Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Low-maintenance Whinchats

Heat haze. Against the light. At distance. No excuses, this is a very poor record shot being used as 'visual filler'.
I've not posted for at least five days - that is some sort of modern record. I bumped into Geoff Barter down at Canons Farm this morning, who commented on my lack of blogging. He thought that I must have hoofed it off to Dungeness or something. When I explained that I hadn't really seen much, he replied:

"Well that doesn't usually stop you!"

To borrow one of Geoff's own sayings, nuff said...

Back to this morning's Canons Farm vigil. It was hard going. Empty stubble fields. Quiet hedgerows. Silent copses. And just six miles away (as the Sabine's Gull flies), Beddington was having a stormer. So Geoff and I waited for any of their crumbs to come our way. Our wait was long, and hot, and largely barren. All was saved by a group of five Whinchats that haunted the bean crop in Skylark Field (one of them appears above). Up to 100 Swallows, six Meadow Pipits, five Chiffchaffs and 50+ Linnets were supporting cast.

But, regardless of our relative failure, we still go out and we continue to look. Inland (and water-free) patch birding is a question of the adoption of blind faith. Of accepting that the rough far outweighs the smooth. It is the hiding place of many a long-in-the-tooth birder, who has retired from the crowds, doesn't want to follow the sheep and maybe, in their own dozy way, wants to establish a purer form of birding. It is low-maintenance and it is highly rewarding. Those Whinchats this morning may only be Whinchats, but they were OUR Whinchats. Nobody would have known about them had we not looked, and there is undeniably something more meaningful and intimate about that.

Or am I just trying to convince myself?


  1. Well you convinced me, that's what proper patch watching as all about, you take the rough with the smooth and still enjoy it. Why go off chasing after somebody else's birds, find your own and enjoy them when you do - and then keep them to yourself.

  2. As tedious, frustrating and laborious as inland patch birding can be, I'm right with you!

  3. Canons has certainly been better than at Holmethorpe these past few days - the odd Whinchat, but I've seem to miss them when I've been out. Yesterday was dire - 1 Little Egret and a showy Snipe being the highlight. Hopefully this weather today will drag something out of the skies. Beddington has been having a great time of it, especially with gulls. That Sabine's Dodge found was a brilliant find.

    1. Patches seem to go through runs of success Neil - patience is always rewarded!