Things are a bit quiet round here at present, for mostly weather-related reasons, so my thoughts have turned to the dim and distant past - my formative birding years.
I've got some very vivid memories from the time when I first started going birding. One of them is from a day in Cumbria, a visit to Carlisle with my family over Easter. I was 10 years old.
One morning we went on a guided walk along the River Eden. I can't remember the precise details of where we went, but I remember it being a bright, crisp morning. The most exciting thing was being shown some Goosanders floating downstream - all black and white and pinky on the blue water - through a telescope!
That afternoon, we went to Hadrian's Wall. The wall itself was impressive enough, and someone showed us one of the stones (showing which century had built that stretch) which the soldiers had put in upside down and back to front.
Just as memorable was the first time I heard a Curlew singing. I don't think I'd ever heard anything so beautiful and it's still one of my favourite bird sounds. I remember peering over the top of the wall (at what I thought was Scotland; it's actually Northumberland) and hearing this bird bubbling away.
Walking back to the car, there were Lapwings cavorting wildly over the grassland - another new sight and sound for me.
I should really make an effort to go back there soon.
taken with rose-tinted spectacles + mists of time