I think it's the suddenness of flushing a bird from the woodland leaf litter, an explosion of sound and cryptic browns that quickens the blood and leaves you wanting more as it disappears as quickly as it appeared. It's also the migrant arriving in off the sea, a brown incongruous bundle of feathers at odds with the waves and the gulls around it, keenly watched as it pitches onto the beach having just made it over the top of the spume in doing so. It's very much the dusk encounter on a summer heathland, the croaks and squeaks of its roding as it passes overhead oh so briefly before it merges into the gloom.
A giant white moth of a bird, patrolling a distant grassy bank, silent and intent on its prey. A daytime treat when breeding is underway or when the winter weather is being harsh. Most encounters are at the day's end, a time of reflection and when the wind often drops. This bird is a reminder of the departed, it is other worldly and brings on a contemplative state of being.
Any scan of hedgerow, seaside scrub or woodland ride is made complete if one (or several) of these shining jewels comes into view. Great views are tempered by the brevity of most of them. They leave you wanting more and you will stand there waiting for a repeat performance, however long that may take.
The bird that got me into all of this natural history malarkey. My first ever view was like the proverbial thunderbolt - I just couldn't believe my eyes that there was something so wonderful to be seen in my suburban garden. Each one (of many thousands) seen since is connected to that very first one, which has never been forgotten. I still marvel at them, white rump, cinnamon-pink and shocking blue!
My first trawl through a field guide alerted me to the existence of such a beast - massive bill, bull neck, pleasing plumage. But they were wary, shy, uncommon. When I did see one it was fleeting and never fully scratched that Hawfinch-sized itch. I went in deliberate search of them. Many times this ended in failure, but when they did show, well, what a feeling. I have been lucky enough to discover breeding birds, found large flocks and have filled my boots with them during the current invasion. But I still go out to pay my respects to them, to pay homage and marvel at their apparent aloofness. There are never enough encounters, even on a day when there have been many.