Can you believe that I have still not seen a collared dove this year? It's bizarre, isn't it? I normally see these birds from the kitchen window without any fuss, but here we are, eighteen days into 2009 and still no tick in the box. Don't get me wrong, I'm not losing any sleep over it and I know one will cross my path before too long, but it just seems odd. Such is birding I suppose.
I hadn't intended to go out today. I had expected it to be pretty blustery, but it turned out to be a reasonably pleasant morning and at 10:00am I decided to venture out for a quick stroll around the patch. Not a lengthy excursion today as I decided to cover my default three mile route. I felt confident, however, that I would finally get my binoculars onto streptopelia decaocto. More fool me!
Sightings of note included a pair of bullfinch in the woods that connect Tanners Green Lane and Barkers Lane, a further pair along Hill Lane and five meadow pipits in the paddocks along Wilmore Lane. The latter is a particularly good spot so close to home. I was almost disappointed that I had seen some near Earlswood Lakes a couple of weeks ago, else it would have been another patch tick. Still, musn't grumble.
So, the search for the elusive collared dove continues. At this rate, I might be ticking turtle dove before I see its more prevalent cousin!
I did have a patch tick yesterday morning when three common buzzards were over the field opposite the house. A few year ticks fell last week too. Heading over to Solihull last Monday, I decided to go down Shakespeare Drive, where a flock of waxwings has recently been putting in regular appearances. My luck was in when 11 birds were spotted opposite the dental practice.
Later that day I saw a pair of blackcaps that are regular visitors to my Dad's bird table, and I finally spotted a coal tit, another common bird that had eluded me so far this year. Both ticks coming from the comfort of a sofa and with a cup of coffee in my hand. Good work.
Birds Seen On Foot 2009: 46
Distance travelled: 16.5 miles
I need to think about getting over to Draycote Water before the smew disappears. One of my goals this year is to get a decent photograph of this bird. Knowing that some of the best photographers in the Midlands have struggled to achieve this feat doesn't fill me with confidence, but it would be silly to judge my own work by their lofty standards. Anything better than last year's effort will suffice.
Weather permitting, I shall be over there tomorrow. If it looks rotten, however, I may find myself at the cinema instead, so there is a contingency plan to go next Sunday with my Dad and Dave Thomas if necessary.
I wouldn't mind trying to find the red-necked grebe too. It wouldn't be a lifer, but I'm keen to see it. Trouble is, how will I tell it from the great crested grebes? Well, if it really is a redneck, I suppose it will be wearing dungarees. I wonder if it will answer to the name Cletus?