The Youngest of the Darling Daughters messages me: “I’ve got a puffin in my garden!” And thereby hangs a tale.
It’s not the first time my daughter has messaged me about her unexpected visitor. The first time was last summer, when she was enjoying the fact that, following a garden redesign involving the addition of flowering baskets, bird feeders and other
attractions, lots of feathered friends were frequenting her garden. She was starting to appreciate, she said, why I gain so much pleasure from a packet of no-mess sunflower seeds and a few suet balls.
There were now, she told me triumphantly, all kinds of birds in her garden including blue tits, great tits, sparrows, blackbirds - and puffins.
Well, you know me - am I not a member of the Worthing U3A Bird Watching Group and, as such, reasonably knowledgeable in Bird-Related Matters? Okay, I may have difficulty training my binoculars on the various sightings which my fellow
Birdy Group members have spotted but I think I could recognise a puffin were I to see one.
I suggested, gently, to my daughter that if she did, indeed, have a
puffin in her back garden then her peace would shortly be invaded by thousands of twitchers and birders all agog to witness the sight of the much-loved sea bird in Leafy Hampshire. After some thought: “I think it might actually be a magpie...”
she admits. Well, it’s black and white and fairly striking looking -though a puffin it is not.
Since then the Puffin / Magpie episode has become an on-going
joke between us. There’s nothing quite like an Insider Joke, wouldn’t you agree, that means nothing to anyone else but the two insiders? Except that I have now allowed you, dear readers, into the joke. I am hoping you are finding it as funny as
Last birthday, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, among other much appreciated presents, bought me a Magpie Mug. Adorned with puffins, of course. I
love that mug so much that when it developed a leak I simply couldn’t throw it away, using it instead as a plant holder. It graces my kitchen windowsill and every time I look at it I laugh. Let’s face it, washing up is a pretty boring activity
and a Magpie Mug, especially one decorated with pictures of puffins, is exactly what is needed to relieve the boredom.
The banter between us has continued
over the ensuing months, the mere sight of a magpie stalking balefully about her garden or mine being enough to crease us up. Indeed, would you believe it, there’s a puffin - make that a magpie - outside on my garden lawn as I write?
A couple of weeks ago, glancing idly through the RSPB catalogue I came across the ideal present for my bird-loving daughter - a “Real Life Puffin.” In case anyone is working
up a steam of anger at the thought that the venerable RSPB might be dispatching real life puffins across the country via Royal Mail, I must explain that this puffin is made of frost-proof resin and was described in the catalogue as “a fantastic addition
to your garden.” How could I possibly argue with such a description?
I ordered it forthwith; Mr B couldn’t quite work out why I was so very excited
with my purchase but then he probably wouldn’t confuse a puffin with a magpie even though he is quite prepared to accept that birds might be seen way outside their normal habitat. Why, every time I return from my Birdy Group excursion he asks if I have
spotted a Golden Eagle and when, each year, we faithfully take part in the Great Garden Birdwatch, he is always claiming to be able to spot flamingoes in our flower beds.
It was very difficult to keep the secret until my daughter’s next visit which was just last week. Bless her, she was as excited as I was but then I knew she would be.
Today I received the message with which I started today’s Daily Blog: “I’ve got a PUFFIN in my garden!” This message was accompanied by a photograph of the Real Life Puffin, standing proudly under a garden bush.
It looks completely at home. You might almost mistake it for, well, a magpie...