Saturday 4 May 2013

Ospreys, Kingfishers and Elephants

This morning was a bit of a write-off after some beers last night. The tipple of choice was "Osprey", and I am afraid to say that I over-indulged. Paying for it this morning, I wondered what I could do that would add meaning to my day. Ah-hah, I had it! I would go to a local wildlife reserve and photograph Kingfishers from a hide. What could possibly go wrong?

A Hawk and some Ospreys
Just about everything it transpires.I almost don't know where to start it was so painful. For ten though, to the woman in hob-nailed boots who came into the hide possibly eight times in three minutes, walked a circuit and then left again, if I ever see you again it will be too soon. To the fat, lumpy, green-clad dudes incapable of being quiet, and whose mission if life it was to excitedly and loudly point out the Kingfisher every time it flew in, I am in awe of your crassness. To the man with the velcro jacket who opened it and closed it again upwards of ten times in an hour, you nearly died. To all those with cameras who inexplicably rattled off a thousand frames when the bird was about half a mile away, I hope you enjoy your fuzzy blue dots and that they win prizes. To the ineffectual volunteer who any time anyone brushed the screen netting said not to touch the netting as it would scare the birds away, and yet failed to mention that shouting, pointing, stomping, slamming, waving and running might also have the same effect, I have no idea what to say. You are selflessly giving your time, and for that I salute you, but you are also completely wasting your time.

Stomp stomp stomp THERE IT IS!!! Slam Stomp stomp slam click click clickclickclick click stomp IT'S COMING CLOSER!!! please don't stomp click touch the stomp click click netting you'll IS THAT THE MALE? OH LOOK IT'S GONE INTO scare the birds THE HOLE click stomp stomp slam stomp away stomp ! LOOK AT THAT!!! stomp click stomp click OOOHHH!!!! IT'S HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Oh, it appears to have flown off........


I tested my exposure about eight times while I was there, and took one photo of the bird before realising I was wasting my time and leaving. There was no way it was going to come anywhere near the hide, the entire length of the window has been covered with scrim netting with just a few blank spots (with good reason, but it is highly irritating), the distortion through the glass was nearly impossible to deal with, and the place was chock full of absolute cretins.

I hate hides. I hate the occupants of hides. If it were just me in a hide, I could probably just about stand it, but even then I reckon I'd probably end up hating myself after a few hours. We just don't get on. OK, so the saturday of a bank holiday weekend was never likely to be the best hide experience I was ever going to have, but the lack of any common sense whatsoever was mind-blowing. If you're in a hide to watch birds, especially sensitive schedule 1 birds like Kingfishers, but really any hide, surely you must realise that sitting still and being quiet are of paramount importance? And if you don't, why don't you? And more importantly, how are you going to learn?

I suppose the mission of the RSPB is to raise awareness of birds, and to have people enjoy birds as if they enjoy them then they will help look after them. Fair play to them for keeping the hide open to allow that to take place, had it been me I would simply have locked it up for the duration. But if you're going to go to all that effort, why not make it absolutely clear as to how you behave in a hide? Silence, and no fidgeting.  No clogs, and no running. No shouting, no waving, and no screaming. Or you're thrown out. Easy.

I wandered around for a little bit, but my heart wasn't really in it, and the arrival of rain was in many ways a blessing and I went home to have a good old moan. I'm a big fan of my local wildlife reserve - I'm a voluteer there in fact - and I know I shouldn't be rude about it (and fellow volunteers), but there are some times when you go there and it just seems to typify everything that is wrong with watching wildlife in this country, which I suppose is largely that the people who watch it are mostly idiots out for a nice walk. Well meaning I don't doubt, and it's great so many people are at least a bit interested, but for the love of God please please please just SIT STILL and above all, SHUT UP!!!


  1. I know exactly how you feel.2 weeks in a row I had a volunteer enter the hide ( with schhhhh on the door ),sporting an EXTREMELY LOUD RADIO screaming out what else had been seen elsewhere on the reserve.

  2. Well it's a really nice kingfisher photo anyway...


  4. Jonathan, Calm down, you are not suppose to speak like that until you are my age, goodness knows what you're going to be like then. Even with no netting up you are never going to be able to get photo's through that glass, you should have just looked and walked calmly out and away. regards, Dave.