Monday, 13 September 2010

Very important information on the probable Collared Fly at Spurn

Well, this interesting bird has caused a lot of discussion on the forums and blogs here and there, so I thought I'd do my best to get some information back on this controversial Flycatcher.  Much research has been done in Sweden on identification of the two species concerned, plus some detail on hybrids.  I thought I best dig a little deeper for myself, so I e-mailed a few people over there in Sweden who are supposedly experts in this field:

Hi there ABBA!
I am liking very much your Waterloo, I play it on a weekend and dance like Bjorn, I like, yes. As you are the Swedish people and the Swedish people know about these things, I am looking for some help. There was a bird at Spurn Point (England) this week that was either a Pied Flycatcher, a Collared Flycatcher or a hybrid of the two. There are some pictures at under the post called 'Collared Flycatcher part 2'. Have you any opinions on this bird? I know Agnetha has become a bit of a recluse so if you can't get in touch with her just give the opinions of the other three if you can.

Thanks in advance,

Mark Q.

(I really did send them the above e-mail) and I recieved this back:

Thanks for contacting ABBA at this time, unfortunately we are unable to help at this moment.

Thanks for taking an interest in ABBA,

Our central address:

P.O. Box 3079
4700 GB Roosendaal
The Netherlands
Telephone: +31 (0) 165 565 005 (Tuesdays between 19.00 and 22.00 C.E.T.)
Fax: +31 (0) 165 566 023

Fuck you then, Bjorn!
And fuck you as well Benny, you bearded twat.


Saturday, 11 September 2010

Here's something that happened on Sept 1st:

After 2 firsts for Spurn (possibly) along comes a first for Yorkshire! It had been found at around 10 o'clock but the arrangements for the car parking for the inevitable twitch meant that news came out around 12ish.  A mate of mine wanted to come, so I (foolishly) waited around for him to finish work and set off around 3.  You know what's going to happen...for 3 hours we stood around and never saw the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER that had been showing off-and-on for the morning and early afternoon.  Oh well, at least it's on my birdsI'vebeenwithinamileof list as it was confirmed as still there the next morning.  Damn and blast. 
Still there you say?  I best get up there again then.

The organisers had changed their tact.  The bird had favoured the corner of the sheltered field, particularly the big hawthorn in the corner, but due to the volume of people searching, there was always people within a few feet of it's favoured haunt.  So today they sent people arriving all the way around Old Fall, therefore away from the area, to view from a reasonable distance. Good thinking you guys, as after only 10 minutes of waiting, it showed really well for one-and-all.

Olivaceous is a great name for this creature.  When Lee Evans named it (I presume it was him) I think he did a good job.  Less so with his version of Little Shearwater (North Atlantic Madeiran Little Shearwater baroli! - what's he on?)

The Olly was very good, very distinctive.  The tail pumping is diagnostic, with a bill that could take your eye out, plus it gave itself up with a bit of chacking here and there. 

I might count up my Yorkshire list. Not that it's very big or with any blockers on it.  Or has it?
Blackpoll Warbler?  Did everyone see that?  Desert Warbler?  Nah, there's been a couple since the Flamborough bird, or was it Filey?  Amur Falcon?  Oh yes, mamma.  Officially accepted by the BOURC (Bill Oddie's Unfinished Red Cardigan - he knits) and split into 14 different species by the UK400 including Adult Amur Falcon, Female Amur Falcon, Ringed Amur Falcon, and Unringed Amur Falcon.

Bill Oddie once took an Olive-backed Pipit that had been trapped at Flamborough up to Filey in his car, released it and then told everyone that he'd found an OBP!  And everyone said "Well done, Bill, well done indeed!" and Bill took all the plaudits and I don't know why he did it, he just did. There, I've said it.  It's what every birder in Yorkshire has wanted to say for years but they just haven't dared.  Why haven't they dared?  I'll tell you why. It's because Bill Oddie is a brute of a man and will surely now hunt me down and kill me with his bear hands.  He has hands like a bear.  And why has Terry Jones burning a Heavy Metal magazine ended up with rioting in some Muslim states?  It's the most bizarre thing I have ever heard.

"There's Spam, Egg, Sausage and Spam, that's not got much spam in it"
Perhaps it's the spam/pork/holy pig link that they don't like?
Just guessing really.


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Round up II

Blog flagging.  No time to do birding updates.  The celebration that is/was the 100th post got in the way also.  So here's what I've been doing on the birding front, with an 'amazing' 7 posts-in-one for your delectation:

16th August

After yesterday's antics of Citrine Wag, RB Shrike, Iccy and the like, todays antics at Spurn were a bit quiet in comparison.  No Citrine of course (I'd come to see it, so of course it wasn't going to be here) and raging northerly winds were keeping all the passeriniformes very low.  A couple of Willow, a Wheatear, a couple of...wait for it....Whinchat and a tine young bald Blue Tit were the best of the bushes!  A Green Sand, juv Blackwit, Snipe, Grey Heron and 4 Little Egret on canal scrape.
Over the sea, 45 Gannet went north and 2 Arctic Skua went south in 'only' an hour.  Hmmm.  Should've been here yesterday as the saying goes.  At least it shows that, even in mid August, with the right conditions things can get good but with a distinct westerly feel for the foreseeable, it seems we'll have to wait a bit longer for a good spell.  Blacktuft Sands for Nearctic waders anyone?

