Saturday, 29 May 2010

Boring post (it's about birds)

A new dawn.  A new dawn for one and all.  A White-Tailed Plover, no less (sheeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite everyone cried) WAS near Liverpool, with the word "was" being the operative word.  It's gone.  Then one turns up in Holland that is surely the same, which means overnight it had flown DI-FUCKING-RECTLY over Yorkshire, more importantly over Hull, more to the point over Hessle, and in particlar right over my house.  It probably even stopped off in the back garden for refreshments. 

So, where to now?
Savi's at Old Moor?
Can do.
But I won't make it in time for the special viewing times that have been arranged.
Iberian Chiff first, then onto Old Moor for around diner to see if they're opening up again?
Can do.
I often talk to myself.
The plan was set and implemented.  On arrival at Potteric Carr the mister on the desk allowed me to use the disabled car park which cut the walking time in half.  Which is a good thin with legs as bad as mine.  Ahhh.  Shut up.  I just haven't been interested in this bird for some reason.  Second for Yorkshire, about 25 for's as rare as.........fuck!  There, I said it.  Well this is the reason:

Little shitty brown thing that looks just like a Chiffchaff which is only as rare as it is due to a dodgy split and the species is definately gonna become frequent in Britain.

Point taken.  And a few others had expressed similar sentiments.  Saying that, a lot of very rare things are little shitty brown jobs but that doesn't stop us from getting excited about them.

I arrived at the chosen area and several birders were looking for the blighter.  Hadn't been seen for a couple of hours but was singing distantly in the far hedge.  I heard it sing then something flew over our heads into the trees behind us.  Everyone just stood around.  I think they'd been there too long and lost enthusiasm for finding it, so I set off to find this thing.  After 15 minutes I located it in the corner.......

..........fuck me, I just got bored.  So you must be.  What a boring post.  Sounds like a typical dudey blog....I went here.....saw this.......saw that......had a lovely day......blah blah blah....not that all dudey blogs are boring.  Just some of them can be.  I need to get back to the childish cock jokes and pictures as quick as possible.

So, long story short, we nailed it, it sang, it showed very well, did a commentary on the birds actions, everyone got on it, walked off.  This Iberian Chiffchaff was much better than I'd imagined by the way.  They are distinctive.  Quite bright on the breast, olive-toned mantle, obvious song.  Whether I would call a female at Spurn in Autumn on features (obviously not singing) is a different matter, but I'm sure the species will be fully documented pretty shortly if it hasn't already.  Go see it if you haven't already.

The Savi's was just singing quite a way away.  No entry until 6 o'clock this evensong.  That one can wait for another day.

What a boring, bird-related post.  Or perhaps that's what people want?!!................

Review.  Click on it to read it.
Go on.


Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Birder Bill Oddie and His Amazing Ripe Bellender

