Saturday, 30 January 2021


The rain today was steady and unrelenting. I tried to summon some enthusiasm for an afternoon walk, but there was no response. Instead I put on a long face and just wallowed in despond.

A good remedy for this kind of nonsense is a trip down Memory Lane. Unfortunately I'm old enough that it's become rather a long lane, but I mostly stuck to fairly recent history. I opened up the laptop and hunted down my old NQS photos. If you are relatively new to this blog you may not know that it had two previous incarnations. The first ran for nearly two years from mid-2008, and the second began in the summer of 2010 and came to a grinding halt in late 2013. The old NQS photos still survive on my hard drive, and I've just spent a pleasant hour browsing through them all...

When the weather is dire and the birding slow, it is all too easy to focus on the direness and slowness, and forget how temporary it actually is. My years of birding in this part of the world have been extraordinarily rewarding, and although a few weeks may seem like aeons, in reality I have rarely needed to wait too long between birdy events of note. I was quite surprised to be reminded just how many decent birds there have been. There are several group photos too, and in a way they are better than the bird pics, evoking the event, the buzz.

So, a bit of a random selection, but here's a drop of my medicine...

Amazing flock of 20 (or was it 21? Looks like 20 in the photo) Glossy Ibis alongside the Otter Estuary at Budleigh Salterton in September 2010

Devon Glossy Ibis watchers

A bit later that year there was a nationwide influx of Lapland Buntings, and we hoped we'd get a share. Eventually it happened. One super-elusive bird in about a million acres of stubble above Axe Cliff. Jammily, a few of us got it on the deck...

October 2010 - Axe Cliff Lapland Bunting

Happy Lap watchers. Crouching slightly: Larry (see below)

Maybe it seems inappropriate to pick autumn birds as a tonic for my malaise? A good point. Thankfully I was able to find something which very much fitted in with the calendar. However, it goes back a lot further than the above...

Late January/early February 1989. Norfolk, W London, the Northeast. An eclectic mix of species. My eye is drawn to the Smew count, the Ruddy Ducks and the Yellow-legged Herring Gulls (a sign of things to come!) - how the birding scene has changed! Oh, and the Cormorant thing.

The Cormorant thing drew a crowd. Crouching slightly: Larry. Tall, underwhelmed bloke in the foreground has no idea a blog will one day emerge.

So there we go. It cheered me up somewhat. Loads more where that came from!


  1. You can't beat going through old pictures and diaries for the nostalgia fix. It's good to see the fellow birders too. I once blogged that a close fishing friend had died and that I had no pictures of us, or most other angling buddies together - just trophy shots. Something I have been rectifying since.

    Mutual respect time Gav. You always find something worthy to write about. I have learned (and frequently then forgotten) a lot of technical stuff about birds, enjoyed your outlook and positive attitude and am presently trying to squeeze some decent shots from my P950. I guess that makes you an inspiration and a damned fine blogger. Keep it up.

    1. An old fishing friend of mine died last year. I dug out some B&W shots from 1979/80 which featured him, including a couple of non-trophy type photos - just mates down the gravel pit, having a laugh. He would have been 16 or 17. Priceless...

      Thanks for the kind words Dave, much appreciated.

  2. Gav, That YLG at Broadwater was a new bird for me. Even then I remember being impressed at your erudite work with Gulls.

    I can send you a detailed account of the DCC twitch if you like. Quite a trip by all accounts.

    Glad to see my old photos of that venture are getting an outing.

    1. YLG was my first dabble with 'large white-headed gulls' and I could only manage adults or near-adults. Still just a subspecies of HG back then of course. Yes, my strange aberration goes back a long time...

      Yes Ric, please do. My notebooks are long gone now. I have a few photos of a page or two here and there, but that's it.

      Ah, I thought that must be one of your pics. I have a couple of others from that epic trip, so presumably yours too. Is that your big fat finger at bottom right? 😄

    2. Yes, the other pictures were mine too, inc the gold Cavalier SRI.

      No fat finger, probably a piece of an enraptured twitcher passing out on seeing the DCC.
      Shame that. They could at least collapsed the other way. Film was expensive.

      I'll email the details.

    3. Cheers Ric. Very generous calling my Cavalier 'gold'. It was unequivocally beige! 😄

  3. love the old scopes in that double crested corm - I was there too, down from Aberdeen! A loooooong time ago now!


    1. Yep, I think Broadhurst & Clarkson draw tube scopes had only just gone out of fashion! 😄