Thursday, 2 September 2010

Yes, a tick does still matter

Back in July I rolled back the years and stayed at Dungeness Bird Observatory for a whole week. It was like being a teenager again. But, unlike my previous July visits to DBO (back in the 1970s and 1980s), there were birds to watch - some of them very good birds. Firstly, the breeding Purple Herons at the RSPB reserve were on show, together with a Great White Egret and a Bittern. I spent hours scanning through the gulls and on one particular evening up to 70 Mediterranean Gulls had gathered by the patch, most of them juveniles. But one bird in particular stood out from the rest - a White-tailed Plover. I don't refer to it as a White-tailed Lapwing, just in case you're wondering, any more than a Nuthatch is a Wood Nuthatch or a Dunnock a Hedge Accentor. Anyway, back to that Sunday afternoon when the plover turned up: I was looking forward to the World Cup final later that evening, so really didn't need any excitement late in the afternoon. However, a vague message reached the observatory about the claim of a WTP on ARC pit. Of course we bundled into a car and went. On arrival no bird was on show and there was a buzz of confusion as to if one had been seen at all. This was rectified when frame-filling photographs of the bird were offered around by the finders. They also let us know that it had flown off, and flown-off high. After an hour, and with no-show, it seemed to have gone. It was then that my state of couldn't-care-less-ness dissolved into a tight-knotted resentment that the bloody thing hadn't hung around. All those recent years of conditioning myself not to get down over missed birds had spectacularly unravelled. Bollocks...

And then we heard that the plover had landed in front of the Screen Hide. Only 200m away. Did I run? Of course I did. And what a bird.

The previous day I had asked Dave Walker, the DBO warden, if he would be watching the Spain versus Holland World Cup final on the observatory television. "Yes," he replied, "but not if a White-tailed Plover turns up." True.

1 comment:

Gavin Haig said...

Well, well. You too eh? Very pleased to see you back, Steve. Will get a link in pronto.

A week at Dunge is bound to get the juices flowing, so not surprised you experienced a bit of 'dip resentment'....and then found yourself running! It's hard to be dignified in middle age when you're a birder!