Oh come on, I need a break - the hit counter of this blog needs improvement, hence the unashamed title today.
After paying my dues pounding the clifftop and rifle range to check how many of the previous days' auks, divers and kittiwakes were still offshore (answer: some but not many) I was on my way home when I met Nigel, who shouted "Northern Long Tailed Tit!" and gestured wildly at the undercliff vegetation. He had been calling them in around the village and had found a flock with two Northern individuals near the toilet block, then of course they had moved on.
We split up and he soon found the flock on the clifftop but as soon as I struggled up there they moved on again, but fortunately only back down to the original site, where they stayed browsing the holm oaks for a while.
I had to tear myself away, due to a prior engagement, but managed to get a record shot to remember the day by - they are lovely little powder-puff birds, and I've always wanted to see one - today I was able to see two, thanks to Nigel's ability to charm rarities from thin air.
A quick look at the BTO Migraton Atlas confirms that although Long Tailed Tits are generally rather sedentary, the nominate Northern race occasionally irrupts from its base in northern Europe and Asia. This Dutch birding site has recorded unusually high numbers this year too.
While watching the tits, a Peacock butterfly flew past, the first of the year.
Back in the garden, as I chopped up the Christmas tree a fox that has adopted the garden was chewing on something just a few feet away. A vixen's scream has been heard nearby, so perhaps this is she.
It seemed well-fed and healthy, and treated me with the contempt I deserve.