Just before Christmas, our hot tap broke in the kitchen. A plumber came round, had a quick look at it and advised us that we'd probably be better off buying new taps. Not wishing to spend in excess of £100 unless absolutely necessary, I sought a second opinion from the chaps who came to fit our shower in January. They found that it was the cartridge that was faulty and thought we should be able to pick a new one up without too much difficulty and at minimal cost. Things are never that easy though, are they?
Over the next few weeks we called in at all the usual DIY stores, a couple of plumbers merchants and one or two other places - all to no avail. We decided to pay a visit to the people that originally supplied our kitchen, but the shop was closed and devoid of signs of life. It looks as though the credit crunch has claimed another victim.
Our final throw of the dice was the internet, and last Monday I managed to track down a supplier in Hampshire, who was prepared to send me the relevant part at a cost of £23.35 including post and packing. Not a snip by any means, but a better financial option than forking out for new taps. Buying stuff on the internet can be a bit of a punt at the best of times, but lo and behold, on Saturday morning the postman dropped a parcel through the letterbox containing the new part.
Just in case you think you have wandered onto the wrong blog, please be assured that this is Eye To The Telescope and, as such, there is a point to all this seemingly irrelevant water-themed waffle.
You see, with a few jobs lined up that day, I thought one more won't hurt and immediately set about fixing the tap. I was about 10 minutes into the job when I spotted a bird flying towards the house from the approximate direction of Wythall Station.
I instinctively knew it was a raptor and my head said sparrowhawk. But it wasn't - it was too big for starters, and the wings were all wrong. It was quite low, perhaps only 20 feet or so above the house. I could see blue markings on the face. It all happened in seconds, but I knew it was a peregrine.
I ran upstairs, hoping to see it from the bedroom window, tripping over the wire of Mrs Reg's curling tongs in the process. It took a few seconds to find the bird, as it was much further right than I had thought. As it disappeared, I saw enough of it to definitely rule out sparrowhawk, and it certainly wasn't a common buzzard. Then it wheeled left and I made a grab for the bins, but by the time I had got them and returned to the window, it was gone.
I played the situation out in my head afterwards and did my usual trick of trying to convince myself that it wasn't what I thought it was. No doubts remained though. Unsurprisingly, it's the first peregrine I've ever seen from the house and it has gained me not only a valuable patch tick, but a year tick too. I doubt if I will see it again.
Now I'm thinking if the tap hadn't broken and it hadn't taken so long to get the part, and if the part hadn't turned up on Saturday, and if I hadn't decided to fix it there and then, I probably would never have seen the bird! I suppose all birding hinges to some extent on fate and circumstance.
Sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time, and sometimes you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once I was even in the wrong time at the right place - or am I thinking of that film with Michael J Fox in it?
Sunday morning saw me take a short walk through a fairly urban part of the patch. To be honest, it was pretty quiet and sprung few surprises. Aside from a few redwings, common buzzards and a sparrowhawk there was little to get excited about. Another attempt to see snipe in the pond near Wythall Park ended in failure.
I am eagerly anticipating the first appearance of a chiffchaff on the patch, surely only weeks away now. Spring is definitely in the air, but it hasn't yet touched down and collected its suitcase from the conveyor, if you know what I mean.
Just when I had given up all hope, I received a correct entry for last week's quiz. Please be assured that no bias was shown when good friend and fellow Worcestershire Source collaborator Kay Donaghy took all 20 Telescope Points by correctly identifying cargoose as the answer to the following clue:
Vehicle goes over large bird – a crested grebe (8)
_ A _ G _ _ _ E
It turns out that cargoose is another word for a great crested grebe. You see, you don't just get silly tales about plumbing problems here on Eye To The Telescope - if you pay attention, you can learn something too!
Until next time, happy birding.