Thursday 29 December 2011

Hanging On!

Two pieces of good news. The first is that I survived Christmas without any kind of Mr Creosote incident, and am now back on the path of virtue and slimming. The second is that the Firecrests also survived, and are apparently very much looking forward to making an appearance on my January 1st day list. At least that's what I assume all the squeaking meant.

So how was Christmas for you? Whilst my children received veritable mountains of gifts, I received one solitary present - from my sister - a field guide to the birds of West Africa. Before you go thinking that she is some kind of genius (though she is, I must admit, fairly smart), this was at my suggestion. Not that I have any firm plans to visit Western Africa, but I am extremely partial to leafing through foreign field guides and dreaming of the day that I will at last visit. Also on the shelf at the moment are various tomes covering Trinidad and Tobago and the greater West Indies. One day, one day....

Birding abroad is brilliant, bloody brilliant. You can take nothing for granted, even your ears count for nothing. It is birding at its rawest, its most intimate. You rely on sight, and nothing else. I rarely go abroad purely for birding, there is more often than not an ulterior motive, so usually I don't even take a scope - luggage is at a premium, bins is all I have. So I have to get close. Very close. I take my time, there is no urgency. And so it is back to basics, how birding should be - no preconceptions, nothing taken for granted. It also helps that foreign birds simply love having cameras shoved in their faces, whereas British birds dive for cover at the slightest hint of a long lens. Now that I am gainfully employed once again, though for how long I cannot say, I am looking forward to being able to go on a few jaunts abroad. Whether it will be Western Africa, or whether I'll build up to that, I have no idea. But right now the mere thought of being somewhere warm and filled to the brim with colourful and extremely photogenic birds is getting me through the holiday season.


  1. While you're at it, consider the southwest U.S. and southern California. Hummingbirds, desert birds, alpine birds, ocean birds, shorebirds... sigh.

    On the other hand, at this time of year I can also think about snowy owls, great gray owls, hawk owls, and bald eagles, which are nothing to sneer at.

    Nice yellowthroat!

  2. (After another apparent failure I am trying to make a comment again. Why, oh why, does your comment box dislike me so?)