Author Dave Fawcett
People and Wildlife Officer
Even the briefest wildlife experiences can be so life enhancing. I know the next ones waiting to happen somewhere nearby, whenever I step off the conveyor belt of modern life and get outside to find it. Those moments of wildness can stay lodged in the memory, to pop into your head years later to enjoy all over again.
The other day I remembered my first visit to Worthing, for a February half-term holiday back in the early 80s. I was hooked on identifying the birds in my garden, after a week at home with German measles and a massive book which my neighbours lent to cheer me up. I had Grannies binoculars - so old fashioned, they actually doubled in length as you focussed on anything distant.
It was great getting up early and wandering out onto the deserted beach, all very atmospheric with pebbles clacking underfoot then wet sand reflecting the misty sky. As I approached the waters edge, first one then a whole bunch of tiny pale waders toddled purposefully into view away from the incoming surf. I pored over the pictures and descriptions in my new pocket sized bird guide. Sure enough, I was super chuffed to find that I was looking at my first ever sanderlings.
Sanderlings still crack me up these days, just at the thought of them zipping about on a blurred whoosh of legs, like Billy Whizz from the Beano. It turns out that their speedy style is thanks to a lack of hind toes, (my new fact for today, gleaned from the web).
It was great hearing from someone this week how much they enjoyed discovering turnstones on Worthing beach as an adult. Another charming and distinctive wader, these immediately triggered more seaside holiday memories for me. So thanks again to Mrs Farmer next door, who first got me started on birds as a sickly child. Why not reach for your favourite nature guide and lend it to someone? It could lead to a lifetime of discoveries.
Dave Fawcett is the People and Wildlife Officer for the Sussex Wildlife Trusts new Heritage Lottery funded project - Wild About Worthing.