When we lived in house no.6 I really wanted a pet. A dog or a guinea pig was my ideal but my mothers response was ‘the birds in the garden can be your pets’. So I expanded my lifelong passion for snails (I’ll write a post on this sometime) to include birds. I had a little blue RSPB children’s bird book with not terribly good drawings in it and by house no.7 I had ticked off every bird in it. I hadn’t actually seen most of them but I had a good imagination and I was very good at ticking.
In houses 8 and 9 one of our local shopping towns was set on one of the best estuaries for spotting wading birds in the country. Here I learnt to identify waders and ducks with the help of the other bird watchers around and my grandfather, a keen birder. My father also enjoys bird watching but, being South African, he struggles with distinguishing between the British speciality of fifty different species of little brown jobs.
When I was twelve we went on holiday to Lundy Island which is famous for it’s rare migrants. We saw a lot of birds but my star moment came when I spotted a Woodchat Shrike which we were looking for after some other people said they had seen one. I was so excited to be able to write down my sighting in the ‘rarities’ section of the bird log book in the pub.
I’m not sure when my enthusiasm for bird watching diminished slightly but certainly several years before last Christmas when every single present my grandparents gave me was bird related… I still enjoy watching birds but just out of the window or while walking the dog. Recently we have been seeing a Goldcrest which has moved into the hedge opposite.