GOLDFINCH

Bird Watching (UK) - - Beginners -

I used to see Yel­lowham­mers all the time back then. I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I saw one. YOUNG BIRD­ERS I watched them hatch and fledge. But not the Robins, even though they should have gone first. The Robin’s nest was ran­sacked, the chicks – almost ready to fly – taken. I can still re­mem­ber how that felt. My dad reck­oned it was a Stoat or a Weasel. They prob­a­bly had young to feed, too, he rea­soned. It didn’t make it any bet­ter. It left me for a while, this hered­i­tary love of birds, as mu­sic and girls and go­ing out came in and took their place, but it re­turned when I had my own chil­dren. Birds, like Christ­mas, hol­i­days and big foot­ball

We stum­bled upon a Jay rip­ping open a Wren’s nest. He’d seen a Jay be­fore - but not this close, and not this fe­ro­cious. It was a sight to be­hold

tour­na­ments, are al­ways more fun when you have chil­dren of your own to share them with. We’re sur­rounded by old woods and hilly fields where we live. It’s not great when it snows – this part of ru­ral north-west Le­ices­ter­shire seems to ex­ist in its own mi­cro­cli­mate – but when the clocks go for­ward and ev­ery­thing wakes up for spring, it’s glo­ri­ous. Come on, I’m al­ways say­ing to him. Let’s go for a walk. Not just be­cause it gets him off his Plays­ta­tion or that he opens up and tells me about school, the cricket team, his friends, etc, when we go for a walk. But it’s a chance to be out with him, to pass it on, that love of birds which my dad gave to me and his dad gave to him. That’s the idea. The re­al­ity is dif­fer­ent, be­cause he doesn’t re­ally want to know. We had a pair of Goldfinches nest­ing in an old fir tree in our back gar­den two years ago. They were the finest thing in our gar­den, flit­ting around, feed­ing on the seeds of my wife’s lov­ingly-tended plants, a flash of gold and red and honeycomb brown. You can start bird­watch­ing at any age. You just need to be in­spired and in­ter­ested Even with­out ‘gore’ it is an ex­cit­ing bird Even a gar­den nest­ing pair couldn’t cap­ture Lee’s son’s imag­i­na­tion

Nest­ing Robins were one of Lee’s early bird­watch­ing in­spi­ra­tions SPAR­ROWHAWK

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