Goldfinches and other treasures writes Roy Edmonds

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The big fella, with the long hair and beard, looked like he’d just strode out of the Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit.

He ambled into the Number 10 Ale House bar on Whitegate Drive and sidled up to me, his glinting eyes never deviating from mine.

“I’ve been counting the score,” he muttered, with a deadly calculating look as he towered over me, where I rested against a welcome warm radiator beside the bar.

“There were at least 20 goldfinches in my garden, on a special fat-ball I’ve hung up there.”

“Good heavens!” I exclaimed.

“We’ve only had one in mine. Mind you, I reckon it was a bullfinch; beautiful thing, dazzling blue, black and red.”

The others nearby, Colin the barman – always an avid bird fancier; owner genial George and the manager dashing David, as fast moving as his vapour trail, all looked impressed.

“Glad to see my first robins,” said Irish Tom, bristling into the conversation.

Yes, we men were discussing garden birds.

“You know,” I said to Big Mick, the one with those finches, “when I retired from the Gazette, the first thing I did was get a book on birds and another on trees.” (In fact, the first thing really was to enjoy some Draught Bass at the nearby Saddle Inn, Great Marton, (Blackpool’s oldest inn).

“We put out a smorgasbord of bird treats, but my neighbour gets flocks of starlings,” Mick told us.

“He’s got Rowan berries they adore.” His eyes narrowed.

“My cats just love it!”

Yes, folks, raw nature’s still an amazing and exciting thing, even among us macho northern men. It’s vital to get the youngsters interested too!

The important thing is keeping the wild in our west, on this beautiful coast of ours.

* Books by Roy, fiction and memoir, are on Kindle or in paperback. Visit or Waterstones.