In the middle of all blog writing about the useful things – the realms I want to be better in, to gain more recognition in, to even get some cash out of, you know, poetry, translation, politics, literature, that sort of tosh – I will write occasionally about the things which are of no apparent use. About my hobbies, activities that neither I nor anyone else will ever be able to commoditise. And so it happened: out on a guided nature walk ten days ago, I saw my first bluethroat through a telescope on a tripod that the walk's guides had set up. It was beautiful though not really more beautiful than the photo of the same bird that I'd gazed at in my nature guide book some days previous, feeling regretful about never having seen a bluethroat. Now I've see him live I don't feel very different. Seeing a small bird 45 metres away hopping between a fence and some shrubby trees, and only being able to see it thanks to some fancy technology isn't unlike looking at a photo of the said bird. And here comes a photo, of the said bird.
(Daniel Bastaja's photo of a white-spotted blue throat, the kind we saw.) In his wonderful coffee-table culture book Birds Britannica (2005) Mark Cocker states that there are only 100-200 bluethroats in Britain & Ireland a year. I've no idea how many there are in northern Germany, but I guess with that few birds around I should feel dead privileged. Our real bird joy however has been coming during the last weeks from our robin, who flies back and forth busily between his activities in our overgrown laurel hedge and the ivy, above our kitchen window. Sometimes stopping to perch on our garden gate, to allow our eldest daughter to photograph him.