There’s been a break in the lockdown diaries recently, caused in part by an IT failure at home. That sounds so much more innocent than “I messed up an update and wrecked my website,” doesn’t it? The other reasons for the absence of updates are (a) decoratng the master bedroom, for the first time in 25 years (yes, I did say 25. Mrs. D is a very patient person) and (b) I have been taking advantage of the new freedoms and the nice weather to go in search of species I’ve been waiting a whole year to try and see.
Missing a year because of Covid-19 is nothing compared to the suffering of so many families during this crisis, but it’s still a frustration when something which happens only once a year is missed. And so I’ve said farewell to the chance to see the dance of the Grebes and the dance of the Adders. I’ve missed male Sand Lizards in their bright green mating colours, and the Duke of Burgundy butterfly is pretty much done for 2020. I already know that some species I desperately wanted to see for the first time this year – the Cryptic Wood White and chequered skipper butterflies, and in all likelihood the Scottish butterflies and dragonflies – are likely to be off the menu as well. But the weeks have brought surprising comfort closer to home as I’ve discovered palaces, habitats and species I didn’t know about, right next to my home.
I couldn’t write about it until now, but the picture of a kingfisher I took a few weeks ago turned out to be a kingfisher sitting outside its nest. It’s the first kingfisher nest I’ve found myself, although I know of others. Sadly, though, the nest was right under a footpath – and yes, I did say “under” – and the kingfishers eventually abandoned it. It was surreal watching the nest from several hundred metres away through binoculars while a family were actually standing right on top of it, posing for pictures, completely unaware of the life that was literally beneath their feet.
The other unexpected surprise was to find a water vole colony just a few minutes’ walk from where I live. I’ve tried to photograph the individual voles to be able to assess how many are living there, and it’s at least three. This burrow system, too, is in a section of river where people often sit and picnic, or let their dogs jump into the water to cool off. The first time I saw the voles, they were actually swimming right past a family who has stopped to have a meal by the water. And so the picture for today is one of my newly-found local voles.