Sunday 12 February 2012

Patch naming conventions

Do you give bits of your patch names? You know, names that are not the actual names as recognised on maps and so on? I do, and the genesis of this post comes from trudging around a few of them today and giving it a bit of thought as I did so. A lot of my trudging was actually outside the patch - the reason for this was that there were two Smew just south of us beyond the Old Sewage Works, presumably the bird from a few days ago plus another one. The boundary is marked by some large iron gates. These are the Gates of Mordor, and beyond them are the badlands. Very rarely do I go beyond these gates, there are nastly things like Orcs that live there - I know this as I sometimes see them whilst driving through Ilford. Today however I braved danger and death in an effort to gently shepherd the Smew back onto the patch, engaging in an elaborate flanking maneuvre on near the Golf Course before popping up on the river bank, but it was a heroic failure. They initially flew in the right direction, but then deliberately turned around, flew back over my head and landed even further away from the patch boundary, at which point I gave up and trudged back to safety.

The Gates of Mordor aren't really called that, that's just the name I have given them. They probably don't even have a real name, and are just one of these anonymous locations that when quizzed about a bird you end up saying "Oh yeah, er, it was by that bit, er you know, those gates near the big trees with the green grass...". So instead you can, as I have done, give somewhere a catchy name and thus be instantly understood - provided you have briefed people in advance about the stupid name you have given it. Otherwise they just stare at you blankly I find. The Gates of Mordor are now relatively well understood, but in the early days I remember calling Nick to find out about where something was, and he said whatever it was was underneath the stump by the Gates of Mordor. I dutifully trotted off there and on finding no stump, discovered that he called a totally different set of gates The Gates of Mordor - you can imagine how silly he felt when I told him.

Other good patch names are Motorbike Wood on Wanstead Flats, which in true urban fashion, for a period of time held a burnt out moped. This is long gone, but from now until eternity it will be called Motorbike Wood, and unless you birded the area in about 2008, you will have no idea why. The wood that surrounds the petrol station is called Esso Copse, and a very distinct part of the SSSI is called the Boggy Bit. Other bits of patch are named after memorable birds, so we now have a large patch of broom known as the Dartford patch, and of course "the bit near Alex where the Wryneck was". 

Today I learnt a new patch name from Steve - Dangerous Dog Ditch. I had wonderful visions of this being an infamous location where Steve had once been assaulted by a particularly vicious Pomeranian, but it turns out that it is a boggy depression near the Roding where once upon a time there had been a signpost that had warned of unstable ground, and that someone had graffitied it with a further warning that it was dangerous for dogs, which could sink. Although the sign now lies on the ground obscured by grass - one presumes felled by an irate person who had until recently owned a dog but had not read the sign in time - it will evermore be known, by Steve and now by me, as Dangerous Dog Ditch. Today there was a Woodcock in it - Steve didn't see it, he was too busy watching where he was treading....

Took me a long while to select this photo, had to make sure I hadn't mentioned of inferred Moorhen anywhere in my post....

1 comment:

  1. I have lots of names for bits around Galley - some of them from historic birder-lore such as "Shite Lane", so-called cos the lane used to "run with shite" when they walked cows up and down the hill, rather than a birdy connection, and "lasher's cross", where the Lashers live, or more accurately used to live I suppose, since they don't appear to live there anymore. Then there is the rather boring "top lane" cos its the lane at the top of the hill, "marsh lane" made famous by my marsh warbler from 2004, and, stolen from Tory Island cos I liked the idea "The Magic Bush", which is a secret location that I cannot divulge at this point but will do one day when I find a mega in it! Its not had much yet, but you never know!