I don't have a patch as such these days. I have had of course, several over the years, that I've watched religiously, obsessed over, compiled the stats for, counted coots at and occasionally found something half-decent at.
The large ex-pit village in which we live is in a great location for getting to some of the best birding sites around Northumberland and is fairly close to the River Wansbeck with some decent woodland so there are always places to go and birds to see. I covered much of the area to the south west on the winter atlas last year and found nothing remarkable or unexpected.
So when news broke on Birdguides that Northumberland's fourth Squacco Heron was about 1mile from the house as the crow flies in one of my winter atlas tetrads, and had been for two days you can imagine my surprise.
Found by a 'new starter' Debra Burley, on Saturday, who actually lives in the same village as me and identified along with Tony Vick on Sunday, who managed some decent pictures it's a great bird for them on what is their local patch and may well spur them on to a much greater interest.
With news yesterday that Northumberland finally had its first long-predicted Cetti's Warbler with a singing individual at East Chevington, found by Neil Osbourne, that will presumably winter and hopefully be the start of a future colonisation it's been a good weekend in the north.
With the weather forecast poor by late morning, it's raining as I type, I had the kids up washed and out by 08:20 giving us a good 20 minute window pre-school to try and get to grips with the Squacco. No real need for any urgency as we cruised around the bottom of Whorral Bank Andy Mclevy and Stephen Trotter had it pinned down on the far bank.
We returned post-school run and took a little more time but got some decent views over the next hour though it managed to evade everyone for a good while hiding in waterside vegetation. The last one (2004) hung around for nearly seven weeks, whether this one remains for anywhere approaching that remains to be seen.