Monday, 5 April 2010

A little souvenir of a terrible year...

You may have noticed that it's been a while since I posted. Less is more, that's my motto, and I'm sure you've all been awaiting my return with the same breathless expectation that awaited the third Sundays album (well done to those of you who spotted the Sunday's lyric title, and no excuse needed for a photo of the divine Ms Wheeler). Nearly five years waiting to find that they seemed just to have recorded the same album again but with different titles. At least the Stone Roses had the decency to record something that sounded different.
Anyway, all work and no play makes Adrian a dull boy. Suffice it to say, "dull" is currently my middle name. But light is at the end of the tunnel.

We did at least have Saturday and Sunday off and spent them in Hertfordshire with the grandparents. I'm still not used to the sight of Red Kites floating over the garden. I suppose that some day they'll get the same attention a Little Egret does. Saturday we took the Assistant to that mecca of ornithological research, the Natural History Museum at Tring. I was hoping that she would join me in close examination of the structure of closely related fairywren species. Maybe I was being over ambitious. She spent most of her visit cuddling a badger. It was the first time I'd been to Tring since I was a kid and several things struck me:

1) The Elephant seal is really very very big

2) Fish don't look real when stuffed

3) It's free! I was so impressed I made a generous donation.

Anyway, a variety of stuffed birds was as close as I got to birding this weekend, but my lack of attention to our avian friends was rewarded this evening on the train back from work. I have mentioned the delights of the Exe Estuary as observed from the train before now, and today, the tide was out so there were few waders to spot. However, as we neared Starcross, where the water's edge drew near to the train, there striding elegantly (not - there's something endearingly inelegant about these fellows) was a Spoonbill. Nice.

I've always had a soft spot for the Spoonbill, and indeed prefer our alternative name for it - the Bongo Bird. I can't lay claim to that most apt of nicknames, which derives from a hurried phone call taken by Ray (I think...he will no doubt correct me) from Mr Heysham - Pete Marsh, many years ago. Which went something like this:

Ray: "Hello"
Pete: "Ray, Bongo at the bog!"
Ray: "Wha..?"
Click, brrrrrrrrrr

Now to interpret. This means "Ray, there's a Spoonbill at Leighton Moss, thought you'd like to know". But "Bongo at the Bog" has gone down in folklore. Several years later, when Little Egrets were still rare in Lancashire there was a Spoonbill and a Little Egret at "The Bog". They became affectionately known as "Bongo and Son".
Finally, a little competition, and an excuse for a photograph. On the right is Mr Carter (J) celebrating a "top birding event". I found this in a stack of faded old photographs when preparing for the Clerk of Works car boot extravaganza. This was undoubtedly the highlight of a trip to The Gambia (there's a big clue) what enigmatic bird had we just bagged? A virtual prize to the most surreal answer.