The biggie travels alone they say and so it proved today at Spurn.  Erm...sort of.  Well, not at all really.  So why am I telling you this?  The winds were right, a bit of cloud cover, could've done with a touch of drizzle but it still should've been better than it turned out. It's a strange spring here at Spurn peninsula.  I covered everywhere and I know that everywhere had already been covered, big hedge, clubley's, the narrows, chalk bank, point dunes, the triangle and all I had to show for it were 2 Cuckoo and a Whinchat.  So yeah, the biggie travels alone, apart from on this occasion the 'biggie' was an Icterine fucking Warbler!  Certainly not a biggie, but relatively speaking today, it was a biggie.  You see where I'm coming from?  No?  Oh well fuck you then. But then a Golden Oriole was found so there were now two 'relative biggies' which fucked up the theory of the biggie travelling alone.  So if two biggies travel alone but they're only relative biggies, then they can't have travelled alone, even though they're only biggies relative to the day's migrants, so therefore the biggie maybe does travel alone as these two aren't genuine biggies, so the theory remains intact but then I can't see where the theorum (?) applies to todays story.  Get it?  So today's title is "The Biggie Travels Alone", which I've already written it at the top of the page I'm looking at it right now, although we've just proved that that title isn't relevant to todays post so I'm gonna change it.  I could change it to anything.  Anything at all.  That title isn't relevant, so that means nothing has to be relevant.  Fuck it, I'm gonna change it to erm "Mr Kipling's Exceedingly Good Inflatable Cock Cakes".  There, I've done it.  I can do what I want.  In fact, I'm gonna change it again.  Just because I can.  Right then.  "Big Floppy Donkey Cocks".  There.  No, I don't like that one.  Something better, something to draw the punters in with.  Erm, "Birder Bill Oddie and His Amazing Ripe Bellender".   That'll do.  I've changed it.  There.  That should get people interested in this hopelessly drawn-out post.  This is now officially the longest paragraph in history. I'm not starting a new one, no way. Not now.  Not now I've got this far.  Just you try and make me.  The Icterine Warbler was impossible to see but sang intermittently and the Golden Oriole fucked off just as I arrived at canal hedge.  Great.  Join us next time for a new paragraph, but definately no explanation of how a bellend can be ripe. 

Your very own cut-out mask of Ian Beale.
Free for you to Save, Print and Wear.


Saturday, 22 May 2010


An afternoon jaunt to Spurn produced three Temminck's Stints up Beacon Ponds, one of which showed reasonably well on a spit on the first pond.  The other two were loitering on the next lagoon.  I don't care much for that lagoon.

A Bluethroat was seen in the morning.  But not since.  Bah.

Back home to watch the Champions League final with the Special One.  No, no!  Not the missus, you herberts, I havnee gan arl saft an' that pet.  Why the futting ell have Ah gan arl Geardie like?
No, I meant Jose Mourinho.
"We won....  Two to nil....  Zis eez what I expect...  I win...  Zat eez what I do...  Tactically, I was right.  Again...  Zat eez because I have ze biggest brain...  Out of everybody" said Jose in typical prose.

Eet eez here.  My brain.  I have zee biggest.
Out of everybody.


Friday, 21 May 2010

Imagine that this is 17th May

Jesus Holy Mary Mother of God, I've missed out an entry!  Way, way back on the 17th May, I thought the following, and I imagined that one day I would post it on this blog.  Alas, I did not.  But today, it is here for you. And you alone:

Bearing in mind, I thought, that the last time I saw a Purple Heron in Britain was c.1990 near c.Doncaster and me being a manic crazy year-listing bad-ass, I thought I best go look at the one that had been frequenting Welwick saltmarsh.  So I did.  Look at it.  And it proved to be very good.  It showed very well for a sometimes-skulking-snakey-Heron-thing.  It appeared to my uneducated eye to be a first year bird, but how can that be?  It's very early in the year for it to be this years vagrant.  Unless Herons have a three-year cycle? So second cy (calendar year) then?

A Barn Owl was day-hunting and posing on fenceposts - just what Barn Owls do.

After all that excitement, I went to lonely Spurn where I saw a Whitethroat at the point!  A Whitethroat at the point!  Sing Hosannas in celebration!  Excuse my deep sarcasm, as it shows the disdain in which I hold this spring's poor showing for scarce and rare at the Spurn.  Red Rumped Swallow? Is that all you've got Spurn Point?  Damn you.  Damn you to eternal hell and may Satan's little wizards not have mercy on your unresting soul.  Blimey!

It wasn't for the want of trying today.  I even did the point dunes, somewhere where I don't often cover.  The upshot of it all was:
1 Blackcap
1 Lesser Whitethroat
1 Willow Warbler
Loads of Whitethroat and..........

..........wait for it.......

.......not a lot else.  I'm sorry if I disappointed you there.

