I was always the town mouse. I’m still the one who thinks kitten heels are the best shoes for a walk and I hyperventilate if I’m too far from the shops. I do like to know that the countryside is there but don’t feel any need to go and trample all over it. Anyway it smells funny. And makes me sneeze.
So no one was more surprised than me to realise I have drifted into being a bit of a twitcher. I’m not turning into Bill Oddie – although there are similarities of shape I do have (slightly) less facial hair – and I have no truck with camouflage, green combat trousers or weird waistcoats with many, many pockets. I do not lurk in bushes (often) and never sit in those collapsible/collapsing tent things called hides – anyway, I’d want to put some Swarovski crystal on it to brighten it up a bit! No – I do my twitching in the sensible way – from the sofa.
I have little house on the very edge of a new village – not only do I have wonderful views (from upstairs!), I also have a small garden with a very open outlook which borders land managed by the local Wildlife Trust. This means I get loads of different types of birds in the garden as well as butterflies, dragonflies, newts, frogs and the odd toad as well as more types of bee than I thought existed! There are also hedgehogs – although I rarely see them – and the odd squirrel.
I do my bit to try to encourage them although my wildlife friendly garden is in reality just a bit scruffy. I do have a bird feeder and keep it well stocked – they eat better than I do sometimes… I’m getting better at identifying birds and even have two bird books and some binoculars – which I keep forgetting to use. There are loads of starlings with fledglings at this time of year. Not everyone likes starlings but I find them endearing – they are just a bit thick – and very funny, they are the clowns of the bird circus. This morning I put out some stale bread and all the young starlings grabbed a bit each and then chased each other round the garden to see who had the best bit – no eating got done at all! Sparrows are getting more common which is good and there are always loads of great tits and blue tits (note to self – no carry on style jokes…).
Sometimes it gets a bit out of hand. There is a rookery nearby and the rooks and crows do make the occasional raid on the bird feeder despite being far too big. I have got very attached to the family of jackdaws that visit regularly though – they are also a bit big for the feeder but they are very clever as well as being very vocal and sociable – but not with me! I’m less keen when the jackdaws descend en masse for breakfast and conversation at 5am – they are so noisy! I admit that curtains are flapped and I have been known to throw something out of the window. I am not a morning person.
Having said that I like starlings there are occasions when it get a little Hitchcockian in the garden – usually in the winter when food is scarce and the flock of birds lined up along the fence do seem to be daring me to go out!
The one bird I was amazed to see in the garden was a sparrow hawk! Not what you expect to see sitting on your fence but a wonderful imposing bird. Not a great photo – but at least I could prove I’d seen it.
It’s a diverting pastime, watching the birds from the sofa in a cosy centrally heated home and I feel no real need to start rampaging through the fields with my binoculars looking for rare species. I’m happy to watch the ones that come to me. I did venture to a Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserve last summer though and had a lovely time (a sunny day was a great help).
Although my dinky summer skirt and sequin encrusted flip-flops did raise a few eyebrows among the fleeced to the hairline brigade! Some people just have no idea how to dress for the country…!