Friday, 26 November 2010

Quite Silly...


I've seen some things down south just lately and would like to share some of my photos with you.  They are all for sale and are £17.50+pp.  Just e-mail me if you'd like a copy.  I can blow them up and put them in a frame to make a nice Christmas gift for you or your family for only £35.00+pp!!! 

American Goldie

American Robin

American Dowitcher


Saturday, 13 November 2010

10th November

Had to take Nicola into hospital this morning for an operation.  So, being the courteous gent that I am, I dropped her off at the door and went directly to Rochdale to have a look at the Pied Billed Grebe.  An hour later I got a text off Nicola: I'm going down to theatre in 15 mins x
Now reading this on the motorway made me start to worry a bit.  Was I doing the right thing?  I mean, I shouldn't be reading this whilst I'm driving.

Not long after, I arrived at Hollingworth Lake and feasted my eyes upon Britain's first twitchable Pied Billed Grebe for about 10 years.  It showed very well.  Stout little fuckers aren't they?

The journey home was uneventful apart from my phone going off every five minutes.  Texts, missed calls, you name it, but I was driving.  Whoever it was trying so hard to get in touch will have to wait.  I got home, put the kettle on and checked out pictures of the Grebe online.  Could still hear my phone going off.  Good job I'd left it downstairs because it would be doing my head in by now.  Eventually I went to the phone and found 23 missed calls and 18 texts.  Who could this be? I pondered.  Oh, it's only Nicola, she's wants picking up.  After popping for a quick pint, I got there to find her waiting at the hospital doors for me not looking too pleased.  She'd only been waiting 3 hours, what's up with her, she had a magazine?  I don't know if the operation was a success or not but I told her all about the Grebe she didn't seem interested.  Women, eh?

Managed to get this record shot of it.

Then I got this one whilst it was in the rushes.

Then I managed to get this one just as someone pulled it out of the water.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Twitchers: A very British obsession

Of course I won't be lowering myself to start commenting on this subject as it has been discussed and ridiculed on many other blogs and websites.  The Birdforum thread has totally exhausted the subject, but yes, I did watch it but I won't be drawn into the childish pictures and comments that are being thrown about.  Garry seems a decent enough bloke though so if I were ever to get drawn in to the subject, my comments won't be aimed at him.  Not that I'm going to get involved. 

So here's what happened on the 29th October.

29th October (you already knew that)

I went to Donna Nook again and this time I saw a Cattle Egret.  It had been hanging around with the cattle but was now following a tractor driven by a man whom I can only presume was a farmer.  It was with some gulls. In a totally unrelated incident, last night I dreamt that I crashed the car into a cow that was stood in the middle of the road.

Cattle similar to the cattle the Cattle Egret
used to hang around but doesn't anymore.

And here's what happened on 4th November. Have you noticed that I haven't been out much?  I know.  In the peak season too.  I just got really busy with work and only managed to get to Spurn a few times.  I'm definitely not getting drawn into the Twitchers theme.  It's far too childish.

4th November

Woah!  Nearly fell there.  What a stupid slippery muddy path this is here at Wheldrake Ings. Plus it's fucking miles to the last hide which is coincidentally named "Swantail Hide".  What's coincidental about that? I don't know either, I just like to throw in a long word now and again to make it sound good.

Precipitating into the hide I was met be 18 million Wigeon and no birders.  "I'll have to find the Yankee Wigeon myself then" I said to myself far too loudly and flushed everything to the back of the lake.

"Oh well then" I again shouted really loudly only because I was alone and you don't often get the chance to shout in a hide.

"RIGHT THEN!" I continued for no reason whatsoever.

"WELL NOW!" I screamed, somewhat running out of relevant things to shout.

"erm....HELLO!" left my satisfied that I had finally managed to shout in a hide so I sat down and started scoping the ducks.  They were a) miles away b) lots of them c) I was alone d) the Canada Gooses decided to fly from their comfy pond well out of the way and land between me and the ducks for no other reason than to obscure my view and make it even more difficult for me to find this American Baldpate.

Several long scans through the flock later, I decided to stand up and move to the other end of the hide for reasons unknown.  Strangely, the odd drake Teal kept winding me up by popping it's sort-of-similar-head-pattern out from amongst the Wigeon, thus thinking I'd found the Yankee Widge for just a split second.  Rubbish?  Me?  You bet your ass.  Teal for Americano Wigeano?  I know, it's bad, but it was only for split long try it then.

