For most of this year I have felt almost no desire to go birding. I am neither surprised nor dismayed by this, it's just how I am. It has happened before.
My most enduring birding 'trough' lasted from the early 1990s to around 2004, some ten years or more. Nevertheless, during this hiatus I managed to find a Thrush Nightingale at Dungeness, a Black Kite on Scilly, and to co-find a Radde's Warbler at St. Margaret's Bay in Kent. The irony is not lost on me! However, these brief instances of birdy endeavour and consequent 'success' were respectively precipitated by a father-and-young-son stay at DBO, a holiday, and a day out with an old friend. But as soon as each was over, the optics were back in mothballs. At the time I was living in Rickmansworth, Herts, and my enthusiasm for local birding was basically nil.
I'm pretty sure my return to the fray in 2004 was prompted by our move to Devon a year or so earlier, and becoming aware that I was now living right on top of an underexploited patch with immense potential. The subsequent ten years saw that potential realised in spades. Seaton, the Axe Estuary and Beer Head are very much more on the birding map these days, and I'm happy to have played at least a small part in this. Still, that chapter is now closed. What next then?
In the last two or three years I have mostly struggled to get the juices flowing. The Cogden patch is undoubtedly good, and has gamely coaxed and cajoled, but with limited success thus far. Perhaps I have tried too hard to make it work. So, I've decided to stop pushing it and to simply let nature take its course. By that I mean just go with the flow, just pursue whatever does motivate me right now. And see where it leads.
During the last week I spent a couple of days working in Seaton. A cursory glance at the estuary revealed a decent crowd of gulls in front of the Tower Hide. Gulls still motivate me a bit. On Tuesday I ventured to the hide and picked out an adult and 1st-winter Med Gull, on Thursday a single 1st-winter. I am conscious that at this time of year the big gulls could easily be hiding a Yellow-legged or even a Casp. I am also conscious that a hide-full of birders could easily be overlooking either...