Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Christening a 'scope

For as long I have been watching birds (so since around the time that God-saw-the-light-that-it-was-good) spotted flycatchers have nested each year in my mother's garden. I am again minding dogs and answering phones there as my indomitable, admirable mother is still visiting hospital and at the same time helping mastermind the Norwich Cathedral Flower Festival. This morning my aunt and cousin relieved me from ninety minutes of dog and phone duties as I had to visit Cley. Stepping out of the house I heard our flycatcher's buzzing dzeet and, looking up to his favoured ash, I saw him tumbling through the insect-busy air.

At Cley I gave a great deal of money to the fine folks of Cley Spy and in return they gave me a new toy. I have had my faithful telescope and tripod for eighteen years and they've been great friends. However, they've become something of an embarrassment to me in front of tour clients, not to mention a weighty encumbrance when packing for my many travels. The time had come for change.

Pulling into the car park at Cley, I met my friend Pat from the visitor centre, who pointed to a line of twitchers on the East Bank. They're watching a great reed warbler, he said. What a splendid bird with which to christen my new 'scope, I thought, as I hadn't seen one here since my old 'scope itself was new. But my aunt and cousin were watching two hot dogs so, the optics deal done, I eschewed the bird and headed dutifully for home. Do I get points for virtue?

Near Langham, in the bank, I spied a rare and glorious mix of colours: the flirtatious lipstick pink of red campion and the clear sulphur yellow of mouse-ear hawkweed. As one is normally a plant of shady woodland edge and the other of hot chalky grassland this was an unexpected combination. But what a coup!

And in the evening? Well, at my mother's I was already half-way to Cley. And I am very fond of Acrocephali. And he was a wonderful bird with which to christen my new 'scope. He was rather far away and the wind was behind us, so I could see him singing but not hear his raucous slo-mo. What struck though were his size, when a puny reed bunting came to sit in the same dead elder, and his shrike-like bulk and profile as he flew through the tops of the reeds.

On my happy way back to the visitor centre a female hairy dragonfly laid her eggs in a channel and I day-dreamed of all the animals my 'scope and I will see together.

New today


spotted flycatcher
Muscicapa striata
great reed warbler
Acrocephalus arundinaceus

2012 Totals
Mammals: 59
Birds: 464
Reptiles: 14
Amphibians: 6
Fish: 4

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