So I have now finished my degree (although I'm yet to get my results, or graduate - an unpleasant limbo) and have quit my weekend job at Birdnet. Instead I now have a job working as an Assistant ornithologist, largely doing bird survey work in the field. This means that I have been pretty busy in the last 3 weeks, with several overnight stays in West Yorkshire, and I have seen 04:30 more times in the last 3 weeks than I think the rest of my life combined. There have been some terrible, dull surveys, for instance 6 hours with only a couple of canada geese as company is as dull as birding gets, but there have also been some brilliant highlights, including a male Hen Harrier hunting over moorland, Short-eared Owl, Merlin, Quail in the open, as well as hearing several others, and just having the pleasure of watching breeding waders on upland sites. Overall, a fantastic job, and one that I am enjoying the challenge of getting to grips with.
It is, combined with end of degree socials, having something of a negative impact on my birding and twitching. The first two Mondays i worked coincided with 2 1st for Britain's, wholly unexpected in June. I have only so far managed to connect with the WT Robin, happily standing on some scaffolding on the back of a pick-up to get decent views of the bird. Not the most relaxed twitch ever, but pretty funny, and my first ever post-work, which i must say adds to the stress of the whole thing. The duck will have to wait for a bit yet unfortunately.
The only birding I have managed recently, other than a few uneventful hours locally, was a day out at Wykeham with Cat. The HB's performed admirably, wing-clapping overhead and giving stunning views. Even still, I was shocked by the number of people, 50+ watching the HB's and another 20 odd looking at Turtle Doves!?! round the corner. On a weekday! Surely there must be more HB pairs in the UK than this this year. After that I headed up on to the moors again with Cat, to show her Ring ouzel and Whinchat, but unfortunately failed to track down any Redstarts in a brief look in the lazy mid-afternoon sunshine.
All very pleasant, but unfortunately the next few weeks will be dominated by moving house (twice) and all the stress and faffing associated with it. Roll on August and the seabird season!