On The Wing has been quiet recently, not for lack of inspiration but for lack of time. Over the past few months I’ve been busy with a few different projects. I’m close to finishing an annual report for SEZARC, outlining the highlights of their work in 2018. I’ve also moved part-time into the library where I’m filling notebooks with scribblings about Siberia, Russian megafauna, native tribes and the mysteries of shamanism. All this is for my book idea and the more I read, the more I need to read. It’s a constant cycle of finding a book, reading something fascinating and looking up similar books to find out more. I’d love to eventually start the actual writing process, but so far I’m waist-deep in other people’s books and loving every minute.

All of this work has meant that I’ve neglected my camera and seen most of my local wildlife from behind glass recently. However, this week brought the perfect opportunity to get back outside and into nature. It’s the Wildlife Book Festival at the Grant Arms in the Cairngorms. Also called the Wildlife Hotel, the Grant Arms is a beautiful Victorian building within easy reach of dense pine forests, boulder-studded rivers and sweeping mountain valleys. In other words, the perfect place to celebrate British wildlife.

It feels fantastic to be back out there with binoculars around my neck and a crumpled notebook in my hand. It also helps to be in such a stunning location. St Albans is nice, but when you’re woken to the sound of squealing oystercatchers and only need to walk for five minutes before hitting a thousand acre wood (check mate Winnie the Pooh), there is simply no contest.

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in work. I get so engrossed that I forget to ever switch off, which makes this week a very important break. It’s a little telling that I need to travel five hundred miles from home to take that break, but when the scenery is this pretty, I’ve figured it’s alright.

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