Updated: Aug 17
Today, at the beginning of April and usually our busiest time of year, we should have clients in, or preparing to travel to Rajasthan, northeast India and Bhutan. As it happens, we are all at home isolating from one another, in this very surreal new normal we find ourselves in.
For us, a very trying couple of weeks began on 13th March, when India announced the suspension of all existing visas for all foreign nationalities as part of the nation’s rapidly evolving plan to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. In the week or so leading up to this, we had been in constant contact with many of you, who had expressed unfailing optimism and a willingness to travel after months of anticipation and planning. But that was no longer to be and so began a frantic few days where, in anticipation of tightening restrictions, our overriding priority was the safe return home of those already in-country, while also advising and assisting clients who were now prevented from travelling. With a great sense of relief our last clients landed in London on 18th March, just over a week before the suspension of all international flights between India, the UK and Europe.
We are of course a little anxious for the future, a feeling that I’m sure is echoed throughout the world among all industries and all walks of life. To these clients, all of whom have agreed to transfer their payment to a future tour, we are extremely grateful on behalf of ourselves as well as our partners and guides for providing us with some reassurance during this period of great uncertainty, and say a big thank you for your support and understanding during what we know was a difficult and frustrating time for many of you. Thank you too to those few of you already expressing a desire to travel from late 2020 onwards – we very much hope to have returned to normality by then, and that your travel plans will be possible.
With stringent measures now in place in many countries and with COVID-19 having such a profound effect on all aspects of daily life, we do not envisage operating any tour before October, the beginning of our South Asia ‘season’. During the current lockdown we will continue to monitor our emails and suggest this as the best way to get in touch with us. If you wish to discuss any future tour, we are more than happy to do so knowing that your booking may yet be a way into the future. Many of our partners and guides throughout the world are subject to similar restrictions on movement, so please also bear in mind that any contact we need to make with them relating to payments, refunds and future tours may take longer than usual.
As long as we remain in lockdown, please keep an eye on our Twitter feed, Instagram and Facebook page, as well as this Blog, where we will do our best to keep you entertained with thoughts of far off places, and the birds and wildlife that await happier times.
We ourselves had been looking forward to a slow-down as our Asia season drew to a close by end-May, but instead of getting out to some of our favourite spots we're having to make do with #lockdownbirding. We’ve found ourselves appreciating more of what’s on our doorstep, such as the Blackbird whose cheerful melody wakes us with the sounds of lazy (virus-free?) summer days to come. A few days ago, a pair of Black Redstarts spent a few days feeding happily on lawns outside our window, a timely reminder that there’s much to be seen, sometimes in the oddest places, even when we aren’t really looking.
Thank you to those of you who have remembered us and sent kind and supportive words. Our thoughts are with you all and your loved ones, in particular those in vulnerable groups or looking after elderly relatives; and to our NHS staff, emergency services, and all key workers we offer heartfelt thanks.
We look forward to helping with your travel plans as soon as we can safely do so, and to a time when we can again share some wonderful birding and travel experiences together.
In the meantime, please take care, be safe, stay well and keep smiling.
With our very best wishes,
Leio, Jen and all at Bluetail Birding