Aren't Birds... great?
They are and I'm on bird high after two marvellous days volunteering at Carsington Water. It's difficult to put a number on how many people we showed the birds to, probably over 200 on both days (we'd have many more with nicer weather), and as ever the Little Owls were a hit.
During the quiet times I was thinking about the word wonder, and settled my mind that one defintion must surely be 'that something which we would never be able to imagine for ourselves'.
If you didn't know about very much of the Little Owl, would you ever imagine that owls could chill out in open all day long, or imagine a wild creature could bear such uncanny resemblance to a fluffy toy, or even imagine you'd see one of these fantastic creatures today?
For me, that's one dimension to wonder, and I think it's why the people go 'wow'.
Back to yesterday, and something special dropped in to the island in front of the Wildlife Centre. After brief rumination with other volunteers I made the call, one Dunlin and as companion, one Little Stint, which jizz-wise is how they struck me first. Very small, black legs, plumage on the back that always gives me the impression of a tortoise shell, otherwise very light, and it's August, all amount for a bird fairly obvious on immediate sight. The partnering Dunlin helped IDing too, indeed I think all passage waders should be required one!
Later in the day I met the recorder for Carsington Bird Club, and he told me this was the first Little Stint found on the reservoir for 3 years. I was surprised, and then he explained they formerly had many more before that, but that with water levels generally higher now the muddy fringes aren't what they used to be.
Other best birds were a juvie Sparrowhawk, looking somewhat bewildered stood on a rocky mound on one of the wader islands - a great bird to show visitors, and in one of the reservoir's several creeks a family of four Spotted Flycatcher. My first for the year (#175), and there I was thinking I might not see any this summer. Apparently they breed up in the hillside woodlands around the water.
Finally, a Yellow-legged Gull, probably a 3rd-year bird judging by some untidiness in the plumage and a slight dullness to those famous legs. Carsington has a small number of the species coming in each evening at present, they follow other gulls into the mainly Lesser Black-backed roost.
And for anybody reading this, if anybody reads this, the Aren't Birds Brilliant(!) event days at Carsington (run by the RSPB and Severn Trent Water) continue throughout the year on Sundays and Tuesday. Come and drop in one day!
One for the Distinctly Dodgy Digiscoping DVD? That's the Yellow-leg late on, and at least gives you something to look.