I have just about recovered from missing a patch Osprey. It is not the missing of it, I've seen one, but the manner of missing it. As I have no doubt recounted once or twice (or perhaps approaching 20 times...) I am unable to bird the patch beyond about 8am. Other birders are able to bird the patch until well past lunchtime. Other birders therefore escort me off the patch towards varying methods of public transport, chuckling gently, for they know that as soon as I am gone the real action can begin. I could probably cope if a good bird was subsequently found mid-morning, say 10:30. I'd be well into my mornings work, and there would not be a lot I could do about it. What does my head is in is quite how frequently this occurs almost instantaneously, as generally I am on the station platform. This time they didn't even wait that long.
It is a running joke, of course. As I left, a cheery wave, and so I reciprocated with a text almost as soon I was off-patch. "Do your worst" I think I said. By return, news of the Osprey. I assumed this was a joke, indeed a very poor one, as Osprey is basically the only patch blocker I have. Half a minute later and it was all over the web. FFS. I had missed it by perhaps five minutes, maybe even less than that. As I say, by an hour or so, whatever, but the consistency with which this tends to occur within minutes is unbelievable, and my tolerance for it is wearing more than a little thin.
I always knew that this year wouldn't be a big year on the patch - I have other priorities, not least a very busy period at work, but I have grown a little tired of the same old same old of it. I'm also sick of seeing dogs running wild over the habitat despite the signage, and getting unwarranted verbal abuse from their owners if I dare to politely explain what the issue is. I'm fed-up of the continual degradation of the habitat from the absurdly misguided slash-and-burn management techniques of the Corporation, who rather than police the area properly, prefer to simply cut down the invertebrate-rich understory that might otherwise conceal illicit activities. And I'm frustrated at the selfish behaviour that means the patch is covered in litter and used prophylactics. Oh, and not forgetting morally deficient pikeys. It's just one thing after another, and this latest near-miss isn't going to help get me back into it. Indeed, I didn't bother even going birding for over a week afterwards. What's the point? I'm just going to be disappointed that I can't do it justice - better that I pour my energies into something else. Why bother trudging round for a couple hours seeing not a lot, then to be immediately gripped off by all the stuff I missed that suddenly comes out as soon as I'm gone. And it does suddenly come out, it's not like I walk past with my eyes closed - I think the time I have to leave is precisely the time that it warms up sufficiently for small birds to come out and start feeding, especially at this most interesting time of the year.
So, I have mostly hit the big "sod it" button, and am concentrating on other things. Mainly getting the hell out of this shitty and over-crowded country to places which are remote enough that I can go about my birding without getting disturbed, hassled, abused, threatened or gripped. Funnily enough I find it a lot more enjoyable that way. London and the South-east have to be some of the worst places to bird I can think of. Too many people is the bottom line, and wildlife and the enjoyment (and protection) of it comes a distant last. And I for one am approaching the point where my enthusiasm can no longer overcome all of negative aspects that unfortunately come with the territory.