When returning from time away - six weeks in
six months in India, six
– I need to nest. I need to put away thoughts of travel and curl up by my fire, eat my own food and visit my friends, sit at my desk and write for
Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and lose myself in the wild marshes of my Bolivia . Then, as always,
there comes a moment when worry over my next trip bites and I spend a night
tossing and turning, telling myself I’m not ready, I don’t know what I’m
talking about, and that it will all be a disaster. Norfolk
The next day I get up and apply myself. I read and re-read past reports, I send off emails to Naturetrek asking questions that have crept into my mind, and I immerse myself in books. Between this day – the day of connecting with my next trip – and my departure I will spend hundreds of hours reading on the subject, until I know the field guides cover to cover and am ready. Ready or not, time soon comes knocking and I must leave for another country, another continent, another culture and another fauna.
For weeks now I have been desultorily flicking through the excellent field guide to the birds of South East Asia, greeting the many birds I know from my travels in Asia and attempting to familiarise myself with those which I will see for the first time on my scouting trip to Burma and, shortly thereafter, Naturetrek’s first ever Burma tour in March. Today, curled by my fire, I began in earnest the process of re-learning every plate until the name of each bird rolls effortlessly off my tongue, until I know which type of forest each inhabits and until I can instantly identify even the brownest, dullest, plainest and, as my long-ago friend Sam would have said, scrottiest little bird in Burma.
March, I hear you say, March is months away. True, March is months away but there’s a hitch. I have rather a lot to achieve before March. And a frightening amount to take on thereafter. I mentioned the things I’ll be doing in 2013 in an earlier post; however, since then I’ve taken on two new tours and many of you have been kind enough to ask for an update. Here then (with apologies for the dullness of the information) is where a marsh tit will be in the next year.
17th to 28th January I shall be in York, Glasgow, Edinburgh, WWT Martin Mere, WWT Welney, Hatfield, Exeter, WWT Slimbridge and Winchester giving talks for Naturetrek's Winter Roadshow. My first talk each evening will be on Andean and Amazonian wildlife in Ecuador and Peru and my second will be on Gondwana: from Madagascar, through Sri Lanka, to India and into the Himalayas. Travelling with Paul Stanbury and David Tattersfield will no doubt once again be a delight and I look forward to seeing many of you during the roadshow.
7th to 20th February I shall be in Assam, leading our incomparable Brahmaputra Cruise with my witty, erudite friend Sujan Chatterjee. This tour is full so you'll just have to go on it in 2014.
21st February to 6th March I'll be in Ladakh leading our extraordinary Snow Leopard Quest. This tour is definitely running but spaces may still be available.
That the snow leopard is, that it is here, that its frosty eyes watch us from the mountain – that is enough.
The Snow Leopard
17th March to 29th March I will be leading Naturetrek's first ever tour to Burma. Thereafter I'll be leading an extension to the bird-blessed forests of Mount Victoria. This tour is confirmed but spaces may still be available. Book now!
On 7th April I'll be leading a workshop on bumblebee ecology and identification at the Hawk and Owl Trust's Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve.
On 4th May I'll be leading the dawn chorus walk at Sculthorpe Moor.
11th to 20th May I'll be in Romania, leading a tour of the Danube Delta and Carpathian Mountains. This tour is full.
In a recent addition to my schedule, 27th May to 5th June I will be leading our West Greenland cruise (with a quick shimmy to Iceland) in search, principally, of bowhead whales and king eiders.
7th to 17th July I will be in the Arctic, leading our annual Spitsbergen Wildlife Cruise with the brilliant Lee Morgan. This tour is full.
In another addition to previously published dates, from 3rd to 12th October I have agreed to join Naturetrek's second Festival of Wildlife, this time to my old stomping ground along the Napo River in Ecuador. I will also most likely be on one or both of the extensions: to the east and west slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes. Places are available on this tour.
2nd to 14th February 2014 I'll be leading our Burma tour again.
No rest for the wicked.
There are other things in the pipeline too but this is what's been signed and sealed for now. Apologies, again, for being so dull but several of you did ask, so I blame you.