The 2007 Kent Bird Report arrived in the post at lunchtime so I poured a beer and sat out in a very warm garden and read it, well at least the part before I fell asleep!
Reading the Marsh/Hen Harrier sections I was struck by the reference to the winter Harrier roost co-ordination counts that take place. On a day like today, those experiences seem a million miles away and you almost shudder at remembering them. They take place once a month on a late Sunday afternoon, timed to count in the harriers as they come in to roost as the the light fades away. Normally I would of already been to the Swale NNR, where my counts take place, earlier that day and had some lunch and perhaps a glass of beer. It is normally cold and wet outside and snug and warm inside and my football team due to play live on Sky at 4.00. Where am I, back on the reserve, braving the elements like the other volunteers and making my way to one of the hides. While you wait for dusk to begin to fall, it generally gets colder and so do you and thoughts of that warm lounge back home make the visit seem even more extreme.
By the time that you complete the count it is pitch dark and there is just the trudge and stumble back across the marsh to reach the car. Getting home, its a quick shower, the central heating makes you feel flushed, a glass of wine adds to that, and you get your dinner from the oven and sit down to watch the recorded Big Match. Perffick! except that just ten minutes later you fall asleep for an hour or so and wake up at regular intervals, continually re-winding to try and find out the final score.
Such sacrifices, but we wouldn't not do it, it just seems hard to imagine on a hot afternoon like today.