Thursday, 7 January 2016

Patch Grippage

Gripped on my new patch yesterday. Cogden lies just W of West Bexington, and one patch segues into the other. There are a couple of West Bex birders who are out in the field lots and lots, and who fairly often include some Cogden in their circuit. One of them kindly texted yesterday: 'Marsh Harrier & Firecrest at Cogden this morning...' Good to know, but...nnngggshhh...

I'm pretty sure that mostly I'll have Cogden to myself when I'm out, but there is a small number of birders who are liable to give me a right good gripping from time to time. The risk of missing a stupendous bird on your hallowed patch is an occupational hazard, and you simply have to accept it. Hmm, having said that, actually you don't have to accept it. No. I can think of at least two alternatives.

1.  Throw toys out of pram, go nuts, give up birding. This does happen.

2.  Move to remote NE Scotland. You will definitely have the place to yourself. Forever. However, you will also be rewarded with many rare birds that only you will see. This brings its own issues, as a chap named Alan Vittery discovered. If you opt for this solution and don't want to feel like a pariah, buy a very good camera.

Personally, I'll just bite the bullet.

Today I was on someone else's patch, some place called the Axe Estuary in E Devon. I frequently pass it as I travel between jobs and have heard it gets birds sometimes. I was just scoping through some distant gulls from a gateway to the N of Axmouth when I had a nice little surprise...

Ha! Look! A Glossy Ibis! Moments later it was gone.

Apparently this bird has been around the Axe valley since just after the war, but nicely illustrates what can so easily happen on your very own patch. Joe Dodgy rolls up and bags a mega which has just that second dropped in. And then, as quickly, it vanishes. You get to hear about it somehow (probably via BirdGuides or something) and instantly write it off as total string. Of course, you also hope it is total string. Desperately. Then a photo emerges, probably from some dudey blog like this one. Now is the time to seriously consider options 1 and 2....

8 comments:

  1. Presumably this will absolutely delight Steve....

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    1. Thankfully that Ibis really has been around for a while, though normally somewhere on the other side of the river. Would have been pretty sweet otherwise though!

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  2. Remember the presumably long lost Hawfinches of Bentley Priory Gav? I do. I haven't seen one since 1989. Considering the scouring the 'patch' has received from me over the past fours years I'd have said Hawfinches were no longer viable. Wrong! A few days ago a specimen was found there. The fact I'm 11,000 miles away from the patch helps to some extent, just.
    Reflecting on some suitable words seen in a copy of the London Bird Report, "One has to appreciate the good fortune the lucky observer of this bird has had". I'd rather not actually.

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    1. Ric, my first ever Hawfinch was at Bentley Priory. Unforgettable! I can sympathise with your sentiments there, but can't help thinking it might be another four years before the next one, sadly...though I'd like to be wrong.

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  3. You don't need to travel to darkest "Jock-land" for a place that birders have forgot. You could adopt a piece of very ordinary farmland in the middle of Thanet, only people to grip you off, and this has happened, are the dog walkers. As long as you remain realistic, I don't think that there is any more enjoyable form of birding, although that's easy to say now my "twitching days" are long passed.

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    1. Newlands has served you well, Dyl, and provided some enviable rewards. Patch birding has brought me a lot of enjoyment too, but if I'm honest I think I'd struggle to maintain enthusiasm if it was somewhere that didn't have at least a reasonable chance of a genuine rarity, ie., coastal, or inland with plenty of water. But then I've been spoiled a bit...

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  4. Gav, age has mellowed me to the extent that within seconds of reading the 'Hawfinch poster's' wow! entry on The London Birders website, I was thinking it proves the site can throw up a surprise any time. I wasn't envious at all; ok for maybe one second, whereas many years back there would have been a period of 'gnawing'of unknown duration.

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