I have a plan, which is to focus on more Holmethorpe patch walks this year, plus a few trips to the coast to enjoy some rarer finds – basically a pursuit of treasure at the end of the birding rainbow.
Holmethorpe had a decent 2015 and began where it left off into the new year when Gordon Hay spotted a pair of Black-tailed Godwit landing in the flooded area behind Water Colour Lagoon 1 yesterday afternoon – the first winter record of this species on the patch.
A good start then. I gave myself the morning off and took my first visit of the year to the patch. A gloomy start, but there was plenty of activity around the Lagoons, with stacks of gulls and Canada Geese, but unfortunately no Godwits.
|The Moors always floods at this time of year, particularly now we
tend to get wetter winters
The walk around the area took four hours, with not much to get the pulses racing – least of all at my sedantry pace. Apart from the absent Godwits probably the main disappointment currently is the lack of Smew at Holmethorpe. We generally get at least a couple most winters but there's been no sign so far. This is possibly weather-related – maybe we'll get a late arrival when the cold snap inevitably arrives.
Never mind, a Water Rail, a flock of Siskin feeding on alders and a smaller group of Lesser Redpoll kept my interest from flagging.
|Siskin feeding in alder tree
|The Tufted Duck/Scaup hybrid on Mercers Lake
It would help, of course, if I went out birding more often, which hopefully I will this year compared to last. Anyway, it's got me thinking about motivation and what it is that makes birding so enjoyable.
Much of it is anticipation. For me that is key to it. Walking out the front door knowing I'm going somewhere where I may see something extraordinary, or even something ordinary that proves to be extraordinary.
Even today, walking across the Lagoons in the half light there was plenty of activity – a bird rush hour – with birds calling, landing and in flight, the sight and sound of birds on the move. It was captivating.
Ideally, I would prefer predominantly to keep to my local patch. It's five minutes from my house – with my work commitments that is ideal – the habitat is varied and we get half decent birds drop in at any time of year.
But the only thing that stops me from committing wholeheartedly to this preferred option is the craving to see birds I haven't seen before. I started out on this pastime later than most, and being 56 years old with a life list that isn't impressive means I've a bit of work to do before I can feel contented with my lot.
Take Little Auks for instance. I saw a fantastic photo earlier today of a flock of these mini auks flying up the Scottish coastline with huge waves crashing around them. An amazing sight. I want to witness that treasure at the end of the birding rainbow.