No more mister angry

Grasshopper Warbler

One of the things I have noticed since my rather late arrival to the ranks of bird watching is the attitude of my fellow birders. The pleasant demeanor and helpful attitude on first meeting as we peer through the hide slits is in marked contrast with my experiences while driving or shopping. All the aggresion and conflict that we all meet and I dare say feel ourselves is completely absent, when going into a hide I find people smile; squeeze up to make room and will often point out something interesting but barely visible. Is it something to do with the values of people who relate to wild creatures, my wife and I as dog owners would often say how nice someone we met was and put it down to the fact they were also owners of a dog. In the same way that one of the first signs in anti social and violent people is a tendency to cruelty in animals, perhaps the reverse is true. I had a terrific visit to Blacktoft Sands RSPB on Saturday, the weather was lovely and I saw my first and probably last Grasshopper Warbler. This bird is not what you would call showy, it is understated in everything except it’s call. The name says it all, I was on route to Singleton Hide when I heard what sounded exactly like a very loud grasshopper and only yards away this little bird was chirping away for all he was worth, he continued to do this for at least an hour on and off. Soon an audience gathered and people smiled at one another like we shared a secret that somehow made us friends, as others turned up they would have the object of our attentions pointed out to them and I noticed photographers made room for the recent additions to the ranks. Is this effect the real gift that wild creatures give to man, if so it more than compensates for anything we do for them by way of conservation.

Marsh Harrier

My exhibition at Fountains Abbey is only days away and I feel happy that I have a decent body of work, the last painting to be included is one I have wanted to do since my first sight of the Marsh Harriers at Blacktofts and I hope it captures some of the magic I feel when I see these magnificent birds quartering the reedbeds.