It would be a gross understatement to say I have pushed myself. Dunnock is currently missing from my local patch list, and do you know what, I don't really mind that much. One day soon, meandering around the patch, I will register the shrill song of a Dunnock, and I might even remember that this represents a patch year tick.
A number of other local patch workers seem to feel a bit like I do, as if a different approach is needed. I do hope that my patch year-listing effort in 2021 is not responsible for killing off our collective enthusiasm, but I can't help feeling as if it has. Having hit it it out of the park last year I definitely don't feel the need to do so again this year. I am not sure to what extent we all compete against each other. It feels more like a collective effort, with our Saturday morning excursions more a good excuse to chat to people that we don't live or work with and scoff bacon butties than to urgently seek out avian life. Sure we keep half an eye on what others have seen, what they might be missing, but actively competing, probably not, or at least not very much. Last year I was only vaguely aware of what the patch record was until the last couple of months when it was pointed out to me. I knew it was Nick, but until he told me the exact number it hadn't really registered. Mostly I was trying to eclipse my previous best, and that I think is the central problem this year - it is unattainable in my mind. I don't think I'll ever get anywhere near it again and so I am not trying to. In other words I have given up even before even starting. Given that pretty much every single other local birder also got their best ever tallies last year this may explain the somewhat relaxed approach this year. Apart from Simon who is absolutely killing it for some reason and just needs to calm down!
So, no Dunnock. No Linnet, no Reed Bunting, no Mistle Thrush, no Great-crested Grebe, no birds of prey other than a solitary Kestrel, no GBB, no Snipe, no Treecreeper, and no Cetti's Warbler. Also no Tawny Owl despite nightly weak bladder issues..... All this adds up to, or rather does not add up to, my lowliest January total since 2009, a year when I only just made three figures. In other words I think 2022 is going rather well versus my aims and ambitions, and it also means that February will be a lot more exciting than it usually is!
In other news and a propos of nothing at all, in one of my few forays out I bumped into the Epping Forest Longhorn Cattle (Wanstead Park sub-division) at the bottom end of the plain. They have spent a number of weeks/months in the Park over the last few years but I had never seen them. Not sure how as they are absolutely massive. Their movements are controlled by geo-locating collars which do something to them (blow them up?) if they go beyond a certain point, so there is no need for fences or cattle grids. I understand they have now been moved back to join the rest of the herd further up in the forest, so I only just scraped in.