You might well imagine that, given our Birdy Group has met up today at beautiful Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre, I would be on the trail of my Feathered Friends.
no, it's the Lego variety I am after. I feel I owe it to my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys whom I will be seeing next week (I will be on a flying visit. If you will excuse the pun.) Here at the Wetlands Centre, nine giant Lego brick animals have taken up
residence until the end of June and I am planning to capture as many of them as possible on my brand new camera to entertain my grandsons.
Each creature is accompanied by a useful board explaining how long
it took to build and how many of those little bricks, the ones which hurt so much if you accidentally step on one, were involved in its creation.
Here's Emily the Emperor Dragonfly. She is made up of 2400
bricks and took 50 hours building time. Nearby is Flavia the Flamingo who took over 3000 bricks and 84 hours in the construction. Natalie the Nene took 10,300 bricks and 100 hours to build while somebody unknown spent a staggering 120 hours, piecing 15,500
little bricks together to create Lottie the Otter. Need I go on?
The Lovely Linda, who organises our Birdy Group meetings, has rearranged the date of our visit to Arundel to time it with the advent of the
Downy Ducklings. Timing is all if you want to see small balls of fluff desperately trying to keep up with their parents, while at the same time learning to swim, to dive and, hopefully, to survive. Ah, yes, survival - now there's an issue. Birdy group member
Margaret (not to be confused with Tall Margaret who is, well, tall) is a volunteer at the Wetlands Centre and tells us that on her most recent visit hardly a duckling had survived attack from predatory gulls. I can see poor Linda wondering if we are in for
a Desperate Duckling Disappointment. Time - and a saunter round the centre - will tell.
At strategic points around the site are helpful information boards with drawings and descriptions of each variety of
wildfowl. It's just a pity, Scottish Christine and I agree, that the birds - in the interests of easier identification - don't swim around near the information boards on which they are pictured. You just can't trust a duck, you know.
Further along the way we encounter our first of many fluffy families. Linda can breathe again. We count each family carefully, wondering how on earth Mrs Duck manages to keep her eight offspring in order with a single quack. I think
of Rascal and The Twinkles always running off in all different directions (see yesterday's blog) and wonder if their mother, the Middle of the Darling Daughters, should start quacking at them to see if this would bring them to order. It might be worth a try
though I dare say she would attract some strange looks in her local Tesco's...
Then - something quite amazing. Into the hide where we have gathered, binoculars at the ready, a swallow flies, taking up its
position high above our heads where it can keep a watchful eye on its nesting mate. I have never seen a swallow so close up and it is quite, quite beautiful. Later, when I look through the photographs I have taken I realise that, by sheer, wonderful accident,
I have captured it flying onto its perch. Maybe I should just stop trying to take the perfect photo and let the camera do the work?
Sometimes, just sometimes, it's better just to watch and wonder. The sedge
warbler winging its way above us, warbling away like nobody is listening. The reed bunting swaying from the top of a tall reed as if playing in its own personal playground.
Sitting outside the Visitor Centre
with our cups of coffee, we watch a Canada Goose scooting aggressively across the water. Pond rage, I say. Some of our number return from the boat trip they have taken, having spotted a kingfisher, a kestrel - and the Giant Lego Kingfisher. It's obviously
a good thing they went without me or they mightn't have been so fortunate. All in all, it's been an excellent morning for the Birdy Group.
I go home with a (bird) song in my heart.