I took some detailed field notes


Thursday, 20 May 2010


Good lord, it's quiet here today at Spurn Bird Observatory.  I was all geared up.  I took sandwiches, a nice ripe apple, lashings of fresh ham, lots of cheese, fresh bread and fresh tomatoes all washed down with lashings and lashings of ginger beer.  Absolutely wizard!
I don't even know what I can tell you about today.  I suppose I did arrive at a stupid hour (11 o'clock on a sunny day).  One Wheatear, one single tiny bald Willow Warbler, and........Grey Plover.  Grey Plover anyone?  Come to think of it, a guy that came and sat next to me whilst I was chilling out watching the waders from the bench near the Warren, thought Grey Plover was good.  I'm not knocking the chap at all.  I pointed out some summer-plumaged beasts to which he replied "That's a nice bonus".  Each to their own, that's how it is isn't it?  I'm sort of berating Grey Plovers for being perhaps the third best bird of the day yet he's pleased with them.  Let's face it, they are smart looking in summer garb.  Maybe I'm the one who should appreciate things more and not just assess birds on their rarity value, but if you said that a Grey Plover is a better looking bird than, say, a Lancey then you can fuck off, give me the very rare little brown job anyday.  I think the phrase is beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Independence limited.
Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend,
Freedom of speech are words that they will bend,
Freedom with their exception.
Kirk Hammett, now there's a guitarist. 

There were still hirundines a-moving, mainly Swallows but I'd noticed a few more Sand Martins moving through than the last few days with a whopping 26 counted from the narrows in a mere one hour.  Amazing!  Ha.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Opponent Lottery....

On crossing the Humber Bridge, I was surprised to see a badger asleep by the side of the A15.  It had blood coming from it's mouth.  It shouldn't sleep there, it's far too dangerous.

I got to a newish RSPB reserve and started looking at a Pratincole.  A Pratincole with a very short tail. A Pratincole with rufous on it's underwing. With no white trailing edge to the wing.  Shit!  I was looking at Britain's 6th (possibly 5th if this is presumed to be last year's West Sussex bird.  Or did that bird show something of a white trailing edge?  Maybe immatures can show a white trailing edge, where adults cannot?  Perhaps this is the same bird, just lost it's trailing edge in the moult?  I simply do not know what I am talking about) so, where was I after that massive pair of brackets?  Oh yeah, so I was looking at Britain's 6th ORIENTAL PRATINCOLE, mamma!  It hawked and it swooped and it swept and swooped some more, showing well at Frampton Marsh near Boston.  A good little reserve, two drake Garganeys were doing their usual shit; dabbling amongst some weedy area of lake, as was a drake Pintail, although one of its wings didn't look too clever.  Curlew Sand, nice.  Missed a Wood Sand, not nice.  Little Gull, a couple of Grey Wag, then a singing Corn Bunting.  I was actually quite pleased to see the Corn Bunt given the species decline over the last two decades, so pleased in fact that I told another birder about it.
"Alright" he said.
"Corn Bunt singing just over there" I told him.
"Yes, great sound isn't it?" he replied.
We then had a discussion about eco farming, set aside fields, crop rotation, grass margins, hedgerow formation and preservation, pestcide reductions, ditch naturalisation, saline strength, sustainable growth, eco-warrior, rainbow warrior, greenpeace, whale harpooning, seal clubbing, blue-finned tuna, fishnets, overfishing, fishing quota, get the spanish out, dolphin baiting, cock fighting, badger dating, horse racing, the grand national, whip the fucker, fox hunting, foxy bingo, hares, tiny rabbits, bald baby rabbits, pest control, shotguns: a history, agricultural genocide, cultural homicide, viva la revolution, buttercups, nice spring days, farmland trio, population slump, rattling of keys, and corn bunting decline.  At this point, we realised it was dark, the reserve was shut and I wandered off to sleep in a reedbed.  Don't know what the other guy did.

