Sunday 24 May 2020

Annoyed of Wanstead

Thank you for bearing with me over California and Florida. I had not been planning to write them up at all, but with everything subsequent to them cancelled or rapidly heading that way I needed a bit of a lift, and I have to say that going through all of those waders brought a smile to my face. I am itching to go back and do it all again. However.....

This weekend I should have been in Northumberland celebrating my parents' golden wedding anniversary. My sister and I had rented a house large enough to accommodate all 12 of us, and the long weekend was going to be spent in the great outdoors and then sprawled around a comfortable and rather grand sitting room. On Monday evening I was coming back to London with my Mum and one of my nieces, and on Tuesday together with them and my youngest daughter, was flying to Pittsburgh and from there driving to Ohio. There we would have met up with my aunt, uncle, cousin and [later] sister for a few days, and together we were to visit my Grandmother, now aged 94, in her care home. At 94 I cannot help but wonder how many more chances we will have. Meanwhile my eldest daughter was accompanying my Dad back to Scotland to help look after him and my sister's other two children, and Mrs L would be in London supervising the final burst of GCSE revision for my eldest.

Well now.

No anniversary celebrations. No family get-together in America. No visiting of ancient relatives. No cousins spending time together. No GSCEs and no end-of-an-era school leavers jollity. We've seen no-one and been nowhere. Meanwhile I read of Government advisors quietly skipping off to see families and lovers, I see reports of fun days out birding here there and everywhere, of long-distance twitching, and of photos of crowded beaches and clogged roads all over the country. 

You can imagine how that makes me feel. No doubt there are solid reasons for some of this activity, and I am sure that many people have found ways of justifying it to themselves, but quite a lot of it makes me seethe. Imagine what nurses and doctors seeing this first hand must think. The selfishness of so many people is quite extraordinary. My 'favourite' was a news report of some people who had driven an hour and a half to go to a beach and were without any sense of irony annoyed that lots of other people had done the same thing. I've also read stories of people who never got to see their aged parents again because they died before they could visit, and I'll be honest here - I cannot reconcile those two things. People who are irritated that other people also felt like a nice day out, and people who won't get to see a family member again ever.

Right, deep breath.

Here in Wanstead it has been feeling quite like June for quite a while already. Other than the majesty of local Swifts birding has been scant, and unfortunately I have now turned to insects. On Thursday night we put out the moth trap for the first time this year. Immediate success with Buff-tip, Small Elephant Hawk Moth and Angle Shades - three mega-cool species to find in my back garden. Seek and ye shall find.

We've also had regular visits from a Broad-bodied Chaser that likes to rest up on a particular Yucca leaf, returning to it time and again much like a Flycatcher, and there have been a variety of other interesting insects that I have discovered whilst gardening and on whose identity I am currently clueless. Help is at hand in the form of various established pan-listers, including local birder gall-afficionado James, who was able to tell me that the really smart little bug I photographed was the catchily-named Rhabdomiris striatellus. Given I am not going to be going very far for the rest of the summer and quite possibly the autumn as well, developing an interest and gaining some knowledge in things other than birds may be one of the best ways to get through this.

Stay safe. And don't be selfish.


  1. Was beginning to think you'd ditched the moth trap! Been a better answer for me than staring at a, largely, empty sky over the last ten weeks. Nocmig never entered the equation 😵💤

  2. Unf I fall into the won't see my parents again camp. And I'm still sticking to lockdown rules.

    1. I heard Mart, very sorry, and in such a short space of time too.

      My sense is that lockdown is basically 'over' now, we're all too stupid or stubborn.

  3. The whole of history proves that humanity is prone to prolonged and almost continuous bouts of senselessness. And we are here to prove it today.
    I have a glass of very nice Monbazillac in hand!

  4. Thought the government said you can now drive where you will and meet with one other person provided you preserve social distancing? At least that's what we've done in good faith this weekend. The point about Cummings is that he did it before it was allowed - oh, and whilst he had virus symptoms (along with his wife...why they both had to travel isn't clear)

  5. I think many people will see the news - not just from Number 10 - and think "sod it". I'd have liked to go see my extended family, I'd have enjoyed birding on the Kent coast, and Collared Pratincoles are fabulous. I am asking myself why I did none of these things when other people felt perfectly able to.

    1. A good question, which I am also asking myself! I can go out in the car and drive to places, but I don't feel I should, although I want to. But I can, although I wish we couldn't, then I'd feel less conflicted in my little brain 😵