If you google 'nostalgia' you'll see it can be defined 'a...wistful affection for a period in the past'. As far as I'm concerned that fits nicely. I have no sentimental longing that such times were here again, I simply enjoy the memory of them.
Given my age you might expect my nostalgia trips to reach far back in time, and of course some do. But not all. Recently I was searching online for a photo I knew I'd published somewhere, and thought I might find it on Birdforum. If you followed earlier incarnations of NQS you'll probably be familiar with Backwater Birding, a Birdforum thread which began in January 2006. Like a little soap opera it documented the fortunes of the Backwater Birders as they exploited the potential of the Axe Estuary and surrounding area in East Devon. It was quite lively right from the start, but at its peak there would be several posts a day - 30 or more in a week was not at all unusual. It is safe to say that 2007 was the big year in many ways, not least for this amazing event (scroll down to post #2795 and on...). However, change was in the air, and 2008 saw three of the principal contributors start up their own blogs. Pretty soon the writing was on the wall and Backwater Birding eventually fizzled out in 2012.
Well, I didn't find my photo but I did enjoy enjoy a delightfully nostalgic time browsing the Backwater thread...
I can't believe how rude I was about Steve Waite, who now of course is the venerable and respected ex-county recorder for Devon, but then...well...let's just say there was a reason I regularly referred to Steve as the Eating Machine, and the Doughnut Jedi. I'm sure it's just a total coincidence that he married a girl whose Twitter handle is Jessicakes!
On 27th October 2007 Steve found a putative 2nd-winter Caspian Gull on the estuary at Coronation Corner. I quickly joined him and together we watched the bird and managed a few poor photos. This was early days of tricky gull ID for both of us; if confirmed as a Casp this would be Devon's second, following a juv in Torbay in 2006. On October 30th I wrote this on Backwater Birding:
"I have done a good bit of reading up on Caspian Gull ID, and am
happy enough with our bird to a) submit it, and b) tick it. I think we
are getting better and better at gull ID here, so hopefully Caspian will appear again before too long..."
In the event we had to wait another two years for our second Caspian Gull (and Devon's third) but even so I cannot help smiling wryly at what seem slightly prescient words now. I'm not sure how many the Axe has had to date, but it's comfortably into double figures.
Here's one from December 2011...
And then again, here's a...er... 'possible Casp' we wrestled with in April 2007. I even posted a few photos on the Birdforum ID thread. At the time I was hopeful...but clearly also quite ignorant!
Today my 'gull eye' would filter out this poor creature in a moment, but this was more than nine years ago.
Yep, back in the day I was pretty rubbish at gulls.