Vic was a very gentle and kind man, an also an extremely clever one. As an engineer who worked for British Aerospace among other companies, he worked on Concorde and the Space Shuttle, could read and speak three languages, was a brilliant mathematician, loved classical music and in his youth enjoyed many a long ramble in the hills of Austria. It had been a pleasure and privilege to have known him for 22 years.
It is at time like the death of someone you have known closely for many years, all this twitching and patch birding stuff really doesn't matter in the general scheme of things. It is a lovely pastime but family should always come before an obsession, which twitching for many birders certainly is.
To really get the most out of it, you need to be pretty selfish, which I can be, but also have plenty of time and plenty of money – and I have neither of those.
Not being able to give something I really enjoy more attention truly frustrates the hell out of me but there's nothing I can do about that. All I can do is take the opportunities I get and make the most of them.
Which brings me on to long-distance twitching. How does anyone who has a full-time job, or any job for that matter, manage to organise last-minute trips to Shetland for a Pine Grosbeak, or the Outer Hebrides for a Harlequin Duck, or the Farne Islands for a Bridled Tern? I just don't get it! If I did that I would almost certainly be out of a job by now, and definitely out of pocket.
It just baffles me. But I'll get over it. I'm just envious.
Added to the emotional traumas, my car broke down last week. Actually, it has broken down a few times recently, once three weeks ago when Annie and I went to see my parents and while we were there my dad was taken ill. We couldn't get through to his surgery on the phone and amazingly the new 999 service decided it wasn't serious enough to call out an ambulance, so Annie and I dashed down to his local surgery to see if we could get a doctor out, which we could, but the car wouldn't start to get us back to the house.
To say I was stressed doesn't accurately reflect how I felt at that moment. Luckily the doctor gave us a lift back. In the end my dad ended up in hospital overnight, and we're not sure what caused the dizziness and violent sickness. A mini-stroke was suggested as a possibility.
So, it's not been a happy time. My patience is short, my mood fragile.
On the birding front this past month I have managed to see a Yellow-legged Gull at Staines Reservoir, plus a couple of Black-tailed Godwits at Holmethorpe.
The Caspian Terns and Bridled Tern many birders have enjoyed recently will have to wait for yet another year. Or maybe never.
|Black-necked Grebe at Staines Reservoir
|A Little Owl at Holmethorpe
|Two Black-tailed Godwit at Holmethorpe