Should I stay or should I go? It was 7.25 am, but I had only until 10 ish before we headed off on a family day out. It seemed too small a window to get to Banstead and back and allow enough time to try for yesterday’s very intermittent Quail. What’s more, Factor’s comment on the blog last night about the bird going silent wasn’t exactly encouraging.
So I set off in the opposite direction to Rainham, getting only as far as a mile from home when my phone peeped. It was a text from David Campbell, the industrious young birder who’d found the Quail yesterday: “Quail still 6.44am ….” In an instant, my previous thought-train was derailed. Fast-forward what turned out to be 55 miles, and I arrived at Canon’s Farm to be greeted by a triumphant David, who had not long clapped eyes on the bird. We rushed to the field, took up position on the footpath and waited expectantly.
After a short time, an old lady walking two dogs approached from the left. To the right, I noticed two women jogging with another brace of mutts in tow. At the moment at which the two parties of dogs met, almost at our feet, the Quail started calling. But my delight at hearing the bird was instantly tempered by one of the approaching joggers bellowing “OI, FIDO, CM’ERE!!”
Politely, I asked her not to shout, as we were trying to birdwatch. The Quail called again. So did the jogger. Very loudly. “OOO D’YOU FINK YOU’RE TALKING TO, THEN?? I calmly restated my case, to which she replied, with bulging veins and hairs on her upper lip trembling, something along the lines of “I COME DAHN ’ERE FREE TIMES A DAY AND NO ONE TELLS ME WOT TO DO!” I helpfully pointed out that she was free to visit 100 times daily if she wanted, but that shouting wasn’t necessarily fun for everyone else in the Banstead area. “EH?!? I’M TRY’NA CONTROL ME DOG, AIN’T I??!!” I decided not to suggest that a lead would be a good starting point, as her puce face was now mere inches away from mine. The Quail called again. The livid joggers rounded up their pooches, fumed and glared, then charged off. Nice.
The old lady, dumbstruck by the outburst, felt compelled to condemn the state of young women in Britain, and in this instance I had to agree. I thanked David, said hello to Neil as he arrived and was back indoors by 9.50 am, job done.
London year-list update: