Rock Thrush and hypocrisy

I have been right royally entertained by my Twitter feed this afternoon, following the trials and tribulations of birders sharing their angst and deliberations as to whether or not to travel to Spurn to try and see a Rock Thrush. These cries for digital help have been answered by others tweeters, egging them on to go, or bemoaning that they would join them but for work. Some have admitted to bunking off employment, lying to the 'other-half' and stealing cars to make a Humberside-bound get away - thank God I got out of twitching years ago!

Before I appear 'holier-than-thou' I must admit to being guilty of one of the longest episodes of bunking-off in recorded history. It was October 1979 and my good birding friend Dave Eland was about to leave for a two week holiday to the Isles of Scilly. I spoke to him the evening before his departure, me green with envy, but I couldn't take it any longer - he had space in his car so I asked for a lift. He was only too happy to oblige. There was a problem however. I was, at the time, a full-time student at art college and it was term-time. No problems, I thought, I'll sort that out when I return...

Two weeks later, after a fairly average Scilly sojourn (best bird a Rose-breasted Grosbeak), I returned to college where my head tutor ushered me into his office. "Where have you been?" he asked. I adopted a very sad face, looked at the ground and mumbled something about 'family problems', 'private matters' and 'rather not talk about it'. And do you know what - it worked. I think he felt sorry for me for the rest of my time as a student, no doubt imagining all sorts of horrible goings-on at my home.

Now, what I find interesting is my reaction to similar examples of bunking off that are being performed by modern-day student birders (yes, you David!) Having been a serial bunker-offer in the past, I am now a bit sniffy about it (my current thinking suggesting a lack of application in the perpetrator's studies and loose moral fibre). Talk about being hypocritical! I put this down to trying to convince myself that it is more desirable to conform to dull normality rather than living the dream - I am certainly attempting to call night 'day' with this. After all, this ornithological enthusiasm 'burning brightly' doesn't last forever, so why not grasp it while it's there? I'm looking out of a window now at the sky and wishing I was birding, that's for sure.

But, I can type this, happy in the fact that I'm laid-back about the presence of a Rock Thrush at Spurn and have no compulsion to leave at once.

Having already seen one in this country does also help...


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