The plan for Karen’s birthday was to have a couple of nights in a shepherd’s hut in the New Forest and have a good long walk with a pub lunch in the middle. That’s exactly what we did. Unfortunately Storm Barbara wasn’t part of the plan, which meant that the first six miles of the walk were done in grey conditions and a fairly heavy rain. The remaining twelve miles were in absolutely torrential rain, with the tracks running like rivers. When, late on, we came to a wide and fairly deep stream, without the advertised footbridge it wasn’t really a hardship to wade across: it didn’t make us wetter, but it did clean some of the mud off.
Needless to say, the wildlife and photographic opportunities were somewhat limited.
Walking has been a bit patchy of late, with less light and worse weather limiting opportunities. A couple of good days this weekend meant we could get out. On Friday evening we had a walk to our favourite restaurant, and 4.5 miles back in the dark after a superb meal (and perhaps some drink). On Saturday I decided I would walk to Burton Mill Pond in the hope of seeing the Purple Heron. We’d missed it on Friday afternoon, and it’s at the end of my range (particularly in my current state of fitness) so I was expecting, and half-hoping, to fail again and drive back home with Karen. After a bit of a wait, it showed itself briefly, meaning I was going to have to walk back. A short look around the woods failed to find the Yellow-browed Warbler, but did give views of Crossbill and Redpoll. About five hours later, I finally dragged myself in, having walked 37 miles.
Today I was rather creaky and so we weren’t going to do too much, but I was dragged out of bed by a report of a Radde’s Warbler at Seaford. That’s a world lifer for me, and a bird I’ve been after for years, so we were out pretty quick. It took a while, but eventually we got nice views of this skulker, and then we went over to Beachy head for the much more cooperative Lapland Bunting that was incredibly confiding.