And suddenly it’s autumn, almost before we have got used to the concept of summer. A couple of weeks ago found myself ambling across Ilkley Moor in the company of a group from the British Science Festival (highly recommended). The aim was to take a look at some of the prehistoric archaeology scattered across the moor, in particular the rock carvings. It was just after a major Atlantic storm had gone through, and the tail-end was still sweeping across the hill. It is remarkable how much difference a strong wind can make, even on a warm day. After a couple of hours of meandering prehistory, most of the group looked thoroughly weary and windswept. At one point we disturbed a grouse, which sensibly ran away rather than trying to fly. Every now and then, a meadow pipit would take off in alarm, and be whisked away downwind. How do birds deal with that sort of thing? Do they eventually make landfall, work out where they are, then walk home in a disgruntled manner? Or maybe they just look around, think “Yeah, this will do”, and get on with life. The psychology of meadow pipits is clearly a fruitful area of research.
Off to Ireland tomorrow, in the hope that a week sitting on a small island off Connemara will put the world into perspective, or at least make it seem far away.