Monday, 17 August 2020

Treading water


Sometimes, birding locally can get to you. Today is such a day. It is a given that my bit of dry, northern Surrey is not going to measure up against Spurn or Dungeness (or Beddington or Holmethorpe for that matter), but when every other London park and Surrey heath is recording multiples of Pied Flycatcher - and I'm not - it starts to get personal.

The last five days has seen me visit Canons Farm, working all the copses, hedge-lines and weedy field corners. The last five days has seen low numbers of migrants. A few passing Chiffchaffs, a flock of four (and a one) Whinchat, a Stonechat, a single Willow Warbler, that's about it. I strongly suspect that all of the Whitethroats and Blackcaps are locally-bred loafers. My effort has been full on, my patience freely given. But each day I've left the farm with a sense of knowing that, even if I had stayed out in the field for an extra hour or two, nothing would have happened. Sometimes it goes like that.

After a barren three hours at the farm this morning I cut my losses to go and take a look at Ian Kehl's Wood Sandpiper at Holmethorpe (it was kind of Gordon to let him find it!!) My recent semi-twitches to Holmethorpe have been failures, so when an hour had elapsed and the wader had not shown on Spynes Mere, I feared the worst. It then decided to stop teasing me, and appeared on a relatively close island. Poor shot above.

In keeping with my dull mood, Holmethorpe irritates me. On the one hand I've had many happy moments here, but the fencing, high hedges, poor viewing points and the feeling of a reserve that is blowing a raspberry at the visiting birder do not help to make the birding experience an enjoyable one.

All highly unsatisfactory, and when you add to it a week of top migrant moth action, enjoyed by many, that bypassed my garden MV, I feel as if I'm out of the loop, off the pace, treading water and not playing my cards right.

10 comments:

Derek Faulkner said...

We all have those boring days Steve, you're forgetting the winter a couple of years ago when you had Hawfinches in the hundreds pretty much all to yourself.

Steve Gale said...

True Derek, very true...

Ric said...

I like to think that on days when nothing seems to be about, that's when a real mega can appear.
However, after too many outings of that nature, I've decided to give up thinking.

Steve Gale said...

Likewise Ric, and the more I think the less I know!

Stewart said...

Come on man, get with it. I read an article about local patching today by James Kenny that said, its no good getting worked up about the birds other people are seeing. There is always some one seeing better stuff than you, so when you do get a nice bird, the adrenaline rush will be all the better.

Today my mates had a Pied Fly, Pom and Long tail at Boulmer. I can see it from my patch. On my walk today I saw, er, nothing. Ive even googled Flower photography tonight...

Steve Gale said...

I know Stewart, but I do love to wallow in a bit of self-pity now and again, it’s a hobby of mine!

Gavin Haig said...

From all of my coastal spots, Portland looms large in the distance. Even from several miles away, the grass over there is clearly greener. Very, very occasionally I see a better bird locally than they've had all day. Hopefully it'll happen again once or twice before I peg it!

PS. You do know about the stringing option, right? ;)

Steve Gale said...

Mmmmmm....... coastal spots.......

Now, where was I?

Gibster said...

There've been flocks of Greenshank, godwits, masses of Ringed Plovers etc on the east coast of Skye lately. Orca, Risso's Dolphins, skuas and shearwaters off the west coast. Me, tucked into a bay on the north coast...er 6 Curlew, 13 Oyks and a Sedge Warbler. And today I'm going caving in the hope of finding troglobitic species in the gour pools, zero chance of passage waders in there! But the migrant birds will come, as they always do, and Banstead area is clearly a favourite of theirs. There's still plenty of time for that shrike on a Priest Hill hawthorn bush and we've seen what your trusty bridge camera can do.

Steve Gale said...

Seth, you should become a life coach - I’m all fired up now!