If, fourteen months ago, at the start of the very first "national lockdown" the weather hadn't been so good, I'm fairly confident that local wildlife watching wouldn't have cut the mustard! However, almost certainly due to that wonderful Spring and the associated bonanza of weird and wonderful species viewed from gardens across this "Green & Pleasant" land, staying local has kicked in and aligns itself nicely with the reduced carbon footprint gig that is all the rage in 2021. Now, as it happens, I'm neither a "born again Christian" nor a reformed smoker with all that smug aloofness and wisdom that appears par for the course for those types. No, not a bit of it, I'd walked away from the OCD lunacy of ticking boxes when my first marriage went down the tubes. Setting new county (bird) year-listing figures (263 in 1999, thus beating Don Taylor's previous total by 21 species) was a brilliant experience yet, was it worth the pain of a marriage breakdown? I sincerely hope you never find out for yourselves!
So when the dust had settled and Bev came into my life I knew that if I'd learnt anything from that madness, then obsessional pursuit of such, ridiculously, selfish and unimportant goals couldn't happen again. We moved into the bungalow and Newlands became my patch, November 2000, and has remained so ever since. I've got two decades head start on this generation of "Johnny-cum-lately" converts. Do I miss "twitching"? If I'm honest the answer has to be "yes". I have so many wonderful memories from that period. Adrenaline, camaraderie, banter and superb birds; yeah there can be no doubt Kent was a great place to be part of the county listing scene during those halcyon times.
Obviously angling has returned to my life, with a real vengeance, such is my craving for pursuing targets. Yet with the passing of time, age has mellowed expectations without reducing any enjoyment of simply being involved. Hanging in our kitchen is a calendar, a present from Carrie & Craig, which has profound quotes as the header for each month. June, the month when the new season commences, has this absolute gem. "We didn't realise we were creating memories, we were just having fun!" I'd love to attribute this wondrous line to a highly acclaimed angler, naturalist or sportsman - not a bit of it - Winnie the Pooh!! If a reality slap was ever needed - this is an absolute belter! Out of the mouths of babes - eh?
On April 10th, last year, I was standing in the garden when a high flying Fulmar came in from the west, flapping continually with a shallow wing beat. It was only my second patch record and completely out of the blue. Imagine, therefore, my surprise when, on Monday ever hopeful of Rosy Starlings and/or Bee-eaters to make an appearance, another one passed over, this time arriving from the north and steadily headed S/SW.
BWKm0 No. 62 - Fulmar
Two in two years, does make me wonder how many I've missed because of being inside a factory? I took an early drive across to the flatlands, this morning, checking out a couple of drains prior to the start of another campaign. Although I didn't actually see any fish, the signs look good and I'm excited at the prospect of this next chapter in my angling journey. The ability to be reactive, given weather patterns or whatever else, will be a great edge over what's happened previously. I certainly won't need to consult a holiday rota to see if I'm able to get a bait in the water.
It would appear I'm coming to terms with this life of leisure; realising the freedoms available now work is no longer a factor in the daily cycle. I've accompanied this rambling piece with a selection of images captured over the past week which help illustrate just how diverse is the wildlife available to see if you only take the time to look.