Birds, The Castle, Kath, Kim, and good things

Traveling 3000 miles changes things in a very peculiar way. Major things like TV, the Internet, and everyday life, don’t change too much, whereas the differences occur in seemingly small ways. Take birds for example. Over here, the birds are all different. The birds we do recognize, like the ubiquitous starlings and house sparrows, are usually here because they were artificially introduced by the eccentric and the reckless. Yesterday morning we managed to escape the bed glue and visit a reasonably nearby nature reserve; they organize regular bird-related events and Michele was very excited by the prospect.

The place was spectacular! It is the equivalent of the wetlands centers in Britain, only much larger and with, seemingly, more volunteers and borderline autistic experts. It was beautiful! We went on a four mile walk around the beautiful lake whilst the experts helped us see things that we would never normally have noticed.
The experts noticed over 35 different species that morning. We didn’t see half of them but we did see the following birds for the first time in our lives:

  • american coot
  • american goldfinch
  • black duck
  • carolina wren
  • downey woodpecker
  • golden crowned kinglet
  • great blue heron
  • greater black backed gull
  • green wing teal
  • mocking bird
  • northern cardinal
  • pintail ducks
  • red tail hawk
  • ruddy duck
  • rusty blackbird
  • sharpshin hawk
  • shoveller ducks
  • song sparrow
  • white throat sparrow

If you want to see (or hear) what any of these lovely characters look (or sound) like, then I advise visiting this superb site.
It was possibly my first proper bird watching event, and it was very reassuring to find the usual raft of autistic blokes on hand to explain the intricacies of the hobby. One guy, Richard, who I really would like to permanently have on hand, could identify any of the birds we encountered by their call alone. The group leaders, obviously jealous at his skills, weren’t too friendly with him…until they needed his analysis of a nearby call. He was brilliant! He was pointing out birds to us all over the place, purely because he heard them, and we could then try to track them with our bins. I liked, and envied, Richard. Weatherwise Saturday was absolutely beautiful too! It was a perfect morning.

There were another couple of life affirming experiences we experienced this weekend. One of which was watching The Castle which, apart from being very funny, addressed one of the most serious issues in my life: the connection and differences between a house and a home. Please, please watch that film! It’s really bloody great, and it’s Aussie! OK, they may be a bunch of common, uncouth criminals, but they don’t half make some decent films, especially comedies. In fact this evening our expensive cable subscription afforded us the opportunity to watch Da Kath and Kim Code which was reassuringly entertaining.

Another good experience was watching the Extras Finale which was, in my simple-minded world, another piece of genius. People like Ricky Gervais and David Renwick have no business making ordinary people laugh and cry at the same time, but they have willfully inflicted their wishes on me so many times. On the other hand I do burst into tears a lot and have done since a very young age. But I didn’t feel the need to cry at ET or Titanic…in fact both films had more of an emetic effect on me…

Chris, Frances, Marshall, and Stella: get hold of “The Castle” and watch it! You’ll love it! Non-family-members in London will like it too!

Right, bed time.


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