I spend precious time rummaging about in cupboards in a fruitless search for my walking boots. It’s Birdy Group today and the Lovely Linda will be turning up at 9.30 a.m. to give me a lift to Wonderful Warnham, one
of my favourite Bird Related Haunts. At this rate I will be boot-less.
Then I remember that I last wore my boots tramping over Hengistbury Head with my Little
Sister and her fella on my recent weekend mini-break. Could they possibly still be stowed away in the boot of my car? They could, indeed. It’s a frosty morning so I have to prise open the boot - and there are my trusty walkers, with thermal socks still
tucked inside them. The boots are, not surprisingly given their long sojourn, extremely chilly so I place them under the radiator in the hall, hoping they will warm up a bit before I have to go…
I have left Mr B with easy access to the coffee machine plus a plate of goodies, including a Braeburn Apple, an easy peeler satsuma and two chocolate digestive biscuits. He tells me to have a good time and hopes that this
time I will spot a Golden Eagle. He makes the same joke twice over every time I meet up with the Birdy Group - once as I make my way out and once when he hears my key in the door at the end of my outing. Yes, I fear the answer is always the same…
There are three of us in the Lovely Linda’s car - Linda, Bas and Yours Truly. I quiz our leader on how many people she is expecting this bright, cold but sunny, morning
but, as usual, she isn’t too sure - we are therefore delighted when we arrive in the car park to see a small crowd of us gathering, binoculars slung nonchalantly around our necks like all the very best birders. Tall Margaret isn’t here so she and
I won’t be able to have our usual discussion on The Life of Twins We Know And Love but looking round I can’t imagine I’ll be at a loss for conversation.
The sweet volunteer in the reception area of the Visitor Centre counts us all in, marking each person down in a notebook divided into hours. Thanks to us, the 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. slot looks particularly healthy on the Visitor front. Off we head into
the Nature Reserve, trying not to scare the birds as we go.
In the first hide, a fella training a seriously impressive camera on the birdlife outside the hide,
is kind enough to make sure we don’t miss the thrilling sight of a kingfisher in flight. We’ve only just arrived, we exult, and we’ve already seen a kingfisher! Even better, see the heron which stands proudly upright for ages, just to make
sure even the least proficient with the binoculars (that’ll be me then) can spot it. It flies off, then back again, then is joined by a second heron. Heather tells me it isn’t often you see two heron together, they prefer a solitary existence.
Perhaps they knew we were coming?
In fact, all round the birds are posing for us. A fluffed up robin on a high branch looks as if he is auditioning for a place
on this year’s Christmas cards; the herons, a great spotted woodpecker, a shy nuthatch, all are clearly hoping to make it onto the latest RSPB calendar. It would be unkind, I think, to tell them that the 2018 calendars are all printed up and waiting
to find their way into Christmas stockings across the country.
In one hide, where feeders entice birds a-plenty, we spot blue tits, great tits, coal tits,
nuthatch, chaffinches, goldfinches, greenfinches, dunnocks and chaffinches. A gloriously plumed pheasant moves into sight in stately fashion. Someone says this makes her think of dinner; fortunately the Colourful One either doesn’t hear or chooses to
It’s a magical morning. Scottish Christine points out the mist rising from the ground, turning the woodland into fairyland. The winter sun lights
up every tree, catching at the last leaves of autumn, the increasingly bare branches. A deer lifts its head from its hiding place and regards us solemnly and without fear.
In the café I wrap my cold hands around a mug of coffee while we all try to remember everything we have seen so that the Lovely Linda can draw up a list on her mobile phone. She struggles with predictive text which insists on “correcting”
heron to heroin.
Herons in flight; a fluffed up robin; the reflection of the gulls swooping across the water; the kingfisher in a flash of iridescent blue.
A truly intoxicating morning for the Birdy Group.