But that's exactly what happened today!! I feel very privileged indeed to have seen it, as it is one of Britain's most threatened birds, and pretty rare in this part of the country - as well as difficult to spot. Birders in this country are lucky to see even just one in their lifetime...
Before I fill you in, I want to share a few other shots from today. I went out for a couple of hours - freezing cold, blue sky, snow everywhere. It was beautiful. And a proper birder's treat :)
First up was a Bullfinch:
On my way up towards Sutton reservoir, I had to get a shot of one of my faves, a Long-Tailed Tit:
A little later, I watched a contortionist Treecreeper for a while:
I reached the reservoir in the hope of spotting a Kingfisher, as I saw one flash before my eyes once last year, and have kept meaning to come back ever since. Not much showing Kingfisher-wise however, so I watched this Wren for a while - I love the over-the-shoulder glance:
I'd been out for a couple of hours by this point and the sun had moved to an inconvenient position, so I headed back down the hill to where my car was parked. Before leaving though, I thought I'd just have one last look down the lane where I originally saw the Bullfinch. I watched some Long-Tailed Tits for a while, then turned around when I heard what I thought was a Nuthatch.
What I saw was this:
Obviously a Woodpecker - but what you can't tell from this shot is that it was the size of a Sparrow. Which makes it not your run-of-the-mill Great Spotted, but the much much rarer Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. As I said, these are one of the most threatened birds in Britain, with numbers having declined by 80% over the past 30 years. Approx. 2,000 pairs remain in Britain, compared to approx. 40,000 pairs of the Great Spotted variety - and most of the remaining birds are in the South. All of this meant that I feel incredibly privileged to have spotted this bird just a short distance from where I live.
I would've been happy enough to have had time to snatch just one shot, but it seemed completely unaware of my presence, and I was able to watch it for several minutes, making its way up (and then down - backwards!) the tree:
The following shot was the best I was able to get:
It eventually flew into another tree, and got so high that I was no longer able to see it. No matter - I went home hungry and buzzing!
As well as the birds pictured here, other birds of interest were several Redwing, Goldfinches, and, just before I reached my car, a UBOP (Unidentified Bird Of Prey). I might make it a belated New Year's resolution to work on identifying birds of prey... other than Kestrels, the rest leave me stumped!
Also, to save up or start playing the lottery so that I can one day afford a 500mm lens. Until then, I'll have to keep making do with my 300mm...
That's almost it for today, but thought I'd leave you with a shot I took at sunset from my bedroom window - the silhouettes of all the neighbourhood crows off to roost for the night:
Right, I'm off to email the British Trust for Ornithology and the RSPB to tell them of my sighting :)