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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Jomped up prat

A bit of a different post today. This is a rant. Before I start, may I point out how I very much appreciate that the vast majority of dog walkers I have come across while doing my patch birding at Canons Farm are some of the loveliest people I have ever met and I have got to know some of them reasonably well and talk to them often . . . however this post is a bit of a complaint about the rudeness of the minority that spoil it and make my blood boil.

Many visits to the patch have been spoiled by 'Grade 1 Rudeness Walkers', these are people who blank you when you greet them with a cheery 'morning!' and more importantly have no control over their dogs which jump up at you and your tripod, sometimes causing it to lose fix on a bird (if all the birds haven't been scared away already). These people know they have caused disturbance and make no hint of an apology. Often you hear these people make some sort of remark before or after they pass you or halt their conversations and give you funny looks while they pass you. They also leave turds everywhere. I can tolerate these, there's maybe one of these a day, they aren't pleasant but they're tolerable.

But that's not the important bit . . .

Until today I have only had Grade 1 Walkers on my scale but an encounter this morning sparked the creation of Grade 2. I was scanning the horizon for raptors and any other big birds when I became aware of a lady with two noisy alsatians passing me, I greeted her with the casual 'morning' I give everybody but she ignored me. I walked a bit further on and I looked back to see her entering the grassy field used recently by singles of Barn Owl, Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl and recognised her for doing this before. For fear of her regularly doing this and putting off birds like this in the long run I approached the edge of the field 'excuse me, just so that you're aware this is a private field, and also it has been in use as a roost site recently by some quite sensitive birds' I politely and softly pointed out. She turned her head and headed purposefully further into the field. Feeling I'd done what I could I walked on.

Later I passed her again, she stopped when she got to me and it started: 'I saved three baybays' lives last night y'know 'n' I don't need some jomped up prat tellin' me where I can 'n' cannot walk my dogs'. Although shocked I controlled my anger and politely remarked that I wasn't telling her where she can and cannot walk her dogs but that I was merely gently pointing out that she should be aware that by entering that field she was trespassing and potentially causing disturbance to wildlife. Before I could finish she walked on while saying 'Get your priorities right! You get your priorities right!' and I simply replied with 'bloody idiot'. So, her desire to walk her huge noisy dogs wherever she pleases is more important than the farmer's ownership of the land and the welfare of wildlife? I think I know who needs to get their priorities right.

In her defence, I will not lie and say I abide by the countryside code all the time and have never wandered into a field. I also wouldn't be too pleased if someone came up to me pointing out my wrongdoings but I would never be so rude and disrespectful to another user of the countryside, potentially ruining their day, who has made a perfectly polite and justified comment.

Perhaps I was having another naive and immature moment, and I really do need to get my priorities right? I don't know . . .