It is easy to get complacent and down with your local patch when you are hearing about good birds other people are finding on their chosen location. This week a Red footed Falcon flew over East Chevington and Holy Island, without stopping. These great sites are North and South of me so I wonder if it flew high over our village? Probably I suppose.
My home patch does not compare with these top birders haunts, but when it gets a singing Golden Oriole or 20 second White tailed Eagle, they are all the more exciting and usually I get them to myself or maybe a couple of others.
When out birding at good spots I have targets in mind. Its May so a Bluethroat or a Wryneck maybe, would be great finds on the coast, but at home I keep my goals much more achievable usually not involving a rarity but a local scarcity would do.
This year I hope I get a Redstart. You would think living on the East coast, this would be a shoe-in in September, but I haven't had one for several years now. A Garden Warbler would be an adrenalin rush for me. My last one here was in the garden about 6 or 7 years ago, so when 'patching' you need to 'cut your cloth' accordingly.
So it was into a mild, almost-gale that I wandered out with Peggy this afternoon, along the lane runs an recently cleared drainage ditch. It is now growing over and has a trickle of water with mud in the bottom that is hooching with flies. Nearing the end, something flickered across the vegetation into some cut off willows. Its flight looked interesting, different to the usual garden birds along here, so when I raised the bins, I was pleased to find the culprit was a Spotted Flycatcher. Last year in my record breaking patch year list I didn't get one or a Cuckoo for that matter, but I did have one calling here last weekend.
After I had emptied the dog, I took her home and returned with the camera to document a scarce patch year tick. Its never that easy is it. I sat for ages without sight or sound, then a call, a single sharp note drew my attention and it had returned or better still I should say, they had returned. A pair of Spotties is a good record here these days, so I am crossing my appendages hoping they might raise a brood and entertain my dog walks all summer... 27/05/20 Update. They have not been seen since...