The Genesis Of A `Twitcher`
An unexpected consequence of Lockdown, of Shielding and other hateful words that define this isolation has been the discovery of nature more defined in my consciousness.
I live on a small housing estate that is quite ugly, but it’s not too rundown, and it’s relatively green in terms of gardens and verges and trees.
Last year, in the first Lockdown, I began to notice the birds outside my window; these were the most common ones, and they were loud.
Magpies, Crows and Wood Pigeons, prevalent around the estate, they boss it, in terms of being the largest birds and there’s lots of them; and apart from the Woodpigeon’s song which isn’t ugly, but not particularly lovely either, the Magpies and Crows, just seem to give a raucous, unmusical bird type shout, or click.
But it was when I travelled further afield, that is within the confines of allowed travel, that I encountered song birds, and other varieties.
There’s a well kept local Park in Dewsbury, Crow’s Nest Park, and as well as being rich in Flora and Fauna, I became aware of an amazing diversity of Bird Life that was made apparent through hearing them, high up, mostly invisible, in trees.
These sounds, to my ears, were sometimes a riot of glorious song, and as a musician I began to feel regularly quite overwhelmed.
My poor wife must have been quite fed up with my continual stopping and, “Listen to that!”
We would stand quite still and let the songs become defined.
Initially the birds that we were most often able to actually observe were the Blackbird and Robin, who both have exquisite melodies, full, vibrant and they seem to flow out in passionate release. I love the Robin, it really does have a red breast, well kind of Orangey red, and it’s so cocky! Which is appropriate!
Then I began to be aware of other smaller birds; we would stop, whilst walking around our estate, arrested by the sound of a mob of Sparrows in a hedge, and boy were they loud, what were they rioting about?
My Pastor and friend Jeremy, has been bird watching since childhood and has been invaluable in helping me more discern the birds that inhabit my area: I must also add that my wife Pauline, has also helped me grow in knowledge, I was always such a townie!
There’s a lot of different types of Tit, which for a working class North Londoner gives great Joy, where else can you be allowed to use that word so innocently! It was difficult at first, but happily I’m more concerned with the Great, Long Haired, Blue and Coal varieties now and I was able to identify a Coal Tit that visited our Garden.
My wife has kindly hung some bird feeders around, to encourage the small birds to make an appearance.
The food is getting eaten but I fear that they are deliberately avoiding me, I've seen one bird in about three months!
I think I've only truly began to comprehend my growing passion for bird watching, (actually at the moment is more like Bird Hearing, they’re too small and quick for me) when I went out for a walk with Jeremy, after Sunday lunch at his house.
We were walking in a tree lined area behind his garden.
I had already noticed the fact that his garden, backing onto the green area, had so many more interesting birds than the big bird thug life that mostly ranged over our housing estate.
As we walked, again I would stop, “Listen to that!”
“That’s a Chiff Chaff, that’s a Dunnock, yes up there", and so on.
Jeremy spotted a bird that whizzed past us and onto a branch yards away, “A Great Tit”
“How did you see that?” I was impressed.
“I’m used to it, he laughed, and it was great, I could see he really loved my obvious enthusiasm.
He was wearing binoculars, and I finally was able to spot a bird, seen in beautiful definition on a high branch, it was a revelation.
This was a Dunnock, quite a common bird apparently.
It was small, perfectly formed, beautifully chubby with a rascally little face and beak; so pretty!
When we got back to his house I immediately badgered my wife about my `now` need for a pair of binoculars, and she said that she believed that we had a pair of her dad’s hidden away somewhere, fab!
I love these small birds, their shape, colour, their song, and they live among us, it feels like grace.
So this is my first Lockdown piece, and it’s positive, so that’s good; go listen to the birds, and you might actually spot one.