The Goodies' Bill Oddie goes bird watching

The Goodies' Bill Oddie goes bird watching

Comedian-turned-conservationist Bill Oddie says Gareth Morgan has a point in calling for a cull of cats.

The former member of The Goodies, who's an avid birdwatcher, has spent a day on the predator-free island of Motutapu in the Hauraki Gulf, hot on the trail of Motutapu's takahei.

"I'd like to have seen one in a swamp halfway up the mountains really, but then again at my age I'd never get there."

The 74-year-old was soon up-close and personal at the island's school camp.

"Basically I would call it 'escape to heaven'," he says.

Wherever Oddie turned on the predator-free island, the birds flocked to him and his camera.

But Oddie is well aware of Dr Morgan's mission on the mainland -- to kill cats.

"I would say: 'Gareth, have a go.'"

Oddie wants controlled culls of feral cats and says at the very least owners should keep their pets in at night.

"Because 5 million cat owners will be on to Twitter and slagging me off immediately, hand on heart I wish there weren't cats. But then I'm lucky; I don't like cats particularly much -- not just because they're terrible killers of wildlife, but I'm not very fond of cats. I'm more fond of dogs."

When Oddie speaks about conservation, people listen, partly because he endeared generations through his '70s comedy classic, The Goodies.

"I've had lots of people on this trip who said, 'I grew up with you. You grew up with me.' They must have had a very crowded house!"

True story: a man died laughing at one of his sketches. His widow even wrote to thank The Goodies for making his last minutes so happy.

"Not many people can say somebody died laughing at our show, you know. Get that on the posters quick!"

But Oddie's true love is watching birds.

"I'd like to think that my all my comedy things, Goodies and everything else, were just a rather misguided interruption."

And Oddie will get plenty more bird watching opportunities, from Hawke's Bay to Stewart Island.


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