Praise for the EverydayIt's not all about rare birds you know. I can't help thinking that the worth of a bird is too often judged nowadays by its perceived rarity and that this is a big mistake. The danger with this approach is that you risk overlooking the commonplace, your birding bread and butter, in favour of some exotic creature that has lost its way. Much like being led astray by some temptress who flutters her eyelashes; it is but a temporary infatuation. The eyelashes, together with she who sports them, will soon drift away to beguile some other admirer and leave you bereft and forlorn. No, much better to stick to the stuff that made the effort to charm you in the first place, look at it afresh and really appreciate its value. Much more satisfying I feel.
Take the chap I bumped into at Titchwell yesterday. Instead of taking delight in the wonderful birds on show; the brilliance of the shoveler's head gloss, the red shock of the bullfinch's breast, the ghostly, buoyant flight of the innocent looking barn owls, he began lamenting the fact he had 'missed' the jack snipe (most people do). He was talking to me, a complete stranger, and all he had to offer was the negative. What a shame. I don't suppose for an instant he was a bad person, he was simply falling into the trap that seems to affect a lot of birders nowadays (including me at times) i.e. if you don't see everything you've been told is present in a particular place you've somehow failed. What utter tosh!
And then there was the guy at Cley last spring who almost accused me of being personally responsible for the total lack of birds on show (I had my NWT shirt on complete with name badge). This despite the fact we had displaying lapwings, redshanks, ringed plovers and avocets all around us, newly arrived sandwich terns screeching past and skylarks twittering in the sky above. People can be quite strange at times.
Happily we had no such problems at Cley today because as far as I was aware there wasn't a rare bird within a 10 mile radius. But there were some very lovely little chaps on show that although not exactly common, certainly wouldn't merit a Twitch - bearded tits, or reedlings if you prefer (apparently more closely related to larks than tits but who really cares). These rather gorgeous little creatures had decided to stop playing hard to get for a change and parade around in full show for all to admire. And admire we did, and at pretty close range. How wonderful to be able to fully appreciate the bright orange-brown plumage of the male, subtly shading into the cleanest blue-grey head set off by the dart shaped ‘moustache’. Superb little birds. These normally half seen denizens of the reed beds delighted onlookers for most of the day in their quest for small seeds. Blazes of rich colour in an otherwise drab vista.
Further along the beach I slowly walked along the fence line periodically flushing a female stonechat from post to post. She was a wary little madam who wouldn’t let me approach closer than a four fencepost length to begin with. As we became more comfortable with one another she allowed me to get a little closer teasing me with a quick flit away as soon as I raised my camera. We flirted with one another for the next five minutes before she relented and posed for a decent pic and once satisfied that she had done her bit for art flew away haughtily. Another quite common but very beautiful bird.
And then the snow buntings. Jewels that flight black and white as they nervously move from one feeding spot to another. It was hard to get close today; the birds seemed quite edgy although there was no obvious reason for their mistrust. One more unusual, but not rare, species that graces these sometimes seemingly barren shores during the winter months.
So, all in all a good days haul, maybe not as good as the carrot cake and hot chocolate in the NWT Visitor Centre, but not bad at that.