I’m afraid that I still haven’t had time to slip off to the New World in search of more hummingbirds, but at least this month my hmm’s not late.
I’ve just come back from Slimbridge – the wonderful Gloucestershire home of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT). It was amazing to see the tremendous evening starling roost – 80,000 birds swirling like a living cloud against a shepherds’ delight of an evening- and sad to learn that Lady Philippa Scott has recently died. This most remarkable woman co-founded the WWT with her late husband Sir Peter, and it was poignant to learn that her home overlooking Swan Lake is presently empty.
The Bewick Swans that they did so much to help though, were there in record numbers, over 300 flighting in from the surrounding fields as evening gathered. These wonderful arctic creatures travel more than 3,000 miles to spend their winters in Gloucestershire and even as we watched them feeding and playing and squabbling the experts told us that birds would soon be leaving Holland to join us as the wind and weather conditions were just right.
One of the most remarkable things about these swans is that every single one of them is unique and can be individually recognized. They all seem pretty similar but the pattern of yellow and black on their bills is as distinctive as a human fingerprint. All of which means that the swan experts at Slimbridge know every single bird by name and they probably know its genealogy too!
It reminds me that we marketeers might well find it helpful to put people into socio-economic groupings and categories but everyone we’re looking to communicate with is ultimately an individual. We only ever do business with people and everyone is unique.