Sunday 11 December 2022

Small Things

How do you get your birding jollies? I wonder if, like me, they mostly come from simple, unspectacular events, small things. It has frequently struck me how a number of small things can provide a degree of pleasure and satisfaction out of all proportion to their real significance. In line with that, here are a few reasons why I've enjoyed my birding just lately...

A couple of days ago I saw two Black Redstarts in West Bay. One by the Esplanade, and another along the East Cliffs...

The Esplanade Black Redstart, with virtually no white in the wing at all. I definitely hadn't seen this one before.

The East Cliff bird, with (inset) beach bird from 17th November. Subtle, but there are enough differences there to convince me they are not the same individual, especially comparing other photos of both birds too.

So, with the gorgeous adult male from 5th December, that's at least four different West Bay Black Redstarts in the last few weeks. A nice tally, and a pleasing small thing.

For some time I have quietly suspected the West Bay Purple Sandpipers were playing a little joke on us. Mostly I have seen two birds, but sometimes just one. Whenever it's been a lone bird, there has never been any sign of another, no matter how hard I've looked or how long I've waited. But when I've seen two birds they have been on view together almost 100% of the time, joined at the hip. Which made me wonder if there were actually three: a pair and a singleton. This morning I found out...

Right at the far end of the harbour wall was this one, prodding around on the sloping concrete slab. Absolutely no sign of another, and I'd not seen any on the way out there.

But on the way back, these two, virtually inseparable as always, about half way along.

Proof, finally! There are indeed three Purple Sands at West Bay. Another small thing.

Yesterday afternoon I walked over to Eype and back. Not much to report, but arriving back in West Bay I spied a Goosander flying south over the harbour. It went straight out to sea, turned west and headed along the coast. Seconds later, a Kingfisher plonked onto the concrete wall of the outer harbour...

Goosander heading west.

Kingfisher in standard Kingfisher habitat.

Just a couple of small things.

I've been wondering if the recent freeze might produce a bit of cold-weather movement, but to be honest I am so wimpish in cold weather these days that I struggle to get out in it and don't really deserve to see much. Late this morning I did see a few Lapwings on the move - a flock of 8 and a couple of singles - and flushed 4 Snipe from the wet field behind 'Rise' restaurant in West Bay, but prize of the day was on the river, hiding in plain sight among the local Mallards...

A slim, elegant female Pintail.

A nice West Bay record, that. And the last of my recent small things. Altogether a lot of fun.


  1. Have you finished mothing for the year now?

    1. Unless we get a mild spell, yes, that's probably it for this year I think.

  2. Small things birding Gav. Yes, I get a lot from that sort of thing. Feeding a resident flock of Starlings (three rung) and a Grey Wagtail during the winter. Looking out of my front window and seeing Red Kites and Little Egrets, birds I once twitched, as almost everyday birds. That's a context thing as well, but still.

    1. A fair few 'small things' have stuck in my memory too, so maybe not so small? Like the Brambling you found round the back of the NH Waltonians pit, for example, and a Redshank on the old cress beds there. On reflection, yes, they were small things, but very special moments all the same...