The Baldpate nickname for this bird (meaning absolutely bald head) actually allowed me to finally find it.  I noticed a 'Wigeon' right at the back, face on.  A striking pale patch almost as if the bill was reflecting the sun caught my eye.  But the pale goes right up it's forehead!  It turned and started a strange feeding motion, sort of dipping its head in and lifting it abruptly high but keeping it's bill close to its chest.  Diagnostic?  I don't know, but it certainly helped me get into it and confirm it's identity as a Yankee doodle Drake Americano Widge.  Good job it was a drake methinks or I might have struggled at this distance with my old school scope.

Now I'm not usually serious and most of the things that you read on here are simply made up, but finally 'finding' this difficult fucker made it all the more satisfying.  Certainly much better than someone just putting me on it. I was almost euphoric, which is a bit of a strange reaction for such a bird that is not exactly mega rare to say the least.  So euphoric in fact that I walked back to the car and got in it, but not before I thought I heard Lesser Pecker calling.  Unfortunately I never saw the blighter.  The irony I've been thinking about today is that God made woman out of one of Adam's ribs, but I couldn't help thinking that if he'd have removed a few more, Adam wouldn't have needed a woman in the first place.

Would you believe it?

You was expecting some childish pictures of Garry and Lee wasn't you?  You know me too well.  Well I'm not.  No.  I'm not doing it....

I'm not....

Oh go on then...

I will be your father figure, put your tiny hand in mine,
I will be your preacher, teacher, anything you had in mind

Look at the chest!  Ha ha ha ha ha I should really grow up.

There's a lot of crimes, birding crimes going on.

Separated at birth.  Even down to the earring.
I think we now know who George models himself on.

Very poor indeed.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Another round up. I really should keep on top of this s(h)ite but I just haven't. Alright?

7th September


Back to old skool (note spelling - I am down with the kidz, man) birding today.  Bush-bashing, dyke-thrashing, hedge-trashing and...erm...scrape...mashing.  The winds and weather were spot on for an east coast fall and it produced.  Stomped all over the point dunes and had flight views of an Ortolan. Good start, but I wanted to find something.  There's something here, there must be.  Redstarts flitted from every bush, Pied Fly's flitted from every other bush and Spot Fly's flitted from every other bush-but-one sort of thing.  Here's what was seen today in the Spurn area:
Spotted Crake (7th Spurn record)
2 Ortolans
8 Barred Warbler
7 Common Rosefinch
4 Wryneck
4 Wood Warbler
1 Red-rumped Swallow, plus good numbers of common stuff:
73 Redstart
29 Whinchat
56 Wheatear
42 Spot Fly
52 Pied Fly.......etc.

So as you can see, it was a pretty good fall.  Pretty good?  Fucking great I reckon, pet.  The smell of rare (ha) was definitely in the air, so much so that we opted not to go twitching the scarce (ha) that was being found in order to find our own rare (ha).  We managed a Rosefinch that flew off as soon as I got on it, a Wood Warbler along the peninsula and a Wryneck looked like a cadet in camouflage doing his take on The Exorcist, but these were all other people's finds.  The best we could offer was an interesting Warbler that came in off the sea at Post 43 which only Adam got on in the bush.  He reckoned on a Hippo, perhaps fitting Booted best.  It was flighty and flew almost immediately.  We got within 200yds of it when it went again down the peninsula.  Arsetits.  We jumped in the car to get in front of it, then worked our way back.  No sign.  More arsetits.  It flew as if it was pulling it's tail along, it's front end quite erratic yet the tail stayed quite rigid....whatever, just another one that got away.  Even more arsetits. 

Got to say, excellent inter-blog shenanigans between the Punks and the Catz amongst others in the wake of the Flycatchergate affair, with the Punks taking everything thrown at them in good heart and giving a bit out!  Funny stuff, I like it.

Cheryl talks to me through the TV when Nicola's
watching X-Factor but there's only me that can hear it.
Fuck me, I would spend hours rummaging for truffles with that bastard.

24th September

Spurn.  Seawatch.

