When I arrived at the Leighton Moss bird sanctuary I wondered if I’d stumbled across a Bill Oddie convention. Nearly everyone there seemed to have a beard, a pair of binoculars and a certain intense expression. This was my first visit to a bird sanctuary and the first thing I wanted to see was a hide. The hides at Leighton Moss are beside an impressive lake and the one I visited was much larger than I had expected, with three large rooms, all with picture windows looking onto a spectacular lake view. There were dozens, possibly hundreds of birds in view, flying around or sitting on poles and together they were making quite a racket. This surprised me- I had expected a quiet retreat but was greeted by a cacophony of noise.
One of the Bill Oddie lookalikes peered over his beard when he saw me and seemed quite excited. “Look”, he shouted, trying to make himself heard above the din “There’s a corncrake”. There was in fact no chance at all of me distinguishing one bird from another, but eventually he identified it as the bird sitting on the third pole from the left. We got talking and I asked him what appealed to him most about the bird sanctuary. He said something in reply, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying and so I asked him to repeat it.
“IT’S THE TRANQUILITY” he shouted, without a trace of irony.