Yes it’s back. Just when we thought it was shorts weather for the next six months, oh no, it’s back into THREE jumper weather.
Definitely not enough for even the most rubbish snow angel ever but just enough to send all exposed skin a funny shade of blue.
Alberts back as well…
Can’t believe that the only Albatross in the northern hemisphere has decided during this truly tropical spell to return to the Yorkshire coast. Albert definitely needs to fire his holiday adviser. Last year he stayed 30 miles away from our house, for his summer holidays. It was actually mostly very nice and almost warm. Maybe that’s why he stayed for nearly two months. Sadly this years vacation finds temperatures north of zero. He must be tempted to head somewhere warmer.
If he hangs around this time then we will try to catch up with him. Last year was an awesome meet-up.
With any luck we can visit him when the Easter School Break starts next Friday. Easter is a bit of a challenge these days. Hawklad likes to get out, likes to visit places. But he needs these place quiet or even better, EMPTY. That doesn’t often happen over the two and a bit week break. Most places tend to be mobbed. This forces us into the early strategy. Get there as soon as a place opens and then stay until it starts to fill up. It’s not a guarantee of success. Last year we had several visits to RSPB Bempton to try to catch an albatross sighting. Problem is that such an extremely rare epic bird brings people, lots of people. We had a number of trips were although we had set off from home just after 7am, when we arrived a busy car park was way too much for Hawklad. So we started setting off much earlier. 4.30am early….. The prize was for an hour or so we did get the cliffs almost to ourselves and as soon as the crowds started to arrive, we left. Back home before 9am. It might be tiring but even if you don’t get to see Albert it’s so worth it.
Isolation has drawbacks but every so often it doesn’t half deliver. We just wouldn’t be stood on a cliff as the sun comes up.
First mock exam at home highlighted a clear issue. School have tried to give Hawklad some schooling at home. School subjects better than others. But it’s clear that the classroom based pupils have covered way more areas than have been provided to Hawklad. Too many missing lessons. Too many 90 minute teaching lessons where Hawklad gets one out of focus photograph of some random writing on a whiteboard.
This is not a rant at school. Trying to keep teaching 800 pupils during a pandemic will have been a nightmare, especially when they have had so little support from the Government. In 2022 surely we should have a seamless education system that works for every pupil. If a child is not able to attend school or school doesn’t suit them, then surely we should have things like complete online resources that provide a full education. Resources for teachers, parents, pupils at school, those at home. But we don’t. Bits are there, large bits are missing. Bits are easy to find, many bits are as well hidden as the Holy Grail. Bits are free, bits are hid behind pay walls. It’s all a bit of a mess. That is not a surprise here. Years of cut backs. A Government committed to Victorian based education. Factory production lines for our children. Schools told to force all children back into classrooms as soon as possible. Schools told to focus on back to basics education. Schools told not to offer alternative teaching methods. Fines for parents.
It shouldn’t be like this. This is 2022 and we could over so much to every child.
Friday was the first real test of our new approach to the School at Home project.
This year it’s truly about the needs and wishes of Hawklad. That’s what drives us, not just tying to regimentally stick to a school timetable. If work is sent for Hawklad then it will be completed but to our timescales. If the school was more dedicated to providing regular work, at regular times and that work was consistently marked, then we might be more inclined to stick to the school times. But after 20 months school just hasn’t worked that way. It’s been very hit and miss. That’s how it’s going to be for as long as Hawklad is unable to learn in a classroom. So here goes…..
A Friday morning appointment 30 miles from home. Previously as soon the appointment was over we would belt back home to try a d catch up with any lesson work issued. Too often the rushed return was wasted as no work waiting.
Not this time….
No rushing back for school. Rather a relaxing detour to the coast. A bit of bird spotting. A walk. Fresh sea air. We returned back home a few hours later, then the weekend could start. Hawklad can catch up with any school work missed during this week’s quiet moments.
Now you that is spectacular. The cliffs at Bempton. Another Yorkshire Gem.
This world has so much to offer.
We travelled here yesterday. A visit to one of the countries best bird viewing sites. That good that the Northern Hemispheres only Albatross chooses here for a summer vacation. No albatross yesterday but we did see many sea birds and a rare chance to see a Short Eared Owl hunt over the fields. That’s some bird.
