Isn't unexpected birding the best? Like a when normal day is turned into sheer havoc by an absolutely spiffing Black-winged Stilt at Rutland, for example. Occasions when you're out in a totally non-birding situation and see something not exactly rare but completely unexpected are also rather satisfying too. Like glancing upwards whilst walking through Manchester and seeing a Peregrine - also very nice. Or something like what happened to me this evening, I shall set the scene;
You've just been subjected to several hours of Minitab (If you know what this is, you will feel my pain. If not, don't google it under any circumstances, you're better off without it) related torture in the computer labs of Newton building and you leave, bleary eyed, at 1.30am. You have nothing to look forward to on the drive back to Leicester except the dulcet tones of Capital fm and the chance that the wet roads might liven things up by trying to murder you.
Just as you drive over the county border and into Leicestershire you see a Tawny Owl alight from a roadside tree and give pretty satisfactory views in the headlights as it flies away, not bad. Not bad at all when you realise this is first you've actually seen this year. What's more, the roads are much drier the further you get from Shithampton, very nice indeed! Then to make things even nicer, you see a Barn Owl gliding gracefully across the road just a few miles further on, again giving nice headlight views, this decision to stay at uni so long wasn't such a bad idea, you think.
Im going to stop blathering on in this strange style now anyway and just say the Barn Owl sighting was just the beginning of one of those night-time drives that occur now and again where every single nocturnal creature imagineable tries to throw itself under your wheels, clearly bored of life. There was so much about that I even took a slight detour past some Owl sites to see what else I could find. In total I saw 4 owls (Two Tawnies, One barn owl and one bird that was either another barnie or possibly an asio but I didn't get a good enough view), one Muntjac, a billion wabbits, two Foxes and a Badger. I think the owl count alone beats my previous best of owls seen whilst driving that route at night by a smashing 3 whole owls and I'm pretty sure I'd never seen a badger either before (unless you count dead ones, I've seen loads of those).