A month or so ago I was in Norfolk and was approached by a fellow bird-watcher with the usual question "Anything about?" "Not a lot, plenty of Avocets and Egrets though". Avocets: another bird which has spread from just a few early colonisers in the last half-century.
Our attitudes towards different birds, and particularly the attitudes of birders, has always puzzled me. For some reason a bird which has arrived here as a result of human activity - birds which have been bred for shooting purposes or escaped from wildfowl collections, for example - are seen as some kind of lesser being and "don't really count" as wild birds. But Little Egrets, which have probably prospered as a result of global warming, and Red Kites, which have been deliberately bred and released by conservationists are something to get excited about.
What really gets people travelling hundreds of miles to glimpse though, are the poor little creatures that, either through bad navigation or being blown off-course by storms, have ended up shivering and bedraggled on some remote headland. I don't get it, why is a bird which has the initiative and resourcefulness to escape from captivity and then retains enough of its instinctive behaviour to survive in an alien environment, any less interesting than a lost and probably doomed stray.
Whatever the answers are to the questions posed in the above paragraphs I was extremely grateful for the two pure white birds, kissed by the dawn's early rays, that flew over my house this morning.