Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Riddle

There was so much to report from Sunday's big outing that inevitably one or two things had to be omitted. I'll leave Kay to tell the lightbulb story, which I'm sure you'll find illuminating, but I thought I'd better write a piece about the woman known only as ... Crossword Lady.

Some say she eats brake pads for breakfast and that she's allergic to the Dutch ... oh no, sorry, that's The Stig. However, Crossword Lady is remarkable in her own right and I feel I must share my thoughts regarding our meeting on Sunday afternoon. I think this is the bit where the screen goes all wibbly-wobbly and someone strums a harp in a random fashion ...

We had not long arrived at Park Hall Country Park, and several of our party needed to pay a visit to the public conveniences. On this note, I must say I'm glad I only needed a number one - the metal can didn't look like a good place to perch one's posterior on such a cold day. Anyway, as we came out we were approached by a lady who had obviously spotted our binoculars and generally nerdy appearance. Yes, this was Crossword Lady.

"Are you twitchers?" Crossword Lady asked us. Without wishing to have to explain the difference between twitching and birding, I replied, "We're birdwatchers."

Crossword Lady's eyes lit up. "What's a cuckoo's nest called?" she asked. Aha! Obviously a trick question!

"Cuckoos don't build nests!" I said, feeling very clever for not falling into her trap, "They lay their eggs in other birds' nests."

"No!" exclaimed Crossword Lady, "What do you call the birds whose nests they lay their eggs in?"

Tree pipits? Reed warblers? I wasn't sure what she expected me to say, then the word host popped into my mind and I blurted it out.

"That's it!" she cried.

It turns out it was a crossword clue that she'd been having trouble with, although I suspect you might have guessed that already based upon her uncomplicated and not-at-all-cryptic moniker. Anyway, she left satisfied and I felt like I had done my good deed for the day. If you're reading this Crossword Lady, I hope you managed to finish your puzzle.

By coincidence, I was having a go at the crossword in the Sunday Times this week, and I too floundered on a bird related clue. Here it is:

Bird flying across lake. It's quail? (6)

If it helps, the second letter is L, the fourth letter is N, and the sixth letter is H. Answers on a postcard to Reg Telescope, Wythall Bird Observatory. First person to get it right wins 10 Telescope points, which are worth nothing in monetary terms, but which bestow upon their holder instant kudos.

Garden Birds

All this bad weather brought a few unusual visitors to the garden and surrounding area last night. A flock of around 80 fieldfare was seen in the trees just a few doors away from the house, and a treecreeper was in our alder tree. That's not a common record, in fact I think I have only seen one ever before and that was before I really got into birding big time, so it's possible I was mistaken.

Tonight, a fieldfare perched in our sycamore tree for a minute or so, making it an official entry on the garden bird list.

Fieldfares - lots of 'em

I love fieldfares, me

The weather may put the kibosh on my birding plans this weekend. I'm keen to get back into the Wyre, but I have the patch to think about too. If I can't do either then there may be a few more cross words on Sunday morning.

To close, here are a few photos taken during the current cold snap.

Barney aka Faterpillar in the snow

This is my meadow pipit field

This is where I push all those pens


Andy said...

Is the answer FLINCH ?

Reg The Birder said...

Correct! 10 Telescope points go to Andy.

Look out for more Telescope points in future editions of Eye To The Telescope.