Do you dream about birding? And by that I don’t mean do you daydream about finding a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater as you go about your daily life. I mean those dreams that visit us when we are fast asleep. I don’t. I wish that I did. I have had dreams that involve being present in ‘birdy’ places - normally Dungeness, sometimes Portland - but they tend to involve me having left my binoculars at home or I’m packing up to leave the comforts of the observatory in the full knowledge that something good will turn up as soon as I’ve left. Birds themselves don’t figure. That seems strange considering the number of years that I’ve been birding. Strangely enough, moths have cropped up a few times, normally involving checking an MV trap that is full of the most stunning and colourful species, none that I can identify. Mainly because they don’t exist. I have had similar dreams involving exotic plants that crowd a grass verge, me standing alongside, a gibbering wreck, confused by the flowers on show.
I know that I dream in colour thanks to these moths and flowers. They are truly stunning. When I awake from such dreams the browns and greys of most noctuid moths, although reality and not fabrications from my dozing mind, are poor substitutes. Real life can be a little more sedate.
Talking of dreams, I have a reoccurring theme, that of troubled travel. This involves trains and buses (either of which I don't normally take). I either get on the wrong train/bus, or miss one by seconds. I’ve had doors slammed in my face. I’ve been involved in the mode of transport breaking down. Or not turning up. I’ve been left sitting on lonely platforms or standing in deserted depots, waiting for something to turn up and take me home. You might be able to deduce from this that, in real waking life, I stress a lot about any travel that involves catching something. Timetables dictate to me that I need to turn up very early indeed to ensure that I can ride on the train/bus/plane.
This can manifest itself in extreme ways. In 1994 I flew to Malaysia. My flight necessitated an early morning check-in. I didn’t fancy a stressful ride around the M25 to Heathrow during the rush hour, so I travelled to the airport the evening before (dropped off by a friend at about 10pm) and spent the night on a bench. But I was relaxed and it was worth every uncomfortable minute.
Needless to say, I drive my wife and daughters mad as I’m an awful travelling companion. Maybe that’s one reason that I find a sedate drive to Dungeness all the more agreeable!