Sunday, 6 May 2012

Anything About?

The title of this blog is an often heard phrase from bird watchers on encountering one another. The "anything" that they're seeking depends on whose asking though. When a visitor walks in and asks "anything about?" you need to decide what they're interested in, and do it fast! Are they hardened birders looking for rarities, or are they visiting the area and want to see the local speciality, maybe they're just discovering the wonders of nature and will love to be shown the coot's nest a few meters away. Whichever it is you can easily put people off by getting the wrong one. Telling one person that there was a great grey shrike earlier could be as off putting and confusing for a new birder as telling a veteran that there are some lovely ducklings would be insulting. It all depends on what you're looking for, but at least if you're asking what's about then you are looking.

I spent yesterday at Witton Country Park and over 6 hours standing in one spot under the (mostly) blue skies I managed to find 12 species of bird, 4 insects and 1 mammal without trying very hard and without binoculars or a telescope. I wonder how many people who walked past me noticed them too. Many families were passing on the way to the animal cages at the visitor centre, where you can see chipmunks and parakeets. I heard one little girl pass by saying "lets go look at the birds!" as she rushed past a chaffinch meters from her feeding on a wall at eye level.

On World Dawn Chorus Day the air was suitably full of birdsong, although I was there much later than dawn. I can't pick out many bird calls but it was great to hear the sounds of so much wildlife in the nearby trees. When I spoke to families they seemed surprised at how much wildlife was around them, and I hope they looked and listened a littler harder once they moved on. If we don't notice the wildlife around us that we all take for granted, who knows if we'll notice when it starts to disappear and if we'll be able to act in time to save it. Birds like the sky lark, house sparrow and cuckoo are all species which were common in the past but now need our help to come back from a steep decline.

I guess the point is that we should always be asking if there's "anything about" and the answer will almost always be yes. It might not be colourful or rare, but we should enjoy it and value it now. Because if we don't the answer in the future might be no.

1 comment:

  1. I so agree that there is always something about. Yesterday on the Cuerden Dawn Chorus, we saw a female orange tip butterfly laying an egg on a cuckoo flower and a pair of Dock Leaf beetles mating.Fantastic