A couple of recent trips
Abberton. Quite a list! Black-Necked Grebe , Long Tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Bewick's Swan, distant Little Gull, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Black Tailed Godwit, Marsh Harrier, and I've stopped looking at Great White Egrets there are so many of them.
Canvey Point - a bit gloomy, but a diver flying around was probably a Black-Throated, then off to Rainham. Howard on the desk. Anything around? Howard rattled off an okayish list, and then said that a gloomy day with an easterly breeze something like White Fronted Goose was a possibility. Just before the Ken Barrett hide 5 geese over - one of them has massive black barring on the belly - thank you Howard! Then Water Pipit, Pintail, Ruff, and a couple of Marsh Harriers. So some decent stuff.
This all contrasts with the patch, which has been ... okay. A Chiffchaff calling incessantly in river-side willows eventually gave pleasant sepia views; my first winter chief on the patch. A Little Owl prowling at dusk. Then in the park, 5 Lesser Redpoll were the first of the winter, and a few Siskin were flying around.
Today I managed an hour or so. Three Green Woodpeckers in the field, a few Bullfinches, then some bird action visible over the railway line. A flock of a few hundred Woodpigeon with some Stock Doves, about the same number of corvids, and about 50 Chaffinches and 20 Yellowhammer, with good numbers for the patch. Now many areas have seen Bramblings passing through recently, and as its one of my favourite birds I had as good a look as I could through the finches. I'm sure you can imagine my joy at finding I had possibly the biggest flock of Chaffinches in the south of England that does not have even a single sodding Brambling in it.
But anyway ... onwards, and quite a few Fieldfare including ones feeding in bushes not too far off, and a distant Red Kite.
The thing is, I think I enjoyed my common birds about as much as I enjoyed all those rarities at Abberton. I guess we all started birding because we love birds. And not just rare birds, but any bird. I'm increasingly conscious that the best moments of bird trips aren't necessarily the target birds, but are the ones that give confiding views, or that you stumble upon and didn't expect. Take that Chiffchaff - is there a duller bird than a winter Chiffchaff? But I really enjoyed its smooth sleek plumage and warm tones.