Tuesday 6 October 2015

Dogged persistence delivers the goods

With massive overnight rain yet a day that dawned bright and relatively clear, there was only one place to be at first light. Long Wood, the favoured haunt of Ring Ouzels at this time of year. Jeremy Bob had found the first of the autumn at the weekend while I was away enjoying Snow Bunting, and my first opportunity came today. You can only imagine my massive disappointment and frankly, rage, at approaching Long Wood and seeing 187 dogs, an enclosure, some little jumps and a fat lady giving out ribbons. It's ridiculous it really is. I had hit the Flats at about 6:45am, it was barely light and yet the place was overrun. Ring Ouzels are about the shyest bird species known to man, nervous beyond belief. I don't think I'll ever come across a friendly one, you get within a hundred yards and they're gone. So to have Crufts in full swing before it was even light was a major obstacle to seeing one. It was hopeless, and I started thinking dark thoughts. Mainly about how ISIS were better than dog-walkers, several of whom were chummily (see what I did there?) chatting away as their charges crapped wantonly in the long grass away from view. I've said it before and I'll say it again now.

Dog-walkers are the most selfish and deluded group of people on this earth.

They are never in the wrong, they have an absolute God-given right to do whatever the hell they want, and hey, if their dog deposits a turd and they don't see it, well so what, it's somebody else's problem at that point. Which it largely is even if they do see it. I would be willing to bet that 90% of dog walkers on Wanstead Flats have never picked up their dog's mess in the entire time they've owned it. They're arrogant, defensive and aggressive to the point of absurdity, and do not give a flying fuck about anyone other than themselves. And in case you hadn't worked it out I hate them passionately. 

Today however I didn't even talk to a dog walker. I just silently loathed them just for being there, just for existing, for totally scuppering any meagre chance I had at seeing a special bird. I met up with John W at the east end of the wood in a grim mood. He too was feeling completely disillusioned with London living, of his birding dreams dashed by the omnipresence of other people of the sort most likely to result in fewer birds with the possible exception of gamekeepers. We whinged for a while before going our separate ways. Roughly 30 seconds after this I glanced up at the sky and picked out a Short-eared Owl spiralling up from roughly the Coronation Copse. "John! John!!". He heard my desperate cries and came back quickly (I can't in all honesty call it running!), thinking I had an Ouzel. Fat chance, but as it happens SEO was a year-tick and only my fourth in over a decade, whereas I found five Ring Ouzels this April alone and have seen well over 20 individuals here since I started watching the patch.The irony that a dog had probably flushed the owl out of the long grass that I would not walk in was not lost on me.

I went to work buoyed by this success, and continued to thank my good fortune for the rest of the day. 

John carried on birding and found an Ouzel.

1 comment:

  1. Thought you might show a bit of concern for the vast amounts of litter on "the patch" and the homeless camping in the bushes who also seem to use the area as a toilet. More disgusting than the obsessively hated dogs.