Sunday, 1 June 2014

Hiding from Birds

The whole world of bird watching is foreign to me. Like many hobbies, birders have their own language. For example, Vivien and I went into the 'bird hide': a little wooden hut with a large window overlooking a collection of bird feeders. This particular one also had benches, shelves, a white board for children to indicate what they'd seen, some reference books and even a pair of binoculars.  The only other hide I've been to was a concrete structure with a long window-shaped hole overlooking a nature reserve. Wallington Hall obviously does it in style.

Gold Finch

To be honest, I've always thought British birds a bit boring. I grew up with bright red cardinals flashing through the back garden and being dive bombed by enormous blue jays protecting their nests.  Most birds I see on a daily basis are seagulls and pigeons.  Wallington estate, however, is noisy with bird call - actual birds not flying rats or sea and landfill scavengers. I must admit it is a lovely sound.

Green Finch

So, what did we see? Danged if I know. I edited my photos to make the birds more visible and then asked Bill to give me some names. He initially said one was a 'blue tit'; this is a name I've heard many times and it always makes me shake my head. The things Brits say with a straight face, it sometimes amazes me. Then he said maybe it was a 'cold tit'; I said 'excuse me'? He said c-o-a-l tit; OK.  Then he decided it was a Great Tit.  Never in my life did I ever think I would Google British Tit Birds.  I'm not much the wiser but I'll go along with Great Tit.  (Do you think this is why there are so many bird fanciers here in Britain, so they can talk about all the lovely tits they've seen?) Bill says that Tit is based on a Scandinavian word meaning 'small'. 

Great Tit!

These two lovelies had Vivien enthralled. I think she said they were chaffinches gold finches. They certainly had more variety of colour than any birds I've seen outside of Australia.

And Bill said one of these was a goldfinch. I'll take his word for it. I can sort of see what appeals to bird watchers, though I doubt I'll be indulging in this hobby on a serious level anytime soon. (Thanks to Vivien for correcting my labels!)

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