Thursday 1 October 2020


Slightly less than one year ago I wrote a post entitled 'My Happy Bird', following a visit to Cogden that involved a Lapland Bunting. That post rekindled what had been a very quiet blog. At the same time, something else happened. I rediscovered birding. It is hard to convey in words exactly what this has meant to me without sounding a bit melodramatic, so I shan't even try. Suffice to say that I'm pleased it happened, and that the subsequent twelve months have been a blast.

October is here now. Hard to believe that just five minutes ago I was lusting after a skua-laden helping of spring seawatching. And that four-and-three-quarter minutes ago Covid-19 arrived, and suddenly there was no spring seawatching. There was #BWKM0 though, and there was nocmig, and there was a whole heap of other birding possibilities which we had not foreseen. It has all been very surprising. So the lesson I have drawn from the last year is not to be surprised by the surprising. Which is just as well, because otherwise I would have been very surprised this morning...

Recent outings had been uneventful, with often a rather thin sprinkling of grounded migrants, so when I arrived at Cogden just before sunrise and immediately had 2 Chiffs by the car park, and heard a small chorus of ticking Robins and chucking Blackbirds, I sensed birdiness. For a change I went straight to the beach and walked east into the sun. Suddenly a Wheatear was right in front of me, just feet away and not flushing...

Beach Wheatear. Just minor cropping at 300mm zoom. I love that backlighting.

And from the sunny side. That early morning light is so warm...

Four Wheatears in total - more than I've seen on the beach for ages. It all felt very promising. Periodically I would stop and have a scan. A slow sweep of the sea, or a distant hedgerow that was too far for the naked eye to be much use. Doing this I spied a bird on a fence post. The fence itself bordered the inland side of the coast path, viewed from the beach right across the far side of the Burton Mere reedbed. In fact it was too distant to be 100% identifiable with bins. However, my gut was telling me it looked really good for a Wryneck (which I knew was basically not possible because two Wrynecks in three weeks would be too jammy, even for me) and that I had better hurry up and get the camera out. Two shots at 2000mm full zoom, a quick peek at the results...enlarge a bit...and...well, flippin' heck, look at that...

Cogden Wryneck at many, many yards range. Yes!

By the time I got round to the spot there was no sign of it. And as far as I'm aware it hasn't been seen since, which is a real shame. I do get great pleasure from sharing decent birds, and it's been pretty disappointing that locally I haven't been able to do that at all this year. I'd like to think I'll get another chance before the autumn is out, but I suspect I've used up more than my fair share of chances already.

Strangely, despite a roaring start, the morning's final tally was much more sparse than I envisaged. Rather than the hatful I was expecting, those two early Chiffs were joined by just one more, and four Blackcaps, and the only other stand-out bird was a Whinchat. However, do I care? Nope!

Finally, nocmig. I have to say, the autumn has been very, very slow for me. I'm glad that the spring/early summer period was so good, because I would otherwise be finding it hard to maintain some enthusiasm. However, on Sunday night's recording was a new species for me. I shan't bother with a spectrovid, because it would be less than exciting, but this is what it looks like...

Redwing. The first of many I hope.


  1. Yes Gav, looking back it's surprising how much we can get done in what appears to be a short time frame.
    Did you mean months instead of minutes? Actually, minutes work well. It's a nod towards how at our age time appears to pass ever more quickly.

    1. Yep, definitely minutes, Ric. Time does pass more quickly with age. Fact.