Up at the ungodly hour of 4.15am today. Ye gods and little fishes indeed. I had to be up then as - whatever I do - it always takes me at least an hour and a half to leave the house, and we had to set off at 5.45am in order to get to the Wake up to Waterfowl event at Pulborough Brooks. My, but we know how to live here in the shires ...
Anyway, it was fantastic. We watched the sun come up over the marshes, and got to see teal, pintails, widgeon, black-tailed godwits, dunlin, snipe and all sorts of delights in the first rays of the morning. Marvellous. We were promised the magnificent spectacle of the Bewick's swans leaving their roost in order to feed - which, bearing in mind there were only three of them, they did their best to provide. It reminded me very much of the time Lord H and I were in Prague (wonderful city, by the way - if you haven't gone, you really ought to) and attended a performance of Beethoven's Fifth played by ... um ... a string quartet. It was charming and brave, but didn't quite have the pizzazz of the full monty orchestral version.
The walk round also threw into focus the ongoing problem I have with men and telescopes. I appreciate this is probably just me but I do always feel terribly vulnerable if a male birder finds something exciting in his telescope and then (as they often kindly do) offers me a view through their scope as I don't carry one of my own. Looking through the telescope of a man who isn't Lord H feels faintly rude, my dears. Mind you, when I raised this interesting little issue with Lord H, he stared blankly at me (probably calculating how much the psychiatrist might cost ...) and said he often looked through other men's scopes if they had a better view, even if they hadn't asked him to. Though of course he always made sure not to mention it if his telescope happened to be larger than theirs. Lordy, but there is a whole world of confusion lurking in the wings (excuse the pun) - best leave it there, I feel ...
Anyway, new birds seen for this year today include a ruff, pheasants, a barnacle goose, the black-tailed godwits and the daring Bewick's swans. We rounded it all off with an excellent cooked breakfast which set us up nicely for having a second walk round the reserve (yes, we are indeed gluttons for punishment) before also having lunch. I'm sure the volunteers were fed up with seeing us by that point. To crown it all, the lovely Lord H has bought me the new much improved pair of binoculars I've been salivating over for weeks so I can now see great vistas of countryside whenever I look through them and can even track birds in flight without cursing. Double hurrahs and give the man an extra Husband Point. He deserves it.
Back home, I am attempting to keep awake and prepare for tonight, as Marian and Siegi are coming round for dinner. It will be lovely to see them, but also scary as this is the first time in at least eight months or so that we've actually had any people in the flat apart from the plumber and the odd stressed neighbour. Yes, we are entering into the Hermit Couple of the Year awards for 2009 - please do vote, you know you want to ... Anyway, all this voluntary solitude means neither of us can remember how to be sociable so we're practising our host/hostess smiles. Yes, they are a bit rusty. Not to mention slightly terrifying, so if our guests flee to the hills once they see us, I will not find it in my heart to blame them.
Today's nice things:
1. Birds at dawn
2. New binoculars
3. Dinner with friends (assuming they have the courage to stay).
Anne's website - staying alert as best she may