Bill Oddie: The bird-watching broadcaster talks pompous drummers and blasted leaf-blowers

 

You can waste a lot of time looking for a specific bird While some bird-watchers have a bird-watching bucket list, I don't, as the most memorable and enjoyable days out can't be predicted. I'll never forget one day in New York in early May, standing at the top of the Empire State Building. I spotted what at first looked like moths, but became a flock of migrating birds, travelling past me, at the same height as I was.

Collecting things is standard schoolboy behaviour Some do stamps or cards, and I started collected bird eggs after I kicked a ball under a hedge by my house in Rochdale, and found the nest of a dunnock bird there. I gently removed the dunnock and spotted these pale-blue eggs underneath and took one. By the time I was nine I'd convinced my dad to buy me my first pair of binoculars.

I got sidetracked by comedy Bird-watching got put on hold when I joined the Footlights at Cambridge University, working with John Cleese and [comic actor and subsequent Goodies member] Tim Brooke-Taylor. We toured in America in the 1960s, doing parodies of songs. Cleese was obviously the star of the show. Though it was pointed out by him – bitterly, perhaps – that I was the one who got the rave reviews.

I remember when the BBC spent its money on programmes rather than bosses In those heady days of The Goodies [in the 1970s], the BBC had better budgets and we had the use of our own in-house studio and a band with real musicians, which was great.

My first time on 'top of the pops' felt surreal It was for a song we'd done as The Goodies called "The Inbetweenies", which got to number seven in the charts, in 1974. Of course it was obvious to us that it was a joke, though I felt sorry for other bands taking it all seriously, and there were some shockingly pompous musicians on there – particularly the drummers.

I was worried the natural-history world wouldn't take me seriously I thought producers would think, "Isn't he just one of those comedy people doing wildlife?" Fortunately, there were enough people in the birding world who knew me, which was how [BBC2 wildlife documentary] Birding with Bill Oddie came about.

I was shocked when my friends called me intimidating The manic side of bipolar nature [with which Oddie was diagnosed in 2009] can manifest itself as aggression and arrogance. On filming trips, I'd say to the crew, "Just do it like that!" When my workmates pointed it out, I realised, looking back, that I must have done it more than I realised – and I certainly regret it. People just think you're a bad-tempered bugger, rather than realising there's some chemical thing going on.

I hate leaf-blowers Even when leaves aren't falling off trees, people do it. This morning there was a bloody blower going up and down a stretch of pavement in front of a garden and it sounds like a bloody motorbike. I was thinking, "Argh! Why are you blowing leaves from one side to another?"

Ticks are second only to mosquitoes as carriers of nasty diseases I came home from a trip away once and my wife noticed a tick in a tuft of hair under my arm. It was a little creature, like a minuscule beetle and it terrified me as I'd just been reading an article about Lyme disease, which is caused by ticks.

Bill Oddie, 72, is a bird-watcher, TV presenter and wildlife expert. He is partnering with pet-treatment company FrontLine to highlight the risk from ticks and fleas (uk.frontline.com)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game