On the way home, my lack of local knowledge of the roads made me go straight on at a roundabout in the right hand lane on a dual carriageway (which was the correct lane, as both lanes were 'straight on') but this suddenly changed to 'right turn only' before the next roundabout.  I nipped in in front of a wagon.  If this was intentional, it's a twat's trick, overtaking everything then nipping in in front of a wagon, but it wasn't.  I had my window down so I gave a wave of apology to the lorry driver. 
Ten seconds later and this is honestly what I heard:
"Oy! Oy you!  It's no fucking good waving your fucking hand at me, young 'un, you fucking wanker".
Come again?  I leaned out of the window and replied "Who the fuck are you talking to?  It's a right hand only lane that I didn't know about".
The lorry driver then said "Well don't fucking pull in in front of me then fucking wave your fucking hand, it doesn't wash with me".
I simply undid my belt, jumped out of the car, gave the international hands-by-your-sides gesture for 'come on then' and screamed "Who the fuck are you talking to? Come on then, let's fucking have it" at the top of my voice.
The lorry driver all of a sudden didn't seem to think I was a young 'un anymore and also didn't seem to think that this shave-headed lunatic stood in front of his cab in the middle of the A1 holding traffic up perhaps wasn't a 'wanker' anymore, so he just bowed his head and looked at his steering wheel.  It was quite possibly the greatest road rage of all time.

Fun times had by all.

Fig 1.  The opponent lottery.
Road rage is such good fun due to the randomness of the opponent. 
I mean, he was obviously game due to him giving it large,
so he could've actually got out and been a man mountain
and kicked my fucking heed in.
But he wasn't.  Not today anyway!


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Eaten alive - surely not much fun?

Driving south round midnight, man I must've been insane,
Driving south round midnight in a howling hurricane.
Driving past the local park when a Carrion Crow started a sustained attack on a Woodpigeon.  The Woodpigeon must've been hit by a car cos it looked pretty fucked up. The Crow was pecking the poor bastard to death with its big, fuck off bill.  What a way to go, eaten alive by a big black bird.  Come to think of it, an insane amount of insects/birds/reptiles/mammals/etc die by being eaten alive.  The food chain.  Good job we're at the top of it.  Imagine it.  Lions disembowel their victims whilst they're still alive.  They suffocate you around the neck with their jaws whilst ripping your insides out with their razor claws.  It saves time.  Less time to lose the kill to a pack of Hyenas you see.  Imagine it.  Go on, imagine having that one to you by a 8ft Lion.  Shit!

In the natural world it happens all the time, this being eaten alive lark.  It's the norm.  Commonplace.  Mr Blue Tit comes home from work and says to the missus "Hi love, have you had a good day?  Oh, and our Ian got eaten alive today by a Sparrowhawk"
"Oh" she replied nonchalantly "We'll be having another brood next year.  Pass me the sugar".
It's normal to be eaten alive in the natural world.  A very sobering thought to us humans.

The Crow stepped up its attack and started ripping tasty morsels of pure living flesh from the neck and breast of the Pigeon.  The Pigeon was flapping in a way that suggested that it wasn't quite happy with this situation.  A couple of minutes and the flapping stopped, and the poor dead baby bald pigeon was no more.

Two days later, I passed through the same area and saw perhaps the same Crow chasing a fit and well Collard Dove.  To no avail.  Perhaps it had got the taste.

Corvid attack.  Not much fun for the Pigeon.


Friday, 7 May 2010


I was Manchester-airport-bound to pick a few of the lads up after a jaunt to Thailand. I decided to break the journey up with a couple of stops.  First up, Potteric Carr NNNNR.  On arrival in the first hide, a Cetti's Warbler perched up in a bush that was poking out of the reedbed and started singing (warbling).  Ooh, nice.  Then a Buzzard went up over the treeline which isn't really news.  On the lake, about 50 Gulls with Black Heads were going Wraaaaagh!  Wraaaaagh! Wraaaaagh! Wraaaaagh! Wraaaaagh! WrrrrrAAAAAAAGHHHH!  WrrrrrAAAAAAAGHHHH!  Wraaaaagh! Wraaaaagh! the noisy bastards.

