Sunday, October 14, 2012

A life on the wing


The last weekend in September I spent time away from a computer, away from technology and my every day life. I have always enjoyed bird watching, so the opportunity to spend three days in the company of fellow bird enthusiasts in the wilds of Norfolk was delightful.

I won't list birds all the birds or go into detail about walks along hedgerows, patient waiting to see if we could spot the elusive 'yellow browed warbler' (who did not appear); I could mention standing in fields with scopes and binoculars focused on distant soaring buzzards, I will mention my delight at watching the gannets plummet into the ocean. All in all it was a most relaxing and enjoyable time, and I learned a lot.

Godwits and stuff

The other members of the group who were, without exception, lovely people.We were all 'bird nerds' together. I took great delight in learning more about birdsong, in absorbing little snippets that will help me recognise more birds and to know where to look and what to look for. I particularly enjoyed the fact that when someone saw a bird (whether we were driving, walking or standing watching) everyone was interested and keen to see what had been spotted. Chris, our group leader and very knowledgeable guide, would often pull the van over to the side of the road (mostly tiny single track Norfolk byways) and point to something in the field like a grey partridge or a rock dove. It was no inconvenience to be interested in birds - it was our shared passion.

I have often bird watched, but usually on my own, or incidentally when out doing something else. At other times my bird watching has been quite often been a reason to get left behind. But for three whole days we were completely indulged.

Thousands of birds at Snettisham. Knot, dunlin,
oyster catcher, to name but a few

The highlight of the trip was the early morning visit to Snettisham. We saw some forty or fifty thousands birds on the mudflats, waking up from their overnight roost and getting ready to spread out along the coast as the tide receded and the day warmed. The most spectacular point was when something spooked the birds and they would rise in a cloud - the sun catching their wings, creating a golden shimmering cloud.

I had an amazing time and will definintely try and go again one day. Maybe I'll take a friend, if I can find someone else who is as prepared as me (and the other birders) to stop what you are doing and just peer into a hedge for fifteen minutes in the hope that...

For more info, visit Chris's website:

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