Monday 23 March 2020

Keeping my distance

I have made sure to keep a healthy distance from humanity the last few days. I went out on Saturday morning to collect the Golden Wheatear Chalice, but that has been it. I was a little nervous if I'm honest, but how can you cancel something as big as Wanstead Wheatear Competition? A large crowd had gathered, at least eight people (decent distances apart), and after Tony had tossed the substantial trophy to me I made a short speech thanking my fellow birders etc, and then we went our separate ways. 

The birding was dreadful, nary a migrant in sight. A cold easterly was blowing, two months ago that might have seen some decent birds on the patch but in March it basically kills it. That said it is still early, the major arrivals are not for a week or so yet, there is plenty of time for the excitement to build. The big unknown is of course whether by then we will all be confined to our homes. It appears large segments of the UK population are treating the current crisis as a vacation, and doing all the things they would normally do on a nice bank holiday weekend. The photos of crowds at Snowdon and on beaches make you want to scream, and if a total lockdown does happen it will be because of idiotic behaviour like this.

Perhaps in anticipation of this birders are moving online. Various competitions and other forms of entertainment are beginning to spread across Twitter etc. I have yet to get involved, it is early days and I have plenty to be getting on with. For me this means pottering with plants and skywatching, both favourite activities that can be done at home. And home is currently where it is at. It is genuinely nice to have the whole family together and engaged in getting through this, and for me to hole up and devote my every waking hour to birding and communicating with other people about birding doesn't seem right. So for now everyone can expect me to be a bit distant.

So far so good at Chateau L. We had a lazy weekend spent mostly in the garden, if we are stuck here it is going to be our salvation. I busied myself with plants and having a big sort out after the winter. I can now get into my greenhouse again without needing to bend double, and gradually it will begin to open up and look decent again. Mrs L serviced all of our bicycles so that we can go on family bike rides, and the kids started transforming their rooms for an extended stint at home. Mrs L and I have our jobs, but for the kids it will be more difficult separating weekends from weekdays. To try and draw a clear boundary they are attempting to keep to their timetables, despite my stupid suggestions of what elements of housework could be dressed up to cover core elements of the curriculum. 

In the evenings we work out something to do en famille. Online quizzes are proving quite fun, particularly those ones that dump you on a google map and you have to work out where you are. We are treating ourselves to the occasional movie night, and I expect we will end up watching everything that David Attenborough has ever made. Board games and jigsaw puzzles are going to feature as we go on, and of course we all have our own projects to be getting on with. I'll be reading even more than I do already, and this is surely my opportunity to try and get to grips with drawing birds, something I have been threatening for a long time.

I think we are in this for the long haul, so stay sane and keep well. 


  1. Hooray, you're back - one of the few positive things about coronavirus! Totally startled by the panic buying ourselves, we make all our own bread, seemingly now so does everyone else - no wholemeal flour anywhere! We're now doing our own panic buying online. Husband saw a red kite last week over Crystal Palace. Happy distant birding, take care

    1. We make our own bread as well, have done for ages. Flour supplies dwindling... but I'm not going out shopping!