A Big Surprise
Armchair bird watching must surely be one of the easiest ways to enjoy our feathered friends. Although this can be taken too far. I once had an elderly friend who let me use his favourite perch high in an oak tree overlooking a buzzard nest. When I finally reached the top of the ladders lashed to the branches, I was amazed to discover inside a camouflage canvas cover was an armchair. His reasoning was sensible. Birds of prey sometimes visit their nest to feed their young only a few times a day. The downside he admitted rather sheepishly, that it was so comfortable he often fell asleep!
Viewing your own bird table or enjoying the wonderful world of nature on television is by far the simplest way. Especially when the weather outside is cold and wet or blowing a gale. Having spent the best part of my life making BBC wildlife documentaries, I know only too well that capturing creatures on camera can be a crazy mix of joy and frustration. Often spending days to get to a far flung location before wallowing in mud or perched precariously on a cliff or even a volcano. But enduring mosquitoes and biting midges while avoiding predators to get the highlight of a sequence, beats a roller coaster any day.
So when you have seen the films and read the books why not meet some of the cast. And I am not talking about the presenters. The natural world is driven by the availability of food. To increase the variety of creatures visiting your garden why not put out a different menu of nuts and seeds, or dried meal worms in different containers. For me the excitement of learning something new about wildlife is an added attraction. The recent discovery of yet more fossils in China has astonished experts. Some exceptionally well preserved revealing feathers from early dinosaurs. Not just their structure but colour too. Ginger was common, but so too black and white. So next time you feed the birds in your garden, bear in mind their true ancestry. Apparently not all dinosaurs became extinct. Many are still with us, squabbling around the garden feeder or singing their little hearts out.