Monday, 29 April 2013

The Rules of Bird Watching

As you'll know if you've read any of my other blogs, we've been getting to grips with the local bird life over the past year or so, during which time we've learned a lot about birds and bird watching.  Having spent another fabulous day down at Leighton Moss I thought now was a good time to share with you some of the "rules" we've picked up along the way.



  1. If, when you enter a hide, all the "bins" and "scopes" are pointing in different directions, there's probably nothing important to see.
  2. If, when you enter a hide, all the "bins" and "scopes" are pointing in the same direction, whip yours out quickly and join in, nodding sagely whilst desperately scanning the horizon.
  3. The name of the bird often bears little resemblance to their appearance; female Blackbirds are brown and, as we discovered today, Green Winged Teals do not have green wings.
  4. Trying to describe to someone where you've spotted a bird in the distance is the quickest way to start an argument. "No, not *that* tree, the one with the branches, just to the left of the one with the leaves.  Never mind, it's gone now!".
  5. However long your camera lens is, there'll be someone there with a longer one.
  6. The second you look down to take your flask out of your bag a Bittern will tap dance past the hide.
  7. The quieter the hide, the louder the crisps.
  8. Most seasoned birdwatchers don't mind you asking questions and are usually fairly forgiving when you make a mistake.  ("Is that the Bittern?" Long slow intake of breath. "No, that's a Snipe...")
  9. The smaller the bird the prettier the song.  Big birds seem only capable of screeching.  Pheasants in particular will lie in wait behind a bush and time their screech perfectly to scare the bejeebers out of you as you pass by.
  10. DO NOT look on the "Spotted Today" board as you enter the reserve.  These are malevolent works of fiction and serve only to reinforce your feelings of inadequacy when the most exotic things you can come up with are a Lapwing and Shoveler.
Lapwings. Still bonkers, still my favourite bird.