Bird Watching and Shooting

6 years ago
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So as you already know, last weekend I went to Somerset to visit Andy 'Poops' Cooper, his wifey type person, Chris, and their three kids (twins, and a toddler).

After witnessing at close quarters the mayhem that three young children can create (four if you include Izzy), I was in awe of Poops when on Saturday he suggested that we all go out for a trip.

"Blimey, you're brave - like the last of the Mohicans except you are battling babies - are you sure you want to take then out?" I asked, "what did you fancy doing?"

"I thought we could go bird watching," he replied.

"Bird watching?" I asked incredulously, "I didn't know you were into that milarky. Don't all bird watchers have facial tics and greasy hair?"

"Dunno," Andy replied, "But I have never done it before, so I thought we could give it a go."

Given that I am willing to try pretty much anything (even though I generally prefer things which are a bit less sedentary), I jumped into my car and followed Andy and Chris's car (which contained all their babies and associated paraphernalia), to a nature reserve called Shapwick Heath.

It was no mean feat unloading the cars - in fact it took twenty minutes before the prams were up, the babies were in, and we were ready to go.

It didn't take long for Andy to spot a bird, in fact he proved to be quite adept at it during the day.

"Over there!" he shouted, "it's moving around in the ivy on that tree."

"Oh yeh," I exclaimed, peering closley "I think it's sparrowy-type thing."

Unbeknownst to us, some proper bona fide Twitchers (UK term for bird watchers), had come up behind us, having seen us pointing at the tree. They had binoculars round their necks, huge camera lenses in bags slung over their shoulders, and they were dressed from head to toe in green and were talking in hushed tones.

"Oh my gosh, it's a Goldcrest," the woman whispered, ignoring my conclusion as to the genealogy of the bird. "Smallest bird in the UK," she added.

Pic.No.1 A Goldcrest Bird. I had to nick this picture of the internet because we were too noisy and slow to get a picture of the real thing

She even let me have a look through her binoculars so I could see it close up, which was pretty cool, in a non-adrenalin kind of a way. And then she was off on her way, leaving us to our own devices again.

Pic.No.2 We headed through the nature reserve, blending into the background, at one with nature. Except for the fact that the twins were crying, toddler was shouting and Izzy was laughing. And Andy was trying to silence them all
Pic.No.3 This is what it looks like if you want to get mobile with three kids. There is enough hardware there to mobilise a platoon. By the way, Andy does have a face in real life, it's just that he likes to remain anonymous because he makes him seem all myserious and interesting

Pic.No.4 As I discovered, people took their bird watching very seriously. Look, it's me and Izzy blending into the crowd
Pic.No.5 The nature reserve had 'hides' that you could go into to observe the birds without spooking them. This is a picture of Andy in the hide. He was a natural, spotting two Kingfishers, a Hawk, and a Heron


Pic.No.6 This is Izzy trying to spot birds from inside the hide. She spotted a crow, but was more preoccupied with another wobbly tooth that she had found in her mouth


Pic.No.7 This is me with Izzy (aka Nanny McPhee), in the bird hide


Pic.No.8 Izzy took this picture of the view from the hide, it looked like a painting


Pic.No.9 As dusk fell, we noticed that crowds of bird watchers had gathered along the main path. We wondered what the bloody hell they were looking at, when suddenly the sky filled with huge flocks of starlingy type birds. They were all headed to the nature reserve to roost, and millions of them swarmed on the horizon. Unfortunately the battery died in my camera

So, that was my Saturday bird watching. Actually thinking about it, I wasn't actually bird watching because I didn't spot any, but Andy got well into it and announced that he was going to buy a book of 'garden birds' when he got home. He's probably trying to console himself because after the birth of the twins, his motorbike got consigned to the garage.

Sunday dawned bright and early (the twins made sure of that), and Andy and I forged a plan to take all four of the children out so that Chris could stay in get some much needed sleep.

"Are you sure we can manage four kids between us?" he asked a bit wild-eyed.

"Of course we can!" I said, because I am always gung ho.

And so we headed out for lunch at one the pubs in Somerton village.

Pic.No.10 On our way to the pub, we passed these ancient Alms Houses


Pic.No.11 They were built in 1626 and restored in 1967


Pic.No.12 Nom nom nom. A large roast beef lunch for me waiter! As you can see, things went pretty smoothly - the twins were asleep in their pram and Izzy and baby Oliver were happily scoffing their food


Pic.No.13 This is me, Izzy and Teddy in the pub

Once we had eaten, we took the sprogs to the local park for a bit of a play. For 45 minutes it went ok - the twins remained asleep, Izzy and Oliver were having a great time, and then all of a sudden, it started to fall apart a bit. The twins awoke and started crying. Awww crap, that wasn't in the plan.

"Quick, we need to get out of here and get these babies back to Chris," I hollered.

Andy nodded and tried to shoehorn Oliver into his pram, "I don't want to go home," aforementioned toddler yelled before bursting into tears.

45% of the children were now officially crying.

"Come on," I shouted to Andy as I jogged down the high street with one pram whilst Andy followed with the other. It seemed like an eternity until we arrived back at his house.

Chris opened the door, looking much refreshed after her sleep, but then regarded her three crying children with dismay.

"Sorry," Andy said.

"They need feeding, "Chris sighed, lifting twins out the pram, "and Oliver needs a nap."

"I'll put him to bed," said Andy.

Suddenly, our hands were free of three of the four kids. Number four (Izzy) was also easily distracted after I handed her a Nintendo.

"Fancy doing some fun stuff for half an hour?" asked Andy.

"Damn right," I replied. 

After a couple of minutes in the garage, he emerged with a bloody great gun.

Excellent! Now that's what I call fun ... less of that bird watching milarky.

Pic.No.14 That's me shooting stuff

And so we had exactly 34 minutes of playing with guns until the twins were fed, Oliver was awake, and Izzy was bored of her Nintendo. Ah, how times have changed since we were at University. 

So all in all, it was a fun weekend, and the new twins were bloody lovely .... even more so when they weren't crying. Which they didn't do much at all (the incidences increased if I was involved though).

But it was time to get back to Oxford, so Izzy and I jumped into the jalopy and headed home.

Tell me dahlink - do you have a gun?

Annie (Lady M) x

Anne Dickens | The day after yesterday

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