The Water Margin

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.

London_Wetland

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.

The London Wetland Centre Celebrate Their 10th Anniversary

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.

Ray

Ray

A Peregrine Falcon. Not the Peregrine Falcon

A Peregrine Falcon. Not the Peregrine Falcon

Andy Daly

In loving memory of Ray. A true gentleman.

With Gratitude … Farewell

If you are wondering why the world has seemed a lesser place this last couple of weeks, it is because one of my life’s good things is no more. Today, in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, family and friends will say a final farewell to dear Bill Turner.

I seem to have known Bill and his unmistakable voice, rich in tone and timbre, forever. I didn’t realise why he held such a prominent place in my childhood until the words he spoke at my mother’s funeral (for which I was deeply grateful. I treasure the copy I have, though I can’t bear to read it much) He explained that he had been one of my first – and I reckon my best – babysitters. Later on I recall the postcards and letters he took the time to write and send from Zimbabwe or Rhodesia as it was then. I looked forward to these and the tales he used to tell of his adventures in this ‘exotic’place.

Although in recent years, all grown up and with my own family, I did not see much of him, he has always had and will continue to do so,  a special place in my life.

Of course, none of this I bothered to tell him while he was alive, much to my regret and shame. When will I ever learn?