Friday, 30 December 2011


It shouldn’t take much for readers to twig that I neither have, nor claim, any affiliation with cheap car insurance, nor indeed with meerkats. This blog’s name is simply a play on words, in homage to a piece of advertising genius.

But just for the record, for cheap car insurance click here, and for meerkats click here.

Well, it’s not just a play on words. It’s a play on birds too. In the UK perhaps the hardest resident species to identify by sight are marsh tit and willow tit. They are birds to compare with care. The ever-brilliant Simon Barnes elegantly expresses the matter and its meaning:

Apparently the willow tit has a slightly less shiny cap than a marsh tit. Oh really? Buggered if I can see it. And it has a pale wing panel, and that’s not the easiest thing in the world to see, either. Really: you make an effort to like birds and right at the start, they throw a curve ball like that at you. It’s the rank ingratitude of it all that gets you.

The only thing for a bad birdwatcher to do at this sensitive stage of development is to ignore it, in the most tactful way possible. Acknowledge the presence of the marsh or willow tit, but don’t let it upset you. The point is that even so early in birding life, you meet an unfathomable mystery. And if we are not here for unfathomable mysteries, then what is the point of life?

Simon Barnes
How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher

If you are interested in nature, and you speak English, and you haven’t read any Simon Barnes, it’s time you did.

Pink-footed geese yap across a rose-gold sky over my house as I write. This is going to be fun.

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