My new and wonderful other half, herein referred to by her current moniker as 'the geo-environmental engineer' has a 7 year old daughter, equally as wonderful as her mother and with whom on school pick-up days I play a game. The Scottish accent that accompanies this simple and yet pleasingly silly knock-knock game is not mandatory, but adds to the effect somewhat. Now I mean no disrespect in using a Scottish accent and make no apologies...the Scots are, after all, extremely helpful when it comes to birding...even going so far as to point out areas where you're likely to miss birds!
Anyway, today, with Burns Night just gone and having missed it and probably suffering from the withdrawal effects of having not eaten haggis...this sprang to mind.
'Strange who on some days ye canny get the berds ye want but get enstead quate the wrowng berds'
How so you may ask? Here's how. For several days now I have been itching to kill two birds with one stone and get to the patch. These two birds are Bittern and Brent Goose. The latter was reported 2 days ago from Norton Marsh and is the first record I can remember of one being on the patch, although I confess I neglected to enquire as to its belly. I should of course point out that the 'killing' of these birds is entirely metaphorical and in any case counter-productive - you can't tick a dead bird. Either way... I wanted these birds on the year list and so have been trying to find a way to free up time to hit the patch. This is currently a problem. The only times in the week I could conceivably manage this is before or after work and the amount of daylight available at these times coupled with the aforementioned birds being located at opposite ends of the patch, makes this tricky.
Now, I am currently reading Jules Verne's '20,000 leagues under the sea' and it gave me an idea. Not a good one...well... quite a good one, but totally impractical as it turned out, but one I intend to share with you briefly. On reading said masterpiece it struck me that 20,000 leagues is pretty deep! Now a league is 3 nautical miles and so we're looking at a depth of 6666.66 miles. That presents two problems. First the radius of the Earth is only 1148 leagues (yes, I worked it out) and the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench, a mere 1.96 leagues. It's impossible for the Nautilus to have dived, therefore, to 20,000 leagues. Ergo, the latter must refer to the distance travelled underwater...roughly equivalent to 2.77 times around the world (I won't burden you with the maths, but feel free to check it at home). Given that the Nautilus' top speed was 50 knots, it could complete this in just under 50 days and a single circumnavigation in 18 days (eat your heart out Fineas Fogg!). By any measure Captain Nemo's steampunk submarine was one fast motherf***er!
So here's my thinking. Borrow the Nautilus, dunk it in the Manchester Ship Canal and I could go from one end of the patch to the other in about 5 minutes. Now allowing from embarkation and disembarkation (maybe another 5 minutes) this would still allow me about half an hour at each end of the patch to slaughter the proverbial birds required for the list. All that I then needed to do was to free up time after work! Fallah! I managed just that.
T'was with eager anticipation, therefore, and some enthusiasm that I pondered the challenge to come as I sat aboard my commuter train to Runcorn. All was going exceedingly well (though I still hadn't received a wire from Nemo at this point about borrowing his sub)..until...UNTIL... I stepped off the train on to the platform. It was at that point that I was hit by 20mph winds and had that sinking ground hog moment (see recent post). It was too windy AGAIN to stand a chance of getting either bird today. No other option therefore than to give the pro-lifers the bird (no pun intended) and abort said ground hog. There'd be no birding today. Ah well, least I got a reply from aboard the Nautilus...
Sir, It was with some amusement that I received your wire asking if it might be possible to make temporary use of my vessel. Although under different circumstances I should be delighted to acquiesce to your request, at the present moment I am approximately 375 miles south-east of the Malay at a depth of 34 fathoms. It's quite impossible I'm afraid Sir. I do however, have an answer to the question you posed when last we met. It seems, under the circumstances, somewhat apt.
"Are fish deep and meaningful?"
A boy asked of his dad,
And after thinking carefully,
He said "I'll tell you lad."
"Some think the cod is deep,
As it thinks in fluent French.
But the deepest fish of all,
Is the Mariana Tench"