While we are on the subject of stressed out naturalists, I completed one of my regular BTO 'Bird Track' surveys at Margaretting today and in fifty years of walking the farmland in this area I cannot recall a more dispiriting count. Pigeons, Corvids and Gulls apart, three hours of walking produced 30 birds of 11 species and not a single farmland (as opposed to woodland edge) species among them! I have never spent three hours in the Essex countryside before without seeing a Chaffinch! Then, at the very end of the walk, a Red Kite flew overhead, a bird still scarce enough in Essex to lift my spirits. Alas, how easily we are sidetracked by the rare and the exciting. Even so, it was a relief to get back to suburbia and a garden full of birds.
For the record, since the 1939-45 War (but mostly in the past 25 years) fourteen species have, for various reasons (most often habitat loss or deterioation) been lost as breeding birds from Ingatestone parish, namely, Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Redshank, Snipe, Nightjar, Red-backed Shrike, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Willow Tit, Nightingale, Hawfinch, Lesser Redpoll. Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow. A further seven - Barn Owl, Kingfisher, Skylark, Mistle Thrush, Garden Warbler, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting - have declined by 80+% and eleven - Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, House Martin, Marsh Tit, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Linnet, Yellowhammer and House Sparrow - by between 90 and 99 per cent!
Still, it could be worse. I'm sure they're working on it ---------!!! I'm off to have a stiff drink! Graham