Bird hides are strange places. They are basically garden sheds with windows that open, but instead of being full of trowels, that bicycle that you promise yourself you’ll ride down the canal in better weather (yet never do) and the Flymo that gives off electric shocks when you use it, they are stocked to the rafters with expensive, hi-tech camera and telescopic gadgetry. They are also full of people wearing non-rustle camouflage clothing, sitting – for the most part – in silence… I assume this is also a difference from your sheds too – If not, I’m afraid I have misjudged you all.
In his book, Birdwatchingwatching (2009), Alex Horne describes bird-watching as ‘essentially an enormous game of hide and seek, in which you do the hiding and the seeking and the birds have no idea they’re involved in a game.’ The birds go about their business unaware that they are basically being pried upon by a group of voyeurs – It’s a brilliantly simple way to watch nature up close and the birds aren’t bothered by any of this… Until the deafening silence is broken when someone’s phone rings. In my experience, mobiles that ring in bird hides seem to embarrass the owner in two ways: (i) They feel bad that they forgot to switch the device to silent and this may scare off anything outside and (ii) The ringtone is always seemingly cringe worthy. My two experiences of phones going off in bird hides has brought the sound of something akin to Motörhead and, more recently, a computerized voice loudly repeating ‘YOU ARE BEING CALLED BY YOUR DAUGHTER… YOU ARE BEING CALLED BY YOUR DAUGHTER!’ Both of which seem incredibly out of place in a shed… and possibly out of place anywhere.
My phone is always on silent, but I always check before entering a hide – I would hate to scare off a Blue Tit with something from my extensive Celine Dion collection.
A visit to Warnham Nature Reserve was my means of adding to my 2014 bird list. It is a great little place just outside Horsham and it was here that I saw my first ever Osprey a couple of years ago. They also serve the biggest slices of cake I have ever seen. It is also home to my (so far) favourite bird hide (How cool do I sound?)
Outside the hide is a wooded area that attracts a remarkable array of wildlife. Birds line up in the trees and take turns to visit the feeders – It’s a bit like aeroplanes waiting for their turn to come in and land at an airport.
No new species, but a slice of cake the size of my head and some great views of birds from the warmth of a glorified potting shed made for a superb day.
After the unmitigated success of Fauna Corner last week, I am proud to announce the launch of my 2014 Butterfly Board, where I pictorially highlight the Lepidoptera I’ve managed to spy whilst out and about.
Butterflies are beautifully photogenic creatures and usually fairly cooperative when having a camera pointed at them. That said, I am pretty sure that one will, one day, be the death of me as I tend to give pursuit whenever I see one, following them without due care and attention. Last year I almost fell off the North Downs whilst trying to get a photograph of a Marbled White. I got no photo, but did get grass burnt elbows.