With that in mind, it just shouldn't happen. There is no excuse. I should be more careful (I wrote inner 'piece' in the last post rather than inner 'peace'! Unbelievable – I've changed it now), but I usually race through it and fit writing this around the trivial matter of earning a living and having a normal life (whatever that is).
I read Steve Gale's blog today and his response to my recent tale of woe and felt immediately reassured. I had lost my perspective, took my eye off the life ball. I need to relax. Chill.
Unfortunately, I also have to accept that I'm someone prone to addictive pursuits like birding. Once upon a time it was horse racing – my work is still predominantly based on this sport – then motorsport (I still dabble) and now it's birding. I've no idea how all these are linked but there it is.
I look at the well-known twitchers among us, Garry Bagnell is one that immediately springs to mind, and I realise that birding can be, and no offence to Garry, like collecting stamps or trainspotting. It's about enjoying watching birds perhaps but it is also equally about collecting things, and blokes with addictive personalities like collecting things more than an enthusiastic Jackdaw.
I've mentioned this before, but I don't really fit into any birding camp. I neither patch list nor twitch, but sometimes I do both. I suppose it doesn't really matter so long as you enjoy what you're doing. On that particular front, I'm always on a roller-coaster. Some days I'm up, others I'm down. And the down days are always worse than the up days.
Yesterday was most definitely an up day. It couldn't have been much better.
After Easter Monday's success at tracking down the Staines Moor Ring Ouzel, I went back for some more Ouzel-watching this morning. I got up early and was at the south end of the Moor for 6.30am. What a difference a day makes. On Monday, the weather was awful, but yesterday it was fantastic. The air was still, the sky was bright and blue. The sun shone brightly. Perfect.
Maybe too perfect. If the weather is good, there is always the concern that a Ring Ouzel may be tempted to set off for its northern breeding grounds.
I was met at the bridge over the River Colne by top Surrey birder, Kev Duncan – it was his first visit to see the Ring Ouzel. I felt like an old hand.
Almost immediately we stepped over the bridge I spotted the handsome male Ring Ouzel perched in a bush. Amazing. It took just a few seconds to find it – it was hard to miss its brilliant white chest in the bright sunlight.
|The male Ring Ouzel at Staines Moor|
Kev left after about half an hour but I stayed on to enjoy at least another hour watching this magnificent bird fly around the area and feed around the anthills. It was the best view of a Ring Ouzel I have had.
|The Ring Ouzel spent long periods feeding around the anthills|
|Little Ringed Plover|
|Flighty female Wheatear|
At 4.30pm I got a text from Kevin 'Kojak' Guest. I haven't seen Kojak for more than a year but had heard he was back on the birding scene. He was on Nutfield Ridge hoping to see a Red Kite, but instead he'd just seen a Raven fly to the landfill site on the edge of the Holmethorpe patch.
This Raven had been seen a couple of times over Easter, and it had probably discovered the landfill on its travels.
If you go to South Wales, you will see and hear Ravens all the time, but in Surrey they are very rare, so while I had already seen one in Surrey earlier this year at Crooksbury Common, I hadn't seen this one on the patch.
I met up with Kojak in Nutfield Cemetery, where you can see the landfill site really well, and it wasn't long before we saw the Raven fly back to the rubbish tip and then return to the trees behind us, but out of view.
|A Raven flies over Nutfield Ridge towards the Redhill landfill|
|The Raven perched up on Coldharbour Lane|