Awful news. I have just noticed that I'm losing acolytes at a rate of knots! The other day it was a massive 144, a couple of days ago it dropped to 143. Ah well, people do die I thought to myself. Today it's down to 142...another four and a bit months and it'll be none at all!
It's probably because I shouted at that old woman on the Flats at the weekend. Hours of pent up anger all came out in one go when some people flushed some Fieldfares I was stalking. Yes, you understand me correctly, it wasn't even her, and yet she copped the flak, including the use of those filthy words "bloody", "people" and "dogs". To her credit, and beleing her old age, rather than gasp with a prim "well I never" and run away, she said I should move house if I didn't like it. Touché. But how could she have possibly known I lived here? I might just have been visiting.....
It has been bad lately. The number of witless acts I've been on the receiving end of, both at home and further afield, has really been getting to me. Testy at the best of times, downright unfriendly at other times, I've become prone to snapping quite quickly. It will get me stabbed one of these days. Though not, I hope, by old ladies. Actually, maybe I hope that it is by old ladies, as I might just stand a chance. It's just that there are too many people using too small a space, and any aims and ambitions I might have are completely incompatible with urban London. Birders are a grumpy lot for the most part, it is no surprise that many leave London for less well-populated climes. The answer is probably a combination of a stagnant patchlist on the one hand, combined with a certain amount of world-weariness and loathing of their fellow man on the other. Factor in rising house prices and it's no wonder many of them jack it in and move away. A long way away. Lately I've been feeling the same, though I doubt this has come across in my blog. Not that I get much opportunity to get out on the patch of course, but when I do the level of immediate (and idiotic) disturbance I face is perhaps doubly hard to bear. Half the time I don't even feel like going out as I know that somebody is going to ruin it for me within a hundred yards. And that's a fact. It's not a maybe, or a perhaps, it's a cast-iron certainty. Be they dog-walkers, people out for a walk, Polish drunks, model airplane fliers or whoever, none of them understand what birding is about, and less than none of them understand bird photography, which is of course my major gripe.
Perhaps I am being unrealistic, but would you walk in front of a camera that someone was clearly aiming at something? Would you continue towards the person clearly looking at something through binoculars directly between you and them? Is that a level of understanding too far? Maybe it would depend on your mood? I still remember with great affection the man who slowly and deliberately threw a stick into the water for his dog right into the middle of some close-in Tufties I was photographing on the Heronry Pond, and when I looked round gave me a little wave. Although this was several years ago, I was pleased to find his photo in my extensive files, and so for the first time can share it with you. I had called the image "Tosser" for reasons now lost in the mists of time. Perhaps it will come back to me.
Clearly this was blatant git-ism; most of the time it is of course completely innocent and people just do not realise. It would be nice if they sometimes showed a little grace when the error of their ways was pointed out to them, but hey, this is London, and as I've proved recently, grace goes both ways.