Saturday, 17 May 2014

HALFWAY: Rambling Reflections

Goa, back in 2012, presented no problems; it was purely a birding trip accompanied by other birders and with no added distractions.  This current trip is not totally about birding.  Whenever Fay and I come to these shores we enter into the realms of kith and kin which invariably involves time away from birding to be with brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces and, at our age, grand-nephews and grand-nieces.  Former close friends always manage to find the time to call in on us; closer old friends even manage a lunch at one of the many remaining quaint pubs dotted around the immediate area.
The past few days have seen us heavily involved in such familial gatherings: lunch with Fay's cousins at the George in the Tree; lunch with Fay's brother at the Spring Hill; lunch with my sisters at The Lockhouse restaurant; lunch with Fay's oldest and dearest school friend at The Horns in the village of Slitting Mill- they turned out to be birders and the only other birders we've ever met who have also been to the "Southwest Research Station" at Portal in Arizona.  We went back to their place for coffee and to view some of Nola's 7000 photographs.  That lunch stretched out to a little before 1700 hours! 

Later, we  even managed to sneak off alone for lunch at the Holly Bush Inn in Salt.   Other lunch dates await us in the second half of this sojourn.

Should anyone be under the mistaken impression that Fay and I have resented these intrusions into our birding activities let me reassure all and sundry that this is far from the case.  Apart from meeting up with family and old friends, it has been a welcomed opportunity to explore several of the county's quaintest public houses [although strictly speaking the George in the Tree is in Warwickshire],  We have had the opportunity to indulge in some good food, much of it difficult or right down impossible to access in and around Nanango: gammon [George in the Tree]; pulled duck [Spring Hill]; casseroled local venison [Holly Bush Inn]; etc., etc.

It has of course also provided us with the opportunity to taste a variety of British boutique beers with names that trip off the tongue as they puzzle the mind: Old Speckled Hen, Bombadier, Hobgoblin, Wyre Piddle, etc.  And it's beer not fizzy lager!  But perhaps you need to be a Pom in Australia to fully appreciate the sentiment behind that last quip.

One has to remain impressed by the number, if not [in Australian terms] size of areas set aside for nature conservation and/or recreational activities which can include birding.  Fay and I have barely scratched the surface.

Fay was born and bred on Cannock Chase, played in its woodlands, absorbed its very essence and she can still admire the flourishing of the beech trees and the continuing growth of oaks and silver birches- all set under the backdrop of towering conifers.  The birdlife is at times difficult to pinpoint amid the lush May foliage.

Belvide Reservoir is rapidly overtaking Blithfield as our favourite local birding location.  It provides far more ample parking and its hides are more accessible.

While the West Midlands Bird Club has clearly gone out of its way to provide local and other visiting British birders with excellent facilities, local and British appear to remain their operative protocols. The WMBC seems to have reached a hiatus in the early computer age.  It seems nigh on impossible for overseas aspirants to join.  Is PayPal so difficult to implement?


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