29 May 2008

Here's a question for you...

Am I committed or just plain crazy? This morning, a workday I hasten to add, I was out of bed by 5:00AM - two hours earlier than usual - and by 5:30AM I was at Willington Gravel Pits, birding! I parked the car and set off for the Canal Scrape as quickly as I could; I was actually jogging at times, much to the amusement of a local dog walker and his Collie! Thinking about it, the dog was less than amused - it lay down in some long grass and tried to hide as I went past!

Once at Canal Scrape I set up my ‘scope and started to scan the water’s edge, and immediately hit a problem - I was rather warm from the jogging, the eyepiece of my ‘scope was pretty cold and it steamed up so I couldn’t see a thing! No problem, use my Leica’s for a short time while the temperature evens itself out. Within moments of switching to my binoculars I had picked up the first of the birds I was after, a Black-tailed Godwit. Back to the ‘scope and the I.D. was confirmed; I had just picked up my 118th species for the year within 10 miles of home.

After watching the Godwit for a short time I set about my next challenge which was to find one, or both, of the two Temminck’s Stints that had been reported yesterday evening. I was expecting this to be a little tricky as I was some way away from the water’s edge and Temminck’s are VERY small waders (only around 14cm in length). In the end it proved to be rather easy - I spotted a Dunlin as I scanned the water’s edge and the two Temminck’s Stints just happened to be feeding right next to it! Species 119 was safely in the bag.

By now it was almost 6:30AM and time I headed home for some breakfast before getting out of my birding gear and into my cycling gear for the trip into work. Once back at home I was met by two of our friendly Blackbirds, numerous Sparrows, two Dunnock and a single Collard Dove, all of which wanted their breakfast too. Yet again, the birds were fed before I was. The priorities are all wrong in this house at times!

Whilst I stood in the kitchen and ate my breakfast I was able to spend a short while watching the birds feed; the Blackbirds were taking fruit to feed to young hidden away somewhere; Sparrows and Starlings fed themselves and their young; a Wood Pigeon ate enough seed to feed a Sparrow for a year! A Blue Tit also appeared at the feeding station a number of times and it too appeared to be taking food away to feed young.

Whilst cycling into work I ran through the morning’s events again in my head. Was seeing the two Temminck’s Stints the highlight of the morning? Was adding two more species to my “10-Mile List” worth missing two hours sleep for? Are the handful of species we get in our garden worth the ever-increasing cost of food we buy for them?

You know what? The 10 minutes or so I spent watching the garden birds feed, set me up for the day and it’s worth every penny!

My “10-Mile List” now stands at 119 species.

*** See Blog entry on May 30 for an update to this post!


  1. Definitely Crazy!!!

  2. Good blog. Very enjoyable. I recently picked up my first ever Temminck's in Scotland. A super little bird.

  3. Nic (birdnerdblog)30 May, 2008 22:27

    Right Now I Am Reading.... your blog, and getting increasingly jealous!! You bagged a Temmincks, I never even got a whiff of one at Pennington lol does the answer lie in 5am starts? My body clock says no way!