Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A birder in the making?


I'll come back to this remarkable photo in a minute. It was one of the highlights of a hectic day which, in the name of family duty at Christmas, meant breakfast in London, lunch in Evesham and dinner in Essex - with sleet, snow, fog, rain and ice to contend with in between times. I don't relish driving 200-plus miles in conditions like that, and so thick was the fog on the Chiltern escarpment that for the first time in recent years I failed to see a single Red Kite along the M40 corridor. But we made it there and back in one piece, seeing a Common Buzzard or two and even a roadside Grey Partridge in the process.

Now that photo. Before lunch at her granny's, I noticed my 10-year-old daughter Ava settling down at the table with a bag of things she'd brought to do. She reached into the bag and pulled out ... a field guide. Intrigued, I watched her then get her camera out (my old Nikon Coolpix 3500), and she proceeded to view an image on the screen and flick through the book. Eventually, she said to me she thought she'd seen Redwings, and showed me this image - taken through the fuzzy glass of her bedroom window, and at low magnification. She was right, of course - kids have such good eyes. But more than that, I was so impressed she'd noticed that these birds stood out from the others she was used to seeing in the garden, and that she cared enough to find out what it was. She would never describe herself as a birder. But who knows?

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