Saturday, 3 February 2018

Wildlife watching is often frustrating - honest!

You watch the telly. Sir David Attenborough is inches from a stunning wildlife spectacle, or conversing with a gorilla in a shrubbery. Wildlife watching is so easy isn't it? Well, actually no, after close to 50 years watching wildlife I have had many more frustrations than successes. But of course the successes are, well real successes. Those programmes like Blue Planet take 3 to 4 years to make and many hours of sitting twiddling thumbs waiting for two minutes of  action. And in my world of watching wildlife its the same. Take my jackdaws.
I call them my jackdaws but of course they are free flying corvids. Each morning at the moment , around 7.30am they fly low, below roof height, and true past the back of my house as about one hundred birds leave the night time roost and head off to the fields for breakfast. Normally I'm getting ready for work, and see them just feet from the kitchen window, jak-jacking as they pass. Thus this morning being Saturday a pint of tea in one hand, camera in the other, I found myself in a drizzly garden. Poised to take a photograph of the black missiles passing over. Thirty photographs later, this is the best!!!!
Today not only did they fly across in dribs and drabs of a few birds rather than the massed fly past, they also flew in front of the house or higher up and towards the sea. (Wouldn't you if I was out and about). As I only really have seconds to get ready before they are in view, I had the camera set up and ready. However because they didn't come in the planned flight path I made the cardinal mistake of hand holding the camera, on a dull drizzly day, before sunrise. The result as you can see was spectacular.
So there you go. Watching wildlife is a hit and miss process. Some days you win, some days like today you lose. But that's not the point, as the saying goes, the "destination is about the journey". I remember in the 1980's training up people in otter surveying and a long conversation with a lovely chap who had come on a training day I was running only to at the end complain we'd not seen an otter all day, so what's the point of this? Despite seeing an otter slide, otter spraints and being surrounded by fabulous wildlife along the River Coquet, he just didn't get it. He didn't get that seeing signs are just as important as the animal itself. It takes all sorts, I often wonder if he still looks for otters.
So the moral of the story is as I explained to a very new to the job National Trust warden, "come to a spot where you think there is wildlife, sit down, and watch, every day and eventually the wildlife will come to you, and how you want it". Or take an expert that has done much of the leg work beforehand of course.
Such as seen recently on TV my friend and superb naturalist John Walters and his long tailed tits night roost which took three years to find, but that's for another day.... maybe a posting about the potter wasps John took me to see. Magic.

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