3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Devon Life today click here

Former Westcountry Television Presenter Teresa Driscoll delights in Devon birdwatching

PUBLISHED: 21:15 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:52 20 February 2013

Teresa Driscoll - A little bit twitchy

Teresa Driscoll - A little bit twitchy

It's nesting time again, and Teresa finds that working from home provides a whole new set of distractions that involve binoculars and water pistols<br/><br/><br/><br/>There was no way I could stand by as one distraught house sparrow called...

It's nesting time again, and Teresa finds that working from home provides a whole new set of distractions that involve binoculars and water pistols

There was no way I could stand by as one distraught house sparrow called for her baby while a murderous moggy lay wiggling its bottom in the wings

Let's get one thing absolutely straight before I start. I'm not a twitcher, OK? Not that I have anything against twitchers, you understand. Bill Oddie, after all, has made the term positively acceptable, but then he does have a beard which seems to be part of the job description and I don't.

So if I'm not a twitcher, why do I have a set of binoculars beside my kitchen window, you may ask? Also a water pistol.

This, I must explain, is yet another unexpected diversion born of working from home as a writer instead of on the telly. For it is to be the second spring of my 'new life' - and no-one told me there's a war on.

Only last spring - home at last - did I come to realise just how many nests have been established in the gap betwixt the rooftop and guttering of a wall adjoining our property. Also just how many cats now patrol our patch (previously unchecked) looking for lunch.

Maybe there is an argument for letting nature take its course and I'm quite sure the drama's been played out in our garden for years. But while ignorance is bliss, I'm now the star witness - hence involved. And firmly believing we mums have to stick together. There was no way I could stand by last spring as one distraught house sparrow called for her baby from my cistus bush while a murderous moggy lay wiggling its bottom in the wings. (OK, so my research since has discovered that she was probably a he as the daddy house sparrows apparently feed the fledglings, but she sure looked like a mum to me.)

Baby bird had either fallen from the nest or simply failed the first flight test, ending up in the ground cover directly outside my kitchen window. Problem was mum/dad couldn't risk feeding at ground level with so many cats around - and with me clattering about making coffee. So you could say just a little bit of twitching was thrust upon me.

Periodically I used the water pistol to get rid of the cats while making the supreme personal sacrifice of cutting back on coffee to keep the kitchen quiet. Once the weekend arrived I also ordered my bemused husband and two children to keep out of the kitchen while I hid under the kitchen table occasionally with binoculars to reassure myself that mum/dad had found and fed the baby. This sequence of events had to be repeated regularly, you understand, as the parent bird wouldn't risk swooping in to ground level until the coast was absolutely clear. And boy do those babies need a lot of feeding.

Undeterred by my husband's expression which ever more frequently these days reads 'you really have lost it, you know, Teresa', I cannot tell you the sense of achievement when by Tuesday the baby bird finally got his/her wings together and disappeared with mum/dad. I delude myself that they sang me a thank you. Who needs coffee?

Since then I have been reading up on the RSPB website to be better prepared for this year's Spring Offensive. And much to my relief I discover that more by luck than judgement I just about got it right.

Expert advice is to leave feathered fledglings where they are unless you can return them to the nest or they are on an exposed path, in which case you could try to tuck them under cover. Handrearing is too often doomed to failure apparently, and fledglings are normally cared for by their parents for about two weeks.

Oddly they do not mention water pistols on the RSPB website but I offer that as a personal suggestion - not because I am against cats per se, but it seems a relatively harmless way of stopping them lunching on the vulnerable. (Though I wouldn't advocate any of those high-pressure jobs which would no doubt be my husband's preferred weapon, he being less fond of cats than me.)

The RSPB site has also introduced me to the annual Big Garden Birdwatch which no doubt many of you already embrace. In the 2006 survey the house sparrow retained the top spot as the most common garden bird in Devon, followed closely by the blackbird then the chaffinch, but numbers were down so I will ignore all derision and continue to do my bit. Cats be warned.

And while we're on the subject of our feathered friends, I cannot resist mentioning one of my family's favourite walks just now, which is Stover Country Park, just off the A38 on the A382 towards Newton Abbot. Run by Devon County Council, the park offers 114 glorious acres with a lovely walk around a lake and a super picnic spot. (For those of you who still have your back numbers, it was featured in last September's Devon Life).There just happens to be a hide there for bird watching - also a visitor centre which includes a remote controlled camera to spy on the wildlife on the lake. No cats.

Of course I mention all of the above on the strict understanding that I am not a twitcher.


If you would like to comment on this article or share your views and experiences on this subject, visit our forums and have your say.


More from People

Yesterday, 10:41

CAROLYN SEAGER reveals how long after her mother’s death she discovered her amazing career in the service of her country

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An author known for her novels depicting life on the Channel Islands is nonetheless happiest writing from home here in Devon

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fig Tree Court is a development of 14 apartments in Tiverton for retired and semi- retired over-55s with gorgeous views over the Grand Western Canal

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Alex Green goes behind the scenes on the Dartington Hall Estate to find a community of artists, makers, farmers, and social entrepreneurs living out the legacy of its founders

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Many people know of award-winning Roly’s Fudge, but do they know how much hard work and business insight goes into making it?

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Topsham businessmen Steve Williams and Pete Woodham-Kay take an ethical stance on eating meat | Photos: Nick Hook

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

As llama love grips the nation, we meet a Dartmoor couple who have spent the last 11 years making them their livelihood | Words: Lydia Tewkesbury

Read more
Friday, August 24, 2018

Aimee Pagliari is the Teignmouth Life Coach and she can help you achieve your personal, career or business success through a variety of holistic methods

Read more
Friday, August 24, 2018

Although doulas are relatively unknown in the Western world, they have been supporting mothers around the world since biblical times. We’ve met Aimee Pagliari, the Teignmouth Doula, to find out more

Read more
Friday, August 24, 2018

Aimee Pagliari of Teignmouth Counselling has been working as a counsellor for 10 years and we’ve spoken to her to find out who can benefit from such therapy

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Gill Heavens salutes a long-standing North Devon club whose members love to explore the depths of our offshore waters

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cantering up the gently sloping, springy turf of a Dartmoor tor is a million miles away from the noise, pollution and hubbub of Sara Cox’s life in London – and that’s exactly why the 43-year-old radio and TV presenter keeps coming back to ride there.

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

From the sublime to the quite ridiculous, the Museum of Forkbeard is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Chrissy Harris can hardly believe her eyes when she visits

Read more
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Plymouth City Council are looking for potential foster carers to bring positive change to a child’s life. Can you help?

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search