It's amazing what you can see at work, and also travelling to and from the place of toil. I always start early (usually before 7am), so as it's quiet I can catch up with mundane paperwork and also keep a beady eye open for any birdlife outside the office. I've already posted about the late House Martins I always seem to see in November. But back to this morning which dawned nice and bright and early. A small flock of distant Canada Geese flew over the adjacent farmland. A flock of 14 Fieldfare could be heard calling in flight as they ventured over the nearby playing fields. A few Curlew flew inland from the adjoining Exe estuary. Then, just before the incoming rush of workers, a couple of Long-tailed Tits busied themsleves in a small tree just below my top floor window.
Although suffering from a bad back (sitting for long periods is the worst thing you can do), I decided to walk the 4 miles home this afternoon. More Fieldfares and a few Redwings were seen first, as well as Blackbirds, Song and Mistle Thrushes. I walked up Stony Lane to Conigar Cross. I had just passed over the junction, when a bird flushed from the laneside ditch right in front of me. Expecting it to be a Pheasant, about one second later I saw that it was much much smaller, and then in the next nanosecond I realised it was a Woodcock! Dumpy build, with dead-leaves camouflage-colour, a long snipe-like bill held slightly downwards, and totally silent, it was only my second one this year! A bit further on a Great Spotted Woodpecker attracted my attention by calling and flying over the lane, while I was focusing on an overhead Goldfinch. Then, just round the corner, a Green Woodpecker was heard calling at the same time as I spotted a Buzzard, also calling from the top of a very tall telegraph pole. This bird was a right exhibitionist. It launched itself off the pole and proceeded to fly up and down over the lane, calling constantly. By now the light was beginning to fade. I had to navigate myself safely down the side of a busy road for 400 yards. No birds could be given attention while doing so. I eventually passed on to a safe pavement and pottered quietly back home to be greeted by my son, who gave me all the latest football news ahead of tonight's FA Cup replays!