This photo hangs on my bedroom wall and so is one of the first things I see every morning. Despite its idyllic charm it's actually the site of old gravel workings. There is a series of flooded gravel pits which has been turned into a nature reserve and provides a lovely place to amble around and quietly take in the wonder of the natural world (or, more accurately, the way that nature has healed the scars of industrial exploitation).
Paxton Pits, as the reserve is known, was the place that re-awakened my interest in things ornithological. I'd been walking on Northumberland coast one Christmas and saw lots of winter migrants which I'd not encountered before. On my return I made a trip to Paxton and was amazed to see unfamiliar birds that were there to be discovered "on my doorstep". Of course it looks a little different in winter.
Bird's eye view
Incidentally, have you noticed how often birds line themselves up exactly side on to the camera? The reason is, I presume, that, having eyes at the side of their heads, this is the way that a bird stands to get a good look at you. They're keeping an eye on you.
Now the other day I was watching a Lapwing, one of a nesting pair, that was doing exactly this; standing sideways on to a hide where people were watching. It soon became clear that he'd positioned himself exactly in a spot where he could not only keep an eye on us, but could also keep his other eye on the nest site. Cunning, hey?
It also occurred to me that some of those notoriously difficult-to-spot species might just be using their other eye to check on the background they are seen against so that they blend into scene more effectively.