A little local variation

Birders often get caught up with rarity. There’s an Alder Flycatcher in Cornwall at the moment, an American species and a first for the UK. If it it sticks around, there could be a few thousand birders heading to Cornwall this weekend to twitch it.

But one of the most satisfying aspects of watching birds is noticing the tiny nuances in your local area. The subtle permutations that perhaps only you and a few others notice.

For instance, today Paul Stevens mentioned how good it was to see Nuthatches in his garden – the first time in almost a year that he’s seen them there. Nuthatches aren’t rare in Firle, but they’re easier to see in certain places, at certain times of year.  I noted only a couple of weeks ago that they could now be heard regularly from our garden, for the first time in a while. It seems they come closer to the village centre in the early autumn – but are these adults relocating as part of their routine, or youngsters spreading away from their nest site on the outskirts of the village? Questions, questions…

Likewise, Coal Tits aren’t going to spark a mass twitch (not in the UK anyway), but it’s been fascinating to me that there are a couple hanging around at the moment, after a long period of not seeing any at all.

And today, whilst lying in bed, I heard a typically loud Grey Wagtail bouncing its way over the rooftops – one of my favourite birds, and less taken for granted because by mid-winter ours have usually moved on from the village centre, and I’ll have to wait until the end of next summer to see one from the garden again.

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