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January 16, 2013 by Whispering Smith

Published in the Littlehampton Gazette January 10th. 2013

It’s that time of the year to look back on the good and some of the bad things that shaped 2012. To me the glass is always half full so I tend not to dwell for too long on the sad moments and concentrate on the many good things. It is one of life’s ironies that good things sometimes come out of the bad and the bad things can get better with a new day, but that is for another time. Certainly it was a good year for birds  and the year I joined the RSPB, became a novice ‘twitcher’ and had some wonderful moments, some so brief they were almost over in the blink of an eye but memorable nevertheless. Red kites, buzzards, kestrel hawks, skylarks and chiff chaffs, seen but never heard,  over Highdown and Burpham galore. Egrets along the Arun, the antics of day old coots and long moments watching herons hunting the reed beds at Arundel – probably looking for day old coots! Three sightings really stand out though, number one was being close up and personal to nine cormorants on the pontoons along the east side of Pier Road offering me the chance to see for the first time that these mean eyed, hook billed, fearless birds were not just a dingy dark brown as they always appear from a distance, but that their feathers are intricately patterned making them, close up at least, quite beautiful. The second delight was having a very close encounter with greater spotted woodpeckers on the bird table in a friend’s garden and the third, probably the most exciting, was on a visit to North Devon and the sighting, albeit briefly, of two lovely kingfishers probably our most colourful bird although on reflection, it was suggested by my companion, that it may have been the same bird seen twice! Birds, eh? Who can figure them? Take a trip to Pulborough Brooks, sit in a hide for a while and dream your dreams away and when finished drift back to the RSPB Restaurant and have a dish of hot macaroni cheese to die for! Have a Happy, Healthy New Year 

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