The sweet woman behind the counter in the Pet Shop is interested to hear that this is the weekend of the RSPB Garden Bird Watch.
I don't say as much, on the grounds that
it might sound a tad critical, but I am surprised that the shop owner hasn't advised his staff that there might be a run on juicy mealworms today. Mrs Pet Shop Assistant tells me that I have solved a puzzle for her. She had wondered why her Brownie Guide daughter
was required to turn up at Brown Owl's house for an hour tomorrow morning. All was now clear, she said as I handed over £6.50 for choicest bird food with which I am hoping to entice lots of feathered friends into our garden.
It might be fun to carry out the Garden Watch in the company of a pack of Brownie Guides. I will have just one companion in the shape of Mr B who won't be satisfied unless we see a Golden Eagle perched on the garden fence.
We pulled two armchairs into prime position for a good view of the bird feeders, all freshly filled. I made us each a cup of coffee to fortify our endeavours and went on-line so that we could track our birdy visitors.
"Crow!" called Mr B triumphantly. I was pleased to hear that he was entering into the Spirit of the Occasion. Then he asked if I could pull the curtains across a bit as the sun was shining in his eyes. This somewhat cut off my view of the bird feeder but Mr
B said he doubted it would make much difference. I trained my hopeful binoculars on the tamarisk tree. "Sea gull!" announced my fellow birdwatcher.
We saw an awful lot of sea gulls. In fact, despite the clever
counter on the RSPB website I'm not sure I captured every one of them. We also logged a lot of starlings and six magpies. Six for gold, as the nursery rhyme says. We did see a few more interesting species though not, you will be surprised to hear, a Golden
In past years the RSPB has enlivened the Watching Hour with an on-line quiz every ten minutes or so but it seems to have given up on the quizzing this weekend. Mr B said this was a Good Thing as we
almost always answered incorrectly, thus proving that our knowledge of all things Bird Related in no way matches our enthusiasm and love of our feathered friends.
We had a bit of trouble submitting our answers,
especially deciding whether our garden was bigger or smaller than a tennis court. I would have thought that Mr B, being a former Wimbledon ball-boy, might have known this off the top of his head but he deferred to my (definitely not) better judgement. I checked
later and, would you believe it, our garden is about the same size as a tennis court. We could erect a net half way up the garden and pretend to be Serena and Rafa battling for honours in the Australian Grand Slam. Although, to be honest, the tamarisk tree
would get in the way when executing cunning serves while any clever passing shots would almost certainly end up in the vegetable trough.
Even when I'd hazarded a guess on the size of our garden, I had a bit
of trouble submitting our results. I was more than a little worried that we would have to repeat the whole exercise tomorrow morning which would not please Mr B one little bit. So concerned was I that when I checked later, I had submitted our results four
Our submission was the 24,431st received. That's a Whole Lot of Birdwatchers, with two more days to go, don't you reckon? Always providing others didn't submit their results four times over. The
email from the RSPB informing me of this Fascinating Fact included a helpful pie chart of our "Top Ten Birds". No prizes for guessing our Top Bird. That's what comes of living by the seaside.
Brownie Guides will gather at their Leader's home and I am hoping they have a most successful morning bird-watching.
At least I can pretty well guarantee they'll spot a Brown Owl....