Another week in darkest West Berkshire, and through my porthole looking out onto the outside world (1.e. my web browser), I heard about a sighting of a rather rare (to Britain) Booted Eagle- a mere five miles down the road. It has been seen several times and is currently causing great excitement in amongst the so-called twitchers. The last time I saw one of these awesome eagles was on Kefalonia a couple of years ago when we stumbled on a family party of them, hanging on the air-currents on a steep hillside above the sea, and somehow I preferred the memory of that sighting to dashing off in the Disco on the off-chance of a glimpse of this one soaring above the thatched cottages of Highclere. Some things always look better in context……..
Meanwhile, back on Anglesey, there are reports of a Bee-eater. In all my years on the island, I never heard of one being seen there before, and I would have loved to have seen it….. not to tick it off on some list in a little notebook, but to watch again the flitting antics of this most colourful of European birds as it skitted about in search of bees and wasps and dragonflies. Then there is the excited little fluted calls of these birds, which I used to hear from my bed when I woke on early Camargue mornings before going out into a pink-mauve dawn to check on the mist nets which we used to catch migrant birds for ringing research. That sound was my alarm clock, and at the same time so seductive in making me want to stay in my bed and listen to it………
As for the dog with a penchant for frogs – that is just Stig, our German Shorthaired Pointer, and today was a good day for him, because after 24 hours of much-needed showers, the frogs in the garden here were more lively than in the previous hot days and had ventured to poke their snouts above the grass where the shrubs grow. Now Stig really loves fresh Frog – taken raw and swallowed whole. It probably gives him a bit of a boost – sort of makes him feel he has done well (like when I have a good day on the trout stream or on one of the numerous carp ponds around here) . What I can say is that it gives him the most apalling halitosis (even by his usual very low Pointer standards), but he loves catching them and it does mean that the resident Blackbirds get some very welcome peace. So where does this all lead me? Well, probably nowhere at all – but it does put me in mind of a bottle of Islay malt which is waiting patiently by the bedside. Perhaps a wee dram (or two) of that will enrich the memories of the Booted Eagles on Kefalonia and the sweet chuckling of the Bee-eaters in my beloved Camargue…..and help to wipe out the memories of canine halitosis post-frog, so-to-speak. One can but try……….
(First posted 11 June, 2010 before blog was corrupted and had to be re-built)