When your kids leave home it’s a big relief – although I find that leaving home, that was an ‘event’ for me when I went to university, is just a gradual change of emphasis for my daughter and son. But it still opens up the opportunity to re-live the joys of spending money on your children in new parts of the country as one goes visiting. So far, my daughter has given me many more chances to investigate unfamiliar birding sites than has my son.
My favourite daughter tends to live about four hours travel away from home: first in the north east (see here, here) then in the northwest (see here) and now in the southwest. She is bound to end up in eastern Kent or the Pas de Calais eventually.
Recently though I had the chance to reacquaint myself with the Exe Estuary. It still has brent geese, as it did when I used to visit as a schoolboy, and there are still avocets around Topsham, and you can still see Slavonian grebes from Dawlish Warren.
We visited the RSPB reserve at Bowling Green Marsh and saw a good variety of waders and waterfowl. A birdwatcher asked me whether I was Mark Avery, so I checked and then replied in the affirmative, and he said he recognised me from my voice from listening to the interviews that Charlie Moores recorded and the BBC Wildlife podcast I made. I slightly regretted that he didn’t say that he recognised me from the cover of Fighting for Birds but you can’t have everything!
I had been listening too. The West Country accents in the hide made me feel at home but I also noticed that there seemed to be song thrushes singing everywhere compared with the numbers in the east of the country, or at least in Northants.
But there were things to look at too. A curlew sandpiper paraded in front of the hide -showing off its longer bill (always a matter of judgement), cleaner undersides (always a matter of judgement), larger size (always difficult to judge in the field) and its white rump (the clincher). This bird seemed to hold its wings in a way that displayed its white rump more prominently than the usual – which was very nice of it. It was as though it were wearing a jacket which didn’t quite fit as well as it should, and now gaped to show its stomach (or in this case rump). I wonder what made me think of that analogy?
I’ll look forward to future visits which might produce cirl buntings, goshawks or honey buzzards. Or maybe the southern damselfly?