Friday, July 11, 2014

Birding at the pub


The Eagle, Old Amersham
Merlin's Cave, Chalfont St. Giles
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla 
Oi!  You gonna buy me a drink or just stare?
Binos in one hand, pint of lager in the other.  Heh, this is living.  Two things that the Amersham area is blessed with are gorgeous walking trails, and centuries-old pubs that smell of wood and history.  Happily, at the end of most of the former, you will find one of the latter.  A cold pint of Magners does wonders for sore tendons and shoulders, worn ragged after hauling a load of superfluous birding gear up and down the Chiltern Hills.
  The birding gods have smiled on me of late, and given up a bit of birding gold to go along with the pub at the end of the rainbow.  Birds!  And lifers at that.  Admittedly, it's not too hard to get lifers (or at least UK ticks) during my first couple of weeks here, but I still get a cheeky grin when I see a new bird for the first time while sipping a cold one (or lukewarm, in the case of ale).
  Last week at The Eagle, in Old Amersham, I was sipping a Stella Artois when an LBJ fluttered onto the back deck and proceeded to peck at chip crumbs on the ground, at the feet of the punters who were shedding them.  The bird was only a few feet away, so I saw clearly it was a Dunnock, a species I had, up until that moment, not seen yet.  'DUNNOCK!  DUNNOCK!' I cried, grinning like an idiot.  Most around me were confused until I explained my affliction passion for birds, and then most were still confused.
  Yesterday in Chalfont St. Giles I had an even more satisfying 'Birds n Beers' moment.  In the sprawling gardens behind the Merlin's Cave, Helly and I were enjoying a couple of regenerative pints after a two-hour hike in the blazing sun.  The far corner of the garden overlooks a small stream lined with scrub, and we were enjoying watching the Swifts, Blue Tits, Magpies, Mallards, Goldfinches, and a Wren interact with our shared landscape.  Suddenly, an LBJ (yet again) popped up on a branch just over the fence.  I got a quick bino view and cried (silently this time) 'BLACKCAP!  BLACKCAP!', before getting a couple of record images.  More grinning like an idiot.  Life is good.
  Here's hoping that there are still a few more rainbows and a bit of gold waiting for me at the end of my future birds walks through the sweltering and gorgeous English countryside.  Cheers.
  Yellowhammer.  Still the best word ever.

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