Saturday 23 September 2023

Ramblings of a Slightly Odd Man

Thursday afternoon, West Bay. We took our two-and-a-half year-old granddaughter to visit the site of Grandad's Great Shearwater triumph the previous day. Naturally.

'Look!' she exclaimed, eyes heavenward, 'What's that man doing?'

Noting our little granddaughter's innate sense that it could only be a man, I replied: 'He's sitting in the sky', and took some snaps in order to show her more closely what the crazy fool was up to.

'Why?' was the inevitable response.

As if I have any idea why an old bloke might want to dangle from a flimsy scrap of fabric wearing not much more than an armchair-shaped backpack...

I deflected with practised ease by showing her the back of my camera...

Sky-sitting man

Our granddaughter made an uncomplimentary comment about the man's expression.

'Now, now, Gracie,' I said. 'That is not a grumpy face. That is an old man's happy face, the face of someone having an absolute blast. In fact, that's exactly what Granddad looked like when he was getting a big, fat eyeful of Great Shearwater just over there'. I pointed at the hallowed spot, neatly bringing us back to the purpose of our visit.

We see a lot of paragliders along the coast here. They must be well aware that some of the folk pointing at them, photographing them, view them and their activity as a bit odd. Still, being viewed as a bit odd is the lot of countless hobbies and their practitioners. Like birding, say. Or, even more so, twitching. Even birders poke fun at twitching, especially birders who used to twitch but now think they're above all that.

Earlier this week, Pembrokeshire became the USA's honorary 51st state when it nicked most of that nation's warblers. I have a friend in Pembs. He has been forwarding me snippets from his local birding WhatsApp group chat. At first it was like this...

But then, thankfully, the twitching antics gave us something to point and laugh at...

'It sounds like it was almost driven from the valley out into a massive blackthorn thicket, which itself was surrounded by the twitching brigade. Every now and again word would come along, it was in this bit or that bit, so a wave of birders would rush to wherever before dispersing until the next shout. Sometimes it was the bird, sometimes all I saw was a Blue Tit or a Goldcrest.'


'Magnolia Warbler. Military have cordoned off an area to view, which was basically where everyone was viewing from.'

How the ex-twitchers chuckled at the hapless plight of their slightly odd brethren. Okay, it may not have completely assuaged the gut-churning envy that such a bird was not at West Bay or Cogden instead, but it helped.

The next snippet did not...

'I can't believe I'm typing this but I think I have a Canada Warbler in willows on the road to Stack Rocks.'


  1. Gav, my brother in law does that paragliding lark. Makes a change from his day job, sitting on his arse all day.

  2. My first response was the same as your granddaughter's but then, I don't sit and smile much when fishing.

    1. Nope, I reckon most of us look pretty miserable while enjoying ourselves.