I've just received a positively glowing report from my mother, about the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch event that is taking place at Chester Zoo this weekend. It's worth sharing as those living near the zoo might want to drop by tomorrow. Together with my father (both members) she attended on Saturday morning. They were booked on one of the free tours, which was conducted by numerous zoo staff, including Darren Langford who I'm sure many of you know, and the RSPB's Colin Wells, who is RSPB Site Manager of Dee and Mersey Estuaries. The tour was in-depth and personal, it lasted approximately two hours and took in the canals and most of the east zoo, focusing on British species in the zoo grounds, together with the aviaries, Islands in Danger and Tropical House. There were a lot of RSPB information stations dotted around the zoo, a couple of tents and demonstrations for the children. There weren't many people on the tour - it was cold and early - and if you're lucky there may still be places for tomorrow. Everyone had ample time to ask lots of questions about zoo and British species, and my parents were hugely impressed by how helpful and friendly everyone was. Darren even assisted her with a special photo of one of the red-billed blue magpies in their aviary up by the serval enclosure. My mother asked a couple of questions about the zoo's collection and it was confirmed that the finches, previously in the aviaries adjacent to the old otter enclosure had all left for other collections. A senior female keeper told her that the circular and corridor aviaries had been removed because they were "old" and that the birds were indeed off-show, but wouldn't be pressed on whether they are to go back on display or where. She also asked Darren how his dodo embryo program was progressing, but apparently he wasn't in on the joke! Top marks for Chester on this one by all accounts.