I have several items of news to share, none of them hugely exciting but enough to eke out some verbiage.
One - I've been to Scotland again, a few days up in Fife. Once again the birding was really nice, way better than locally. I did a bit of sea-watching from Fife Ness. Nothing spectacular flew or bobbed past, but the fact that it was so different from my normal circumstances made it exciting for me. 27 Gannets in case you were wondering. That's what I classify as exciting these days. I also finally found some Crossbills up there, not sure what took me so long. I also managed to time my trip to coincide with Storm Dudley which made for some exciting homebound travel.
Two - No sooner had I arrived home than Storm Eunice paid a visit. I spent half an hour in the garden moving loose items to safer places, laying several plants on the ground which have a tendency to fall over in just a moderate breeze, generally being a responsible neighbour. I was away during the last equivalent storm in 2013 and back then we did not have a loft extension. This time I was here and sat working in said loft extension. Scary stuff, a lot of shaking - and not just me! I have various plants on stands, and to see them rocking and quivering indoors was quite something. We were battered and buffeted by four hours of some of the most intense wind I've ever experienced outside of Shetland and the Midwest. Whilst all the trees and fences survived, the loft dormer roof did not fare very well. The fiberglass sill on the most exposed corner was ripped off and I found it in the front garden, but worse than that the entire length of the lip above the balcony has tented up, no longer secure against the top of the brickwork. As I type Storm Franklin is rolling in, followed by yet another one Monday, and it remains to be seen whether either of these will contain enough puff to rip it off entirely. Needless to say it was impossible to raise the insurance company on the phone so we have submitted a claim online as I have a feeling the whole lot will need to replaced - I can't bend it back to resecure it and we are rather at the mercy of the weather until someone can come and sort it out.
Three - I renewed my passport online which was remarkably straightforward. My old one only had about two months to go, and I had no travel plans so bit the bullet. The old one had not worked in the eGates since I sat on it Morocco in about 2013, so to have one that will allow me to get out of the airport without joining an almighty queue is rather a novelty. It is nonetheless a downgrade of course - it is disappointingly blue and no longer affords free access to 27 countries that the old burgundy one did. I am paying the price for other people's xenophobic stupidity and I don't care who knows it.
Four - Whilst out inspecting local storm damage yesterday I both heard and then saw a Dunnock, a tricky species that has been eluding me all year. Great Crested Grebe also fell, as did Mistle Thrush. It was nice to be out, but I cannot say it was inspiring. IN fact it was about as naff as it has been all year and spring cannot come soon enough as far as I am concerned. I say this every year, but the first Wheatear is just around the corner. Ideally the corner of March 21st.