Tuesday 2 April 2024

Easter weekend

I've spent all weekend on the patch, birded it three days out of four. The result, a stonking bag of spring migrants one Willow Warbler. One. That's it. Barring this one bird, not a single migrant of any note. No Wheatears, no fly-over waders, no hirundines, no nothing. It is hard not to be disappointed over four days. The numbers tell a different story as I ended March way above average on 83, but those are just numbers - all you need to see is one individual of one species and you're done. A more interesting stat is how many passed through. If I purposefully ommit Chiffchaff and Blackcap as they now overwinter in small numbers and are thus seen way before migration has officially started, the only passage migrant to appear so far this year prior to April 1st's Willow Warbler has been Wheatear.  The first of these was on March 16th, the next day it was joined by another, and a little later that week, the 19th, I picked up another male whilst Nick found a female. So what's that? Four birds if you're feeling generous? Since that day there hasn't been a sausage. Yes there was a Partridge, and you could say that a few Red Kite passing over are also migrants, but what I am trying to say in a far too roundabout way is that it has been shit. Four days of complete freedom to bird the patch, no work, no committments, and one single Willow Warbler. Unremittingly shit. Luckily I have other hobbies too, but I won't bore you with those. Suffice it to say that I have put in some serious shifts in the greenhouse and garden with which I am extremely satisfied.

So a weekend of pottering around basically, something I am extremely good at. I did exciting things like sweeping, pruning, and going to the dump. I have been middle-aged since I was about 19 and am now really beginning to hit my stride. As I took a lunch break on one of the days I wondered aloud to Mrs L whether this was what retirement was like. For some reason she put her head in her hands, I am not sure why. It is nice to spend time at home with the family, and I can only assume she is looking forward to it as much as I am.

The weekend also revolved around food. It being the holidays we have a full house here, and with the five of us it made a bit more sense to push the boat out a little. Of course some dishes were sniffed at - chickpea and chicory salad was not met with universal acclaim for some reason although Mrs L and I both liked it a lot. What irritates me is the picking and choosing, or that we will spend hours cooking a substantial meal and only a few hours later they will be swarming in the kitchen again, wolfing down cereal and toast as if they haven't been fed for days. Teenagers eh? Was I like this? The highlight of the weekend was probably our Italian meal, I haven't stopped jabbering about Italy since I returned from Piedmont in early March. I imported a load of goodies including a local pasta called Tajarin which we had as a primi piatti with some of my home-made ragu, and it was every bit as good as the dish I ate in an osteria in Alba. 

In other (now sadly regular) news the fence battles continue unabated. There was some minor respite on Good Friday, and for a moment we thought our anonymous adversary had perhaps gone away for Easter. Unfortunately they had not as we arrived on Saturday to one of the most egregious slashing incidents thus far that required the CoL team to come out and repair it as it was beyond the volunteers. On Sunday and Monday there was virtually no damage at all, but this morning it had been cut again, albeit only a little. Perhaps as we now re-enter the normal working week it will all start up again, my pet theory is that weekdays are more likely than weekends as people are up much earlier in order to walk their dogs before work, and the damage has always occured before we get there in the morning. So, a bum note to end on, but the Skylarks continue to sing - perhaps as many as four birds. Fingers crossed.


  1. Hopefully the skylarks will flourish despite everything - on the marshes between Leigh and Benfleet, numbers seem to be rising and there's no dog/people control there. I've just been looking at your trip report for Taiwan (we're going there in October). Surprised that you didn't try for the black faced spoonbills - is October not a good time or are they just too boring? And more info on that cocktail please...looks attractive

    1. Taiwan was an amazing trip, especially solo. A lot of research but no guides, a great adventure. The trip was all about the endemics, so that was where I spent all my time (I've seen Black-faced Spoonbill in HK).

      Sticking with the asian theme, that cocktail is called "Cherry Blossom". There are loads of recipes, but this was 3/4 cherry liquer, 3/4 kirsch, 1/2 Cointreau, 1/2 Grenadine, 1/3 simple syrup, 3/2 lemon juice. Shake with ice, lime garnish.

    2. Ah I understand! And thanks for the cocktail recipe - I do like a cocktail from time to time (say weekly)