Wednesday, March 25, 2009

list-free day

The always interesting North Downs And Beyond is suffering from post-forty angst. I've had a few of the similar emotions as ND, and still think of myself as a recovering tickaholic. Some days I can hear of a local rarity I can't get to see and not have the faintest twich. Some days.

One thing that seems to befall most birders at some point is birding for the list. For the day list, for the year list, or just to tick it off. There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it can become an overwhelming imperative, where the tick is everything and the experience of actually seeing the bird is nothing.

So here's a suggestion - an antidote. For just one day, leave your notebook at home. Make no effort to count, or even to identify what you see. Instead, just look at the wildlife around, without any attempt to categorise or classify, but just to watch and enjoy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Probable Ring-Billed Gull

I was visiting one of my employer's offices last week, and on the walk into the building was 99% sure I saw a Ring-Billed Gull. It was too small for a Herring Gull, and not mean enough, yet too big for a Common Gull. And as it flew up in front of the Central Toronto Railway Station I thought it looked a shade more agile than I'd have associated with a Herring Gull.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


February and March can produce some beautiful days; low sun throwing sharp shadows, clear air and bright blue skies. But if like me you only have a limited number of birding opportunities during the year, then its important not to be seduced by the weather and waste them on barren late-winter days. The local bird web sites are full of visit lists with small numbers and nothing of note. In just a few weeks the spring migrants will be here en-masse. So its time to sit tight, do those household chores, and wait.

I did sneak out to SLRS to see it fuller than I've ever seen. There were 8+ Shovelers and Gadwall in the teens, and a trip to the local supermarket was livened up by a flock of Fieldfares going over, but a cycle trip with D#1 round Hatfield Forest was practically bird-free.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...