It is a misty, moisty morning according to the weather forecast on the radio. I lie in bed listening to the bad news that planes have been unable to fly from airports across the nation while a yellow weather warning has
been issued by the Met Office. So far, so worrying.
Then I leap out of bed (okay, should I say, roll lazily out of bed) and pull the curtains on a bright sunny morning. What to believe? You might ask why it
matters but today is the monthly meeting of the Birdy Group and we are travelling North to beautiful Warnham Nature Reserve. It is quite likely that once we leave Sunny Worthing we might plunge into the mist. Should it prove to be as dense as the Met Office
is warning, we might have trouble spotting any birds - even the red-breasted robin.
Now I am not denying that the Met Office knows its business - heaven forefend - but I think I will wait for a second
opinion from the Lovely Linda, convenor and leader of the Birdy Group. She rings just after eight to check if I want a lift. I feel honour bound to mention the weather warnings, just in case she hasn't heard about Code Yellow, but she waves aside any concerns.
It is fine here, isn't it? she points out. It is, I concede. We should therefore be intrepid travellers into the Woods of Warnham. Am I in or out?
I wish I were even half as much an Intrepid Soul as Linda.
I blame my cautious nature on (i) my parents who wrapped me throughout my early years in protective love, if not in cotton wool; and (ii) being married for so long to Mr B who is Caution Personified. As I would never change either parents or partner, I have
to settle for the way I am. Nevertheless, if Intrepid Linda is prepared to take the risk today, the least I can do is to lend my support. I am, indeed, I confirm,"in".
I have to hare around to get
ready, having left it a bit late for a pick-up just after nine. Moreover I have left no time at all for another in-depth search for my light weight binoculars. I am convinced that they have disappeared into the same Deep Dark Hole as my camera which has been
Missing Presumed Lost For Ever for more than a year. Mr B does not believe in my Deep Dark Hole which he sees as an excuse for my supreme carelessness.
When Linda picks me up, I try out the theory of the Deep
Dark Hole on her. She is considerably more open to the possibility than Mr B and even goes as far as to add the notion that objects which go missing in this way have been spirited away by ghostly naughty children. I rather wonder if this interesting addition
is influenced by the fact that yesterday was Hallowe'en. What I need to do, apparently, is to stand in the middle of the room and say (presumably in a loud, intrepid voice): "Naughty children! Put them back!"
am charmed at the thought. I haven't tried it out yet because Mr B has been ever present and he would scoff. But give me time. I will keep you posted on success or otherwise.
The mist rolls spookily around
us as we leave Worthing but nevertheless ten of us (all, presumably, equally intrepid) turn up at Warnham Nature Reserve for a 10 a.m. start. In some ways the mist adds to the beauty of our surroundings. I have John Keats' words circling in my head: "Season
of mists and mellow fruitfulness". We see a heron swooping over the lake, sending the other birds packing; great tits, blue tits, chaffinches, a great spotted woodpecker, goldfinches, robins practising for their seasonal role on the front of Christmas cards,
a family of moorhens arguing amiably as families do, nuthatches. Two of our group who took a different route from the rest of us are able to report back on spotting a kingfisher. We congratulate them as sincerely as our disappointment at missing out allows.
The most magical moments of our morning, however, are not Bird-Related. The cold mist has preserved the dew-encrusted cobwebs adorning twigs and branches all along our way. The result is a beautiful, mystical forest
of unusual fairy plants which look as though they have been transplanted overnight to this earthly spot from some cold planet unknown to humankind. They will survive only as long as the sun fails to break through. In just an hour or two, we know, nobody will
see what we have seen.
As we drive home, the mist starts to clear, the sun to shine. Our new member, Robert, has enjoyed the morning for which I am especially glad as I had waxed lyrical (much like a tuneful
songbird) about the delights of Warnham. I am so relieved that he has not been disappointed.
Mr B wants to know if we saw a Golden Eagle. He asks the same question each time I return from a Birdy Group meet-up.
I acknowledge the joke with a grin and try to describe my magical, mystery morning.
I think it is safe to say that you had to be there, an Intrepid Soul refusing to be put off by the Met Office and its yellow
I am very glad I was.