|One of my favourite views - looking eastwards from the moat, Dungeness Bird Observatory|
2016. Not yet with us, but undeniably casting a shadow upon all that we do. Over the years I have found that the days between Christmas and the New Year to be irritants, hours that get in the way of reaching the 'brave new world' that is the coming new year. But it hasn't happened this year. I have been quite content to live in the present and not project myself into some unknown future. It's maybe because I really haven't committed myself to any great plans or aims for next year.
I do have stuff that will bubble away in the background. A repeat of the Surrey v Northumberland patch birding competition has been agreed, with baseline figures in place (mine lowered from last year). There are a few species of plant and moth that I have yet to see that I quite fancy seeing, but these will happen (or not) in a laid back style. I have, for a while, annually visited the Pulborough/Arundel areas of West Sussex and always wondered why I don't do so more often. Maybe I will in 2016. Dungeness visits will happen when the shingle calls me, as it undoubtably will. Harry's bench will be waiting, the skies will need scanning and the mind will wander across the shingle, the sallows and out towards the sea (above). Locally, in woods, downs, farms and heaths, there is much to seek: plants and butterflies to count, moths to trap and release - and maybe 2016 will be kinder from a birding perspective than the paltry rewards my local efforts garnered in 2015.
Above all though, what I wish for my natural history time is that it brings joy. Wonder. Pleasure. Contentment. And if all that comes to me by watching a Dunnock in the back garden, then so be it. As this year proved to me, time and time again, the truly memorable events occur when you least expect them and in places that you hadn't even considered that such things could do.
May your own hopes for 2016 be realised. Live in the moment. Keep well and be happy.