Well, the other day I get a knock on the door from Gill, Roger and Ray; buddies from my days in the old chalk and talk dodge.
It turns out that they are up for a day’s ‘twitching’ down at the Barnes Wetlands Centre. Now I am quite the Ornithologist when I am in short trousers and I pride myself with knowing my Widgeon from my Wagtails. So without further ado I join the intrepid threesome as we make our way over to Barnes.
Now it’s the first time I come to here and I’m no expert but it seems to me they make a pretty decent job of the Wetlands Centre. Especially when you consider that Hammersmith is about a mile away as the crow flies (so to speak) For all you know you could be in the middle of the countryside; at least I imagine that is what it is like – having a serious allergy to the countryside, I tend to avoid all things pastoral and green.
So here we are with lots of water and plants called reeds, and away in the distance some white specks; which could be ducks, geese or shoppers on Hammersmith Broadway, it is difficult to say as although I have my camera, like a clot I forget my binoculars.
However, help is at hand in the form of one of the Wetland Centtre volunteers. These guys tend to hide out in the hides (as it were) and pounce on unsuspecting ‘Twitchers’ to point out some noteworthy species with the aid of a powerful telescope.
Like today. ‘See the Peregrine Falcon?’ ‘Oh yes’ we lie. We can see nothing but some lousy rooftops and satellite dishes. I begin to take a photo but can’t get anything in focus. ‘It might be better without the lens cap Mr Daly’. says Ray all laconical. You see? Ever the practical one? Well pretty soon we give up on the damned falcon. Gill, Rog, Ray and I compare notes about the roof tops and satellite dishes as we retire to the relative safety of the café where we sit and over tea and sandwiches discuss the migratory patterns of small children in ‘high-vis’ vests and the distinctive calls and cries of their teachers. Perhaps we even get a bit nostalgic, between us taking school trips a’plenty back in the day. All in all a grand day out, Peregrine Falcon notwithstanding, and one I will treasure for many a year.
In loving memory of Ray. A true gentleman.