Hawklad is pushing the boundaries but under his terms. Avoiding crowds, avoiding people. The fact that he can’t face an over crowded classroom doesn’t mean that he can’t venture out. So what next…..
He has set himself some realistic goals for this year. Twelve ‘avoiding people’ targets. I’m signed up to them, so let’s see how many we can tick off during 2022 for him.
1. Visit the New Forest
2. Visit Sherwood Forest
4. Climb Yorkshire’s two highest mountains (they are small ones….)
5. Visit the Lake District and walk up one of England’s bigger mountains
6. Visit a new wildlife park
7. Go to see an Osprey hunt
8. Go for a torchlight walk on the Moors and get to see the stars with zero light pollution
9. Go to Scotland to see a Golden Eagle fly
10. Visit Stonehenge
11. Visit a new castle
12. Go for his longest ever walk
We also have a new golden rule. When we venture out, if a car park is ever half full or busier – then no questions asked, we don’t park. We continue on, find somewhere less busy or we head home.
Hopefully 2022 will show that you can avoid people and still have adventures.
Well the most has gone. That might even be the smallest patch of blue sky.
Can you spot the bird of prey gatecrashing the photo.
No zoom on the mobile, so this is the best I can do. The Gatecrasher.
I meet this gatecrasher every morning when I come down this lane, usually sat on the overhead power line. Such a thrill.
Soon we were on the road to the local wildlife park. A New Year Day Tradition which went on covid hold last year. This year we will arrive as it opens, wear masks and keep our distances. To protect others. Make sure we leave before the crowds arrive. The two of us have done this every year since Hawklad was a toddler. Just the two of us. His mum always decided to give it a miss, preferring a day at home. Maybe TV. Maybe catch up on sleep. It is an early start and a 90 minute drive. A quiet house can be very appealing. If she had realised time was so limited would she have stayed at home. Put things off repeatedly for another year.
I think I know the answer to that…..
Some choices you don’t get a second crack at them.
The local cows seeking shelter from the blistering Yorkshire Autumnal Sun. Wow it’s been cold. Definitely two jumper weather.
Today we have had plenty of time to be out in the cold. Four lessons today and virtually no work sent from school. One random map but no information, no explanation, no questions, just a map. That was it. Hawklad spent the day doing his own thing. Nothing else for him to do.
Eventually I called it. Enough for one day. Turn the school iPad off and let’s go and get some ice cream. I’m actually half tempted to tell him not to switch the iPad on tomorrow as well. Currently what is the point to this school at home project.
So ice cream it was. As I was walking back with the goodies. Then definite proof that Yorkshire Birds are a breed apart.
How long do Ihave to sit on this big egg before it hatches.
Another early trip to the coast. Early means tiredness but it is good. At that time it is quiet. That is perfect for Hawklad. Normally you also get to witness the beauty of first light. NOT THIS DAY….
It was dreadful. Heavy rain, Misty, Windy, Cold. Within minutes of standing in the cliff viewing platform the weather had made its way through our coats and clothes. Today birdwatching was going to be a trial. A few intrepid (bonkers mad) souls were hoping to catch sight of one of the rarest birds. An Albatross. The only Albatross in the Northern Hemisphere. Albert has decided to make the Yorkshire coast one of his pit stops. Last year he spent 3 days here. This year it’s been a month so far. Resting on one particular spot on a steep cliff.
This was our fifth visit to try and see him. We had been lucky on one trip. Seeing him through a telescope on the cliff. But no luck seeing the true spectacle of an Albatross flying. The other visits – no luck. Albert spends a lot of time at sea, or further down the coast or flying to an island off Northern Germany.
Today was not looking hopeful. No sign as he has been last seen flying off to sea. The weather was trying to drive us back to the warmth of the car. The other mad souls had given up. After an hour that was enough for Hawklad and we dragged our sudden bodies back to the car park. But then a couple of men ran back. He might have been spotted. So we headed back to the cliff. NOTHING.
Must have been an earlier sighting. After 30 minutes it was enough for Hawklad again. But for some reason I said ‘5 more minutes’. NOTHING. I started to pack away the drenched binoculars when suddenly a shout. ‘What’s that’.
Amongst the Gannets, one much larger bird with black wings.
Unbelievably Albert the Albatross was there. For 5 glorious minutes he performed close fly passes. Sometimes no more than 20 yards away. These photos don’t do him justice.
Finally Albert settled on the cliff and rested. One chap shouted over that this was like a bird spotters dream that could never happen.
