Skua saves the inland autumn

Mid-November saw me finally accept that this mid-to-late autumn had not been a classic. True, I had not ventured far from home, adhering to an almost perverse sense of 'keeping local', but previous years had seen decent visible migration sessions overhead and I saw no reason for that to not be repeated - but, by and large, it didn't. I had just the two days of thrush movement, much smaller than hoped for, and virtually no finches. A number of guaranteed roost sites had also failed to materialise. Ho-hum!

But just to prove that it isn't over until 'the fat slightly larger than normal lady sings', when scanning the skies from an elevated part of Epsom Downs, this happened...

I was hyped up enough about the sighting afterwards to get stuck into some old-school field notes. I'm no fine artist, certainly not when it comes to natural history, but we can all attempt to convey a bit of the magic that birding brings, regardless of whether or not we are classified as a 'top drawer' artist, writer or thinker. And talking of art, my ability lies more in the 'graphic' world, that of pattern and colour. I recently completed a painting of Colmer's Hill (in Dorset) for a family friend. Here it is:

It's been a strange old year. As I alluded to in an earlier post, things have not been great, but they are improving, through the help of others and the healing hand of being out in nature. Within walking distance of home I've managed to see two Quails, an Arctic Skua and at least four Dartford warblers, plus an unprecedented passage of Stonechats. These have helped ease the journey. There was also the realisation that a fly line exists, squeezed between the built-up conurbation of Epsom and the high ground of Epsom Racecourse. I have been aware of such a possibility for a while, but this autumn saw confirmation of its existence beyond just random, chance observations. Something to keep an eye on next year.

Next year. Not far away now. Plans to be dreamt up and put into action. Watch this space. 


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