What a fantastic break - a week with all my family in a cottage not far from Padstow in Cornwall. So what did that mean in practice?
(i) A gym, a swimming pool, a superb restaurant, luxury accomodation and general pampering;
(ii) My parents on hand for some very welcome babysitting - J and I had our first meal out together for ages and I got a full day birdwatching (of which more in a moment);
(iii) Cornwall in late September - with migration now fully underway, surely even I can something interesting.
So when the opportunity for a day out birding arose, I grabbed it with both hands. Up at 6am, dropped my brother off for his day's fishing at 6.30am, and was on the Camel Estuary by 7am.
The tide was out, but I was able to find a few waders, a Greenshank being the best. Just a short walk away were some river marshes - here I found two Little Egrets preening just a few metres from me, four or five Snipe and a Hobby squatting powerfully on a mudbank for 10 minutes or more.
I headed to the coast, and from clifftops I saw Gannets passing south, and Oystercatchers and Cormorants on the rocky shore. For the first time ever I saw a family of Dolphins arcing in and out of the water right below my feet.
It was a good day's birding, with 45 or so species chalked up, albeit nothing rare. The next day J and I walked up the other side of the Camel Estuary, adding Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit to my trip list. With a few local woodland birds near the cottage, the list headed up towards 50 - not exactly a record, but a reflection of some good varied birding in the limited amount of free time family life currently allows.