Farlington isn’t that far away from home, but its one of those places I’ve just never been to. Whether this has anything to do with it being very close to the motorway or too close to Havant I’m not quite sure. While I’m quite sure there are some nicer parts of town, my only experiences of Havant are of the decidedly grotty station and nearby Probation office, so it hasn’t registed as a destination of choice even though I know its a real haven for wildlife. Setting off at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, I was looking forward to a day of notching up ticks that Chris hadn’t yet got.
For the first time amongst a group of birders, two things happened that were quite bizarre: there were about as many women as men (and some of them weren’t just tagging along with their husbands) and I wasn’t the youngest one there! This meant a different group of people than I was used to, but all in all it was a good day. When its freezing cold and reasonably windy, being out on the coast doesn’t make for a warm trip, but I wrapped up and braved the elements for over 4 hours. I added a lot to the year list, and I have discovered that being amongst experts is crucial in determining what the different waders are. These birds (mostly brown and on long, stick like legs for those who aren’t familiar) I find impossible to get my head around, so having others there who are able to tell and even describe the differences was a real bonus and gave me a boost while Chris was stuck at home.
Whilst I saw some brilliant new birds that I’d never knowingly seen before, as well as a lot of more familiar species, I couldn’t help but feel like I was cheating by going along with a group of strangers. Whilst we are in competition, my favourite birding moments often involve the two of us frantically trying to establish together what we’ve just seen. It may not be the best method in terms of seeing lots of different birds, but it is a lot more fun and there’s something exciting about working out what I’ve seen with someone I know so well. Whilst I had a lovely few moment discussing the merits of Stonechats with another lady and relished the mutual disappointment of most of the group when we missed out on a Bearded Tit that the walk leader had found, its not the same.
Chris, I’m looking forward to some mutual birding next weekend please!