At least 4 Blackcaps were singing and holding territory along the pathways and didn't seem to mind the mindless squawking from the Gulls with the Heads that are Black. Not much else.
Onto Rother Valley Cuntry Park and that's not a typo, it's just that they charged me 3 whole English groats to parketh thine chariot.  Robbing counts.  At the first car park a small crowd had gathered which featured a wide cross section of society:  an elderly couple of which the bloke was reasonably sharp, 2 proper birders from Barnsley, a proper dudey-type middle-aged couple, an elderly bloke by himself that never spoke and scared me a bit by looking through his bins for an unhealthy length of time, a gay butcher from Wakefield and a mass murderer from Chapetown. 

The Red-Rumped Swallow was showing distantly, with a few H. Martins.  It seemed pretty settled over the meadow type area, so we decided to have a wander down to the public footpath that was close-by, which was a great idea because it showed really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really well. The sun at our backs, great light to see the bird, Red Rump performing, flying close to our nose-ends, warm sunshine, some bloke set up a bar serving ice-cool lager drinks, free of charge, page 3 mogels abound, topless in the sun, offering fellatio to passers-by, it doesn't get much better than this.

Went for a drive up over t'moors with the ubiquitous Red Grouse as the year tick target.  Couldn't find a suitable place to pull in and have a wander, but I did manage several from the moving carriage.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

May 4th. Good, solid title.

So, Spring's properly here. Well, sort of, only it's a bit shit so far.  I went local.  Local places where I've never been before, looking for suitable farmland and fields for Dotterel near Brough.  Didn't find any Dotterel (none) but I didn't really expect to.  What I did see though, was a Grey Partridge, several Yellow and literally millions of Pied Wags.  Well, not perhaps literally.

Onto the secret site that I visited t'other day but today was sunnier, which promoted thermal properties and therefore promoted raptor potential.  It was good.  At one point there were 3 Buzzard, 1 Red Kite, and 2 Hobbies in the air together!  Notice the exclamation mark after that sentence, which some of you may ridicule.
"3 stupid Buzzards, 1 Red Kite and 2 Hobbies?  I have to kill better numbers than that just to get to my car in a morning.  They're fucking everywhere here in Somerset" said Ian ov Somerset.  I agree.  In comparison to lots of places it is quite a rubbish haul but you only have to go back 10 years and all three species were scarce, in fact very scarce around here.  It's good.  It's very good.  Raptor numbers = Good.  rn=g.
Okay, the Kites are from introduced stock but after quite a few years of successful breeding you can argue that this is a self-sustaining population which in itself is a requisite of being added to the British List, if it wasn't already.  Lady A's?  Stick 'em right up your jacksy.

A drake Bullfinch bulldozed it's way into a tree, then a Coal Tit hunted insects on a different tree, then as I was leaving, I looked up and saw another Buzzard which appeared to have a short tail.  In the end it was just that.
A Buzzard.
With a short tail.


Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Caves

Took the larger small child to North Cave Wetlands, with a football, in a pink coat, played pass, went into a hide, looked through some binoculars, and looked at 2 Pectoral Sandpipers, using our eyes.  Large small child thought it was good.  Fresh air.  Nature.  Tranquility.  Trees.  Fresh air.  Oh I've said that already. Beautiful.  Shit, she's gonna be a sad bird spotter! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
"Daddy, I think the sharp contrast between the pectoral band and the underparts is quite distinctive in this Calidris species.  Given the head pattern and the leg colour, I think my first trans-Siberian vagrants are simply super!" she said at the age of 2.  We then left the quite full hide and went absolutely mental with a manic game of pass on the footpath back to the car.

Onto a local site for local Red Local Kites.  A Buzzard flew over.  Then a Green Woodpecker flew across, but no Kites today sadly.

Large small child picked about a million dandelions and celebrated wildly by falling over.


.......and after.