Itís 4:30 am here, Thursday the 29th, and I have given up on sleeping any more tonight.† I got maybe 6 hours of sleep, which is about normal for me after a trip like this messes me up.† Iím hoping to get this written and be outside before sunrise for what is called the ďdawn chorusĒ in birding circles.† The birds are supposed to be very active at dawn, as they havenít eaten for a number of hours and they are hungry.† Not that I would know from personal experience, as I am a night person, so I am rarely out birding early.
To pick up the story on Tuesday evening, at SeaTac airport, I got a grilled chicken sandwich and waited for my flight to board.† It was delayed by about 20 minutes, and just as they were about to start the boarding process, my nose started to bleed.† This happens to me every few weeks, usually when I am overly aggressive about picking it or blowing it.† I take one aspirin a day, because of my Atrial Fibrillation, and that makes my blood clot slowly.† It usually takes me ten or fifteen minutes of sitting quietly, holding a Kleenex up my nose to stop the bleeding.† This time I had to participate in the boarding process, which wasnít a help.† I got some Afrin at a shop near the gate, because that is supposed to help it stop bleeding, but despite spraying it a lot, it kept bleeding while I got on board and got settled in my seat.† I had a bad experience with a nosebleed about 8 or 10 years ago, when traveling alone, and I had to call 911 and be taken to the hospital in Medford Oregon, so I tend to panic and worry when it happens.† Fortunately, it did stop this time, after I sat quietly in my seat for a while.† That didnít keep me from worrying about what the effect of reduced air pressure would have on it, when we got airborne, but it didnít bleed again.† Allís well that ends well, I guess, but it wasnít an auspicious start to the flight.
The really good news was that I had no one in the two seats next to me.† I love having an empty seat next to me at any time, but on a nine hour flight, it is golden.† I could use the empty seat to store my stuff, use the tray table for overflow, stretch my legs out that direction, and not have to fight over the use of the armrest for 9 hours.† Heaven.
The flight went very well.† Alcohol is still free on international flights, even in steerage, which surprised me in these days of cost cutting and charging for every little thing.† So, I had a couple of Scotches and a couple of wines with dinner.† I felt much more comfortable after the drinks Ė go figure.
The entertainment systems are much better these days, too.† I had lots of movies ďon demandĒ.† I watched Itís Complicated, and enjoyed it very much.† That passed two hours pleasantly.† I also enjoyed an hour long documentary about Warren Buffett.† I spent several sessions at the back of the plane, doing old-codger airplane calisthenics, and I think that helps me, too.
At Heathrow, the process went smoothly.† I got some booze, some cash, and my rental car, in that order.† The booze would have been cheaper in Seattle, or on the plane itself, but so it goes sometimes.† I think it was cheaper than what it would cost otherwise.† I had no problem finding the proper motorway, and I managed to follow my route without any wrong turns, although twice I thought I might have missed a turn.† I stopped at two Service Areas along the motorways, as much for the break as to shop.† I got some food at one of them (ham, half-fat cheese, water, and some pita bread) and a road atlas at the other one.
I found my B&B with no problem, arriving about 4 in the afternoon (which was 8 am to my body).† No one answered the door at first, so I hung around out in front and started my bird list.† There was constant bird song, and lots of little beauties flitting around.
I had forgotten what it is like to be in a new place where I donít know the birds at all, even the common ones.† I guess it was like this in Australia the first time, in 2002, but on each trip to Oz after that, I already was familiar with the birds there.† When I donít know any of them, it is hard to find them in the field guide, because I donít even know where to look.† It all adds to the fun of it, though, and it is exciting to see so many new ones.
After a while, the hostess of the B&B, Carol, saw me out there, and she came out and got me checked in.† I hauled my bags upstairs and proceeded to sort through them, unpacking some things, moving things around, and generally getting organized.† After that, I still felt fine, so I went out and walked in the countryside for about an hour and fifteen minutes.† We are right on the edge of what is called the New Forest, and there were wild New Forest ponies, donkeys, and pigs, roaming around.† Lots of birdlife.† It was sunny for the most part, and the temperature was in the 60ís.† A very pleasant stroll through the countryside, and some birds besides.
I saw 13 species yesterday, of which 8 were lifers.† Even the names are interesting, I think.† The 8 lifers were Robin (very different than the American Robin), Great Tit, Blue Tit, Woodpigeon, Swallow (looks like our Barn Swallow a lot), Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, and Dunnock.† Three of the ones I saw were very familiar ones from home Ė House Sparrow, Mallard, and Canada Goose.
For my evening repast, I had some of my ham, cheese, and pita bread Ė that was all I needed.† My body is still very confused, with the flying and the time change.† They have Wi Fi here at the B&B, so getting online is not a problem.† I expect to have excellent access to the internet on this whole trip, which I really like.
I settled down when it was still light out, at about 8:30, and I slept fairly poorly, but that is not a surprise, given the 8 hours time change that my body has to adjust to now.† The bed is very firm, but surprisingly comfortable, or maybe my lack of sleep made it seem more so.
I was awake from about 3 to 4, and finally gave up on sleep and decided to write this while waiting for dawn.† Iíll eat some more of my ham, cheese, and pita bread when I go out, and then come back for my official cooked breakfast at 8.† It is a nice treat to have someone cook bacon, sausage, and eggs for me.† I donít plan to get on my scale for a week or so, at least.† I brought it along so I can be sure that things donít get too far out of control, not because I plan to stick to my Zone diet regimen.† Iím going to try to be sensible about what I eat, but I am strictly ďoff-spreadsheetĒ in my eating, unless I start ballooning up too quickly.† I wouldnít mind it at all if I gained ten pounds on the trip, but I donít want to gain twenty.
Iíll see if I can get this up to the website now, and I plan to start taking some pictures today.† I hear the first calls of the dawn chorus out there, and the sky is lightening at 5:06 am.
The trip is underway.