• Nick Bartrum

Gold Streaked Wonder



Everyone should begin their day this way, with a close up, tactile and emotional encounter with nature.

It was the same as any other day with expectations of the usual routine. The first unusual sight was three concerned looking students huddled next to a concrete pillar peering anxiously at the ground. As I approached, the subject of their disquiet became clear, it was the tiniest bird in Britain: a goldcrest.

Any thoughts of the day ahead became distant as all I could think of was how on earth had this poor bird come to be here and was it alright? It appeared calm, and looked perfect, barely a feather ruffled or out of place. Was it an exhausted migrant from Scandinavia who landed in an unsuitable place, or had it been chased by a sparrowhawk and taken refuge in the bustling playground? I’ll never know.

I closed my hands gently around the tiny bird, it weighed nothing. It made no attempt to fly away as I opened my cupped palms to peek at this little gold streaked wonder. After some indecision, I resolved the best thing would be to release the bird somewhere safe where it could rest and recover. I hoped it hadn’t suffered any kind of impact, with a glass window for example, because more often than not, this proves fatal. However, outwardly it appeared fine.

After a short while warming the bird in my hands I released it into a thick yew hedge in the park adjacent to the school, in a fine arboretum with pine trees and thick mature hedges. It seemed like a good place. It took a little persuasion to leave my hands, peered at me from an exposed branch for a while, and then it kindly posed for a photograph, before it flew up at speed into denser cover, seemingly well recovered.

Think how differently we would go about our business, how much more aware we would be and how much more we would all care about the natural world, if we began each day with a wild encounter. And, how much less we would all take it for granted.

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