BIRDERS OF THE FUTURE
Ditching computer games and hours of TV for fresh air and nature can only benefit our youngsters
I’VE BEEN DOING it for years now; cajoling him, encouraging him, leaving bird books open at the pages of resplendent-looking Sparrowhawks, hopelessly trying to get my 13-year-old son Lucas interested in birds. I say years, but all this didn’t start with me and him. It started two generations before, with my grandad and my dad, then my dad with me. A love of birds has been passed down our male line like jowls and prematurely grey hair.
My grandad had a scar on his right hand, from the base of his thumb across to his third finger. “You know how I got that?” he used to tell me. A Little Owl at Bradgate Park. He’d put his hand in a hole in an old oak tree in Leicestershire’s 340-hectare country park, as a 14-year-old birds’ egg collector, and the feisty female Little Owl let him know precisely what she thought of that. It scarred him, physically, for life. But not emotionally. It didn’t deter him. He passed that love of birds on to my dad. And then my dad, to me. My dad used to walk to work along an old railway line, big Hawthorn trees on one side, an overgrown bank on the other. You should go and have a look down there, he told me one day. “I saw a Robin nipping in and out of that bank, and then, a few yards down, a couple of Yellowhammers building a nest.” So I went, that night, after school. And there they were, similar nests in similar locations; tucked in behind tufts of overgrown grass, a Robin’s nest – a perfect cup of moss and horse hair – with five yellow feathered chicks, and then, a few yards further down, a Yellowhammer’s nest, with eggs which looked like they’d been painted by a mad drunk. Birdwatching with your children is a great way of spending quality time together, no matter what you see Lee’s grandad had a scar on his hand from Little Owl!
QUALITY TIME LITTLE OWL