It is beginning to dawn on me, like a summer sunrise; gradually at first yet with increasing speed, that I have been stuck in such a situation with birding. My relationship (as it were) with birding has for a while been strained; when a rare occasion arises, and presents me with the opportunity to go birding, it seems that for all the work I put in - travelling, wandering around, more travelling - and all that I suffer - travel sickness, strain upon my decrepit old eyes, cold, hunger, more travel sickness - that birding does not in turn do its part. Like that one colleague whose phone is seemingly more important than the task at hand, the input from the 'birding gods' seems at best, half-hearted.
Over the last 6 months my life has become drastically more busy, what with full-time education, part-time employment and adding the weekly wear upon my camera's shutter-count. This being so, the occasions where have I actually have gone birding are probably few enough to count on... I'd like to say two hands, but I feel that would be an exaggeration... so, one hand it is... and that can most probably be done without including the thumb. A sad state of affairs yes, but it does mean that the crushing disappointment of dipping can be replaced by the subtler disappointment of not finding a Wheatear on the patch for yet another consecutive year.
This week however, with Easter break now in effect, the amount of free time available for me has increased rather drastically, leading me at times with nothing better to do than lounge in the sun and read... ah, 'tis a hard life.
When news broke of a Blue Rock Thrush in the county I thought perhaps an expedition away from the warmth of the balcony could well be in order. An egg (of metaphorical reality, of course) was laid, and from it hatched the birding bug. And, like a vivacious mosquito on a summer night, the birding bug bit. And the bite? The bite didn't produce an 'itch' as such, more a calling. A calling that swayed my mind into believing that it was semi-acceptable to get up at 5:40am during Easter break. Fun fact: it's not.
Thanks to the generosity of a local birder who was willing to give me a lift, I was saved from the multitude of horrors that constitute the public transport system - were I a sardine, I would rather be in the sea than packed in a tin. Thankfully, I'm not a sardine, and so, don't have to be in either; but buses and tins can have a worrying amount in common.
The thrush had been seen for most of the previous day and was still present at dusk, so our hopes of it remaining were quite high.... a little tip for birding: never, never get your hopes up.
As we drove to the site we were greeted with a spectacular sunrise over the Sussex countryside. A spectacular sight, and one which was most probably as interesting as the day got, for, despite an hour or so of eye-straining, no blue thrushes of any kind materialised.
After the hour or so had elapsed, other engagements called, which for me constituted little more than gaining some extra sleep. It was decided, upon departure, that the bird had most probably, nay, certainly been plastic (as in not wild, rather than literally plastic. That being said, I didn't see any videos of it so you never know) and good riddance to it... No, I'm not a sore loser. Okay, well, maybe just a little bit, but I had only got 5 hours sleep. The hours of sleep one has in a night is yet another thing that should not be countable on just one hand.
It was at least an experience, a break from the norm, and that is something which in most cases should be strived for, even if it doesn't go exactly as you had hoped. Next time birding, you better play your part, otherwise I might just become a patch-birder for good....
*See, a good complain, now wasn't that fun?