Possessiveness is a funny thing – it can even infiltrate your birding...
On Saturday I was lucky enough to find a flock of a dozen Hawfinches at Juniper Bottom, close to Mickleham. Hawfinches are one of my favourite species, no doubt partly because of their unpredictability and elusiveness. Anyhow, I alerted the local birding scene and was soon joined by David Campbell, Phil and Jamie. Alas, by the time the ornithological cavalry arrived, the birds had departed.
Yesterday, David returned (he is, if nothing else, persistent) and was treated to a minimum of a hundred Hawfinches. He phoned me from Juniper Bottom in a state of shock. I went back in the afternoon, but the birds had once more cleared off. But not the birders. There were three groups, and by and large they were all decent chaps, but this unsettled me. Whenever I have been to Juniper Bottom in the past (admittedly looking for plants and butterflies), other birders have not been a part of the scene. They had, of course, every right to be there. In fact one of them, Nick Unwin, was a thoroughly nice bloke and we had quite an interesting chat.
Mentions of these birds appeared on the internet, in bird forums, on news feeds, on blogs. ‘My’ Hawfinches had become public property and I didn’t like it. This is quite a strange reaction, I must admit. I’m glad others have seen the birds (particularly David) but cannot pretend to like a mini birding invasion on one of ‘my’ patches or the joint-ownership of ‘my’ birds. The truth is it isn’t my place or my birds. It just feels as if they are. This isn't an advocation of suppression - I like sharing in any find that I make. I suppose it is an admission that the personal contact that is made with nature (such as stumbling across a Hawfinch flock when you are not expecting it) is sullied a little when it (or they) become a shared event.