So a very wet Hawklad had seen his first ever Albatross. As a toddler he had a soft toy just like Albert. He loved it and always said he wanted to one day see one. Who would have thought that one would come to him. Now let’s hope Albert somehow finds his way back home. But while he is here he will bring so much joy to many.
But it just goes to show that even when things are seemingly against you. When it’s looking grey and tough. Great things can just be around the corner. DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.
Another early start. This time a seriously early one. A perfect insomniac storm. 3am. Hawklad has woken and can’t sleep. I have not been to bed yet and sleep feels a million miles away.
Hawklad wonders if we can see the dawn brake. On the coast.
So a few moments later and after I had sampled the meanest of espressos, we are driving. Driving past badgers, foxes and owls. Before 4am we arrive at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. It’s still pitch black and we have the site to ourselves. It’s such an eerie feeling walking in the complete absence of light and sound. Even to early for the thousands of seabirds perched precariously on the cliffs. No wind and even the sea was strangely becalmed.
In perfect time to watch dawn brake. No thoughts of an Albatross who was apparently out at sea. Who needs one bird when you get to watch all this unfold.
The dark was a challenge to my iPhone camera but it gave it a go.
By 7am a few people had started to arrive, mainly here to take up prime spots and wait. Hoping on catching sight of one particular bird. They had no idea what they had just missed. The deafening sound of seabirds hides the peace that existed just 2 hours ago.
We were back in the car and driving a few minutes later. The site had lost its appeal to Hawklad. Even a handful of strangers proving too much for him. But he had got to see a spectacular show first hand. Just the two of us so without his anxieties. He slept during the ride home.
Yes it was a ridiculously early start. Yes I went more than 24 hours without sleep. But it was worth it for those couple of hours when Hawklad felt that he had the world to himself. I suspect it won’t be the last time we do this. Yes there will be time for trips out to build those social bridges but those come with anxieties. We all need these times and places of sanctuary. Hawklad does. Yes even a worn down parent needs them.
Another dawn start by the Yorkshire coast. No albatross this morning but so worth the 3.30am alarm call.
Birdwatching and an attempt to re-establish social bridges.
It’s the perfect time for Hawklad to do a bit of bird spotting. You have the site largely to yourself. The sound of the sea and thousands of birds is very soothing. It’s a good way for him to focus on something different. Something which distracts him from those daily anxieties. He can feel at one with nature.
Then the occasional early morning birdwatcher turned up. It’s a big site so they kept their distance. For a couple of hours no one came within 100 yards of us. Maybe I’m scaring them off – early morning starts do nothing for my granite like features. Definitely a facefor radio. As more birders took up position Hawklad became less relaxed. More anxious glances over the shoulder. Making sure no one is approaching.
By 8am more people are turning up. Still maybe no more than a few dozen in total. Too many for Hawklad so we leave and head back home. Giving people wide berths on paths. Picking the least busy route through a slowly filling up car park. Getting back to the car then using had wash for several minutes. Carefully rinsing the mouth out with mouthwash.
This still feels like a million miles from venturing back into shops and enclosed spaces. So far away from crowds. A return to school is potentially just a month away. The first step has to be feeling comfortable with crowds and strangers outside. Only then can the ficus shift to inside matters.
Another step forward but I’m not sure how much more of those social bridges were built.
Steep cliffs filled with a wide range of gulls, gannets and sea birds. It’s a special place at any time of the year. Don’t forget your thermal underwear if you are coming …..
But today eyes, binoculars and telescopes are aimed at one spot near that distant sea arch. There sits an Albatross. That rarest of Southern Hemisphere wonders has made its way north. And with impeccable taste has made a temporary home in Yorkshire. Hope Albert (his new name) has brought his woolly hat and jumpers.
This was our second attempt to see Albert. We left the house at 4am more in hope than expectation. This time we were in luck. Through the lens we could see Albert perched on the cliff face. For an hour we watched the new Yorkshire Star. Then in seconds he was out to sea. A brief glimpse of an Albatross flying. Towering over the other birds.
If Albert stays long enough then we will try again. This time hoping for a longer sight of him flying. even maybe a chance to get a photograph.
It was also another step for Hawklad. Another encounter with strangers. All very friendly strangers. He kept his distance but managed to stay. Another step in the right direction all thanks to an Albatross. Who would have thought of that one.