By April 21st last year I had seen exactly 89 birds on the patch. I don't do fractions. This year I have seen, oh look, exactly 89 species. There is actually less cross-over than I thought, with seven birds seen this year that I hadn't seen by this point last year, and vice versa, but rest assured that it will all even out in the end. My patch year lists are, barring a few species, identical every time, with only the order being slightly different. I could mix it up I suppose, see how many I can get in March, how many in April etc, but do I look like the Prof? (No I do not).
April is usually excellent, and whilst the quantities have been down - only one Wheatear for instance - the expected birds have all, one by one, found their way onto my list. The latest bird, #89, was Ring Ouzel, a reliable species here year after year. And to think I once twitched one in Hertfordshire so little did I know of my local area. Well, all that has changed now. The where and when hold few surprises these days, but with a fly-over White Stork last week, and the run of fantastic birds last year, you just never know and so you go out every morning with the spring of hope in your step.
Despite what I said about being unable to get up, lately I have cracked it and am hitting the patch nice and early. One of the great benefits of this is that I am alone and I get to see the sun rise. You can generally tell quite early if the birding will be any good or not, and so some mornings you invest the time, and others become perhaps a shorter sortie. Last week saw a mixture of both. A run of ten hours over three consecutive mornings bagged nothing more than a single Yellow Wagtail. The following three days have seen Green Sandpiper, a new Cetti's Warbler, two Sedge Warblers, a Rook, quite a few hirundines and the aforementioned Ouzel. I think I'll stick at it for a few more weeks.