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Trying to pretend

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I'm trying to pretend that everything's normal... which of course it isn't.  This is not in anyway denigrating the appalling situation that we are all, as a nation - as a global community, experiencing at the hands of covid.  While countless people suffer at the hands of this terrible virus.  The tireless and selfless work carried out by our healthcare professionals - generally going unnoticed behind poorly manufactured PVC masks, and a mainstream media that still continues to extol the talentless.  And I'm pretending that everything's normal. To compound this misery, January is supposed to be a bit of chore, why is January the saddest month?  Why is January so depressing?  Blue Monday... it goes on.  Well I like January - but only if the sun is shining and I can head to a reservoir or large waterbody to see wildfowl in all their post-moult splendour. I headed over to Broom GPs on New Years Day, it's my not quite local, local patch but a good opportunity to get

Paxton Pits

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Last knockings of the year - one that has challenged us all to the core - some more than others.  I feel for them.  I feel fortunate - we don't know what the next year is going to bring but hope that we see healing, community, optimism, advances in medicine - maybe a vaccine - and a sense of collectiveness in fighting this heinous disease as we all deal with our own dis-ease. It had been a while since I'd visited Paxton - a very long time - around 15 years long.  It looks great - plenty of waterbodies with associated woodland and scrub habitat to keep things interesting.  As always - I wish there was more to report other than a smart male Bullfinch , a drake Goldeneye , a small flock of Siskin , and six Shoveler .

Lynford Arboretum

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A little trip to Lynford Arboretum - a post Christmas walk to provide a little mental restoration.  It felt collegiate - people milling about - keeping our distance - convivial - considerate - it's what we need right now. Nothing of real note, but 30+ Crossbill is what you might expect round these part with small groups of Siskin,   Redpoll and Marsh Tit within the woodland.  A pair of  Goosander on the lake were a little unexpected.

Pied-billed Grebe

Thankfully lockdown restrictions had lifted in time to make a dash for the Pied-billed Grebe at Chelmarsh Reservoir in Shropshire, a species that had been on my wanted list for a while. It was a horribly gloomy day with the rain pelting down but thankfully access to the site was relatively straightforward and the bird was present on arrival despite the murky conditions.  Not that it's ever about the numbers (!) but this was BOU #398 so edging closer to that magic figure. Atrocious video below - the weather was awful!

Hoopoe

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A Hoopoe was a surprise visitor to a small village in Beds.  Only a few minutes away from home, I scooted up to Northill during my lunch break and was lucky to see it fly past me shortly after arriving. It then landed onto the buttresses of St Mary the Virgin church before flying off again toward the graveyard.  Always a lovely bird to see whether home or abroad, but this was only my 3rd for the UK.

Stiffkey - Rufous-tailed Bush Robin

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October is a phenomenal month for birding, where the unexpected is somewhat expected but in what form is down to the birding gods.  The Rufous-tailed Bush Robin was first reported on Saturday morning - wholly unexpected - an absence from the UK of around forty years demonstrates just how scarce this species is.  I'd tried to prise them out in Spain in the past with no success - they're not easy to find and are relatively scarce breeders across the Iberian Peninsular. Heading back from Scillies on the Saturday, an early alarm call and I was on my way to Stiffkey for first light. A fair sized group had already congregated in an area of arable immediately west of the car park.  Thankfully the bird was still present feeding amongst the stubble and short scrub along the field margin.  The long rufous tail was conspicuous in the low morning light - rising and dipping as it scampered around picking off small inverts.  It was damp and very gloomy on the Norfolk coast.   A really satis

Scillies - Day 15

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Leaving Scilly is always a sombre moment.  It's been another great trip with undoubted highlights being the Black-and-White Warbler and Swainson's Thrush.  But it's never always about the sightings, to concentrate solely on the birdlife diminishes the visceral experience of spending time on the Isles.  As always, it's also refreshing that it won't be too long before I set foot back on these venerated shores. A quick walk out onto Porthcressa, where a Black Redstart flicked through while waiting for the Nightingale to appear at Little Porth which didn't actually appear despite a couple of attempts.  I guess one was enough for the trip. The flight back was as exhilarating as always. Until next year.