My parents had asked me if I wanted to meet up, as I hadn’t seen them in a while. I think they just like to occasionally check if I’m still alive and, if I am, that I’m washing sufficiently or not just walking around in public with my clothes on inside-out.
I, of course, agreed to the rendezvous – I’m proud that I can wear my clothing the right way round and was keen to garner a free lunch that the get-together would be sure to come with. Oh, and it’s always lovely to see my parents – They’re great!
They had originally suggested that I go and visit them, but I thought I’d get creative and randomly propose a trip to Brighton. I say ‘randomly’, but I had noticed that there had been some Purple Sandpipers roosting at Brighton Marina recently.
My plan was to spend most of the day tolerating wandering around various shops full of the people who had survived the Black Friday ruckus and had decided to go back for more, collect my complimentary food and then suggest a wander to the Marina. I decided not to mention the Sandpipers in case I got the skyward look, shake of the head and the muttered ‘why don’t you get a proper hobby, like boxing or crocheting bobble hats?’ that I imagine greets news of my bird-chasing escapades.
I sound a bit underhand, don’t I?
Anyway… With my secret plans stored secretly in my head, we all did a bit of shoppy stuff, visited the rather eclectic Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and had some lunch. The only possible new bird sighting along the way was a Woodcock in a glass case on a stall at a street market. It didn’t seem to move for the minute or so I stared at it, so I assumed it was stuffed.
It was then I suggested a wander to the east arm of the Marina to coincide with high-tide at 15:55. On reflection, it was a suggestion that appeared quite specific for something I had just randomly come up with. If I’m going to do any more scheming in the future, I should probably work on my subtlety.
It turned out that it was quite a long walk and the sun had started to think about setting when we arrived at the eastern part of the Marina – If I was going to find the Purple Sandpipers, I would have to be quick. The only problem was that there was a lot of harbour wall to check and I wasn’t entirely sure where to look.
There were some rocks right at the start of the wall (where the marina met the beach) and I considered this to perhaps be my best chance of success. I had a quick scan around for my targets, but to no avail. The light was continuing to fade, so I had a decision to make – Do I hang around here and risk missing the Sandpipers a bit further along the wall? Or do I push on and walk along the entire wall, taking the chance that they would turn up somewhere near where I was standing?
I hate decisions.
I opted to press on and got to about halfway along without a sniff of Sandpipers (No, this isn’t a collective noun). A couple of Turnstones perching on the edge of the wall made for a nice sight, but weren’t what I came here for. All the time I was pressing on, I kept ruing my decision to not stay and keep an eye on the rocks on the beach, but a quick binocular scan revealed that my Mum had reached the end of the wall (and probably the end of her tether that I had made her walk for miles!) In spite of wanting to hurry back to the beach end, I scampered to catch up, reached the end and, together, we all turned to make the return journey. It would have been rude to drag everyone to the far reaches of the Marina and then run off and abandon them – I’m not THAT bad!
Still no sign of the Sandpipers… In the distance, I could just about make out a trio of plump grey-coloured birds perched on the outer edge of the wall. My first guess was that they looked like Wood Pigeons as there had been a large number sheltering under the inner part of the Marina.
Rather naughtily, I climbed over the fence to get a slightly better look [Manipulating parents for my own gain AND now climbing over a fence I probably shouldn’t have – This bird-spotting challenge had seemingly turned me into a right little tearaway.
Miraculously, they were the Purple Sandpipers I had come to see. Result!
If my mum hadn’t pressed on in order to get to the end of the wall, I would not have seen them. I owed her a debt of gratitude and maybe now that my scheming is in the public domain, I can try to seek forgiveness for my unscrupulous ways.
The moral of this story is that Mum is always right – Even when being used as an unknowing pawn in a bird-watching mission!
All I can do is sincerely apologise to my family via the medium of this internet blog and celebrate seeing my one-hundred and ninetieth bird species of the year.