Friday, January 18, 2013

The Undercoverts of Birding 2: Bulldogs and Barn Owls

Years ago apparently people genuinely wondered where swallows went in winter, with some believing that they might have gone to the bottom of ponds.  Today some may similarly wonder where chavs go in winter.  Those tattooed vest-wearing numskulls that infest our town centres and country parks in summer, but are noticeably absent in winter.  Where do they go?  Well I know, they stay at Chester’s Hotel* in Skegness, opposite The Pier. 

I booked it online as a base for this month’s winter bird survey of East Lincolnshire.  It boasted wi-fi (it has, but it doesn’t work), breakfast (yes, but its not included, you have to pay extra), and it made no mention of the multitude of chavs actually living in the place, courtesy of the council.  Every other room has a family of them ensconced within, complete with a shoal of children and the obligatory bull terrier or bulldog.  When one barks they all follow suit, and then when the dogs join in too its hell!  I cannot remember previously staying in a hotel where there was a dog in every room.  I may as well, and might have had more peace, if I had lain a sleeping bag down in a boarding kennels.  The parents all had a crafty plan to stop the kids making a noise in the rooms though, let them play in the corridors and landings, all of them, together.  Someone remind me again how lucky I am to ‘get paid for watching birds’.

Talking of which I did see a beauty today.  Walking along a verge a barn owl lofted over the hedge right by me.  It flew almost over my head, a few feet to my left.  I stopped and stared, it was just gone noon and quite an early sighting.  We made clear eye contact and then it veered away but what a brilliant moment.  It almost balances out a stay at Hotel Chavsters on its own, but may need some help from other sightings too I feel.

Incidentally a quick Ragwatch diversion is relevant here.  The Daily Excess carried some interesting statistics today.  One was that David Attenborough’s seminal Blue Planet series has been seen by 500 million people in 245 countries.  Its very inspiring that a natural history programme should be so popular, but other stats were decidedly depressing.  That the human world population increases by 132 million people every year was a stark one.  Flooding the planet with our kind is ecological suicide, and as supposedly the most intelligent species we will surely realise this.  A look round the hotel and a glance in The Pier though and I am not so sure.  I can only take solace in yet another quote from the Daily Excess, one from Abraham Lincoln:  “The best thing about the future is that it happens one day at a time”.  Great words Abe, I wonder if he ever stopped at The Chesters?

'What a Great Idea', yeah but I've got a better one!
*name changed

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