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Chapter eight

peregrines, wild geese & avocets

birding from the 1940s and '60s

This short book was written more than forty years ago, based on wildlife diaries I kept many years earlier. They range from just postwar, in the '40s, to an early visit to Slimbridge, before it became the powerhouse it now is. It is fascinating to see how much has changed and to compare it with present times, now so many people go out bird-watching. Then, it was a much more solitary occupation while some birds were common that are now rarities. Montagu's harriers on telegraph wires, the first Avocets in this country and great herds of geese, epitomise this situation. What was also notable was the emptiness of so much of Britain in those days. Cars were not freely available, or affordable. Some parts of the coast were still shut off to the public because of the presence of unexploded ammunition. Binoculars and telescopes were relatively expensive and the quality of the cheaper ones was definitely suspect - everyone expects a virtually perfect image now. Then, images were often less than perfect and oddly-coloured, while the keen bird-watcher overcame this by enthusiasm, enormous concentration and going out in all sorts of weather. There were few sheltering hides in those days, so you had to be hardy as well as keen. The drawings in the text are taken directly from the diaries, often cartoon-like, but reflecting the impact of the birds as they were seen at the time.


     Peregrine, wild geese & Avocets



1. Harrier & Buzzard; Devon in 1945

2. The Western Isles; a sea trip in 1949 & 50

3. A Border landscape: the Scottish Borders in 1950

4. On the Norfolk Broads; a sailing holiday in 1950

5. A week on Havergate Island; early Avocets, in 1950

6. Aberlady Bay; the Firth of Forth in 1951

7. The Chapel by the Sea; Essex marshes in 1951

8. Peregrine & Geese; Slimbridge in less constrained times, 1966


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