I had a busy day today. This morning I reported some more bugs from last summer, and then designed and ordered some new business cards - not that I do this nonsense for money, but if I ask someone I happen to bump into for permission to photograph them or (more usually) their dog, I like to be able to give them my contact details so that they can email me later for a copy of the photo; hardly anyone ever does, but I think it's only right to make the offer.
Then I did some gardening - purely for reasons of guilt over my general slovenliness, but at least it was pruning rather than digging, so I effected some improvement without wearing myself out.
I then went for a walk around the village, hoping to see insects, because my record work this morning had reminded me that by this date last year the bug season had kicked off, but sadly finding none. It's been a fairly tough winter though, and all the wild vegetation seems to be behind-hand, so it's not surprising that the bugs are also a little late emerging. But there were birds about - the usual suspects, plus this great spotted woodpecker, which somehow flew along the lane and landed in the tree right by me without noticing that I was there; eventually she spotted me and left again, but considering the angle, and the mass of intervening branches, I was happy with the shots I managed to capture. I was also very happy to find the goldcrest, which has somehow survived last week's Beast from the East, and was out this afternoon very busily catching tiny flies. He was too deep in the hedgerow for me to get a decent photo, so I tipped my metaphorical hat to him and left.
I then zoomed up into the Cotswolds, where I was cheerily greeted by the old lags at The Wall with the news that while I was failing to find the bearded tit at Napton yesterday, the owl field was absolutely bursting with owls all afternoon (Owls yesterday...). Today, however, was cold and windy, so didn't look as though it was going to be a good owling session. I stood around for an hour, had a bit of a chat with a few people and received some tips on other good birding sites, and was beginning to think about leaving, when the great grey shrike moved into a shrub within reasonable distance of the lane; and as I was manoeuvring into position to try for a clear shot of him, the cry went up behind me: "OWL!!", and a shortie flew straight past me, along the southern field, up over the lane, and disappeared northwards at high speed. I managed a couple of not-very-good images of its departing backside, stood at the Wall for another ten minutes in the vain hope that it might come back, but then had to admit defeat because I'd more than run out of time. As I set off on my quite exciting, high-speed drive down the escarpment on roads that are still only partially cleared of snow, there were still a dozen birders jigging around at The Wall with a mixture of anticipation and cold - so I hope the owl came back for them.
I just made it home in time to eat some soup and grab my music, before going back out to choir practice. I'm still busking the Duruflé - perhaps slightly worryingly, because we're performing it in exactly ten days - but the Fauré has now re-established itself in my head, and one out of two isn't bad... surely? Or at least, it's better than none out of two!
I've put a few birds of the day here, if you'd care to see them.