My name's Graeme, I'm 12 and I'm a twitcher

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 6 February 2017 09:34

Waxwing photos are all over the Internet at the moment. I've not had chance to go see any this winter and haven't stumbled across any either. However, nearly 26 years ago, I went to twitch some with my old YOC group. Being in somewhat of a pensive and retrospective mood at present, here is a glimpse into my 12 year old world.

Firstly, I almost certainly copied the illustration from the Reader's Digest "Field Guide to the Birds of Britain" so I don't want Reader's Digest on my case for copyright issues some 26 years later. Secondly, the following is my 'notes' section that I used to write after the list of birds. So this is taken word for word, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and all. Anything in brackets is an explanation I have added in now...

We was (two words in and you've let me down already Little Graeme) going to Martin mere but because of bad weather it was cancelled for a local trip. By the time came the bad weather had gone and it was a very nice day. Good enough to have gone to Martin mere. Mr Gardner said "I blame Mr Berry".
               We descused going to a place in Nottingham where there were four Waxwings (good to see I had the correct use of capitals for species names nailed at age 12 even though I hadn't figured it out for place names yet). And after that we where going to Kingsbury Water park. We thought we would have a good day because only six of the 'plonks' came with us (now this is a little embarrassing. 'Plonk' was the derogatory term I coined for the other YOC kids that didn't quite take their birdwatching as seriously as I did at age 12 - what a barrel of laughs I must have been). On the way we asked an old couple the way to Hinkley road. The women pointed one way and the man pointed the other and said "come on duck will miss the blumin thing! Later we found he was talking about the bus, eventually we found it, 111 Hinkley road.
               We walked up and down the street for ages but didn't see a thing, when we saw Mr Berry and the 'plonks' by the mini-bus giving us one of those pitiful looks, and you can imagine them thinking in there heads "please let us in the car" (maybe try reining in that contempt Little Graeme and der, it's a mini-bus not a car, you just told us that). Luckily we decided not to cross over and go home because just then aman ran across the road to join two more men with raised binoculars. We turned to see three Waxwings, 'scoffing' berrys down like there was no tomorrow. two flew from the bush and sat in a tree one stood there showing of, but letting us get very close it had an enormous appetite eating berrys down hole and, because of this a large, plump belly. Its head was very thin from the back but I think this was because the rest of the body was very big. The black eyestripes gave it an evil look. You could also see the red tips to the (can't read this word) secondary feathers. I said that it was the only bird I had ever seen that I could have looked at for a long time (ha ha, this cracks me up. Obviously I was VERY busy then and didn't have time to stare at birds for more than a couple of seconds). We took the 'plonks' back and Mr Gardner took me to my house I grabbed some lunch, went to the loo (too much information) and wet out to Blithfield to look for the Green-winged Teal.............(thirteen points of suspension?!)

And that I'm afraid, is another story...

UPDATE: An email from Mr (Ewart) Gardner today. So cool that he didn't know I kept a diary until now and I get to share it with him all these years later.

Hi Graeme, Good to read your diary ?I didn't know you kept one.
I do remember that day. Your geography was not as good as your birdwatching as we saw the waxwings  at Nuneaton not Nottingham! I went and dug out my records for 1991 and see that 4 days after the waxwings we went to Norfolk for the day and got 3 life ticks snowy owl, the only one I've ever seen,shore lark at titchwell and black- bellied dipper
 Will look forward to reading further extracts

2 Response to "My name's Graeme, I'm 12 and I'm a twitcher"

C Says:

This is so lovely, a great, candid glimpse at life through a 12-year old's eyes (love your reference to 'plonks'!) Plus a great illustration, never mind if you copied it or not, I think it's beautifully and sensitively drawn (I draw for a living - I still struggle with birds!)
Look forward to reading more.

Graeme Lyons Says:

Thanks for the comments!

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