Sunday, 7 November 2010

Nana my Beagle at the end of the rainbow.

I made my customary dawn visit to the reserve both yesterday and today but little has changed during this last week. The same three/four local wildfowlers were in their usual places on the saltings and once again there was very little for them to shoot at and the total of shots that I witnessed over the two mornings amounted to six and one shot Wigeon. I had a chat with one of them as he returned home along the top of the seawall and he bemoaned the lack of ducks that there are at the moment and suggested that the lack of water on the reserve had much to do with it. I agreed that he was partly right but also pointed out what I thought was patently obvious, that if they continue to turn up and gradually kill what few ducks that are left, then numbers will continue to decrease. Its amazing how the shooting fraternity always fail to accept that simple piece of mathmatics, much preferring to blame other reasons and hope that winter wildfowl will soon arrive and swell the target list.
Heavy rain is also forecast over the next few days so perhaps that will begin to put an inch or two in the ditches and keep us all happy.

Yesterday I had a few doubles bird-wise - 2 S.E.Owls, 2 Barn Owls and 2 ring-tailed Hen Harriers but none of them were about this morning, just Kestrels and Marsh Harriers making up the raptor numbers. Migrant Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Reed Buntings are currently on or passing through the reserve now and its easy to get flocks of up to 20/30 of each species most mornings. We are due to carry out the monthly WEBS count on Tuesday afternoon and this will give us a better idea of what exactly is, or isn't, on or around the reserve.

Last Monday, like a lot of the Kent birdwatching faternity, I watched the BBC4 programme entitled "Twitching: a British Obsession". As someone who has never liked this side of birdwatching I found that it pretty much lived up to my views on the people that pursue it and made that point on the KOS Forum. Predicatably my comments met with derision and much back-slapping and chumminess from the local twitchers as they stuck together like some kind of old boys' club.
What did amuse me though was a last desperate parting shot from one of them whereby he classified me as a twitcher. Despite the fact that I never go off of Sheppey to birdwatch and haven't even been to nearby RSPB Elmley in the last twenty years, this guy seems to base his logic on the fact that the minute that you leave your own garden to go and look at a bird, that technically classifies you as a twitcher. A bit like saying that as soon as I drive my car off the drive I could be called a racing driver - but if it keeps him happy!


  1. I look forward with interest on the results of the WEBS count derek. I once left my armchair and went out into the garden to see a ring necked parakeet - guess I am a twitcher after all :-)

  2. Lovely photo Derek.

    I was poised to make the point that the duck numbers were probably low because they keep shooting the poor things but you got there before me and even better told him so, well done! It just shows the level of intelligence of the average wildfowler.

    I too watched the twitchers programme and totally agree with you, they more or less lived up to my expectation too. As you may or may not know I had a little (fairly local) twitch of my own recently :) but I know it won't become a habit as it really isn't my idea of how to see birds.

  3. A Shy Songbird could never become a Twitcher - they are far to self-centered and brash - not at all how I imagine The Songbird.

  4. That is a really lovely photo -- you can even see a hint of a double rainbow.

  5. Thanks Wilma,

    There were indeed two rainbows for a brief moment but Nana didn't realise how blessed she was.

  6. The subject of "twitchers & twitching" is always likely to be quite emmotive. I didn't see any of the KOS stuff, yet can imagine the type of views that were expressed. I think that the saddest part of the BBC4 offering was that it failed to show the fun, enjoyment and camaraderie of this highly motivated group of birders. If they'd put a camera in with the Lawson posse, they'd have seen an entirely different side to the subject - laughter being something of mainstay during a day out.

  7. Dylan,

    Despite my dislike of most of the twitching scene I would agree that the programme was one-sided and did seem to have set out to paint twitchers as a very selfish and odd collection of people, which was enhanced when they gave Lee Evans such prominence.
    The arguement, made at least once in the KOS stuff, that much laughter and fun is had, is probably true, I guess a gang of football hooligans would say the same.

    I enjoy your blog by the way, its often fun to be controversial.