Monday 10 November 2014

My big break

I was finally discharged by the NHS last week after making a full recovery from last November's unfortunate collarbone snappage, but unlike this time last year when I was confined to barracks, this one has yet to produce a conveyor belt of accessible, long staying mega-rare birds to torture the immobilised twitcher.

This should mean a bit more time for updating the blog, and a few weeks ago I pledged to make more of an effort, but the pledge has not been entirely fulfilled. Not since the Eastern Crowned Warbler at least. Hang on, let me just say that again: Eastern Crowned Warbler. There, feeling better already. Rather than trot out the usual excuse of busy busy with work, though, I do have a genuine excuse this time in that, in recent weeks, becoming a match correspondent for Wareham Rangers Youth FC Under-12s, for whom son George regularly turns out, has created competing demands on the time I have available for writing stuff.
Firecrest: a highlight  of a recent trip to the patch
You know what folks, I really think this could be my ticket to the big-time: if I catch the Club Secretary's eye, I might get promoted to the Under-14s and then the sky's the limit - well, the under-15s is the limit technically but you catch my drift. And before you know it I'll be guest on the Wareham St Mary Primary School 'Question of Sport' Christmas Special panel and, who knows, maybe even ghost-writing Joe Mitchell's footballing autobiography...
Mistle Thrush at Swineham
In truth, writing the match reports has proven a lot easier than writing bird blog posts, as (i) material isn't in such short supply - even a bad game lasts for 60 minutes, about which it would be difficult to find nothing to say (ii) at this level, goals are usually flying in so there is plenty to write about (iii) Rangers are having a belting season so it's more pleasure than chore (iv) parents of youth footballers are quite easily pleased: as long as a match report strings together a random selection of football clich├ęs in roughly the right order, and mentions their kid at least once, they seem reasonably content. Woe betide you, however, if you credit a goal to the wrong child, as I did at my first attempt. That aside, and parking the frustrations of youth football journalistic etiquette, which prevents obviously dodgy penalties being described as such, and it's quite enojoyable really.
Pied Wagtail at Bestwall
Anyway, this weekend's fixture (a thrilling 3-4 away win at local big boys Poole Town) kicked off earlier than usual so there was just time to have a look around Swineham, my traditional Sunday afternoon stroll around which has long since been a victim of the fixture list. Nothing more noteworthy there than a pair of Black Swans, which, being fully winged and un-ringed, naturally gained instant admission to my patch list. Well I have to keep it ticking over somehow...

As if in heavenly retribution for this diabolical lowering of standards, as I stood on the most open part of Swineham Point, and started to count how many seconds there were between the first flash of lighting of the afternoon and the clap of thunder which followed, I found to my consternation that I didn't quite get to '2'. If I've been closer to the centre of a thunder storm I don't recall it: it really was the most almighty, gut-trembling noise, and I don't mind admitting it left me feeling quite awe-struck, and not a little exposed. All the fowls of the air - Godwits, Little Egrets and Lapwings - must have felt likewise as they flushed from previously unseen roosts, and I scurried back to the shelter of the nearest hedgerow, lest I be smote down for unethical listing. So the Black Swan record is now firmly back in category 'E'.
How low can you go: Black Swans at Bestwall

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