Twitcher

The developers of Bath Riverside, the vast new complex emerging from the ruins of the former Stothert works, have thoughtfully included nooks, crannies and nesting places in the rather splendid new retaining walls alongside the river walkway.  My balcony overlooks the site and a surprising amount of wildlife is beginning to take up residence, despite the hammering, drilling and concrete mixing that keeps me from having a lie-in in my nest.

A moorhen (or is it a coot?) is obviously viewing desirable vacant properties behind the shrubs and a couple of ducks have started to defend their reach of the river against all comers. They have a really annoying habit of constantly quacking all night.

Someone bought me a sack of swan food. I’m not sure how it differs from duck food. Ducks can take it or leave it. But the local swan is obsessed and will wait a full hour under the balcony for a second handful. I’ll have to be careful as the small print in my lease bans pets. Even budgies and snakes. Doesn’t mention swans though.

There’s a weird cormorant too, that bane of fishermen. It swims so low in the water it looks wrong! It dives into the murky torrent and travels so far under the surface that sometimes, search as you might, you never see it come up again.

Not that I’m a twitcher. I just have a mild interest in birdlife. Years ago, in the Seychelles, our guide described the pied robin as one of the rarest birds in the world. She reckoned the chances of seeing one in a lifetime were minuscule. There’s one, I joked, pointing to a rather dull birdie on a twig behind her head. I was right. She nearly fell through the floor!

I once went to Costa Rica and the itinerary included an outing into the rain forest to spot the unfeasibly exotic Resplendent Quetzal.  Every bird spotter’s dream is to cop the Resplendent Quetzal. We saw but one tired toucan. But on the way back home, when having that jet-lagged pasty moment on a freezing cold Reading station (the nadir of any holiday trip), I saw a billboard advertising  a Central American restaurant called, yes, The Resplendent Quetzal, complete with a large colour picture of said bird. That was the nearest I ever got to one.

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