Jeremy Hastings: Simply put, you do not have to go very far to watch birds. True, if you want to see species not common to your locale then travel you must, and where better than Islay? No need to answer, this is a rhetorical question....! Sometimes, though, it seems to me that those who travel to far away places have strange expectations. I would like to add at this moment that my clients are excluded from this observation. I delight in our natural surroundings and enjoy all the aspects that they may bring.
Unfortunately, sometimes, expectations become greater than reality and although I always tell folks "We hope for everything and expect nothing and therefore we are then never disappointed." it seems it does not work of everybody. Continue reading.....
Today, for instance, there was a sea har and seeing anything was going to be nigh impossible. I met some birders in Debbies and they looked very dispondant, despite the marshmallow topped hot chocolates in front of them! I asked them if they were having a good time, to which the response was no, they had come all this way and felt let down by the weather.
It got me thinking to the time when a traveller met a local shepherd:
"What weather are we going to have today?" he asked
'The kind of weather I like." replied the shepherd.
The traveller who thought himself somewhat smarter than the wee man sitting by the wall responded "How do you know it will the kind of weather you like?" The shepherd paused for a moment and then said "Having found out, sir, I cannot always get what I like, I have learned always to like what I get. So I am quite sure we will all have the kind of weather I like." and he headed off up the hill.
I walked out of Debbies, and there right in front, if you looked carefully enough, were 4 Purple Sandpipers hunched up next to a couple of Turnstone. Like the folks indoors, they were waiting for better weather too! I popped back and told them so, I was on my bicycle so it was not too much of a bother.
"Oh," was the response., 'but it isn't clear enough for a Great Northern Diver."
I left and climbed on my bike. What more could one say?
Later that day, the sea lifted and I was gifted with Long Tailed ducks, Snipe, Merlin, a Sparrowhawk and thousands of geese heading for the roost. It was 1730hrs and still light. What a pleasure. The snowdrops shine in the woods and a few crocii are pushing through too. In some really sheltered places I have seen primroses too.
Nature is dynamic, it does not chose to show itself just because we are present, or that, because we have travelled so far, it owes us. It happens because it is here and now and we may be lucky to be there at the same time.
Other relevant Islay Wildlife and Birding Information Resources:
- Jeremy's News Blog
- Previous Islay nature reports By Jeremy Hastings
- Islay Seasonwatch by Teresa Morris
- Islay Birds blog by Ian Brook
- Islay Birder blog by John Armitage