Long time, no see

This afternoon I was scanning Maer Lake (from the road that runs along it's western side), when a car drew up and the driver asked the universal birder's question "Much about?" At this point we both did a double take. "Steve Gale?" said he. "Harvey Kendall?" came my reply. And so it was that after last seeing each other 35 years before, two birders met again.

In the summer of 1979 (as the years go by fast becoming my own anus mirablis), I was assistant warden at Dungeness Bird Observatory and Harvey and his son Ian were visitors from Cornwall, mainly to gather knowledge in the art of bird ringing. It was during August and, with the clarity that only youth seems to retain in a middle-aged mind, it was a tremendous period of migrant falls at Dungeness, a daily procession of hundreds of Willow Warblers, tens of Garden Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats, Common Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers and the odd Wryneck and Icterine Warbler thrown in for good measure. We reminisced about the time, asked after our subsequent lives and swapped contact details. Harvey lives in Bude and is lucky enough to have all of this habitat as his patch. Ian has forged a career in nature and has worked for various national bodies (also managing to reach 500 species in the UK). It's funny how the past can take you unawares like this and send you, with a sudden jolt, back in time.

My garden list has been built upon: Wood Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper being the additional holiday highlights so far. Both seen from the kitchen sink. I don't mind the washing up when such delights are on offer. I was also able to watch a Dipper for ten minutes at a distance of only 5m this morning at Boscastle, the bird blissfully unaware of the tourist throng just feet away.


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