It's been a while! A brief glance at my last post and a count up and it has been more than a month and a half since I went out birding.
That's quite a while, even for me. As a result I have missed an awful lot, both locally and further afield. All the top-notch autumn migrants that flocked to the east coast have been and gone, and the winter birding species are already pretty much established.
So why the absence? Partly work, partly apathy. Being a freelance, I can't drop everything and head off to the hills or the coast whenever I want. And then when I do have the odd moment, I'm so knackered I can't be bothered to walk out of the door.
Also, as the days get shorter, wetter, and colder, a quick peek out of the bedroom window before the sun has risen can cause the enthusiasm to wane, too.
No matter. My busy period is about to come to an end and, as my wife Annie often says, there will always be a bird to see on another day.
And that is a very important point. Birding is like football – it's seasonal. Stating the bleedin' obvious I know, but you can pretty much plan your year by the calendar and the periods when certain species are likely to arrive.
If you have a local patch you can go out and have one eye searching for rare patch sightings. This time of year is great for Short-eared Owls, but I can't remember when one has been seen at Holmethorpe – I'm sure someone will tell me – but one thing is for sure it hasn't been for at least six years since I took a keen interest.
And I wonder why that could be? It would appear to be a half-decent spot for them. We get Barn, Tawny (have never actually seen one here prsonally) and Little Owls but I don't think any of the local patch watchers has even had a SEO fly over the area in recent years.
A mystery, but definitely one bird I will be looking out for.
My predictions for this winter – we will get a Shortie, maybe a Bewick's Swan, a decent goose or two, a Glaucous Gull and a Lapland Bunting. Here's hoping anyway!