Thursday, 14 March 2013
Bumbarrels – My Favourite
Yes, you read correctly.
‘Bumbarrel’ is an old name for my favourite bird. The reason they’re called bumbarrel, is for the shape of their nest. It’s almost spherical, with a little hole at the front, and made from a special weave of moss, lichen, spiders’ webs and feathers.
It was so peaceful, I could hear a distant fox bark, a chaffinch was calling ‘pink pink’ close-by. Then even closer I heard the distinctive, quiet buzzing call of a long-tailed tit. Being early March, most of the trees and shrubs were in bud and I had wonderfully clear views as it flitted about the bushes beside the path. The views were so good, that I soon realised it wasn’t seeking food, but gathering nesting material, and there were two of them, a pair!
One, not sure if it was the male or female as both sexes look alike, was carrying a small white feather. I stood and watched them for about 10 minutes, as they continually disappeared away from view, although not too far away as I could still hear them, before returning with more nesting material. Each time they returned to the same spot, I moved my viewing position slightly, I did this slowly and quietly as they were just feet away from me, and then I saw it, a half-completed nest. It blended in beautifully, and although it was right beside the path in clear view, you could easily have walked past without seeing it. Another couple of weeks time it would disappear from view completely as the gorse bush greened and blossomed.
Now this next bit, may sound terrible, but anyone that knows me, will know I enthusiastically enjoy sharing wildlife with other people, infact it was part of my job to do that. So there I was ready and waiting for them to return, camera in hand, when I saw in the distance, someone walking the path towards me. I moved away, extricated my flask from my bag and poured a coffee. As they approached I smiled and said ‘hello’, their response was standard ‘morning, much about?’ I answered ‘there was a firecrest earlier, in bushes behind the main hide’. I wasn’t lying, as I had met two birders earlier who were looking for it, I spent 10 minutes with them looking, but it was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, so I wished them well and moved on. He said ‘ thanks very much’ and shot off. I finished my coffee and moved slowly back in to position.