Mid May 2020
After about 8 weeks of lockdown, the rules on leaving the house were relaxed. To be fair, the initial rules allowed leaving the house for exercise, and once you untangled the difference between the official government advice, what senior ministers said in interviews, what the actual law was and the CPS enforcement guidance, you could basically go out anywhere reasonably close. Of course the rules are completely different to'being safe', which was much more of a discretionary thing. Understandably people dealt with this is different ways depending on their own circumstances. Despite my love of the outdoors, I decided that living in a busy urban area and with a local patch that was probably still going to be quite busy, I would not go out for exercise/birding unless I genuinely needed to leave the house, and I did manage to last the 8 weeks. At times this did mean quite a bit of envy towards those on social media who were living in quiet villages or near bird reserves and who were able to safely walk around encountering no-one and/or see 100+ species, but mostly I was quite prosaic about it.
Perhaps unwisely when measures were loosened no upper limit was placed on travel distance, and coastal communities were inundated. I quickly developed a frustration with the use of the phrase 'socially distanced', which seemed to be appearing regularly on social media and blogs as an almost legalese way of excusing trips out or behaviours common before the pandemic but perhaps a bit unwise at this moment in time. Of course, the best way to rid myself of these unecessary frustrations remind myself that it's up to other people what they choose to do was to get back out and visit my local patch again.
I therefore made a morning visit to Whitlingham, and spent several hours taking in the warbler song (only Chiffchaffs had been present on my last visit), listening to a distant Cuckoo (even more pleasingly I heard a second bird further along towards the marsh). It wasn't too busy (as expected it got busier later on) and in addition to the bird song I enjoyed some of the simpler things, like the smell of Hawthorn blossom.
Definitely of secondary importance I did see a few species that I'd not recorded at Whitlingham before across several different species groups.
Jewel Beetle sp.
Hairy Shieldbug - a common species I've seen here a lot, but a nice picture of it
Imported Willow Leaf Beetle - a really rubbish name, not sure how that got approved
Rhinocylus conicus - a weevil associated with thistle heads