Near Stratford Hide, location of my osprey ten years ago, one brave warbler defied the bitter north-easterly to sing a little Mediterranean warmth into the scene. It also sang its way to 127th in my year list and – ssh, in case some bastard comes to shoot them – a couple of ruddy ducks in Herons Green Bay came in 128th.
To complete the exotic feel to the day, I later disturbed a little egret at Clevedon – just like ten years ago. It seems that these warm climate species can handle the cold, just like the many ducks on the Lake putting the tough into tufted.
Indeed, Cetti’s has spread considerably since publication of my trusty old Larousse, which shows it occupying a thin south-eastern coastal strip. My Collins Bird Guide extends that to Wales and the Midlands, where I’m accustomed to at least hearing Cetti’s at Upton Warren. It is one of those birds, somewhat like a wren, whose call is so insistent, but which nevertheless skulks, that, like a bad child, it is more often heard than seen.
Something has happened to the Cetti’s taxonomy under the IOC too. It’s shunted up the order, way ahead of its old allies, the reed warblers. In fact, even the bushtits, to which our familiar long-tailed tit now belongs, come between the families, like some Prince of Verona between the Montagues and Capulets. Try to imagine that next time you see one of these protagonists.
So, that’s my fifteen quid paid for this year’s permit to Chew, along with Blagdon and Barrow Gurney, which now boasts a hide. Fantastic value and more or less an obligatory expense for any birder within fifty miles of Bristol.
OK, so the smew and ferruginous duck didn’t show, and I really must get to grips with yellow-legged gull. Hopefully these birds will hang on until the weather allows more than five minutes’ standing outside.
Is that even on the radar yet?