Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The truisms of working a patch

I spent the morning (and early afternoon) at Canons Farm. It certainly had its moments, none more so than a flyover drake Gadwall, a new species for the site (there is no water by the way...). This event neatly illustrates one of the patch watcher's truisms - you CAN make a silk purse from a sow's ear. A Gadwall elsewhere would hardly get the pulse quickening, but this mornings drake had the three observers present in a slight state of joyful agitation. As would have done a Moorhen, Coot, Teal... you get the picture. We are knee-deep in Nuthatches here, they don't merit much thought, but if the same species turned up at Dungeness, then a full-scale twitch would be the outcome. In which case Canons Farms sow's-ear would become a Dungeness silk purse!

I also partook in another patch watcher 'given' - the scan of hope, brought about when corvids and (or gulls) frantically leap into the air with much excited calling. Now is the time to stare long and hard into the sky, because such behaviour can be brought about by the presence of raptors and big things that spook them - say a Crane, or White Stork. It also just might be a fox, helicopter or Sparrowhawk. Quite often nothing is on show to suggest why the avian dread started in the first place.

I also embarked on the tour of the patch's blue plaques, the places that, whenever you walk past, immediately remind you of a good bird that you once saw there. Just as the houses of the famous are commemorated by the placing of a lavender blue plate with the former residents details, walking along a certain fence line (Dartford Warbler) or field (Quail, Dotterel, Hen Harrier) releases little blue plaques in the brain.

I also did a lot of grasping at straws, mainly when about to scan a field (for Stone Curlew) or check a distant in-coming gull (for Osprey).

There are lots of these patch truisms, rituals and affectations. Someone ought to write a book about them.

4 comments:

  1. Hilariously true, Steve. You’ve captured the mindset perfectly.
    P.S. Send your Gadwalls this way. I’ve yet to see one on/over Trust land.

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    1. The Gadwall is on its way Lucy.... just hope it doesn't get waylaid by all those London reservoirs!

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  2. Brilliant post! Though normally it's one of the last 3...

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    1. Thanks Ed, it takes a 'patcher' to recognise these things...

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