Sunday, 25 October 2015

Disconnecting to Reconnect

I've been reveling in the glorious colours of autumn over the past week or so. It's really one of the best displays of turning leaves I've seen in a long while! Driving down the A24 is a real treat at the moment, with the bordering trees either side showing an array of golds, reds and russets that look stunning in the sunshine.

I spent the morning at Pulborough Brooks as a hides and trails volunteer again. This is the first time I've gone out on my own as I've had Graham, a much more experienced and knowledgeable volunteer, showing me the ropes these past few weeks. I was glad of the chance to see how I got on with identifying trickier species without a seasoned birder to help me. Of course, I had my Collins guide tucked in my backpack but I didn't need it today. So far I've been lucky with the weather on the days I've been on the reserve and today was particularly lovely; what I'd call a proper autumn day. There were a few raptors about, including a couple of sparrowhawks and male kestrels, and one female peregrine bathing in a small pool in front of Winpenny hide.

That is a peregrine-I promise! These terrible photos were snapped on my phone through the scope.

I had an especially close encounter with a pair of goldcrests which were busy picking insects of leaves only a couple of feet above me. I was close enough to see the reflection in their eyes and that fantastic streak of yellow on their heads. They weren't fazed at all by me stood so near which is pretty unusual for what is normally a very shy bird!

At Hanger View, I stood with a group of visitors and watched two healthy-looking male bullfinches flicking between the sloes. A buzzard circled over the pools for a while but was seen off by a rather brave and determined lapwing. From Nettley's hide, I managed to identify five black-tailed godwits which I was pleased with as I'd never seen them in the flesh before, although I knew they were about having checked the sightings book when I arrived. Myself and the visitors in the hide also picked out three snipe with some difficulty; boy, those birds blend in! It certainly helped to have the scope with me.
Fuzzy Snipe.
Black-tailed Godwits

When I got back to the visitor's centre, it occurred to me that, apart from taking a few photos, I had just spent four hours completely away from technology. I'll openly admit that I use my phone far too much normally and it's become one of those bad habits that I hate but find very hard to break. Part of the reason I use social media a lot is to do with my portrait business as I always have messages to reply to and I don't like to leave those too long. However, I know full well that I check Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Insert preferred platform here too many times in a day and it's something I try hard to avoid. The fact that I didn't once feel the need to hop online while I was out and about on the reserve today proves that I am capable of cutting back. I actually felt really good about having been off grid for a short while and just spending time in the fresh air doing something I genuinely enjoyed, something that didn't involve a screen.