12 November 2010

The future of birding

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]
Standish: Sir.
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.


Peter Alfrey said...

you have clearly never been on a paid guided bird tour- the future is here already :-)

Darryl said...

If it's just like this, I'm signing up. Do any of the tour companies provide sedan chairs for those long days in the field?

If Naturetrek or Sunbird provide this sort of service,... http://bit.ly/cPUNcf I'm in.

Peter Alfrey said...

Jaffa does private tours- sedan chairs the works with a free bum polish- a grand a day.

Anonymous said...

I read your story me and standish.
I thought I was reading a script.
Interesting stuff.