I simply do not know what I'm talking about.

....He's got a pineapple on his head....

19th August

To continue the dipping theme, I thought I best go and not see the White-winged Black Tern that had been frequenting Hornsea Mere for a while, but of course.....not today!  Blast!

A Ruff, 3 Common Sand, 2 Knot, one of which had a limp, and some ducks were no fun whatsoever.  Another dip.  Not giving up, I continued scanning.  Still no sign.  Come on, it must be here somewhere.  I scanned over the far shore....then!  As if by magic.....the shopkeeper appeared.

You always wanted him to get the astronaut costume didn't you?
Go on, didn't you?
I bet you did.
I'm right aren't I?
Admit it.

20th August

The dips go on.  Today I decided to not see the Semi-P that had been lingering at Alkborough Flats.  On arrival, it had just flew out of view "just over those reeds"...."about 5 minutes ago".

I've started a new list. Just now.  It's my "Birds I've been within a mile of" list.  Semi-P?  On my list.
My new list that is.

I did see two Peregrines though.

The road down to Alkborough Flats.
At this point, the Semi Palmated Sandpiper
would've been on view.
The lesson?  Don't stop to take photos for
your blog when on a twitch.
It's a stupid thing to do.

23rd August.

Now this is more like it.  Last night's SHARP-TAILED SAND has been relocated at Spurn!  And I've jut been rained off for the day!  I'm off.

Approaching the group of birders, I knew my luck had been shocking, missing Baird's Sand, Citrine Wag, White-winged Black Tern, and Semi-P all in a week.  One birder broke away from the throng and started heading off.  As he passed me, the age-old question was asked:  "Still showing?"
"Nah mate,not for a while now" came the now expected response.

On arrival at the horde, someone shouted "It's here!"
"Goodness gracious me!" I shrieked. I didn't really.
We all just went mental waving our arms in the air and did a merry jig of delight.

As I ALWAYS need some random picture to finish off a post, I wanted a crowd scene to highlight the "we all just went mental" bit.  Rather hopefully I Googled "Images of crowds going mental" with the idea of some football crowd going crackers after their team has scored with a caption of maybe "the scene at the Sharp-tail" to finish the post.  The images in the results were a bit unexpected.  Here's a selection of the results of searching "Images of crowds going mental":



Images of crowds going mental.
Google it. Go on.

27th August

A generally northerly wind was touching NE at times, so a fall of migrants was perhaps expected, well hoped for.  The first hour was surprisingly dead, or was I just off the pace? Perhaps I was, because it became clear that there were migrants around.  And quite good numbers of the Little blighters too.  I covered most places and left around 1 o'clock just as a weather front came in from the north east bringing with it rain and probably more migrants, possibly even rare ones.  My totals don't compare with the totals in the log (here) but there were still things around to keep us occupied.  42 Whitethroats, 18 Willow, 2 Garden, 1 Barred, 3 Lesser White, 2 Reed, 3 Pied Fly, 2 Redstart, 9+ Whinchat, 6 Wheatear, 12 Yellow Wag, a Sooty north and Gannets going in various directions: left.  And: right
No picture?  What's going on?

28th August

Balls.  My THIRD attempt at the Semi bastard P resulted in, you've guessed it, me not seeing it.
The only thing to do when this happens was to smash my way out of the hide through the viewing flaps, splintering the hide as I went, jump out onto the mudflats, get covered in mud, give an amazing 'battle cry' as I ran at the waders windmilling and shouting "Fucking Semi P bastard!", I chinned a Greenshank that was staring at me, then kicked fuck out of a Shelduck in a blind dipping rage.  The cool, soft mud felt nice on my naked body (did I forget to mention that?) so I stayed out on the mudflats for quite some time, wriggling around and giggling uncontrollably quite to the amazement of the people still in the partly demolished hide.

The Shelduck gingerly made her way back to dry land... to die...

31st August

A mysterious Flyctacher had ironically been caught at the Warren.  The initial ringer suspected something 'wrong' with this 'Pied' when the wing length fell 5mm too long for an average Pied and 2mm outside the upper limit for Pied.  Other features were looked at and news of a probable COLLARED FLYCATCHER, the first Spurn record, was put out.

The 'probable' aspect of this bird was due to a couple of features not quite supporting Collared.  After processing, the feature count was a great-game-for-the-neutral 7-2 in favour of Collared.  The two anomalous features being a discrepancy on P2 and, when the nape feathers are ruffled, a lack of horizontal line running through the feathers!  How do they know this shit?  Supporting features for Collared included primary pattern, tail pattern and when some skin is scratched from the leg with a scalpel or such like, the open wound smells minty (it smells like custard in Pied).
The wonders of modern ornithology.

So what chance of this getting accepted by the authorities?  Well, the relevant people from Spurn are in contact with certain Swedish people who are authorities in the separation of Collared and Pied, and are, almost definitely, blond-haired.

I found the bird in question rather pale overall, with much white in the wing, a quite definite pale throat, and cooler tones to the mantle and nape.  Whether these features are relevant or not, I don't know but I was just trying to add some detailed substance to this blog as a change from the usual "swearing...birdy...gratuitous violence....more swearing....another birdy.....went drunk....random picture" kind of post you're used to.

Random pic.