The second Birding Frontiers Challenge Series arrived this week. Martin Garner and the team have improved on last year. Whilst I have never heard of a Blakiston’s Pipit and pretty unlike to see one it’s the principles of Darwins quote in the title that under pin the challenge of new discoveries. A section on How to be a Great Birder is illuminating.
Never lose the wonder
Try something new
Expect to learn new things ever time you go out
Cultivate an enquiring mind
Set goal for your observation
Make mistakes and learn from them
Most important enjoy it . . . a lot.
Two things this week that have reminded me about this.
1. I am behind in the biggest list in NZ26. Not so far that I can’t catch up but I need to do something so because of the tide times have spent a lot of time by the Tyne this week. There is a limit to how many times you think the Little Egret will return to the mouth of the Derwent before you think I just want to see a bird. So I settled at Timber Beach and was enjoying the three Common Sandpipers amongst the Lapwing. I could hear someone coming down the short bank on crutches and turned around to see a woman in her 20s with two young kids and her Dad. And they came and stood right next to me a bit weird until she spoke and said, ‘I don’t know what you’re looking at. But I have come to see that seal!’ She had seen it as they were driving past. Never seen one before, got her Dad to turn the car around so she could see it. I on the other hand dressed in office clothes (so I can make no comment on what she wore) probably looking a bit of a dick had not even noticed on the mud there was in fact a common seal. We had a bit of a chat, it’s a small space, you can’t help to do much else, and they had their first view through a scope. It was great to know that people can still come new to wildlife at any age. She asked what the big bird was that had just taken off. She did not really believe cormorant was a real word and even though a NZ26 tick would have been good, I was pleased it was not its small more maritime cousin.
2. Friday morning 7am in the shower and the garden filled with the dry rattle of a magpie. It attracted at least two others. This recruited some jackdaws and then two crows. The noise was deafening. Had to be a Sparrowhawk and the corvids had young to teach about the enemy. After my shower went down to fill the bird baths as usual, expecting a pile of feathers. No. A feral pigeon went south and a female Sparrowhawk went North having obviously plucked a bit of the pigeon. Quite normal for our garden. We have new neighbours who may well also get a wildlife garden. Having heard the commotion of the corvids were both peering out of their bathroom window commenting excitedly on the Sparrowhawk.
It’s easy to get depressed to think people aren’t interested in wildlife. So this week I have been pleased to meet some potential new converts to the cause.