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.

Monday 16 April 2012


Saturdays. It strikes me that this is the day of the week when the best sightings occur. It also happens to be the one day of the week when I'm unlikely to be out birding.

I'm currently working six days a week, in a bid to make life a bit more comfortable than it has been for a while. When you work for yourself it's vital to increase your income year on year. This is mostly due to the rise in the cost of living, which in recent years has accelerated alarmingly.

Work is hard to find in the current climate. Everyone is cutting back. I didn't notice it as much last year but 2012 is increasingly looking as though it's going to be a tough one.

The price of petrol has gone up incrementally week on week. I find it strange that there isn't more of an outcry about this like there was a couple of years ago, when fuel suddenly took a hike in price. But now, with an extra penny added to a litre here and a couple more there, we've somehow been lulled into an acceptance that this is the way it has to be. But to fill up the tank now is staggeringly expensive – more than £80 to fill up an old Mondeo which will run out after about 400 miles.

Two years ago a litre of petrol cost about 112 pence. Now it is 141 pence or more. The price of gas and electricity has also risen, so the utility bills are more expensive than ever.

So with this increase in fuel prices, and work harder to come by, I'm noticing I haven't got much, if any, money left over month on month.

I only get one day a week off at the moment, and seeing as my wife would like us, quite reasonably, to spend that one day a week together, Saturday is the day of choice.

The last few Saturdays have been a challenge. Trying to block out of my head what might be happening around the county of Surrey on the bird front is mightily difficult. And each Saturday I can't help but look on Twitter or Rare Bird Alert to see what has been going on. And generally it's usually loads. I also inevitably get a text from someone spreading the good news of an unusual migrant on my doorstep...

Every Saturday for the last month, that is basically what has happened. Last Saturday it was Ring Ouzels - these birds have been coming over in swathes this past week around the country, so it has been nice to eventually catch up with them this past week, including on Friday at Canons Farm, but this Saturday has been the worst for good news by far.

On my local patch at Holmethorpe, two Common Scoters appeared on Mercer's Lake. I have no idea when the last time one of these has turned up on the patch, but it was before my time, that's for sure. I just had to smile (through grinding teeth). Then three more Ring Ouzels dropped in at Canons Farm. So now that was three males and a female Ouzel on the farm.

I had been over on Friday in the late afternoon to see the first male Ring Ouzel near Reads Rest Cottages. It had been showing really well in the spring sunshine as it flew from tree to bush to stubble field, feeding on worms and was generally very co-operative. I had also hoped to see a male Common Redstart in the same field – one had been present all day – but it flew off just before I arrived.

A male Ring Ouzel at Canons Farm on Friday evening
So last Saturday I was staring at Tweets telling me that there were two Common Scoters at Holmethorpe all day, four Ring Ouzels at Canons and, just for good measure, a Golden Plover had dropped in too.

Year listing has pretty much been scuppered this past couple of weeks – I've just missed too many unusual sightings to have a prayer of totting up a better total than last year. I know they appear to be a bit late in arriving to Britain this year, but I haven't even seen a Common Whitethroat yet.

So the Scoters came and went. The Ouzels and the Plover were still present today – but I was working in London. A possible Corn Bunting was also heard. I'm at Racing Post tomorrow and Wednesday afternoon, which leaves me with tomorrow and Wednesday morning plus snippets on Thursday and Friday, before it's Saturday again.

The weather forecast looks diabolical for venturing outside during the next four days, but then with heavy rain and gales in the mix, who knows? Something amazing may turn up.

1 comment:

  1. Remember the mantra Neil...

    "They are only birds... they will be there next week, just in different numbers and a different combination"

    Now light your joss stick and repeat after me...