Tuesday 15 February 2011

Inner Strength and Momentous Resolve

Yesterday my pager bleeped, or it would have done had I had it switched on (yes I still have it, there is a notice period in the small print). Instead I had a few phone calls from some rabid twitchers I know. "Go go go!" they shouted down the phone. "Eh?" I replied. "Isn't that Jono 'filthy' Lethbridge?" they responded.

I know of no such person. I am a changed man. The message was about a Rufous Turtle Dove in a garden in Oxford. This is very mega, the first southern record for about sixty years, and the home owner, having read my Crow Council piece, had opened up his garden to the masses. He would allow access from 10am until 4pm on Tuesday, and on Tuesdays I am childless and 100% available. Surely I would be going, my friends enquired.

I admit I weighed it up. Two hundred miles there and back, that's about £3,250 of diesel. Four hours in the car, including the first leg on the M25 during the morning rush. Arrival time of 11:30am at the very earliest. I would have needed to leave at 1pm at the latest to ensure I got back to pick up the kids from school. An hour and a half on site, with viewing restricted to ten at a time from a kitchen window, with anxious birders queuing down the street to gain access. Did I want to be part of that? Did I want to stand in a residential street looking like a complete tit along with likely several hundred other people looking like complete tits, whilst looking at my watch every five minutes. Come 1pm, in the queue still, would I attempt to stay that little bit longer. And then just a bit longer? Frankly it had Lesser Kestrel written all over it.

Rufous enough for you?

Today is Tuesday, and I am in Wanstead. The March issue of that august publication Birdwatch Magazine has just landed on doormats (and is available from all good newsagents - buy your copy today!). In it I muse that birding needs to be enjoyable. Indeed - and here is a freebie - the last sentence reads "When your birding is reduced to periodic moments of blind panic, surely it’s time to reevaluate". Going to Oxford on Tuesday did not have many of the hallmarks of an enjoyable day, so you know what? I passed. Mega it might have been, nihth ever it might have been, but fun it would not have been. So no thanks, and I get to not be a hypocrite for a change.

Instead I went for a walk round Wanstead Park. I had a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker down near the Ornamental Waters, and 11 Pied Wagtails feeding together on the cricket pitch was mega in its own way. In Oxford, 700 people turned up, and the bird did a runner just before 9am. Result.

1 comment:

  1. See Steve Gale's blog on the same topic http://northdownsandbeyond.blogspot.com/.

    Tits we would certainly have been if we had all gone to Oxford to gawp at this pigeon. I couldn't bare the shame.