Diary 8

Thursday 13th August

Found this great bird quote: “There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.” (Robert Lynd – Irish essayist and nationalist)

Friday 14th August

Yesterday I went to Osterley Park for a wander. Jeff had told me that he and the Caught by the River crew were going to be there fishing and would be doing an interview with The Financial Times. So I thought it would be a good excuse to not do any work and go looking for birds! I have to practise birding so much if I am to survive in the bird world. I feel as though I have to earn my birding colours, which can only happen by becoming more knowledgeable. I have to be able to discern a bird by its jizz for one thing. Every world has its jargon and the bird world is no different. Over the coming months I will share some of these words with you as I discover them and fully understand their meaning. Jizz is all about recognition by the look and feel of a bird. It just looks like a such and such… It flys like a so and so… It perches like a… You get the picture. You know the voice of your partner or your child in a crowd as that is the jizz of them. A recognition, a feeling, a knowledge of them, without having to double-check the facts.

Anyway, back to Osterley. After a couple of hours walking, recognising and learning birds, I found our intrepid anglers on the banks of the big lake. Jeff in his waders having his photo taken, Andrew checking the lines and Robin ending up chatting to me about birds, fishing and nature.

I went off as they were doing their interview and had a surprising and very wonderful experience. I had only got about fifteen yards when I stopped and looked at the tree in front of me. There sitting watching me from a few feet away was a juvenile male kestrel on a low branch. We watched each other for a while and then he dropped down onto the ground just in front of me. Then he flew up to a tree ten yards away and I followed him. This strange behaviour continued for the next fifteen minutes or so as the kestrel flew between ground and trees in a circuit and allowed me to follow closely and it really felt like he was taking me for a walk! It was a superbly odd and lovely occurrence. Ok, birders will say I am humanising the moment but for a short period of time I felt that the bird and I had a connection and I loved it. It’s not every day you go for a stroll with a kestrel!

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