|MY BIRDWATCHING HIGHLIGHTS FOR DECEMBER 2002
|And a few final words for December..... Another thin month with eyes still proving problematic. Just to rub salt into already sore wounds the end of the month brought me viral conjunctivitis that took away completely what little sight had returned. My ophthalmic consultant had it as well so
we commiserated with each other. She still says my sight should be greatly improved by next month so here’s hoping!
The tawny owl saga. Alright, I’ll come clean and admit to being human and therefore able to make mistakes. The other night I was sitting up late trying to read a Tom Clancy novel with the aid of a big magnifying glass for my eyes when, half dozing, I heard the distinct ‘Hoo hoo hoo-hoo-hoo’ call that tawny owls make at the start of their breeding season ( I wrote last month about trying to describe the sounds birds make…). I told myself that was nice and carried on trying to cram a few more pages in before slipping into bed. It was not until I heard it again that a bell went off in my head and I jolted awake. A quick check confirmed tawny owls have never been recorded on Crete. Wonderful, I had yet another first! Smith strikes again!
The next night I waited up full of excitement - but had to wait until just after 2 a.m. to hear the owl again. It called clearly several times and was obviously close by. I slipped out into the night and crept down the road to get closer. As I neared it I could hear different parts of the call and suddenly realised I had been completely fooled – my latest scoop turned out to be a new cockerel that was in my neighbours garden and waited until the small hours before giving voice on his new patch! If I had a tail it would have been well tucked in between my legs as I stomped off to bed. No chance of a case of mimicry this, just wishful thinking or defective hearing on my part. If nothing else this shows you have to double check your sightings or rather hearings!
|Editor: Visiting Paul yesterday to collect his copy - late because of my own absence over the Christmas period, we found Paul to be much on the mend and looking very much younger than he had before Christmas! His wife Sandra - his right hand man when out bird-watching had, however, acquired his viral conjunctivitis. Get
Paul has also arranged for me to review a very recent book by another Cretan ornithologist which contains some superb photographs, so perhaps at long last we will have a start on a bird gallery.