My mate Dave, who's mad about wildlife, took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, a few weeks back. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds asked everyone to spend an hour watching birds in their garden and to record the highest numbers they saw of each species.
'I'm watching in the Galloper Grange gardens,' said Dave, who helps out at the stables there. 'They're stuffed with all sorts of birds. I'll prob'ly set a record or something!'
When Dave arrived at the Grange he took up position in a garden chair, on the terrace and, in case his arrival had scared the birds, he decided to wait quietly for half-an-hour before he started the 'watch' proper.
'In fact,' he told me later, 'it was only a few minutes before they started to return and soon there were birds everywhere! Wood pigeons, chaffinches, robins - even a couple of woodpeckers.'
So, he checked his watch, opened his notebook and when he looked back up - there wasn't a bird to be seen!
'I couldn't believe it,' Dave said. 'The garden was empty! I sat and waited - and waited, and the minutes ticked by and not so much as a sparrow fluttered past! Nothing in the trees, on the bird-table - anywhere!’
And that’s how it stayed until, eventually, when the hour was up, Dave shut his notebook dejectedly, turned to leave and there, sitting on the wall right behind him was Rommel, the big tom cat from next door!
‘No wonder the birds had scarpered!’ said Dave. ‘Thanks to him, I did set a record. ‘I was the only person to see nothing at all!’
See you soon