Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Lost Hour

As a child I used to be puzzled on this day each year. I found losing an hour a difficult concept to come to terms with. Where had it gone? Why had it gone? The fact that it was done in the depths of night whilst I slept only served to deepen the mystery. Why couldn't it go when I could watch it get lost? How could it have gone, I mean how can you lose time?

Now many years later I find myself wanting to lose not just one but many hours. I can conceive of hundreds of ways of losing hours and all of them bring immense pleasure. I find that for example an hour can disappear in mere moments when seawatching but at least here you can measure it in Northern Gannets and Kittiwakes, Manx Shearwaters and Sooty Shearwaters, the quarters punctuated by the sharp appearance of a Skua. Many an idle hour can go just trying to remember the sequence of coloured flags at Newbiggin so better to catch the Cory's when it tries to slip past unnoticed in it's plain faced way.

I can easily lose an hour with a flock of large gulls, revelling in every individual showing that almost human characteristic of looking different, poring over the sloping curve of a head every bit as longingly as I would the fleeting glimpse of the curve of a breast as a teenage boy.

Summer and longer days increases the opportunities to lose time, whether it be sat in the garden mesmerized by the repeated cadences of a Willow Warbler (how many times does a Willow Warbler sing in a single hour) or on a grassy coastal headland watching 'blue' butterflies with their intricately patterned underwing drift under the cruising Fulmars.

As the years begin to gallop past the number of ways to lose an hour far outnumbers the actual number of hours I have to lose. I find that as my knowledge has increased so has the realisation that I know so little and have so little time to find it out.

I've lost a couple of hours yesterday and today. Yesterday an hour blew away in the North West wind. I was reminded that searching for passerines in a North west gale is fruitless, It was the sight of a male Stonechat perched six inches from the ground rather than on it's normal lofty fencepost or Hawthorn that drove it home, I guess that insects really don't fly too high in conditions like that. Today my lost hour was at Druridge where I played hide and seek with Common Snipe (ten), they can be very good at hiding but last night's sub zero tipped things in my favour a little today.

The childish part of me still wants that change in the hour to be moved. Lets have it during the day rather than the middle of the night. Let me go out and chase after Wheatears or scope for Sandwich Terns whilst it's been lost rather than sleeping through it. I want to have something to show for my lost hour every year, my time is too precious to lose sleeping.

1 comment:

Birding about Northumberland said...

Lucky you, 10 Snipe. I am yet to officially idetify one but I am on a mission and will keep you updated if I see one.
Michelle