When it comes to the monthly outings with the Birdy Group, one never really knows what to expect.
Depending on where our
ramble takes us, the time of year and (of course) the weather, we may enjoy amazing sightings. Every so often we are fortunate enough to catch sight of a kingfisher - sometimes one will even pose on an overhanging branch so that even the one of us with least
aptitude with the binoculars (that’ll be me, then) is able to see and enjoy it in all its splendour. Other times we have to be content with a selection of sparrows, crows, pigeons and magpies - all the while reminding ourselves that every bird is beautiful
in its own way. Even the much-spotted LBJ (which stands, you understand, for Little Brown Job.)
I remember when I first joined the Birdy Group some years ago,
our then leader gave me a lift home from my first outing, all the way bewailing the fact that we hadn’t seen any really “interesting” birds. She seemed to feel it was somehow her personal responsibility that we might have been disappointed
by our morning’s tally of Birds Spotted. I was swift to console her with the reassurance that “Birds Is Birds.” Yes, I know it’s ungrammatical but I do firmly believe that occasionally it is okay to break a grammatical rule in the interests
of added emphasis.
I once gave a talk to the local branch of the Plain English Society about the campaign I was leading at the Council I worked for at the time
about using plain English in our communications with customers. I think it’s safe to say that it was an argumentative meeting. Mr B accompanied me and I asked him later which side he thought had won the argument. He said, loyally (and probably inaccurately)
that he thought the honours were about even. As I recall, the members of the esteemed society took especial exception to my suggestion that we were “writing for the customer” - what I should have said (apparently) was that we were writing “to
the customer.” My thoughts about being allowed to break a grammatical rule if you knew exactly why you were doing it and for what reason amounted to the equivalent of treason...
Anyway, I digress. Birds being birds, we never know when we turn up on the first Monday of each month, what we will be fortunate enough to see. Mostly we are perfectly happy with the pleasant ramble and the ever joyful company.
On Monday, however, the Lovely Linda (current leader of the Birdy Group) wanted to warn us that we might see more than we wanted. We were taking a slightly different route
she explained as we gathered at the entrance to the beautiful Burpham parish church - one which she and fellow member Bas had sussed out for us a couple of months earlier. On that occasion they had been surprised (understatement of the year) to come across
a party of male naturists dressed only in their hiking boots with rucksacks on their backs. Smothered giggles indicated that we were all finding it impossible not to conjure up a picture of the scene. I rather wanted to know if they were bird watching but
such information was sadly not available.
We all decided however that, it now being the month of October, we would be unlikely to spot them again unless they were
extremely hardy types though it just goes to show, doesn’t it, that you never know what you might see when you are out with the Birdy Group?
My best sighting
of the day (naturists not being around) was a heron sitting on a gate. For this I was indebted to Eagle-eyed Cindy, the newest member of our group, who was sweet enough to spend ages helping me to train my binoculars in the right direction so that I could
claim to have seen it when we gathered round a table in the local pub at the end of our amble to help Linda compile a list of Birds Seen.
Mr B, when I returned
home to relate the story of my morning out, wasn’t as impressed as I hoped he would be. Nothing less than the sighting of a Golden Eagle would do for him. Which, given where we live, is just about as unlikely as could be.
And that’s the Naked Truth.