During the early part
of the wet summer of 2012, I found myself stranded in an observation
hide by heavy rain. My only companion was an RSPB warden who was carrying
out a Bearded Tit survey: there being little avian activity, we chatted
quietly about our shared love of East Anglia and its wildlife.
I happened to mention my frequent visits to Rendlesham Forest, when
a day searching for local woodland species like Hawfinches and Crossbills
is usually followed by a night-time vigil along Track 10: he asked what
I was hoping to see!
Somewhat reluctantly, I described some of the experiences my friends
and I have shared in these pages.
I expected my companion to follow the usual routine of incredulity /
ridicule / cheap humour, but I was pleasantly surprised when he countered
with a tale of his own!
Some months earlier, the warden had been carrying out a similar wildlife
survey at Martham Broad on the north-east corner of Norfolk. I believe
he was counting Barn Owls: at any rate, he found himself sitting in
a lonely reed bed as night fell. Our hero is quite used to being on
his own in the wilds of Broadland after dark, and, by his own admission,
is not given to flights of the imagination.