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WEATHER: dull and overcast, cold but not so cold as the last few days.  Temp. 4-10C

This time last year everyday was very exciting, every visit into the Valley was full of anticipation, what was I going to see next? Last year was a lockdown of the unknown, I walked into the Valley everyday not knowing what I was going to discover. I hadn’t birded in the UK during springtime for a good number of years, so it was also a re-education for me. It was a fabulous experience, enhanced by superb, bright and sunny days. Last year I was full of the joys of spring, I got up and out at 6:30am most days, it was great fun and I got so much pleasure out of it.

This year everything is different, the weather is awful, it is dull most days and has been cold for the last month. I have not incentive to get up, I have nothing to seek out, I have seen everything that I am likely to see in the Valley already. My motivation for the Valley has gone, the excitement has abated, I'm not bothered where the Green Woodpecker is nesting, or that the Mandarin Ducks are breeding, I have done it all before, I need a new challenge, a new patch to walk and some new sights to see. Fundamently, I am not really a patch birder, I like to travel, to get out somewhere different each time I venture out.

A colourful gem that brightens up a dull day

My disillusionment was emphasised today during my very short visit into the valley, it was dull, grey and cold and pretty much bird-less. I heard Robin, Wren, Song Thrush, and Chaffinch singing, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and a Green Woodpecker ‘yaffling’. I stumbled upon two pairs of Mandarin Ducks, they seem settled and will probably breed.

the female in a perfect outift for camouflage when sitting on the nest of eggs

A Jay was unusually obliging about half way down the valley, it flew towards me instead of away and landed in an ivy-clad alder, it stayed pretty much out of sight behind the ivy so I couldn’t get a picture of it. I heard two Chiffchaffs but no Blackcaps yet and another Song Thrush.

the webbing on the feet of the Mandarin is very flexible allow them to climb on trees

I cut across the second meadow missing out a large chunk of the stream and the River Yeo, I then spent some time at the back of Rooks Hill scanning the bramble patches on the slope, I saw very little, one more Chiffchaff and a pair of Dunnocks, I walk home by cutting across the  meadow again and following the central track past the old barns and out onto the lane.


The rest of the day was spent sorting out our car, we traded the old one for a new one and that takes time. I never saw Fez but Dawn fed him in my absence. The Blue Tit in my garden has finally given up on the nest box, he couldn’t find a mate, such a shame.