It has been a long time since I wrote anything here, possibly the longest barren period ever as I am not known for being quiet. But events have simply overtaken me – I like to be busy as I am sure you know, but recently it has been a new level of busy and something had to give. This time it appears to have been blogging, but as I suspected, the world did not end. It’s all a bit of fun, I am under no illusions that it is remotely important. But I am certain that you are all dying to know what has been happening. Well, sorry, I’m going to tell you anyway, but I am going to do it rapidly so that I can get back to the here and now that is birding in Wanstead – remarkably I have actually done some and it was rather good. I also rather enjoyed it and need/want to do more of it. Back to basics really.
Anyhow, since Finland it has been completely frenetic. Manic. Mainly, and entirely normally, it has been non-Wanstead based, and involved four distinct blocks of time in four distinct places. The first of these was Berlin, where I and, shock horror, Mrs L, managed a weekend break together in the German capital. Jawohl! I have never been, and whilst it isn’t Paris or Venice, it was certainly extremely interesting, and contained much beer. Not that we drank much of it, we were too tired, and what we really needed was a weekend doing nothing much in Wanstead. Really ought to try that someday....
|The sinking of the Bismarck|
We did lots of cool things like eating lunch at the Reichstag, visiting bits of Wall, seeing Checkpoint Charlie, and then going straight on and around the corner to the station whilst repeatedly asking each other if we had any pets, which both us of know we do not. I should mention at this point that we were, and continue to be, childless - the children are summering in higher latitudes. Well, were at that point. They are now summering on the English riviera, also without us. So a very pleasant little break a deux, which rarely happens.
We have also all been to the Outer Hebrides, although I managed to squeeze a Black-winged Pratincole in before we left. Pratincoles, in case you did not know, are ace. Sensational in fact. Part Bee-eater, part Tern, a dash of Wader and sprinkling of Sandgrouse all add up to a pretty fabulous bird. Black-winged, Collared, Oriental, it matters not. If you get the opportunity to go and see one, leave immediately. This was my fourth, and second of this species. The first was back in the formative and higher quality days of this blog, and took two attempts. When I did see it, I am pretty sure it was just sat on the ground doing nothing. This is not how Pratincoles should be seen. They should be seen hawking serenely and majestically for insects, which is what the bird in Cambridgeshire did, and made all the better for the fact that I was viewing it all of twenty yards from my parked car as it flew above the heads of about 20 oblivious birders, all of whom had walked at least two miles to not see it do this, and had another two miles to get back. I think they all got on it eventually, but not before it had completed an epic 15 minute sally.
|Quality post ruined by Stonechat, one of the only post photos I took|
So, the Hebrides. Once again harking back to the past, I had vowed on first setting foot on North Uist and Berneray that I would come back with the family. I had been there to see the Harlequin Duck, and the overall quality of the twitch was so ridiculously high that I felt they had to see it too. The island, not the duck. With the kiddos already in Scotland, it was the work of moments to swing by from London and pick them up, and so the Saturday before last we very nearly instantaneously found ourselves at the port of Uig on Skye waiting for the ferry across to Lochmaddy on North Uist. The journey was very smooth, with added Manxies, and pretty soon we were staring out at the Atlantic from one of the very best beaches on the planet. We did very little during the five days we were there. Walks, more walks, looking at seals, some moderate birding, and when it rained, lots of Loom Bands. It was desperately hard work if the truth be told, and we all enjoyed it hugely, including the stunning drive back across Skye and the Highlands to Fife. From there I commuted to Glasgow for a couple of days, and then drove back to London directly from the office there, the family having picked me up.
So home again, finally. To have a big rest you might think.....No. Some feverish repacking, and the kids and Mrs L are off to the Isle of Wight, presumably to twitch the Bee-eaters. Meanwhile I went to a wedding, and then, as I have not done much travelling recently, Rome. I've never been to Rome before, and I need to go again as soon as possible as it was amazing. I am not typically one for culture and fine art, but I found myself wandering in awe around immense and brooding churches, looking at old bits of buildings, examining frescos..... Who are you and what have you done with Jono you might ask. Well you might, it's incredible. More in the next post....