You'll never guess what I saw!

It’s amazing how many times you hear this when you are a bird watcher.

jpg imageYou’ll never guess what I saw……


It’s amazing how many times you hear this when you are a bird watcher. Someone has seen something when they least expect it. Either from a train, from a car, while out shopping, walking the dog or, for me, cycling between home and work.

Over the past three years of cycling to work and paying attention to what’s around me I’ve clocked up fifty one species.It’s probably not very safe to be cycling and bird watching at the same time and there have been a few near misses while scanning the skies and not watching where I was going, but it’s worth it for some of the sights I’ve seen over the years.


I cycle between Sherwood and the QMC, a distance of about five miles. Most of this is in housing estates, the ring road and a tiny spell on the Jubilee Campus which has a couple of large lakes and some fields and trees. Despite there not being much bird watching country some of the birds have been incredible.


I have seen Red-crested Pochard, Grey Wagtails, Grey Herons and many duck species on the lakes and down by the canal. The herons can be only two or three feet away and practically look me in the eye as I cycle past them. On the fields of the Jubilee Campus I have seen a Sparrowhawk devouring a Great Tit. There are large numbers of Pied Wagtails and up to sixty Redwing and twenty Fieldfares there in winter.


Flocks of over two hundred House Martins are a common sight before they head off south for the winter. There are nesting Swallows and the Swifts swing low over the lakes catching insects. On one memorable day a Kingfisher graced me with its presence on the lake when I was the only one around to see it. Quite an experience.


Some of my best moments have been this year. For example, seeing a Hobby trying in vain to catch House Martins right over my head, or a Green Woodpecker skim over my head as I made my way to work. I have often seen the local Peregrines flying around whilst last winter I saw a small flock of Waxwings only five feet away as they ate berries from shrubs. I sneaked ever closed on my bike and they were so unconcerned it was incredible.


My best moment came earlier this year when I saw a small, brown, bird shaped lump on the tennis courts at work. It was a Woodcock which had smashed through a small hole in the fence and was lying there stunned. I was able to bend right down, touch its feathers and see its wonderful plumage at close range. After a few minutes it wobbled back to its feet and staggered off to safety. What a privilege to see such a shy bird up close and personal!


So, keep your eyes open and one day you’ll be saying “You’ll never guess what I saw when……”


Will Tindale