Tuesday, 27 January 2015
What do you see?
This is Walton Downs, looking south-westward towards Headley. It is a mixture of copse and farmland on chalk. As a birder, looking across this shallow valley, what do you see? I bet that, like me, you are weighing up the chance of seeing a good raptor, maybe a Short-eared Owl or even a Great Grey Shrike. I have walked the footpaths that cross this area many times and can only claim a handful of commoner migrants over the years, but each time I make the journey I still think that I'm going to get rewarded with a notable sighting - it just feels like a place that will harbour something of note. And this approach sums up the lot of a birder working any patch of habitat, wherever that habitat may be. Regardless of our experience telling us that we will fill our notebook with counts of commoner species, there is a big part of us that still maintains that something good will come along, and it might just be on our current visit. It's what drives us on and keeps us focused. It's no bad thing. This morning, from the vantage point above, I didn't see a good raptor, a Short-eared Owl or a shrike, but made do with 2 Common Buzzard, 20 Skylark and 85 Fieldfare. The sun was out, it was fairly mild and that was good enough for me. I was happy. And, as we all know, I was one visit closer to the next quality bird. The more we look, the luckier we get...
And who wouldn't be cheered by the sight above - a bank full of flowering Winter Heliotrope, adding a splash of colour (and fragrance) to the winter scene. One of my favourites.