Tuesday 20 December 2022

Life in the Freezer

This blog and its title don't often see eye to eye these days. I'm aware of this and I don't really mind that much. Hats off to those who continue to write about their local goings on though, I still read a few of them and wish I could diligently do the same. Once upon a time I was right there with them, and maybe one day I will be again, but right now it is hard. Part of it, I am sure, is that I don't take a camera round with me any more, and when I don't have a photo any words I may come up with seem to fall flat. I could take a camera - I have several as regular readers will know - but I just don't enjoy birding locally with a camera as I can't take the kind of photos that I enjoy taking. Yes I could take a photo of Blue Tit with a bunch of twigs around it, on one of which would likely be swinging a small bag of dog shit, but for some reason it just does not appeal, despite the likely positive impact it would have on my creativity. No, these days I much prefer to just have a wander around with bins, seeing what I can see. Readers would of course be forgiven for thinking that I never bird the patch any more but that is simply not true - I have submitted 101 checklists this year so far and there are a few more to come. It is just that I cannot be bothered to write about it very much as I find it essentially impossible to make it sound interesting. Those 101 checklists cover 115 species, including two patch lifers in the form of Merlin and Tree Sparrow. I think I probablty did mention these, but of course those are exceptional events. Most patch visits see a succession of the same birds - as anyone who regularly birds a patch will know, at times you do feel like a broken record, simply going through the motions as the seasons change. I've been here before is a frequent feeling, and I often wonder why I am doing it. Then I remember that the alternative would be to sit indoors being bored and getting even chubbier.

I have no upcoming New Year's resolutions about how I am going to bird Wanstead like never before. Pointless. I am going to do what I enjoy most at the moment, which is a bit of everything and a fair amount of travel. It will therefore perhaps not surprise you to hear that I am writing this not from Wanstead but from Scotland, where I am passing a few days in a warm house with an Aga. My parent are old and both need and can afford to pay for heating. They are very lucky, and so I am to be here - my own house in Wanstead is basically a fridge for large parts of the day. We can also afford heating but we prefer to use it sparingly for all sorts of reasons. I missed most of the recent cold snap by virtue of being in Lanzarote, more of which later, but I did come back to freezing conditions and a local landscape covered in ice. I dread to think what has happened in my greenhouse as I am not heating that either..... I was too late for the early pulse of Lapwing and Golden Plover, and in Scotland for the most recent birds, but during the two days I was at home I did manage a single bird out of the 400 that passed over. 

The patch was beautiful actually, the snow covered all the litter and the crap,and for a few days it looked simply glorious. I walked to work one day across Wanstead Flats - very few birds other than 102 Redwing and 5 Fieldfare, but it was one of those freezing yet clear days that make you glad to be alive and in one piece. I nearly ruined the in one piece part by coming within a whisker of falling over of the ice several times, but managed to recover on each occasion and make it to the train station. This being the UK there were of course no trains. This particular train service, the brand new Elizabeth Line, was not on strike, but fell into line anyway by breaking down. Excellent. I walked half way to work instead as there didn't seem to be many buses and those that did pass were rammed as there were no trains. I should have stayed in Lanzarote. 


  1. The inevitable repetition that characterises your average birding blog (including mine) is probably more of a concern to the writers than the readers. At least, I hope so. Whatever, I enjoyed this post. As always. 😊