Anyway, birding has started again and that is the news that I wanted to share with you today. I've had a couple of wanders around Wanstead Park today and added three year ticks. In July! But the impetus for this actually came last week when I absconded from Wanstead for the first time since March. Since March! Unheard of! With the easing of various restrictions and sensible preparation on both sides the residents of Chateau L went up to Scotland to see my family. We drove so as to preserve the bubble, and did not stop. 6am to 1pm in one hit, gosh, I could have twitched a Vulture....
It was lovely to see everyone, but what I am going to write about is the birding. As I had a car I went out every day. Not far, just various sites mostly within Fife. I had no preconceptions particularly, and so for the most part I just went to places I equated with decent birding. Leven Shore. Fife Ness. East Weymss. Loch Leven. One day a family excursion took me a little further, a picnic and a walk in the Highlands, and so I saw Red Grouse and breeding Wheatear, but the highlight was Fife Ness. I didn't kill myself getting there at first light, I had a nice breakfast and mosied on over for about 9am and pointed my scope out to sea, more or less due east. It was bright sunshine and blue skies, not the conditions one associates with good sea-watching, but I have not been sea-watching for many a season and so who cares frankly. And it was of course wonderful. Puffins by the hundred, Gannets galore, and the challenge of separating Guillemot from Razorbill which is actually extremely hard at distance. Three species of Tern to work out, and some red Red Knot. Superb stuff, and so as a special treat in addition to a photograph of my magnificent view I am also going to post a rare photograph of me. Why? Because I thought I looked happy and I was, and rarely do I think that I look happy even if I am.
|Looking south from Fife Ness towards the Isle of May.
|Yes, this is happy. Shut up.
It was over all too soon, the siren call of work brought me back to the big smoke on Monday. The family were staying longer and so to come back I had to take a plane, not something I had counted on doing any time soon. I was not thrilled by the idea, but I got on with it, and indeed on it, and so far I am not feeling any ill effects. I was extremely careful, and although this is no guarantee of safety I think that I was hugely helped by the almost complete lack of other people. Anyone familiar with airports will perhaps recollect that they are very busy places. Crowds, queues, fellow man, and stress. Well here's Edinburgh Airport on Monday evening.
I think most of us could cope with airports like this, and certainly I found it a breeze. Actually I find busy airports a breeze so I don't quite know how to describe this one. What's easier than a breeze? A lot easier. Unfortunately at the other end I found that my Uber Account has disappeared and so I was forced to take London public transport. This was equally empty as it happens, but disappointingly about half the people that were on it had no PPE whatsoever which made me quite angry in my gloves and mask and unable to pick my nose. Anyhow I made it home without being coughed on and without touching a single surface with my hands, and I am reasonably confident that I remain virus free. Fingers crossed.
In conclusion this was a break that I really needed. Loved ones, comfortable surroundings, birds and no work! I took my camera but as is often the case (in fact this time it/I was worse) I found myself almost completely unable to use it competently for the first four days of my trip and only on the final morning did things finally click. That's for another post though - every photo in this one was taken with my phone whilst I carted around a big lump of expensive dead weight. I am used to it though, and so when the stars do finally align and I manage to take a bird photograph that I think is OK it makes it all the sweeter. Imagine if every time you lifted the viewfinder to your eye you took a stupendous masterpiece!
In other news I have started Noc-migging again. So far my 'results' include a party, various emergencies and an extremely angry cat. The only way is up.