Having said recently how I'm not particular keen on twitching at the moment, I will make exceptions at this time of year. For one thing there are plenty of very interesting birds dotted around the country that are well worth going to see, and secondly, when a patch goes a bit quiet, patch watching can become a bit soul-destroying.
An example of this came about when reading Lee Dingain's Almost Birding blog recently. Lee is one of the most dedicated patch watchers in Surrey and a multiple Rambler Award winner. But even he can be driven to distraction by his beloved Staines Moor at times.
Part of Lee's angst is due to the fact he only garners real birding pleasure when he discovers new species himself on the Moor. For example, it doesn't matter whether he ends up seeing a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits on the River Colne (as he did recently) if someone else saw them first.
It's a self-inflicted hindrance, so it is no wonder Lee has felt like throwing in the towel on occasions.
I love my local patch and would much prefer to discover the 131 species that have currently been seen at Holmethorpe this year, but I know I can only realistically expect to discover a handful. I'm more than happy with that, and I'm also happy to mix and match now and again.
If things get a bit repetitive, I'll travel somewhere different. I've been to Dungeness and Portland Bill in recent weeks, and both visits were really enjoyable.
So on Monday I headed to Little Paxton and the Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, home for more than a week to a Great Reed Warbler.
It was a bright sunny day, and after a 15 minute walk to the reedbed I could immediately hear the Great Reed Warbler and its slightly grating chatter, much deeper and louder than our regular Reed Warbler song.
|The Great Reed Warbler showed on and off...|
|...and was vocal throughout the morning visit|
I stayed for a good hour and a half, with a handful of birders coming and going during that time – some local, some from further afield. I enjoyed the visit immensely, as while the Great Reed Warbler sang for almost for the entire hour and a half, it was interspersed with Nightingale song nearby and a vocal Cetti's Warbler.
Views were good when the rare migrant climbed higher up the reeds, though difficult to photograph (as can be seen from the rubbish images above).
|View of one of the Heronry Lakes from the Hayden Hide at the excellent Paxton Pits Nature Reserve|
|The Hayden Hide|
|The Paxton Pits Nature Reserve Visitors' Centre|
Predictably, down the road at Sandwich Bay, a Bee-eater was seen flying north earlier in the morning, as well as a Montagu's Harrier over Worth Marshes. As is often the case with bird sightings, you have to be in the right place at the right time. Luck features a lot.
|A Fulmar passes overhead|
|A Corn Bunting in full voice|
|A Corn Bunting at Foreness Point – a surprise sighting|
|A very showy Meadow Pipit|