Our bird-watching group set off for the Warnham Nature Reserve with hopeful hearts.
It had been raining cats and dogs all
night and the morning had dawned wet and miserable. But the weather forecast – in which I place great faith these days – said that the rain would move off by mid-morning to fall on poor old Kent and Essex and we would have possibly the best
weather of the whole week. Our group organiser, when I phoned her to check, said, what the hell, last year she had called off the meeting because of the weather and the sun had come out – this year she would take a risk on it.
She said she would pick me up on the road just beyond the “Think Bike Roundabout” in her blue Honda Jazz and I was to wear something bright and easily recognised, like
a red woolly hat. I asked if a red coat would do (she said yes) and queried the whereabouts of the Think Bike Roundabout. This turned out to be the roundabout at the end of our road which, because of the proximity of the local comprehensive school, is
adorned with signs requesting car drivers to “Think Bike.” I have to confess I hadn’t noticed the signs before but from now on I, too, will call it the Think Bike Roundabout.
Mr B has bought me some binoculars as a belated birthday present. It wasn’t his fault it was belated because I was supposed to be booking up some relaxing treatments at the health club but I kept forgetting. So
when I joined the Bird Watching Group, he asked if I’d like some binoculars instead. We do own binoculars already but they are too heavy for me to hold to my eyes for longer than a couple of minutes. My new binoculars (which arrived from the RSPB in
double quick time) are super lightweight and just right for me.
What with my ruck-sack slung casually over my back, my water bottle, my Book of Birds, and my Super
Lightweight Binoculars, I thought I looked the part. But the rest of the Bird Watching Group were wearing proper boots, waxed jackets, hats with ear flaps and fingerless gloves, all the better to keep warm while adjusting the focus on your binoculars. I mentally
added a few things to my Christmas List.
On the drive to the Nature Reserve, with a welcome sun peeping out from the clouds, our group organiser had confessed
to me how much she worried, every month, that we would spend a whole two hours and see nothing but a couple of sea-gulls and a wood pigeon. I did my best to reassure her – birds is birds, I said, ungrammatically, now we see them, now we don’t.
And if we don’t, well we will all have a fine walk in pleasant company, ending up in the cafe with a skinny latte and a piece of cake. What’s not to like?
We needn’t have worried as we had a Bumper Bird Watching Day. Looking out of the very first hide, someone spotted a kingfisher on a branch jutting out over the lake. “Where? Where?” everyone else demanded and I trained my binoculars
in the vague direction of the lake. The kingfisher, a most obliging fellow, stepped along the branch, turned to face us so that we all had a perfect view and stayed there for a good five minutes. “Look at me!” he seemed to be saying, “Aren’t
I just the perfect start to your bird watching day?”
Indeed he was – but it was only the start. We reckoned later that we had seen around 25 different
species of birds on our two hour walk, including a woodpecker, several kinds of tits, chaffinches, a goldfinch, a dunnock, a nuthatch, a robin with the brightest of red breasts, cormorants, gulls, a tufted duck and a grebe diving into the lake to catch
a fish which he proceeded to devour with considerable relish, as if putting on his own Special Performance for our benefit.
Some days are Indoor Days. Some days
are Outdoor Days. Some days are Perfect Days.
This was one of them.