As with the last few birthdays, my 55th (55! How did that happen?) was spent out in the field. The day before I put a message out on Twitter asking for suggestions on destinations. The choices were the Black-winged Pratincole (this wasn't really on the cards, it was going to be just too far to walk – a six-mile hike didn't appeal), the Long-tailed Skua at Pagham/Selsey (would have been first choice, but by Thursday it had long gone), or the breeding Bee-eaters on the Isle of Wight.
|The Isle of Wight beckons|
My intention was to become one of them. It wasn't too far a drive to hitch a ride on the ferry at Portsmouth, so I went for it. I was on the water for 9.30am and at the Wydcombe Estate near Niton by 10.30am.
|The National Trust had arranged things very well for the |
public to see these fantastic birds
|One of the four Bee-eaters with its catch|
I had to leave shortly after 1pm to catch the ferry back to the mainland. Next stop, Beddington. While I have seen a Glossy Ibis in Surrey this year, I quite fancied seeing another one at one of my local patches. The heat was intense on the drive up, the temperature reached 30C, but was starting to drop slightly by the time I arrived just after 4pm.
|The Glossy Ibis returned to Beddington|
After that, a dash back home to get ready for dinner with Annie in Battersea at a Lebanese restaurant called Dalila. It had been recommended by Jay Rayner in the Observer magazine and we fancied giving it a try. It was excellent.
Way too much to eat and the owner and his staff were really nice. We really got on well with our Portuguese waiter, Pedro, who we discovered was a qualified paediatric dentist looking for work in Britain. His father is Antonio Vieira, who happens to be assistant coach at Monaco football club. We stayed until the place closed up. It's not often that the guy who serves your dinner also gives you a lift to the station afterwards.