Thursday, 21 January 2010

Britain's Medway has a riverside walk for old men who like looking at birds

I went for a walk today along the banks of the Medway not far from where I live in north Kent. It is a weekday walk, tailor-made for old men because there are no kids, no cars and very few people.

My companion was my good friend Del Boy, who introduced me to bird twitching a couple of years ago.

At this time of year, the waters and mud baks of the River are full of Kentish residents and winter residents like the brent geese who flew in from Scandinavia at the end of last year.

Del Boy likes making lists of things and so we made a list of the birds we had seen after our walk :

Teal and widgeon and pintail and shellduck and redshank and grey plover and curlew and black necked grebe and common gulls and black headed gulls .

Oh, we saw some 'gnats' on the path, which Del Boy thought should be recorded too.

Del Boy's wife has an affinity to water birds too. She is able to recite the following poem from Kenneth Grahame's 'Wind in the Willows' and is not only word perfect, but also recites it in a sing-song voice. :

Ducks' Ditty

All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!

Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!

Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim—
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.

Everyone for what he likes!
We like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!

High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call—
We are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!

Here is a rendition by 'The Crossed Swords'.

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