Being a "local patch" birder, it's easy to define that patch as wherever I happen to be. So when I had to journey from Northamptonshire to Manchester this week and found myself in a vehicle sans cd player, one particular option presented itself.
Rather than listen to pop music, inane babble or folk arguing on the radio, I used the motorway network as my birding patch:
M1 J15a -J19 A solitary kestrel. Oddly I didn't see another of these "typical" motorway birds all day.
M6 J1 - J4 A big flock of rooks and jackdaws, wheeling over the traffic. Enjoying the turbulent air of a gusty Autumn day.
M6 Toll A flock of lapwing making heavy weather of the er... heavy weather. Then, further along, a buzzard hanging in the wind like an enormous kestrel, working the speeding air to remain motionless in space.
M6 J12 - J14 A dozen Canada Geese lift from the flood plain on one side of the motorway and somehow make it over the roofs of the passing vehicles to the other side. Crazy birds!
M6 J19 Two more buzzards. One flying low over the embankment for the slip road, another sat on a fence watching the ground intently.
Lunch in town in the Snipe Retail Park, which sadly didn't live up to its name.
M6 J19 - J15 A huge rounded shadow looms out of the increasing gloom, and at first I thought it was an owl, but it turned out to be a heron.
M6 Stafford services Fairly obligatory, this one, a bunch of Pied Wagtails in the car park.
M6 J14 - J12 Those pesky Canada Geese again! Struggling into the breeze, back across the carriageways.
Not the best day's birding I've ever had, but when you're stuck behind the wheel for 6 hours, the odd avian sighting does lift the heart.