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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Memories (1 Viewer)

Its been a while......

Remember my new year resolution to post more often? Yeah, well, about that.

Been an eventful time since I last posted. Some good birds and birding, some wonderful mindfulness time outdoors, and a lot of sadness.

Firstly, the good stuff. My sense of adventure has finally been matched by my ability. My aversion to an 8 hour round trip to Fowlsheugh for a seabird bonanza has meant that I've had to get my 'standard' seabird and auk ticks through non- spectacular means. Thus, being a bird lacking in puffins for this year, I headed to Yellowcraigs/ Fidra at the start of July. Usual train journey, nap, snacks, etc, and then venturing onto a bus, hoping I could remember where to go. The walk from the bus stop in the village was an absolute joy. Sun shining, and enough of a breeze ot keep the heat from being oppressive. Plenty of insect life buzzing about, managed to get a few (and I mean only a few) worthwhile photos as well. Onto Fidra itself, the breeze was making the sea choppy, and I suspected I'd need to work hard in my visit. Successfully ticked off everything I'd expect- gannet, guillemot, eider, until eventually I realised I'd need to get clever. I knew from my last 2 visits there that the puffins were usually seen to the sides of the island, and I focused my search there. You make your own luck sometimes, and before long I got what I was looking for, bobbing about in the surf, the sunlight showing their unmistakable bill in all its (distant) glory.

A quiet few days followed, before Dad duties allowed me some time in the 7- Lochs are of Glasgow. Yon internet thing had noted that there were pochard present at Gartloch Pool, a quick 5 minute drive away from where I had dropped eldest mini- GS off at work. Pochard are a bit of a bogey bird for me, one of those ones that should be easier than they end up being. Most years I'm usually in the right place at the wrong time, so having one a short drive away meant I couldn't really pass up the chance. Tramped through the undergrowth to find a flat spot, and set the scope up. Water was relatively high, the weather was dull and breezy, and a chorus of sedgies formed an incredibly un- musical backdrop. The first bird I noticed on the water was a GC grebe sitting on what was essentially a grassy lump of mud. From50 yards to the left, a second grebe swam toward it; after a bit of preening, passing reeds and general Grebe chit- chat, the birds swapped places, with the original nest- sitter swimming off serenely. One of those moments that make the day a success, regardless of what else you see. As it turned out, following the swimming grebe also got me onto the half dozen pochard that were sitting front and centre. This included a couple which were awake- a veritable rarity.....

Flushed with the glow of a tick and 'bird life', and with another couple of hours to spare before the bat sign would be sent up to recall me. I headed off to Baron's Haugh. Another quiet afternoon in Lanarkshire's premier RSPB reserve, with dog walkers outnumbering birders by at least 10: 1. I had a grumble to myself as I wandered down to the Marsh Hide. Nothing new, a brief stay, and a wander along to the Causeway Hide. This is where the 'scope (gift of sight restored) came into its own. Fluttery movement on the exposed mud caught my eye, and I zoomed in on a little ringed plover- the golden eye ring being the tell- tale sign once again. Not a year tick, but good to see at my 'home' reserve. Further watching, and movement got a green sandpiper among the grasses on the muddy fringe. This was a year tick, and obviously always a relief to get it. I mentioned my trip to my birding mate Bill, and how I could feel the build up to a good autumn- with autumn beginning in July/ August.

Which is where the wheels came off somewhat.

Part of the family stuff I'd been doing since, forever, was running errands for my frail and infirm (but not too elderly) parents-in-law. Sadly, my father in law died suddenly, bringing everything, including bird life to a shuddering halt. Turns out that bickering with each other for 27 years was a sign of mutual fondness. My days immediately became full of making sure my wife and kids were ok, whilst protecting them from the lunatic fringe of my wife's extended family. Imagine a circus, where every clown is Pennywise from Stephen King's IT.

But, as I've mentioned before, we humans adapt, adjust, and find a way to just get on with it. A brief visit to the Haugh was more spiritual than anything. Plenty of species, but quiet enough (even the dog walkers were fairly absent) for reflection and to re- charge. When I need to- usually when I'm getting a row from my boss- the 'happy place' I go to in my mind is the woods at the Haugh, standing barefoot, crunching leaves and twigs with my toes. Without being too esoteric, I answered the call home, and allowed memories of birding days to wash over me; memories of of birders past, and of birders present. The funeral arrangements made me think, that eventually there would be a point where no- one remembers us, no- one remembers what we've done, how we did it, and with whom. And what a tragic shame that is.

As I said, we adapt and create our own new routines. I tentatively ventured back out east to Musselburgh, given that it was 'wader season'. A King Eider had also been seen, but as I'd dipped every time I had ever looked for it, I wasn't intending to even try. Luckily, though, other people were made of sterner stuff, and as I walked along the sea wall a group of birders put me onto it, about 20 yards from the wall. Once seen, never mistaken, as it stood out from the crowd. Lifer, and already the day was a success. A wander up to the scrapes, and a bit more hard work got me knot, dunlin, blackwit, greenshank, and ruff. Year tick, and a sense of contentment as I wandered home.

I mentioned before how I often used my father-in-law's car for some of my birding further afrield. Sadly, with his death, the car had to be returned, and thus last Monday was the final time I got to use it. Decided that as Lochwinnoch wasn't too far from the dealership it had to go to, I would head there first. Hard work got me 2 eclipse Mandarins- a definite bogey bird. A walk round to the feeding station got nuthatch at close quarters, and an unexpected siskin. 2nd year tick, to balance out the poignancy of the occasion. 142 ticks for the year, with an expectation of at least 2 more before year's end. I can't complain, and won't complain.

Seizing the day, seizing every day.....

I mentioned above that eventually we will cease to even be someone's memories. Ages ago I casually suggested to Bill that he should commit his knowledge and experience to writing, lest it be forgotten. And if his knowledge ever is forgotten, what a tragedy it would be. I didn't go as far as Roy Batty's Tears in Rain soliloquy from Blade Runner, but I did get the message across, I think.

Thoughts of my own mortality made me think of how, maybe, someone will see my gravestone, and wonder who I was and what I did. And it made me want that to happen.

Keep birding, lets keep taking care of each other.


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