So starts one of my favourite books, 'The Go-between' by
LP Hartley: and, as I rush towards pension age, how true that sentiment seems! This morning, I was having a sort-out and glanced at my bird logs and field books: these go back to the 70s and are - to me, at least - a fascinating record of changing attitudes and an apparent decline in Norfolk birding.
Reading through my logs, what seems obvious is that we just don't get the numbers of migrants we used to: many of us old timers can remember sueda clumps or straggly bushes heaving with Pied & Spotted Flies, Bluethroats, Redstarts and tantalising LBJs. Autumn passage seemed always to produce good waders and a few genuine rarities: I recall small flocks of Buff-breasted, Baird's and Marsh Sandpipers and all three Pratincoles visiting the county. Great-spotted Cuckoos were annual, as were Rustic Buntings, Black Storks, Squaccos and Night Herons....
On the other hand, I remember travelling long distances to twitch birds that wouldn't raise an eyebrow these days: my first Norfolk Little Egret required a drive out to Welney, while adding Cattle Egret to my life-list involved a frantic scorch from Nancy's Café to Lincoln!
Some birds seem to be real blockers for younger birders: Sociable Plover, Nutcracker, Greater Sandplover, Little Whimbrel.... don't hold your breath!
A major change in my approach to the hobby has been the fact I record my sightings here on this blog rather in meticulously-kept field books and illustrated 'big logs'. And I can't remember the last time I sat down to paint or draw a bird: back in the day, Martin & I used to compete to see who could get the most pen & ink sketches in the Norfolk Bird & Mammal report!