjar again but this time at Crooksbury Common. Nothing strange about that, is there?

  3. We share the same view of birding, Neil. A great hobby but, as you say, one needs to step back from it every so often in order to prevent obsession taking over.
    Twitching has never been my thing, far too much anxiety involved. Good luck to those who enjoy it but I wonder whether it takes it toll in the end.

  4. Neil, nothing strange about having a torch stuck on your head as long as its made by Swarovski or Leica!