Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Little victories

On the TV the other night, I heard actor / comedian Alan Davies saying that life was all about little victories. When asked to explain what he meant, he recounted a story about being in bed with his baby on his chest when he heard a noise indicating that it was about to vomit. He was able to roll to the side and avoid being covered in sick - little victory.

Now fortunately I have never come close to being in this position and I don't intend changing that situation, but I guess that most natural history is about little victories. I've known the call made by Hawfinches for several year but there's a lot of difference between knowing something and having it really ingrained in your brain. As an example, I tend to pick up on the song or call of Wood Warblers long before other birders but I have never heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in three years of studying Wood Warblers, except once - when I was joined by an RSPB researcher who had studied Lesser Spots and she picked up on one within an hour!

Back to Hawfinches. As I say, I know the call but on several occasions last summer I found myself sitting somewhere and realising after about 10 minutes that there had been a Hawfinch calling above my head all along. This morning I was driving slowly through the New Forest on my way to survey Hawfinches. I had the window open and the radio on as I approached Millyford Bridge when I heard a tic call - like Robin alarm call but more metallic and more abruptly ended - Hawfinch! Now I know it's a small victory, and I really shouldn't be as chuffed as I am, but it's a victory nevertheless. Now if I can just find a Lesser Spot.

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