Only in my case I just wish I had more free time to do so!
I did have enough time to look by the lake this week and on the 15th Jan there were at least thirteen Goosanders and eight displaying Goldeneye on the water. Many of the Coots had congregated on a grassy area to feed and I counted between seventy-five and eighty of these birds tightly packed together. They made for the water as soon as anyone passed by and would then return once the folk had passed. Numbers of Pochard were close by and two Mistle Thrushes also fed in a near area. The church grounds held flocks of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.
The 17th Jan saw me at a presentation concerning the Cheviot Wild/Ferral Goats, although I was reminded during the talk that neither the term wild or feral is very appropriate. Perhaps even better than the presentation in my opinion was the chance to look at some used books which were available for small donations. Sam struggled to carry his home such was his keenness and enterprise. I picked up only one, but it is perhaps one of the oldest books I now own. It was printed in 1895 and is The Naturalist on the Amazons by Henry Walter Bates. It wasn’t until I read the first line of the first chapter…I embarked at Liverpool, with Mr Wallace… that I realised that this is the same Bates that avid readers of my blog will realise I wrote about sometime ago concerning Batesian Mimicry. Mr Wallace of course was Alfred Russell Wallace the great naturalist and explorer. I shall look forward to reading this one. Sam has done some research and found that a mint copy of the book could fetch a few quid. Unfortunately my copy whilst in decent shape, is not in mint condition nor is it a first edition.
The little discovery above had me reaching for another old book of mine printed in 1893 named Wanderings in South America which was written by a rather eccentric traveller named Charles Waterton. I bought this book after I returned from Guyana a few years ago as Waterton spent time in Guyana and I was keen to read about his adventures. As it happens I still haven’t read it, but I understand he writes about those damned insects on the grassland that made such a mess of my legs until someone gave me powder which kept them well away. I may be wrong, but I seem to be able to date my allergy to insect bites to about this time.
I found the following line about one of Waterton’s eccentricities…Waterton sometimes enjoyed biting the legs of his guests from under the dinner table, imitating a dog. Sounds perfectly normal social interaction to me!