Saturday 9 January 2016

No Pain, No Gain!

It's a rare thing these days to find me browsing BirdForum, but that is the unlikely place from where I received inspiration to get out birding this afternoon. It happened this way...

After a busy-busy morning I had a little flick through my Twitter feed over lunch. The original intention this afternoon was a bike ride, but the relentless clattering rain put paid to that idea. The most tempting plan B involved a great deal of sofa. Anyway, there amongst my Justin Bieber tweets was a delightfully apalling record shot of a Glaucous Gull off Sidmouth (thank you @Sidmouthnature!), which had possibly flown E, ie., my way. Hmmm.

There's this BF thread about a Pacific Diver in Cornwall...often very distant and hard to ID...some chap musing that he'd like to go see it, but whether it's worth risking the long trip because he might not see it, etc, etc... The thread concludes with another contributor suggesting that matey definitely won't be seeing it from his couch at home!

This pearl of wisdom is called a truism. A truism is a statement that is so screamingly obvious that only someone wanting an immediate poke in the eye would make it. It's in the same genus as 'you've got to be in it to win it' and nearly as annoying.

In the mid-80s I went to watch the London Marathon a couple of times [note: 'watch'. I'm not an idiot]. On the first occasion there was this track-suited bloke standing on a traffic island at around the 23 mile mark, cupping his hands to his mouth and yelling at the oncoming runners as they staggered, grimacing, towards him:


He wasn't there the next year. Gleefully murdered, probably...

But sadly, as any athlete will admit, there is indeed no gain without pain. All these horrendous clich├ęs were telling me basically the same thing: "If you think there is even the slimmest chance of that Glauc coming past Cogden, then get off your fat backside and hurry on down there; wind, rain and all!"

So I did.

By 2:30 I had trudged grimly along the beach to my lump of seawatching concrete (see here) and sank gratefully onto the shingle in its meagre shelter. I was drenched. It was pouring with rain, the wind was a minor hoolie, and I'd pretty much been walking right into it. I sat there for ages for no more than a trickle of gulls. No Glauc, obviously. As the light began to dim I shuffled back again. The wind was even stronger. A few more gulls now. Six Meds, a Glaucous. I lingered until my wet fingers had gone completely dead, sighed, and headed for the car park.

No Glaucous Gull. Not even a single Patchwork Challenge point.

Nevertheless, I was glad to have followed the wise advice outlined above. Because it's true! I couldn't have seen that Glauc from my sofa...and you do have to be in it to win it...and there is rarely gain without pain. However, despite leaving my sofa I failed to see the bird, so I most certainly did not 'win it' and there was a degree of pain.

Worth it then?

Oh yes! Well, six Med Gulls ain't bad, is it, but the sea was brilliant! The wind, exhilarating! Look at the new NQS header shot! Where else would I have wanted to be on a stormy January afternoon?

Love it!!


  1. Ah Ha, it's dawned on you. Devon is a lovely county, no question. But........there is something about Dorset. Dorset has an aura, it seems to drag you in. I've been here since 1980 and I would'nt live anywhere else. I happily spend hours sat on Abbotsbury Beach, I simply adore it. I'm never going to see as much as the assembled hordes of dimwits at Portland Bill, but in the words of my good friend Mr Tawny Owl, I don't give a hoot. Welcome to the backwaters of Dorset Gavin!

    1. Ha ha! Thanks! Yes, it's growing on me, for sure...

  2. Gav, I first read a 'truism' in a book about game fishing with, "Yes, the weather is indeed foul, but we won't catch a Salmon here in the drawing room". But sometimes; though not today for you and the Glauc, truisms come ...true.
    As you know I'm in New Zealand on holiday. The fishing has been dire. Nothing much, and nothing much of size either. But if there's just the remotest chance, it's no use being in the house. James and me took the (final) chance yesterday.
    Everything was as flat as usual. But in among the dire of the mire, I declared, we only need one bite; to make the effort worth it. And miracles for sure, we had 'that' or rather 'the' bite.
    Well James did, and promptly landed the biggest Snapper I've ever seen on the bank. Ok, not massive but proved the point. Result!

    1. Outfished by the offspring eh? Yep, that's happened to me a few times!

      Drawing room! Ha! I can just picture the plus-fours and monocle!

  3. Hours in the field Gav, hours in the field...