After all the excitement of tracking down an Eagle in Sussex, I totally forgot to provide you all with a comprehensive field report of my trip to “Up North”. I do hope you forgive me for my remissness… I was also going to apologise for making the word ‘remissness’ up, but Microsoft Word has not underlined it with a squiggly red line. This can only mean one of two things – Either ‘remissness’ is actually a word, or I made it up ages ago, saw the red squiggly underline, clicked ‘add to dictionary’ and then promptly forgot all about it.
If you think the above paragraph is exciting, I bet you can’t wait to read my upcoming six-part (minimum) blog dissertation on my trip to see family in Lincoln, getting monsooned-on in Norfolk and unintentionally mingling with the cast of Springwatch at RSPB Minsmere.
[Interestingly, ‘monsooned’ did get the red underline treatment – Who’d have thought it?]
As I was heading in the direction of Rutland (England’s smallest county) on my way to visit Lincoln-based family, I thought it would be rude not to pop along to Rutland Water (England’s largest reservoir). The reservoir is possibly the best place to see Ospreys in the country, so I could pretty much guarantee adding a new species to my year list.
On walking into the visitor centre, I could see that they had a television in the corner showing the birds on one of the nests at the reservoir (you can watch it here). As it was live footage, I wondered if this meant that I could add it to my list right there and then. If you’ve been following my misadventures, you will know that this is not the first time that my rules for the year had been challenged…
If you work your way through them, you could realistically argue that watching a bird live on TV is actually countable – It was definitely identifiable. It was definitely wild. It was definitely alive. This potential loophole could mean that I could add practically limitless numbers of birds to my list… All I needed to do was go home, subscribe to a satellite bird channel, sharpen my pencil and get ticking (This sentence sounds dodgy and may well get amended by the moderator!)
But, that wouldn’t really be entering into the spirit of things… Challenge overruled!
Out of the window, I could see Tree Sparrows. Before adding this new species for the year to my list I had a quick check to see if it was actually a window and not a 9000-inch flat screen TV.
It was a window.
The Ospreys were viewable from a hide a twenty or so minute walk away. The hide was busy and full of people eager to catch a glimpse of a scarce summer visitor to the UK. One of the pair was sat in the nest atop what looked like a reused telephone pole; the other was on the perching post up near the camera a few feet away.
All of a sudden, with the instinctive urge to reproduce kicking-in (perhaps, also, with one eye on featuring in this week’s ‘Naughty Corner’), the one near the camera flew to the nest and mounted the other (The kids watching the live footage in the visitor centre were about to get an unexpected sex education lesson). Instantaneously, the hide was filled with the sound of machine gun-like clicking of camera shutters – Everyone seemingly wanted to document this private moment of intimacy for posterity. For the safety of nature, it was fortunate the crowd appeared to be subscribers of Digital Camera World rather than Guns and Ammo.
As seems to be the case with much of the animal world, the love-making only lasted fleetingly. Job done, the duo sat next to each other in the nest and didn’t even cuddle. The volley of camera clicking subsided and the parents in the visitor centre began to remove their hands from their children’s eyes. As I always do after watching Ospreys copulating, I went outside and ate a cheese sandwich.
And in other news…
Thanks for reading. Holiday Report Part II coming soon… Lucky you!