Early Spider Orchids

Early Spider Orchids are now well underway down in Kent. Masses of variation amongst them:

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Tufted Nothin’

As if a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater back down in Kent earlier this summer wasn’t gripping enough, my old adopted home county really pulled one out of the bag yesterday – a summer-plumaged Tufted Puffin. Ouch. To make matters that little bit worse, this was at Oare – a mere mile or so away from one of my homes down there. Woe.

Having said that, this morning started well with the Buff-breasted Sandpipers considerably closer than a mile to my current home – now officially on the house yearlist. A Tufted Puffin they ain’t though…

Love those sweet and sour grapes

Generally speaking, I’m not one for regrets. Since leaving the south-east in 2003, there have been a few birds down there that have caused a little wince, a momentary shudder, a “bloody hell, I could have got there in time to see that…” – and then the moment passes – Trumpeter Finch; Green Heron; Black-winged Pratincole; Crested Lark… (actually, I lie about the latter species. They’re rare, but that’s about as far as their appeal goes for me). Oh, and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. I tried to tell myself “oh, they’re not that special…“, and then… then I saw the photos of the Bockhill Blue-cheeked, and oh! it hurts.

You know what? I could have got there in time to see that…

Heyho. The last few years have been more than good to me up here, and I’m not complaining. (Just feeling wistful, and not a little jealous!) And just when I needed some sour grapes to make the bee-eater easier to swallow, along to my rescue comes the good old BOU with a press release. Our 2004 Brown Shrike has been upgraded from “race undetermined” to “nominate cristatus” – which is what we thought it was at the time, so it’s nice to be right. And even nicer to be reminded, just when I was feeling a little blue (cheeked), that I’ve had some truly remarkable birds right on my doorstep here. In some cases, literally!

happy days

Rarities like this are the icing on the cake – and lest I forget it, rarities notwithstanding, I’m lucky to live where I do. Autumn isn’t far away now… and who knows what it may bring. 😉