March 30, 2012

Dear Diary

Saturday March 24: They're back! The chiffchaffs are back!


Springtime is a wonderful time for any (amateur) birder, with all of those birdies that went away in the winter coming back: the chiffchaff, the barn swallow, you name it, they're all returning to lighten up our spring and summer.

Barn swallow (with house martins in the background)

Hearing that first chiffchaff of spring reminded me of an idea I once had of starting a bird diary. Noting down significant bird events in my life and illustrating them with bird stamps. I thought of this plan after I had had a very successful year with a lot of firsts: my first ever crested tit and my first ever bearded tit.

Bearded tit

I saw a glimpse of the latter while visiting an RSPB reserve in East Anglia. Beautiful little creature. We don't have them where we are so that was an extra thrill. We have no avocets here either and there were plenty of those around as well, in East Anglia. I'd seen those before but it's always a gorgeous bird to observe.


For the crested tit I had to go even further afield. Again, we don't have them here, but I believe you do find them up in the Scottish Highlands. However, I happened upon one while holidaying in the southwest of Germany, near Kell-am-See (on my almost daily walk to the post office. No points for guessing what I was doing there!). It was just sitting there in a tree, looking all wonderful. It's funny how you always remember things like that.

Crested tit

Needless to say, though, nothing ever came of that diary plan but I still believe it would be a great way of displaying a bird collection. And it gives you a limitation if you need one, for you only need to collect birds that have had an impact on your life. 


And so I would now include the chiffchaff and also the stonechat, a long-time favourite. The past three winters have wreaked havoc among the local population of stonechats, up to a point where they were nearly completely wiped out. So it was great to hear and see a male chatting on a gorse bush the other day: a hopeful sign that they may be on the way up again.


Still no sign of the skylark though, I'm sorry to say. We used to have them when we first moved here, back in 2003, but they've since disappeared and have never come back again. Did hear a meadow pipit though, on that same walk we encountered the stonechat. Similar to the skylark in that they rise up and float down again, but easy to tell apart for the skylark's song is varied whereas that of the pipit is repetitive.

Meadow pipit

So you see, just give it a bit of thought and you'd come up with plenty of stories for your bird diary and therefore for an unusual and interesting philatelic bird display!

See yous later

PS: We now also have a Bird collecting thread on our forum, so why not flock together there and start your own bird diary!

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