Friday, November 18, 2005

Nice and icy - but no new birds. 206 species in total

Today I was finally able to combine my personal year-list pursuit with the best bit of my job – taking some of my students out into the field to see birds. The Winchester College Natural History Society was founded in the 1860s, and ever since has had a small but keen following.

My colleague, Hugh Hill, drove a party of boys down to Farlington Marshes at lunchtime, where I met them, having set off at about noon on my bike. On a cold and frosty day, with a good high tide, we expected to be able to show them plenty of birds, and no-one was disappointed – stacks of newly arrived Brent Geese, lots of common wildfowl, a Goldeneye, Kingfisher, tons of waders, two Dartford Warblers, several Stonechats, a couple of very elusive Bearded Tits and a Merlin.

One of the young lads was very keen, despite knowing next to nothing about birds – he wanted to see that Robin which we glimpsed as it shot across the track, and spent five minutes stalking it! He’s even started a life list (he’s on about 25), despite my grave warnings about where such dangerously obsessive leaning can lead!

So, no sign of the Long-tailed Duck or any other year-ticks for me, but a thoroughly excellent afternoon out for all concerned.