Nature Notes: No itch to twitch
Bird watching grows ever more popular and I don't mean the dedicated band of 'twitchers' who dash all over Britain adding rarities to their lists.
'Twitching' is not for me. I'm quite content to watch a range of garden birds on the feeders, all of which are interesting in their various ways.
Nevertheless, I do have a list of iconic birds that I call my 'fab five' all of which can be enjoyed locally with no need to travel far.
Topping my list is the swallow that for me would win any avian X-factor competition and a delight to observe winging along the Thames at Kingston in summertime.
The shy kingfisher, increasing in numbers, is well worth sitting waiting quietly for along a river or stream, its brilliant plumage so stunning.
Skylarks grace grassy plains in Richmond and Bushy parks and their seemingly endless songs drifting earthwards from mere specks in the sky are breathtaking.
Songthrushes deliver a melody that I think is even more lyrical than the nightingale and they are just beginning to resume singing as winter bites.
Last but by no means least is the magnificent peregrine falcon (pictured). From their traditional nesting site at the Tate Modern they have spread to several outer London and North Surrey locations where, on chosen tall buildings they can be watched perching, preening, interacting with partners and occasionally soaring.
The fastest creatures on, or rather above the planet when diving at 200mph after prey, peregrines join the swallow, skylark, kingfisher and songthrush on my hit list of 'must see' birds, all living close at hand.