Monday, 8 March 2021


Another relatively quiet (and cold!) morning in Pulborough and Clandon got me thinking a little bit about patience - surely one of the most important traits for any birder. When Kate and I were last in South Africa a few years back, the owner of one of the guest houses we stayed at commented on my patience as I sat out in the garden for several hours watching thousands upon thousands of Cape Cormorants streaming past to roost. It was just a friendly, passing remark of course but it occurred to me that sitting in one place watching one landscape for one particular reason would seem to some people a terribly boring thing to do, I suppose; rather like being dragged to a gallery if one had little to no interest in or understanding of art, there's a certain kind of headspace that needs to be tapped into for one to appreciate something like watching birds for any real length of time. 

There are many kinds of patience required to be a birder, whether local patch workers hoping for the arrival of a particular species to add to the year list, vismiggers staring hopefully at empty skies or twitchers waiting for hours for a rarity to reappear. Right now, after months of cold, darkness and lockdown, most of us are eagerly awaiting the return of the early spring migrants. Few things can lift a birder's spirits at this time of year than the first Wheatear or Sand Martin, although the proliferation of bird news and social media posts can lead to a distinct feeling of FOMO and, yes, impatience, especially if we find ourselves a few days behind our peers in seeing that first returning sub-Saharan visitor

Today, after the cold start, turned into a pleasant, calm and relatively mild day, thanks to the shift in the wind direction to west/southwesterly after over a week of northeasterlies. Indeed, it may only have been a subtle change but there was an unmistakeable hint of southern promise to the air. As I strolled round the field at work during my teabreak, it had the feel of a quiet theatre just before a grand performance is about to begin. The stage is set, the audience are seated and the actors are on their way. All that’s needed is a little patience and all will be revealed. 

Good things come to those who wait... Wheatears in Clandon last spring