Wednesday, 17 October 2012

H**ny, p**ny ornithologist

Engraving by George Graves, early 1800s

Without wishing to go all Bill Oddie on you, I was really chuffed on Monday morning when I saw a jay in our small garden; it was the first time I’ve witnessed one of these large, beautiful, exotically colourful birds so close.  Its brief but eyecatching appearance here seemed timely as that evening I went to my first meeting at a bird conservation charity. It was just so good to be able to mention the jay’s presence there to a man I’d never met before but whom I knew would understand!  The conversation continued about garden visits from long-tailed tits and goldfinches and our eyes shone as we discussed our feathered friends.  This was not technical, competitive talk about spotting rare raptors or buying binoculars; instead just a keen mutual appreciation of the ordinary, daily company of our garden guests.  (Or, as I see it, it's really their garden and we just borrow it.)  They’re all around - house sparrows, bluetits, blackbirds - and I never tire of seeing them go about their daily business.  Sightings of red kites, buzzards and barn owls might bring special, rare pleasures - like that jay - but they don’t need to be big, bold and bright to make my heart flutter.  Every LBJ (‘little brown job’ in birdy speak) is as welcome a sight as anything more unusual, and I’ve learned so much just from observing them.  So whilst I’m definitely not a ‘twitcher’, I could perhaps consider myself to be an amateur ornithologist.  Although I must admit I can’t hear the word ‘ornithologist’ these days without being reminded of this Not The Nine O’Clock News team’s brilliant Two Ronnies parody...

Who else could have got away with the word 'dildo'
on early '80s prime time BBC TV?

Anyway, the meeting was about how volunteers can  promote the work and research of this organisation and I’ve offered to compose some articles, as a means of combining my enthusiasm for birdlife with a love of creative writing.  Nothing scientific or exclusive, just a way to share a personal passion which might hopefully end up doing some good too.  (And I might even mention tits and nuts.)

I’d better get scribing.

13 comments:

  1. We get Jay's in our garden occasionally - they are some of my favourites too

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You lucky thing. This was the first time I've seen one here in eleven years!

      Delete
  2. When I was a kid I started trying to encourage birds into the garden by putting food out for them. I remember being enthralled by the sight of blue tits, greenfinches, starlings, chaffinches, great tits, robins, thrushes, blackbirds and others. This was in the middle of the city. These days I live in what is more or less the countryside and rarely see more than a few crows, one blackbird (if we're lucky) and the odd sparrow. What is going on??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a lot of people find that - an urban garden is like an oasis to a lot of small birds in cities, whereas in rural areas there are more natural food supplies to choose from perhaps.
      I live in a very rural area but over the years they've got to know that the regular food and water I supply is so much easier for them than foraging! So their visits here have increased hugely over the years. Also got lots of cover for them to sit in and keep safe so it works well. Hope you get more in!

      Delete
  3. He said 'anus'!!

    I'd forgotten this sketch but fortunately my sense of humour has remained as childish as when it came out, so it still makes me laugh.

    Down here on the coast the seagulls tend to dominate, but their numbers have reduced in the last five years since rubbish disposal got better, and now I get the odd thrush, starling and family of blackbirds hopping around in my little back yard. They're a delight. Unfortunately my next-door neighbour has just acquired a cat (boo hiss), so I fear for my little feathered chums.

    Get writing for this group - they're lucky to have recruited you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hee hee, same here - I find it so funny even if it is puerile, the 'anus' line in particular! (And "over China over China...")
      Oh, I know what you mean about cats - I always fear for "my" birds when they're around. When first here there were no cats in the neighbourhood and I had lots of birds nesting in the garden, it felt so nice to give them a really safe environment in which to breed (give or take the odd sparrowhawk attack). But now there are loads of particularly predatory cats and I can't help but feel protective and anxious, especially at breeding season. But the birds are not daft - they keep their wits about them (and breed elsewhere now) plus they say that generally only the weaker ones get caught so they probably wouldn't be long term survivors anyway...
      Perhaps your neighbour could put a collar with a bell on theirs and that might help?

      Delete
    2. PS - thanks for that about the writing too.

      Delete
  4. I found a toad in my garden yesterday....a real beauty!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I'm jealous! Gorgeous things!

      Delete
  5. I see more buzzards than anything...bein' on the road all the time. I did see a hawk carry off a snake not too long ago.

    We had a lot of cardinals at the house and some blue jays but, the best was this last weekend. I was out on our balcony and a hummingbird flew right up about a foot from my face and then buzzed on.

    The writing sounds like great fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm jealous of you too! Wow. I've only ever seen stuffed hummingbirds (sounds like something that might be served up in an exotic restaurant...)
      I couldn't believe how absolutely tiny they are. I'd love to see a live one as close as you did.

      Delete
  6. One year on in our 'new' house and the visitors to the garden continue to enthrall us. Because of a couple of ratty guests, I've scaled back to just nut feeders, so we don't get the quantity of robins and blackbirds that we used to, but are overrun by tits and sparrows with the occasional surprise appearance of a pair of woodpeckers to brighten our day. Good news about the bird group - sounds great!

    (Have you seen this blog? Fantastic, simple photos of (mainly) garden birds. It's excellent, but hasn't been updated since I started following it - hopefully there'll be more soon. http://littlebrownjob.blogspot.co.uk/)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so pleased about your birds! Enjoying birds in a garden is a gift which keeps on giving, isn't it?!

      Many thanks for the link to the blog too - fantastic pictures, wow. I hope he adds more soon too.

      Yes I'm excited about the bird charity, thanks! It's doing some really great work nationally and I'll be doing my best to spread the word in this region (via other mediums!)

      Delete

Please come in, the door is open

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...