Some years ago I made a throw away comment to a birdwatcher that the Little Egret (I now think there was a pair) was in Abersoch harbour and they might like to go and have a look at this unusual visitor. The reaction was unexpected, pitying and very annoying – I was clearly wrong. I must have seen a swan or some such creature as the Little Egret is a continental species. It’s a fair point, Little Egrets are not meant to knock around North Wales, or the UK generally, they prefer a warmer climate but with global warming they’re now a regular sight(apparently they’re all over the Menai Strait). At the time however, they were a pretty unusual visitor, hence I had thought it might be an interesting tip off.
The argument here is that I, as a ‘closet’ birder, had to bow to the inferior knowledge of the person in question, essentially because they were a fully paid up binocular owning, RSPB card carrying, out and proud birdwatcher. Simply because society deems it unacceptable for a hip, young dude to be a birder means I must have been wrong.
Fair enough, I don’t own a mac (the bar manager would disagree there), have a beard or walk around in hiking boots and socks with a flask of cold tea, but I do have many books for reference(including a ‘pocket’ guide in the glovebox of the car) and a healthy fascination for our feathered friends. I’ve always displayed the books fairly openly at home. Growing up I even had tapes of birdsong, but found this a bit too weird and couldn’t grasp the complexities in rhythm and style, rather like my issues with most music now (the bar manager would definitely agree there). Unfortunately, it was not an accepted activity with my peer group and so it became my dirty little secret and has remained so, subconsciously, ever since. For years I envied our cats in this sense, it’s more acceptable in their circle and they openly “bird” through the window, excitedly chattering and clicking away about their sightings (admittedly they then ruin it by catching the particularly interesting specimens and promptly disembowelling them on my carpet, presumably for reference).
Anyway, two weeks ago I was in a pub, when (bizarrely to be fair) the conversation turned to the rather twee watercolours of British birds on the walls:
“…that’s the worst magpie I’ve ever seen!”
“It’s a pied wagtail”
“…oh… well that woodpecker’s no better”
“It’s a Jay”
“…riiiiiiight… so that’s a thrush?”
“Oh my god, are you a twitcher?!”
I admitted it, although I’m not really a twitcher, I have no intention of growing a beard for a start(although yesterday, the 13th, having not shaved for two days The Wife did ask me if I was doing ‘Movember’ – insinuating that my two day growth could be two weeks worth, so I may do now just to prove I can)(Apart from on the perfectly circular bit on my chin where I burnt it, obviously), but I do like birds. They’re fascinating little things and I’m no longer going to live a lie, I like birds. And so, as someone who likes birds, on the way to work the following morning I happily stopped to take a quick photo of a rather splendid little chap doing a spot of fishing in the harbour.