No matter how often I dip I know the following morning it will be forgotten, or at least the self-loathing and self-obsession will have eased enough to go back for more.
There can be no argument that birding can be hard work during the winter months. It's often cold, wet and muddy under foot. The days are short, usually with little sunlight and birds are reluctant to sing or show themselves.
But no matter. Many people I meet tell me that it wouldn't be so enjoyable if it was easy. I must disagree with that, as many of my other passions have been straightforward to enjoy. I've been a horse racing and motorsport fan (strange mix I know) and I don't know of one occasion where I've gone to Ascot to watch a particular horse or Silverstone to see a certain driver and neither came out of their stall or pit for me to appreciate.
No, birding is by its very nature laced with uncertainty. There are no guarantees – ever. Any victories are hard-won, and therefore well-deserved.
Tuesday was a case in point. The sun came out for once and I took some time out even though I had plenty to do (my excuse was I didn't have much time off over Christmas and I needed a bit of downtime...).
First stop was Kingsmead Quarry, just down the road from the Queen Mother Reservoir, for the two Buff-bellied Pipits. Along with three guys from Rainham, I didn't see them at first and only got a brief view of them flying over as a pair before they headed off back to the reservoir.
|The Great White Egret near Chenies in Buckinghamshire
|Views of the Great White Egret were a bit restricted
The main target bird of the day was the Pallas's Warbler at Moor Green Lakes in the Blackwater Valley back in Berkshire which, after about an hour of searching for with a group of other birders, I located with a flock of Long-tailed Tits as it skipped through the trees and occasionally dropped low down near the river bank, where it was easier to see against the sunlight. Hard work, but worth it in the end. I thought I managed a record photo of it, but when I looked back at the images there was not a feather in sight.
The Egret, the Pallas's Warbler and two Short-eared Owls at Staines Moor (fruitless search for a Barn Owl) have been the best birds of the week by far. I went to Beddington hoping for the Glaucous Gull, but apart from meeting up with Dodge, I had no joy, Another visit to the quarry didn't produce either American Pipit, by which time it was time to head back home.
So another day where I have made the wrong choices. I should have gone to Hyde Park.
It has been a grinding start to 2013. A hard slog, added to which the snow is due to fall overnight and work takes precedence for the next few days. I hope the Pipits and Beardies stick around for a while longer.