Monday, December 10, 2007


I really enjoy sharing nature with other people but I must confess I wasn't too pleased when I heard the hide door open and a woman's voice says "Shhhh....We must be quiet or the birds will here us!" At London Wetlands Centre that is often the prelude to a gaggle of noisy 5 year olds entering and using the hide as a fortress of some kind. Its a price I'm happy to pay for wonderful wild space in London being enjoyed by families but it can be annoying when you're focused.

Before they arrived I'd spent a good few minutes sat in the hide, quietly chatting to a couple of the locals as we scanned the lake for the Slavonian Grebe that had been seen the day before when they left. As they did one of them said "Oh by the way there's a snipe about 15 feet away over there. We know he's there cos we saw him land but I'm damned if I can find him now". 5 minutes or so later a head very briefly popped up.


The end result was that now as two kids aged about 10 entered the hide with their mother and grandmother I was stood on one of the benches with my tripod fully extended trying to shoot down and get an angle through the grass at the now hunkered down snipe. The two kids looked at me with interest, too polite to ask what on earth I was doing. I waved them over and quietly explained what I was doing and why. "So the bird's just there then?" One asked. "I can't see it" said the mother before adding "usually I'm good at this...."

I disconnected my camera from the scope and showed the kids what they were looking for. No success. Worse I couldn't find the little devil again now. Reconnecting I tried to talk mum, kids and gran onto the bird: "You see that sticky up bit of grass at the front? A little to the left of that"...."No behind the daisy"..."Yep: In front of the brown bit".


All the while I kept seeing just a flash of feathers now and then as the snipe periodically stretched. At this point I really wanted the family to see the bird if for no other reason than to prove it actually existed and I wasn't a lunatic. I readjusted my scope from its ridiculous high vantage point to kid height and quickly scanned until the head popped up again. I quickly locked off the scope and moved the bench into place behind the scope. "Don't touch it" I said as I helped the little boy to the eyepiece "Just look through and you'll see him". A small face descended upon the eyepiece and there was a long moment of interminable silence followed by:\



I took this to mean it was the sister's turn and quickly got a similar reaction from her followed by a "well I never! Its so close!" from her mum. Lastly Gran took a look and said simply "Thank you. I've never seen one of those before."

Sharing birds is fun. Try it sometime.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Delightful tale. I like the way you relayed the boy's reaction (c: