Saturday, 18 August 2007

Birding at Owl Springs

This weekend we have come to Owl Springs for the world's biggest gathering of birders.

Goodman, being a cat, was excused the trip as he thought birding would just make him feel hungry. I can understand how he feels - I get hungry looking at fields of banana trees. The Old Monkey is, in secret, a bit of a twitcher. I have noticed him surreptitiously ticking off birds in his 'I Spy Book of Birds'.

There we met the famous celebrity birder - William Oddly who told us of some of the rare breeds of birds we would be likely to see. Of course everyone had been hoping for a rare sighting of the bird that the springs are named after.

I myself have only ever seen the Owl once and it was a moment of solemn joy. Gratification is a poor word to express my feelings at that moment. I was afloat on a sea of foaming joy and delight!

Many a long winter evening I have expounded my feelings on that extraordinary event.

Owl Springs are disappointing at first glance, a mere muddy trickle of water coming down between the bushes, but they are fascinating all the same, and it is well worth going even if you don't see the owl.

When we arrived at Owl Springs the narrow valley was packed with people, and it was clear that most of them were not your normal birders. In fact there seemed to be an awful lot of ordinary tourists wandering around and dropping litter.Many seemed to be waiting in line for something. William Oddly became most vexed. It appeared that someone was guaranteeing the appearance of the famous Owl for a fee of five pounds.

My party and I stormed to the front of the queue and I was not surprised to see Beaver Hateman taking the money from the gullible tourists. "Ha! trying to jump the queue, as usual, you old tyrant!" he shouted at me. I attempted to warn the tourists that if Beaver Hateman was involved they were surely being fleeced. But Beaver just shouted "What's that then!" and pointed to the Owl sitting obediently on a withered twig. Astoundingly, this miraculous beast who in the past rarely made an appearance seemed happy to sit placidly before an audience.

Of course, it was the Old Monkey who noticed something was amiss. "It's not moving Sir" he whispered in my ear. "Of course not I" I replied "it is legendary for it's immobility". "I know Sir, but look, it's not even blinking." he argued.

There was a shocked cry from the crowd as I picked up a stone and threw it at the Owl. As I suspected instead of flying away, as the stone hit, it merely swung around to hang upside down from it's perch. The Owl was a fake.

Hateman cried "Quick scarper lads - we're rumbled" and the Badfort Crowd ran for it.

Trust Beaver and his gang to drag even the respected art of ornithology into disrepute.

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