Note: This entry was written last year, but for some reason I misplaced it / my dog ate it / I left it in my other trousers / I lent it to a friend and they’ve only just returned it.
I do hope you are excited and grateful that I have found it / that my dog regurgitated it… in one piece… after all this time / that I am currently wearing my other trousers / obviously the last one was a lie because, sadly, I don’t have any friends.
Will you be my friend?
Admittedly, this is quite a vague start to a blog entry, but, for one reason or another, I found myself in Wales for a few days in mid-February.
Even though my bird-stalking days of old (when I was trying to see as many different bird species as I could in a calendar year) are behind me (Honest!), I still keep an occasional eye on my Birdguides phone app to keep tabs on what’s going on in the titillating world of ornithological sightings.
The previous day, a Lesser Scaup – which I had never seen before – had been reported at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, which was just up the road from where I was staying, so I thought I’d pop along to see if I could find it…
The Lesser Scaup is a North American diving duck that has appeared in the UK, on average, twice a year since it was first recorded in the late 1980s. The one I was looking for has seemingly been an annual winter visitor to the Cardiff area since 2008, so must be a big fan of rugby, Charlotte Church and/or lovespoons. Well, who isn’t?
The Country Park is a former quarry and landfill site that has, over the years, been carefully returned to nature in the form of two lakes, extensive reed beds, broad-leaved woodland and open grassland. It is testament to how the invasive meddling of humankind can be reversed for the benefit of wildlife. It just takes a while!
I scoured the lake with my binoculars and couldn’t find the Lesser Scaup anywhere.
Maybe scouring a waterbody was never going to work… So I looked instead.
It wasn’t anywhere to be seen amongst an assortment of Tufted Ducks, a glut of unidentifiable gulls and a gaggle of geese and swans. Although I’d had a great morning wandering around the Country Park in the glorious spring-like sunshine, I was disappointed that I had failed to find the one bird I had come to see.
In spite of the tea shop calling me in for a big slice of cake or a portion of chips and a hot beverage, I didn’t want to leave until I had found the Scaup. The sense of disappointment I was feeling had reminded me just how much of a rollercoaster ride it was to go chasing around after a specific bird target. My previous experiences had taught me that it usually ends in failure. When would I learn?
What further compounded my semi-misery was the fact that I had started to prioritise a duck over chips. What had I become? When had my priorities become so muddled?
Pulling myself together, I decided to stop asking myself rhetorical questions and make one final binocular sweep of the water before heading café-wards for some fried potato products.
There was still no sign, but my attention was drawn towards a close-by photogenic Tufted Duck.
Whilst I was in the process of positioning myself on my knees trying to get on the same level as the Tufted Duck, it was pointed out to me that the Lesser Scaup was floating around about ten-feet away from me.
I really was pretty crap at this bird-hunting thing, wasn’t I? (I had lied about not asking any more rhetorical questions, hadn’t I?)
As I marvelled at my ineptitude, I wondered just how long the Scaup had been sat there in full view whilst I desperately scanned the horizon and the middle distance.
I stared at it for a bit, added it to my imaginary lifetime bird list and then went and ordered some chips.
I might not know where to look for birds, but I ALWAYS know where chips are.
Maybe my next annual quest should be to find as many different species of potato products as I could in a year.
I bet you’d all read that.