Monday, 20 August 2012

Hobbies, Olympic and otherwise

My friend David Stubbs, Head of Sustainability at LOCOG, writes of the wildlife he and his colleagues saw during the Olympic Games:

And in all the hullaballoo of the Games I saw 35 bird species on the Olympic Park, including goodies like little grebe, sand martin, grey wagtail, sedge warbler and reed bunting.  Not bad for when there are 200,000 people milling around!

Bird of the Games for me was a hobby at Eton Dorney rowing lake, plus a red kite thermalling in the distance, while the Times correspondent Simon Barnes heard a crossbill at Greenwich Park.

Butterflies were also good: on the Olympic Park I was pleased to see gatekeeper and common blue, not bad for a newly created site in the London borough of Newham. We saw dark green fritillary and chalkhill blue at Box Hill during the cycle race and a marbled white at Hadleigh Farm, the Mountain bike venue.

Bring on the Paralympics...

In Norfolk, meanwhile, my life is full of hobbies, as the gathering flocks of swallows and house martins fill the sky above our pond with sound. As I sat at my desk this morning a hobby cut across the common, with swallows at her tail; and as I write a great spotted woodpecker calls from the dew-heavy outside, telling the sadness of autumn.

Every field guide that was ever printed is not merely a book of helpful hints on how to tell one bird from another. It is also a hymn to biodiversity: a song of praise for the fact that such a wonderful variety of creatures exists and has its being in our country, on our continent, on our planet.

Simon Barnes
How to be a Bad Birdwatcher

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