Wednesday, 21 January 2009

"Breaking The Law, Breaking The Law", January 3rd

Priceless stuff this folks and definitely one for the memoirs ! Unlike that Mr. Von Meinertzhagen chappie everything you read on this blog is absolutely true. Last year's nonsense at Forest of Birse will have to wait for the official biography but here is the exclusive scoop on this New Year extravaganza.

Saturday 3rd January - fabulous day, no work schedule, no breath of wind. Perfect sound recording conditions. So off up Deeside we go to a site near Ballater that is good for Scottish Crossbills. On arriving there conditions were perfect - bright sunshine, snow lying and very cold. Great potential for birds singing as they are getting a bit frisky just now.

On parking the car out comes recorder and parabola, on goes boots. Meantime my missus goes off to photograph some scenery. Just as I was getting the camera out of the car a police Landrover crawls past with the occupants having a 'good look' at me. Ok, maybe thought I was a bit dodgy - dressed in green gear (but not camo) , calf boots, typical 'ringer look' which is, well, dodgy. So I kept getting my stuff together and assembled the parabola. Police Landrover now comes back down the road and this time pulls up. Two PC's get out one female the other male. The female officer started a conversation along the lines of :

"Allright, Sir ? What are you up to ? "

"Birdwatching" is my reply.

Female PC pointing at parabola - " Quite a lot of kit. What is that for" ?

Me - " for recording birdsong, I am recording crossbills in the nearby woods".

Male Police officer - "How far away can you hear with that".

Me, and I paraphrase - " It can pick up a gnats fart at 200 yards".

Them - "Oh" !

Then I was subjected to a full Police check - Car Reg, full name ( including my middle name), mothers name, address, place of birth, favourite band, etc. The male cop radioed all my details back to base awaiting result. I also had to give full details of what I was doing there eg. studying crossbills. They also had a real good look in the boot of my car.

Now, I am a tolerant guy, believe it or not, but this was beginning to wear a bit thin with me and I was just about to say "look I am not going to answer any more questions until you tell me what this is in relation to" when -

Female PC - " You will understand sir why we are doing this ".

Me - " No, to be honest I have not got a clue".

Female PC - " Well, this is clearly a very sensitive area".

Me, in surprise - "What, recording crossbills in Deeside ?"

Female PC - "No, it is sensitive in terms of who might be here".

Me - " Ah, the Royals ?". "I can assure you I am not remotely interested in recording them !".

Female PC - no answer.

Male PC to Female PC " Check has come back a clean slate".

Well that is reassuring at least. I am who I said I am.

I was then advised it would be best if I wasn't still there at 1.15pm and that it would be really nice of me if I did not take the parabola with me. Or my camera ( which had a 18-70mm lens on !). I asked if I could take my bins. Yes was the answer. Well thanks a bunch ! Of course I complied as things can be made very difficult if you don't, and whilst I later felt somewhat 'mugged', I have been told I handled it well. Or, at least as well as you can. To be fair the Cops were actually okay and were clearly only doing their job, however at one point I had visions of me in an orange boiler suit and leg shackles on a Cuban annexe all for being in the 'wrong place at the wrong time' armed with a Telinga parabola.

So, I had my walk and somewhat predictably, and thankfully, I never saw or heard a single crossbill. Nada. Nicht. So, there was some poetic justice ! Hopefully our future heir to the Kingdom enjoyed his walk. Makes me laugh that my missus avoided all of this - talk about perfect timing.

Now, moral of the story: remember the words of the song "If you go down to the woods today......".

Happier times, recording and watching 3 Scottish and 1 Parrot Crossbill with 1 Common Crossbill near Banchory....a Royal free zone apparently. That is frost on the parabola BTW !


Youngmans Fancy said...

Great Blog

Just great your days birding wasted by a couple of over zealous pc's When they asked you your intentions with your parabolic reflector re eaves dropping on the Royals Heaven Forbid!! you should have retorted with "Do I look like a parasitologist"

Jochen said...

I enjoy these things! When I traveled through Scandinavia a few times in the early 1990ies, all by myself and a mere 20-odd years young, I was ALWAYS checked and my car searched through on basically EVERY border crossing (Germany - Denmark, Denmak-Sweden, Sweden-Norway, Norway-Sweden, Sweden-Denmark).
It was amusing because the officers always though that they had gotten something/someone "big" and I knew that they weren't going to find anything.
The increasing disappointment on their faces was always a treat.

Alastair said...

PCs had no doubt been instructed. As for "The Scroungers" the dole queue would be too good for them. Time they were sent their redundancy notices IMHO.

Loxia Fan said...

Hi Guys !

I think the Polis were on 'special alert' given that Prince Eddie was snapped by a Pap giving his mut a good hiding just a few days before.

To be fair, if PoW and DoC had passed within 200 yards of me I theoretically could have recorded their conversation. I am sure if their conversation contained anything remotely controversial (ala Harry's little 'friend' )an Editor at any Tabloid would pay a handsome ransom for it.....mmm, possible way of funding future Telinga and microphone investments ? Nah, the crossbill 'conversations' are much more interesting which is basically what I told the PC's !

I was just annoyed that I was detained for over 20 minutes ( you guys read the abridged version) and was kept from my fieldwork. IMO it did not warrant a full Police check.

Just delighted I didn't see or hear any Loxia - the conditions were so perfect I would have been gutted to miss a prime recording.

Loxops said...

You must look like a right oyk!

How dare you sully their pheasant-shooting idyll and feudal fantasies with your oykish presence.

You ought to be ashamed! He, he, he!