We members of the Birdy Group are thrilled to identify a white-headed, blue-legged lesser spotted bird in the undergrowth beside the Ferring Rife. What? You’ve never heard of one of those? No wonder - it is actually
Our Ron, who (as is his habit) has gone walkabout while the rest of us have kept to the path. He stands on the edge of a small puddle. “Don’t jump!”someone calls out.
Only a short time before, Ron (his other half is Tall Margaret - we are both blessed with twin grandchildren and enjoy swapping Twin Stories whenever we meet) had suggested we try skinny dipping in the Rife. This led to one of those
perfectly ridiculous conversations about putting forward the idea of a Skinny Dipping Group on the U3A website, under Registration of New Groups, and waiting to see if anybody expressed an interest. Which would be extremely, well, interesting. Someone points
out that the U3A expects there to be an educational element to all the courses we run. We all, mostly silently, contemplate the educational value of a Skinny Dipping Group...
Yes, the Birdy Group is together once again after the Summer break. It’s the most beautiful of mornings which may be why no fewer than fourteen of us have turned up at our meeting place, in the car park outside the Bluebird Café. We have
a new member, too, named Chris. In the car on our way to the Bluebird, our leader (the Lovely Linda), Bas and I had been contemplating whether Chris would be a man or a woman. I was pleased when it was a he who cycled up to meet us. Not because I need
a man, obviously, Mr B being quite enough for anybody, but I do like a well balanced group in terms of gender. We women still outnumber the men, to be fair, but Chris is a welcome addition, not least because he clearly has some knowledge of All Things Bird
Related. In the absence of Heather (regular readers may remember I always like to stay close to Heather who is an Extremely Good Bird Spotter and one who never minds helping others less talented to train their bins in the right direction) Chris definitely
On our amble along the Rife towards the Ferring Country Centre (where coffee beckons) we meet a fella who has been out looking for our feathered friends
for the last three hours. There have been fewer birds today, he tells us, than on any September 2nd for at least five years. Which gets me wondering whether there is any particular significance to the second day of September such that he makes a special survey
every year on just that day? Or maybe he is out every single day, keeping a record of Birds Seen? He then proceeds to list the birds he has seen, on this Day of Few Birds, several of which we would have given a great deal to add to our monthly list had
we but spotted them ourselves.
Not to worry, our tally of birds is most satisfactory - and we are all delighted to see a beautiful heron, posing for us
in the water. Further along the path, up in the trees, there are three herons, sharing their perch with several little egrets and two collar doves. There are so many berries on the trees and bushes that it isn’t surprising to see a whole crowd of birds
taking flight from one particular tree as we pass. Only sparrows, somebody says. Somebody else asks what is the collective name for a group of sparrows - I think it might have been Our Ron who replies, dryly: “ A disappointment of sparrows.” Personally
I think that is a little harsh. (I look it up when I get home and my best friend, Google, tells me the collective name is a flock, a knot, a flutter, a quarrel or a crew. Any of which is an improvement on a disappointment in my view.)
One thing is for sure, when it comes to company, to fun and to laughter (not forgetting the birds, of course) the Birdy Group (individually and collectively) never disappoints.