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Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.



Wednesday, 15 May 2019

THOUGHTS OF POM SKUAS BREAKS THE PHASING BLUES

Apologies once again for the lack of posts since February. Some of the reason has been due to the usual time constraints but predominantly, I have to admit, it has been more because of a total lack of enthusiasm.

I never thought it would ever happen, but a chronic case of phasing really enveloped me and at the time I couldn't comprehend why.

I have just recently begun to snap out of it, but even now I really struggle to force myself to get out of bed at the crack of dawn – even during spring migration.

But then again, I haven't really missed that much. Spring migration this year has been pretty quiet, alarmingly so I would say. 

But even when some of my favourite birds have arrived relatively locally, like Ring Ouzel, for example, I've just shrugged my shoulders and carried on with whatever it was I had been doing at the time. The pulse never flickered.

Back in February I did enjoy regularly seeing my local patch's long-staying Black-throated Diver. For more than five weeks he stayed on Mercer's Lake – it was a real pleasure to have such a rare visitor on the doorstep.

Holmethorpe's Black-throated Diver
Deep down I think I have been just plain tired. Last year was draining because any spare time was spent writing, producing and publishing my stock car book, then I had to focus on selling it – often at the venues. After that my mum gradually deteriorated and passed away and the aftermath as the end of the year approached was soul-sapping.

Work has been gruelling, with a major reshuffle on the cards, and too much to do with less staff to do it. And so I supposed it should have been no surprise to find myself running on empty this spring. 

But one ember of enthusiasm, of hope, continued to glow – the thought of watching migrating Pomarine Skuas. I find sea-watching, whenever I get the opportunity, a true joy. There are few more satisfying things in life (to my mind, at least) than to empty my head of all the crap going on inside it and sit by the sea and stare at it all day. Wonderful.

A Pomarine Skua (it is there somewhere!)
And so that is what I did on consecutive Tuesdays at Dungeness earlier this month. While it was relatively quiet on the migration front, on the second visit I got to see my first Pom Skua of the season. Just the one, but it was enough.

Bar-tailed Godwit with Whimbrel
Added to the list, in no particular order, the other highlights were a pair of Garganey, Little Gull, Black-throated Diver, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Kittiwake, Little Tern (loads of them), Arctic Tern, Arctic Skua and Bonxie. Away from the sea Great White Egret, Wheatear and, in particular, a pair of Black Redstart were spirit-lifting.

Kittiwake
Three Arctic Skuas

A handsome Black Redstart 
Great White Egret
Wheatear
I did managed to miss a Kentish Plover (it would have been a British lifer) that dropped in momentarily by the fishing boats while I was at the sea-watching hide, but I got over that pretty quickly.

This resuscitation of enthusiasm has also coincided with our first real holiday for a while beginning this weekend. Annie and I are off to Mallorca – staying in a villa in the Marc valley to the west of Pollensa.

If it is half as memorable as the last time we went three years ago, I will be very happy indeed.

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