Those early days, back in the eighties, it was mainly just Sundays, that I'd go birding with my Dad. Saturday night we'd plan the next day out, usually including a trip to Nancy's cafe in Cley, it used to be one of the highlights of the day, as I'm sure it was for many people at the time. It used to be great just walking in, seeing who was in and most importantly, seeing what was in the book. The log book used to be filled in by whoever was passing the phone when it rang. Oh yes, things were a bit different back then, NO mobiles, NO pagers and NO Birdline!!! It was always a dream of mine to answer the phone and take the news of a "breaking mega", but it never happened. I did pluck up the courage to answer it a few times, (I was only about 9 at the time afterall), but it was never anything major.
Looking back at those days, it makes me so grateful to my Dad, that he dragged me out birding, often at ridiculous times of the morning, but without him, I wouldn't have the memories I have. Memories such as: August 1985 and being at work with him during the summer holidays in Blakeney. A friend came onto the building site where we were to tell us the news of a MEGA at Cley, a GREATER SANDPLOVER. We hurriedly got to the reserve and had cracking views before returning back to the site to finish the day. By the way, don't call the authorities, it wasn't slave labour my Dad was involved in!!! I might have been only 9 at the time, but I already had a good career in washing the other workers' cars. Another memory would have to be "quickly" driving back from a family holiday in Speyside a few weeks later, this time for a second for Britain, LITTLE WHIMBREL. It was ranging between Cley and Blakeney and was viewable from the seawall and even at times from a mates house!!! Some garden tick!!! I'm sure there'll be another one day, especially now I've written this, but for now it remains as one of my best blockers.
Anyway, things have changed a bit now. I'm a husband and a daddy, so birding has taken, not so much a "back seat", more of a "seat in the trailer behind"!! But I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd like to have the time and money to be able to go at the drop of a hat for everything that turns up, but I can't. Sure, I'm still checking the pager all of the time, especially when there's something about, but rather than planning on going the next day, it's usually the next weekend and more like a "family day out" somewhere nearby, with a slight detour!!
I've managed to get my daughter, Amy, along to a few decent birds, most notably, KING EIDER, BROWN FLYCATCHER and AUDOUIN'S GULL. I'm sure she won't have much memory of them but just in case fancies taking up birding, she might want to "grip" her Grandad off one day!!! (Sorry Dad).