I do all right in London, but I leave the city and I feel ignorant. We drove to the fens yesterday where the birds were unfamiliar: a kingfisher, yes, and a heron; greenfinches and goldfinches and the usual robins and tits; collared doves, grebes, coots, mallards; two lovely green woodpeckers, a skylark in faint song and a stag-headed oak full of roosting and heraldic cormorants – but what are all those waterfowl on the mere, and those, and those, and those? How to identify that flock of pale finches flashing past overhead? Which raptor was that banking away over the stubble?
The hedges were full of unfamiliar song, and with no leaves on the branches much of the scrub and carr was hard for me to identify – though I can do most of the major trees, even in winter. Some of the fields were newly ploughed, the earth heavy and brown; but some were baized with newly sown crops that were too young still for a city-dweller like me to identify.