So another year draws to a close. It’s been something of a rollercoaster for me, with some giddy, jolly highlights and, inevitably, their counterpoints. I think this year of all years I’ve come to realise the personal value of the natural world, what it means to me, and how it lifts and inspires me.
Once again I’ve been fortunate to travel to some wonderful places, and have seen some astounding wildlife. Costa Rica and Colombia book-ended the year – both were terrific places to visit, and I’m aware I barely scratched the surface of either. Colombia in particular has got right under my skin – like Ecuador before it, every taste of South America I get leaves me hungering for more. Both trips were focused on hummingbirds, but it would be impossible to visit such biodiverse places without seeing a kaleidoscope of other life – grooming Venezuelan Red Howler Monkeys and mud-puddling, iridescent blue morpho butterflies; a snoozing Speckled Spiny Tree-rat and cheeky Western Dwarf Squirrels; and parrots, parakeets, parrotlets and macaws of all shapes, sizes and colours to name but a few.
Closer to home, seeing breeding Red-necked Phalaropes within almost a stone’s throw of my house was a thrill. Meanwhile the faithful Red-throated Divers beside the house were a constant joy throughout the summer.
Summer itself here in Shetland was a poor one – we endured months of cool, wet and miserable weather with barely a chink of sunlight. Bright days in October stopped summer sliding seamlessly into winter. Here’s hoping for sunnier days in 2016…
Next year will mark a significant shift in my focus – I’ll be spending a lot of time travelling around the British Isles. I have a book to research and write – and immense thanks are due to my tremendous agent, Tim Bates, for securing me a deal with a publisher and an editor I’m thrilled to be working with.
More of that in due course. For now I’ll wish you all a happy Christmas, and a wildlife-filled New Year.