What a year its been for notable birds. It started off with Canvasback at Abberton, then Northern Waterthrush at Maldon, then Surf Scoter at Holkham. There was a decent supporting cast too - Snow Bunting at Mersea Island, and Snow Bunts and Shore Lark at Holkham. Then a bit of local action - Smew and Red Crested Pochard at Amwell, and Bittern at Fishers Green. Finally White-Billed Diver off Southend Pier.
Yes reader, I missed them all. Some just weren't there when I was, and that Surf-Scoter; well, it became clear when, as we drove down the road to the Coastguards at Cley and saw the brick shelter repeatedly dwarfed by crashing towering spray, that we had miscalculated and there was zero chance of seeing it. Zero. As for the Diver, I never even got out of my chair.
So when it was mooted that we take a family outing to St Albans I leapt at it. Yes, sure, lets visit the Cathedral. A wonderful building. And just a couple of hours later I was stood in the Cathedral grounds with a lady with binoculars pointing out the long-staying Black Redstart in a tree. A decent sighting at last!
It was a female so lacks the showy pizazz of the males. But it was all Redstart. Non-stop flicking, constantly busy, occasionally adopting a jaunty pose.
Every bird species DNA seems to extend to all aspects of its habits and behaviour. This bird, when seen, instantly summed up the essence of all the previous Black Redstarts I've seen. An instant memory of encounters past. Hello old friend!