Mr A is turning into a bit of a twitcher. It was the robins that started it, when we noticed that a robin was probably building a nest in the garage. Then he found the nest, and took a series of pictures of the developing chicks. He's now put up a bird table!
The history of the bird table goes back to at least 1990, when I was travelling around Australia and was smitten by the variety and colour of the birds there. I thought I might carry on birdwatching when I came home, but I found that the vast array of sizes, shapes and colours of Australian birds was not matched in the UK, where birds are, almost without exception. small and brown. The books said they often had to be distinguished by their call, or the shape of the eye, or some other impossible aspect of mating behaviour.
I joined RSPB anyway, and they gave me a self-assembly bird table as a free gift. It has remained unassembled in its cardboard box for more than 20 years, travelling with me to each place I have lived, and has been sitting here in the kitchen for about 10 years. Until this week, when Mr A put it together.
He's also been looking up useful facts about robins on the Internet, finding out that they fledge within 2 weeks and the pair may have another clutch of eggs in the same season, and they will eat mealworms, which are quite expensive to buy. The bird table has not been an immediate success with the birds, probably because there's quite a lot of other food around at this time of year, but Mr A has been cutting up tiny pieces of salami and putting them out anyway.
The title of this post comes from an anecdote told by the great Humphrey Lyttleton, who was once interviewed on a local radio station. At one point, the interviewer said "You're a bit of an orthinologist, aren't you?" Humph described how he was on the motorway on the way home before he thought of the perfect answer: "Not so much an orthinologist, more a word-botcher."