Scottish Christine and I had had the same thought, preparing for yesterday’s Birdy Group get-together. Carrier bags, that’s what!
We knew, because our Leader, the Lovely Linda, had helpfully reminded us, that we would need to wear our boots, it being extremely muddy up at The Dover. This meant, in turn, that over the course of our morning’s ramble, looking for feathered
friends and pretending that we could recognise each and every one without recourse to the RSPB’s excellent Book of British Birds, our boots would end up encrusted with mud. We didn’t discuss this in advance, you understand, but we were both aware
that our fellow birder, Bas, would be giving us a lift in the absence of our Leader who was busy on Jury Duty and we were concerned not to transfer the mud from our boots into the interior of his car on the journey home. Carrier bags - one for each booted
foot - would do the trick.
Hence in my highly coloured rucksack ( a present from My Boy the Christmas before last) along with my binoculars, a bottle of water,
the mobile phone I would never hear if it happened to ring, the hairbrush which I would never remember to use, and a ten pound note which I would never find somewhere to spend, I carefully packed two plastic bags courtesy of the Ocado delivery man. I chose
these bags on purpose, being large enough (I reckoned) to fit over my muddy boots relatively easily. This is what is known, I believe, as recycling. If not upcycling. If only I knew the difference.
I took so long over lacing my boots, sitting on the stairs, that I didn’t see Bas turn up outside to pick me up. Scottish Christine, who had been picked up first, actually had to come and ring on the doorbell to announce
their arrival. This should not happen; the etiquette of being offered a lift has it that one should be ready in plenty of time, keeping a weather eye out for the arrival of the Kind Soul offering a lift so that nobody would be kept waiting (What is a “weather
eye” incidentally? I need to know….)
What a beautiful morning it was, up at The Dover! Crisply chilly but sunny with it - the perfect day for a Birdy
Group gathering. Okay, so we have seen more birds on past sorties to this particular venue - but nevertheless it was a spectacular morning for a walk especially in terms of those Harbingers of Spring which I am always going on about. Curtains of lacy catkins;
a patch of modest primroses; green mossy banks; sprigs of bright gorse. A white deer, like a pale ghost, leaped between the woodland trees - further along, a whole tribe of deer paraded in the distance.
Even while we marvelled at the sight, a truck trundled past us, carrying a party of rangers armed with guns. Bas asked them the question we all wanted to ask and reported back that they were culling the deer. We walked in
silence for a while, digesting this unpalatable information. Heather told me that, in New Zealand, they have a programme planning to eradicate all predators over a period of time. Wasn’t man the greatest predator of all, I mused? We decided there was
no answer to that.
Before we all went our separate ways, we tried to decide who and what we should be reporting back to Linda. Goldcrests, we agreed, and
robins a-plenty, demonstrating their Christmas card potential. Crows, tits, a thrush, red kites. Not forgetting the ubiquitous gulls - we do live at the Seaside after all.
I managed to pull my grey Ocado carrier bags over my muddy boots before folding myself into the back seat of Bas’s car. I congratulated myself on doing so with the minimum of fuss and bother, if not with an element of grace. I clearly deluded
Pulling up opposite my house, Bas suggested that if I kept my carrier bags on my feet as I crossed the road, he would be able to capture the magic moment
on his mobile phone. Do you know, I was sorely tempted, if only to prove to myself that I could be spontaneous and silly at one and the same time.
temptation, but only just.
Sorry to disappoint you…