I spent yesterday sub-contracting for another firm. Well, it gives me a change of scene, is furnished with a range of mildly-abusive, work-related banter and provides travel to exotic locations.
OK, so it was Caithness, but during the second visit of the day, as I was fetching some equipment from the van, a rather exotic-sounding bird call rang out through the surprisingly mild September air.
Do they have Birds of Paradise in the north of Scotland?
Typically (and I really should've known better), it wasn't some gaudily-plumed, jack-in-the-box screecher. Let's face it, Caithness is not known for its dense rainforest habitat. Dense rain, perhaps, but forest? No.
That said, compared to Orkney, it was very verdantly vegetated. And vertically, too, rather than practically horizontal. There was an actual hawthorn hedge by the side of the road, for crying out loud. Can you imagine? Oh yeah, you probably can, my bad. Any road, all of these trees and shrubby stuff may have been enough to knock my ears out of kilter.
What was that call?
Eventually, the bird hopped into view at the top of a conifer.
Had to be, eh? The old 'if you don't know what it is, it's a Great Tit' mantra.
So, more Paridae than Paradisaeidae.
I was a mere 43km from home, but it could've been a world away. The hour's ferry journey across the Pentland Firth is just not something which Parus major is that bothered about. I blame the pricing policy and the lack of peanuts in the galley.