Read­ers make im­pres­sion in cor­re­spon­dence

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

THERE is noth­ing surer than the need to be care­ful what you say in the pa­pers, and I should know; last week I wrongly iden­ti­fied a drag­on­fly.

It was a ‘hawker’ okay, but not a ‘mi­granthawker’ as I called it.

Am I em­bar­rassed? No. Am I shown up? No. Should I have said noth­ing? No.

I am in fact, de­lighted, not that I was mis­taken, but rather be­cause of the vol­ume of com­mu­ni­ca­tion I re­ceived and the healthy de­bate be­tween novice and ex­pert alike.

It was re­ju­ve­nat­ing to hear from ex­perts, who po­litely gave amaz­ingly de­tailed di­ag­nos­tic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ref­er­ences, right down to in­di­vid­ual colour char­ac­ter­is­tics. Not one ex­pert scoffed, they all were help­ful and mea­sured in their com­ments.

Not only that, they were pleased to record the sight­ing for fu­ture ref­er­ence.

The flurry of com­ments, also means that peo­ple read this col­umn, so what more could any writer want?

Hav­ing said that, my labour of love is some­times fraught with dan­ger, and as I said ear­lier, one needs be so sure of what you say. To­day’s sto­ries might be next week’s chip pa­per, but ev­ery now and then, my best ef­forts miss some­thing which is pounced on ter­rier-like by a reader.

A clas­sic ex­am­ple once oc­curred in The Sun­day Times, af­ter I fool­ishly used an ar­ti­cle which I had writ­ten sev­eral months ear­lier, but not pub­lished. It con­cerned the sight­ing of an osprey above Loch Ness in June, how­ever the story ap­peared in De­cem­ber and I used the line, ‘Spot­ted last week’.

Of course any osprey worth its salt is sun­ning it­self in Africa at this time. A fe­male reader com­plained in the strong­est terms to the news­pa­per, and be­fore I even knew about her let­ter, or in­deed had any chance to fight my cor­ner, the let­ter ap­peared on one of the most pres­ti­gious letters page in the land.

Only then, af­ter pub­li­ca­tion, was I pre­sented with the op­por­tu­nity to ar­gue the case, it was a clas­sic fait ac­com­pli.

For­tu­nately, the ST kept me on, and my ba­con was saved by the fact that, oc­ca­sion­ally Scan­di­na­vian ospreys are seen dur­ing the win­ter af­ter get­ting blown off course. It was a fair cop as they say and some­thing I’ve never done since.

As the sum­mer wanes, my favourite bit of news to brighten up any win­ter days ahead, were the bee-eaters breed­ing in Cum­bria, a rain­bow bird to save the day; and then there are the barn owls and at least ten pairs of mer­lin, within a few miles of my gallery, and that is magic.

Reader com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­tinue to be the life-blood of this col­umn, in­clud­ing the old teach­ing col­league of mine – Des Brown from Glos­sop, con­cern­ing the tawny owl which had crashed into his pa­tio win­dow. The owl was fine and left a Turin Shroud­like im­pres­sion on the glass, seen here, and one more as I write: “Sean, I vis­ited Kin­vara, the vil­lage in Galway you of­ten write about, thank you, thank you, thank you, I am in love.” Well, you can’t say fairer than that. And talk­ing of Ire­land, I’ve just had sight of some amaz­ing pho­to­graphs from off the coast of County Cork near the vil­lage of Bal­ti­more, hump­back whales and blue fin tuna. More of this next week, and in the mean­time, I’m head­ing across the Ir­ish Sea.

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

●● The Turin Shroud-like im­pres­sion of a tawny owl which had crashed into Sean Wood’s old teach­ing col­league Des Brown’s win­dow

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