A Birder Goes Birding

This is a rare event than it sounds, honest. Well, in fairness I’m always birding. It’s a state of existence more than a hobby, but there are levels of birding. Today was definitely top category birding by virtue of being a trip to the coast with 7 other birders for no other purpose than birding. We even looked like birders: see!

Some birders, birding.
Some birders, birding.

And I’m sure my colleagues from the Berkshire Ornithological Club will not mind me saying so.

Birds were my gateway drug into the wonderful world of natural history, and to this day nest within my twitter alter-ego ‘hatbirder’. They’re like the sticky toffee pudding and custard of the natural world: easy*, rich, warming comfort food. The perfect wind-down after hours dealing with obscure 2mm insects or staring at a computer screen.

As nominal leader for the day’s birding festivities I am charged with writing a full trip report, so I’ll save most of the details for that. But I will say how nice it was to catch up with species that rarely grace land-locked Berkshire, among them little terns – what joyous, graceful birds – and an arctic skua, offering long if distant views during our sea watch from Hurst spit. The first I have seen in fully 9 years, and the first skua of any sort in over 4! Other highlights included both bar and black-tailed godwits and a spotted redshank all coming into summer plumage, a small flock of eider off the sea wall at Pennington, and an unusually confiding cetti’s warbler. Top birding all round.

Oh, and I also saw a few things that were not birds, just to prove I was paying attention….

IMG_9434
Caterpillars of the brown-tail moth, one of several species that form tent-like nests of silk.

*I’m not suggesting that all bird identification is easy. Oh no! But birding is easy in that you can’t help but see birds, lots of birds, pretty much wherever you go.

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