In My Wildest Dreams: Adventures in Children's Fiction

Agony & Avocets: what birds tell us about story-telling

What could possibly take me a way from me desk when I should be writing? I write in the morning I go birding in the afternoon, not necessarily the best time. Compromise.

Yesterday I broke my habit.  Avocets had hatched three chicks at WWT Slimbridge the day before. This is the first time Avocets have bred on the reserve, or anywhere in Gloucestershire. I felt an urgency to see them - history in the making -  and via Twitter @slimbridge_wild I had an inkling that the parents were about to move them. I left home at 7.30 a.m. I wanted to capture the moment on video.

I succeeded. You can watch it happening here Magical. The birds performed right on time, boldly leading the chicks across the water to a fringe of weeds on the other side. A meagre shelter. This just fifteen minutes before I was due to go back to Stroud.

Jubilant, I went home and uploaded my video, then went into town for coffee.

In the afternoon, comes another Tweet. The Avocet family had gone missing. Predated? Or in a place of safety? The wardens can't find them so the first seems most likely. Agony. Uncertainty. My video somehow has taken on the aura of CCTV images. Last known sighting.

Life is more dramatic than art. Art distills its intensity and fixes it in the collective memory. The Avocets is a story in the making: a struggle against the odds creates a unique and thrilling event, then a mystery that we hope shall have a resolution.

The Slimbridge Avocets & Me says it all about our need to hear a tale well-told, and in children's books, the desire for a happy ending... whilst allowing for the fact that life is often not like that.

This morning the latest Tweets from @slimbridge_wild :

"We have found the male Avocet this morning feeding on the Top New Piece, but still no sign of the female and three young."

"We hope that the female Avocet is being a good mum & keeping a low profile with her family. Let us know if you see her from our hides today?"

To be continued....

The latest Tweets from @slimbridge_wild :

"Great news it looks like the Avocet family has made it to the Bottom New Piece (Kingfisher Hide) That's about 300M from the nest site."10.45. a.m.

Saturday 19 May 2012

"Fantastic news all three Avocet chicks are still with their parents on the Bottom New Piece (Kingfisher Hide) this morning #GlosBirds"