Local sub-rarities are so much easier to see when somebody else phones up and warns of their imminent appearance. And so it was today, I'm counting Wigeon, the phone goes, [crackly voice of erstwhile colleague working through the pain of a shattered rib-cage] "Bonxie coming your way, about mid-channel...", I look up and the bird, now decidedly not mid-channel, flies straight past my nose and, looking a little non-plussed at the rapidly narrowing 'sea' below him, meanders off towards Sharpness. Excellent.
I think I might start taking 'help' everywhere I go, a sort of ornithological gentleman's gentleman, I guess he'd be called Alfred, Parker, Merriman, Hobson, Passepartout or the like. Basically, I imagine it would work like this:
[a late autumn morning at the confluence of Farmfield and Saltmarsh lanes]
Me: Yes, Standish?
Standish: It may prove profitable were sir to raise his binoculars and look in an approximately westerly direction, sir.
Me: [looking in said direction] Hmmm, I don't mean to be overly critical Standish, but I'm not paying you to point out distant fillies on bicycles,... however pretty.
Standish: Er, no sir. I fear you have somewhat overlooked the subject in question, if I may refocus your binoculars?
Me: Aah [hands binoculars to Standish].
Standish: Sir [handing back binoculars].
Me: OK, what do we have here?
Standish: In the hedgerow sir.
Me: A hawthorn Standish?
Standish: Immediately to the right of the prominent hawthorn sir.
Me: A willow? Look here Standish, once again I fear I shall have to express a critical viewpoint. Now I'm as interested as the next man in all things arboricultural but,... well dammit Standish, we are supposed to be spotting birds.
Standish: In the willow sir, the bird is foraging within the boughs of the willow.
Me: Aah,... [long pause],... big or small Standish?
Standish: Small sir.
Me: [another long pause] Oh, I see him, tiny little fellow, hopping about like a dervish that has ceased to whirl and taken up hopping.
Standish: That is the one sir.
Me: And what might he be?
Standish: That sir, is Phylloscopus proregulus or, were we to find ourselves in a position where the vernacular was appropriate, Pallas' Warbler, sir.
Me: Oh,... hyperactive little chap isn't he? Pretty too, what with all those stripey bits. Oh well Standish, jot it down in the notebook.
Standish: And forward the record to the county recorder sir?
Me: If you think it necessary Standish, if you think it necessary.
Standish: Yes sir.
Me: Oh well Standish, onward, ever onward,... I assume we brought a flask of tea Standish?
Standish: Naturally sir.
[party moves off, minutes later stumbling onto Gwent's first Siberian Blue Robin]
And that is exactly how it's gonna be.