Friday 11 August 2017

Nothing Too Controversial...

I am surprised that almost two weeks have elapsed since my last post, but I suppose I shouldn't be; life has been busy, and when that happens time flies. First then, a few recent patch snaps...

Early one morning I spotted a distant but distinctive shape perched up on the beach. Sure enough, my 2nd patch Peregrine. It flew off E almost immediately, perhaps to that hazy lump in the background - the tall end of Portland.

A couple of barrel-scrapings, viewed from the low Burton Bradstock cliffs. Cormorants fly past in ones and twos quite regularly, but I have rarely seen any decked.

I entertained a brief hope that these were going to be something other than Canada Geese. Silly me. Mind you, I don't know what exactly I was hoping for. Greylags I suppose. Yes, I'd have been chuffed with Greylags.

Wheatear on the beach, 5 August. Standard coastal migrant fare, but an evocative composition.

The biggest patch thrill of late occurred at around 06:50 on 5 August.

Chiff-if! ...Chiff-if-if!


Something was flying over, westwards and quite high. I recognised the call immediately but my rusty cogs were dreadfully slow to grind out an identity. Eventually they coughed up Wood Sandpiper. Of course! It called a couple more times but was totally invisible. Still, I am more than happy to add 'heard-only' species to patch lists, so on it went. Two Patchwork Challenge points as well.

On other fronts, well, Mrs NQS and I have just returned from a few days in Bath to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It's always nice to stay in a 5-star hotel courtesy of Tesco vouchers. There is also cycling and gym, but I suspect few will wish to know my latest Strava conquests or details of my reps and sets. One reader might be happy to know that all my toes are still intact...

Finally then, something different...

Yesterday a Thrush Nightingale was found on the N Norfolk coast. Apparently it was a typical skulker and extremely difficult to get views. I say 'apparently' because everything I know of this bird and the circumstances surrounding it has been gleaned from Twitter. And again, apparently it was flushed several times in order first of all to identify it, and subsequently just to see it. One well-known Norfolk birder posted a photo, which prompted someone to ask him if this photo had been obtained during one of the "many reported organised flushes". The poster also asked whether our big-name birder thought this was a "reasonable and humane way for birders to behave".

Which got me thinking. Okay, so yes, of course the question is loaded, but I found myself trying to analyse why exactly it was asked...

"Do you think the organised, deliberate flushing of birds is a reasonable and humane way for birders to behave?"
Answer: Yes.
Conclusion: Our Norfolk friend is clearly a selfish low-life with no concern for a bird's welfare. Etc...
Answer: No.
Conclusion: And yet there you were getting involved, matey! Not only are we now dealing with someone who has no concern for a bird's welfare, but also a hypocrite and probably a liar.

I suppose there are other answers (basically though, all nuances of yes and no) but, however you look at it, this question - even if simply rhetorical - is designed for one purpose: to point an outraged and condemnatory finger, and to create a villain.

And us birders, we do that an awful lot. And we love it!!!

Twitchers, photographers, dudes, ringers, flushers, birders who keep stuff quiet, birders who blab too much, and so on ad infinitum. Depending on one's own perspective, any of the above might fall victim to our self-righteous finger of blame as we point it accusingly from the moral high ground.

Still, makes us feel really good about ourselves, eh!

Anyway, I do have views about flushing birds - organised or otherwise - and might churn something out for the next post...