One day at a time... for ten years

I quote from Neil Randon's latest blog post, posted yesterday after he went and saw Surrey's fourth record of Red-rumped Swallow:

"I got to Unstead in 40 minutes, and Johnny (Allan) was already in position, alongside Brian Milton, the guy who discovered the bird . It was a major coup for Brian, who is nearing a remarkable landmark. He is fast approaching 3,500 days of continuous Unstead patch watching - that's nearly 10 years without a day off! It takes all sorts."

I'm not going to judge Brian on visiting the same place to go birding on a daily basis for so long - what he does with his life is his choice, and as long as he is not indulging in anything immoral or illegal then we can all keep out of it. My first thought was that he must be remarkably patient and tolerant. When I have spent any time birding in one place I cannot easily do a week in succession, let alone ten years. My second thought was that if there is a significant other in his life, then they must be terribly understanding. My final thought was that he has obviously not been on holiday, or travelled away from Surrey any great distance in all that time. Instead of sneering at such behaviour I applaud it. He has obviously found something that is a passion and keeps on giving. Isn't that something that we all strive for?

The only person that I can recall who has spent a similar number of years working the same site on an almost daily basis is Gary Messenbird, who was as much a fixture at Beddington Sewage Farm  as the Tree Sparrows. Currently, one Mr Johnny Allan is at the same sewage farm on a daily basis (and has been for the past couple of years) in his quest to topple the Surrey year total record (that he also holds). This is after many years that he has spent regularly birding on the farm. And don't think that I have forgotten David Campbell who has been using his break in full-time education to haunt Canons Farm every day that he can (and he cannot only when he rushes of on a distant twitch).

I admire those naturalists that keep at it. I just haven't got the patience to stick at anything day after day. Even weekly visits to a site can pall.

Hats off to them all...


Graham James said…
Dead right Steve. These dedicated local patchers are the backbone of birding in the UK and I too admire their staying power.
Like you, I can only take so much of one area and have to takes breaks from it occasionally to maintain the little bit of sanity that I still have.
In fact, I have to take breaks from birding altogether from time to time just to keep everything in perspective.

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