Following my patchless lament a few days back, both Steve Waite and James McCarthy suggested I try Cogden. Unbeknown to me James has been working the place for a little while now, with encouraging results. To be fair, Cogden was first put to me a few months back by Axe patcher Ian McClean, previously a resident of West Bexington. He knows Cogden well, and made a good case. So why hadn't I bothered with it so far? Well - and I realise this may reflect unfavourably on me - it was because you have to pay to park. When it comes to car parking I am seriously tight, and always have been. I deeply resent having to go and feed coins into a machine before I can walk away from my car and enjoy myself; it somehow makes a trip out so much less carefree. I hate it! Anyway, as far as Cogden is concerned I've fixed the problem. I discovered that Cogden belongs to the National Trust and parking is FREE for members. So I joined. Sixty quid. Yep, I know, I am still basically paying to park. But - and for some inexplicable reason this fact is tremendously important - now I can simply get out of the car and walk away. No feeding a machine; just park and go. Irrational? Ah well...
So I arrive at around 12:15 and set off on a circular route. For the first 20 mins it's just drizzly, but the strong wind means my specs are hazed up in no time, so I take them off. Then it starts tanking down. Soon I am drenched.
Back at the car almost two hours later I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed myself, despite the foul weather. The conditions meant that my bins didn't get raised too often, but I still kept a record of birds seen - 14 species. This pathetic tally might just be the beginning of a new patch list.
A few photos to give a flavour of 'Cogden in the Rain'...
Rough, scrubby fields, thick hedgerows - it all looks highly promising
Down by the sea here - not far behind me is Chesil Beach
Looking West along the shingle
Cogden looks brilliant, and appeals for several reasons:
- Loads of gorgeous habbo. Rough, weedy fields; hedgerows and scrub; some little copses, sallow clumps etc.
- Although I imagine it gets pretty busy with dog-walkers and such, it looks a big enough area for that to probably not matter. Also, with basically no houses nearby you have to travel to get there, further minimising (I hope) the number of people around.
- Terrific looking beach backed by reedy 'mere', plus wide vista of sea.
- Complete absence of hides. Yay!
I suppose the species potential is a bit constrained by the lack of open water (unless you count Lyme Bay!) and marshland. But I reckon this is amply compensated by the habitat mix it does have. Very much my kind of birding.
I have invested sixty quid in the place, which I suppose effectively means I have just bought a new patch.