With northerlies rattling the windows all night a seawatch at Spurn was the preferred option for all.  Thinking the seawatching hut would be packed I opted for Easington beach from the car window.  The wind battered the car and it made for an uneasy basecamp.  The skuas that were streaming past were a bit distant also, especially with my somewhat dated scope.  I went to the hut and managed to squeeze in on the plastic chair.  It was a superb couple of hours with skuas almost constant, going south in parties of upto 20.
My totals:

Pom Skua 3
Arctic Skua 129
Bonxie 76
Long Tailed Skua 1, but another which I thought was a Long Tail in the same party was called as an Arctic by one guy who had a massive scope compared to my bins.  Not to worry.
Plus some other stuff, but it was mainly about the Skua passage.  Full totals here!
Quite a sensible post, there.  What do you make of that?  Rubbish?  I agree you slags.

Brett got really pissed off that he hadn't seen the possible
Short-Tailed Shearwater well enough.
So pissed off in fact that he stripped down to his crackers
and threatened passing seabirds with his tribal dance.

28th September


What?  Lincs?  What the flying fuck are you doing in Lincs Q@Spurn? You're called Q and you're supposed to be at Spurn, hence the name 'Q@Spurn'.
Well, I'm over here with the kids for donkey rides, sandy beaches, fish 'n' chips, cup o' tea, bucket and spade, amusements, 2p coin falls, braces, handkerchief in knots, deck chairs, crazy golf, go karts, sea shells, sand castles, what the butler saw, rain, sand, sea, wind-chaff, and traditional English seaside pastimes.  What the fuck's wind-chaff?  I went to buy the kids a traditional good old English bucket and spade and do you know what came with the bucket and spade?  I'll tell you. I asked for a bucket and spade and was handed an onion type bag.  Within this onion bag was a bucket, great, a spade, great, and a wheelbarrow!  A wheelbarrow?  Is this the traditional English seaside toys that we've grown up to love and nurture?  Is it fuck as Ronald Reagan once said.  A wheelbarrow?  Eh?
Meanwhile......I went off for a spot of birding at dawn where I found some great habitat which, as the crow flies, is only a few miles from Spurn itself.  "I bet this gets a few things" I thought to myself, but it was hard to work.  It's like point dunes only without any vantage points or paths running through it!  Picture the scene?  A bit of southerly passage, 12 Skylark, 34 M. Pipit, 14 Gannet north, 52 Common Scoter, 4 Teal, etc.  In the bushes things were seen only once before being lost in the thick cover but, Blackcap, 12 Goldcrest, Brambling, Siskin, 8 Song Thrush, 25+ Redwing indicated that there were migrants around, it was just a case of seeing them! 
Didn't find anything.
Lincs is flat.  Flat I tells ya.

Anybody?  No?  "Saltfleet".

30th September

Donna Nook

What with Sir Lee Evans calling for a Defra-type cull on all birding sites with an ounce of wit, humour or polite mickey-taking, it is of course only right that we tone down our offerings more inline with the inane blogs of the very very sensible, as this is what Viva El Presidente has asked for.  There will be no more attempts at jokes, no joke pictures at the end and certainly no swear words like cock:

By jove, it was a lovely morning.  I had a nice cup of tea with the vicar just before he had to pop off to bury Mrs Whitstable at the chapel. She was a nice lady.  It's such a shame about her demise.

By jove!  Three lovely Richard's Pipits have been reported at Donna Nook!  How enchanting.  I believe they look a little bit like a Sparrow only with a longer tail.  As we're staying in a simply super caravan here in Mablethorpe, Donna Nook is not that far away.  Wizard!  I asked my good ladyfriend if it was okay to go and try to have a look at these birds.  She put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea and raised her concerns about the roads being unfamiliar to me.  I promised I would not travel above our normal 25 miles per hour and would not be out the Autumn wind for more than 20 minutes at a time as I might get the sniffles.  I had a nice cup of tea, warmed up my thermals in front of the fire and retired to the boudoir to change as I don't allow my good lady wife to see me in merely underwear.  That would be plain rude.

After a nice cup of tea, I set off to the local garage to check the air pressures on my tyres.
Offside front - check.
Offside rear - check.
Nearside front - check.
Nearside rear - needed a little more in, I'll have to keep an eye on that - check.
After checking the oil, the water, the windscreen washer liquid and buying a spare set of windscreen wiper blades, I set off. 

I arrived at Donna Nook several hours later to find a car park but no cafe.  Who has heard of a nature reserve without a cafe?  It was lucky that my good lady had prepared a fresh flask for me!  Thanks!  I had a nice cup of tea and a ginger biscuit and offered a nice couple that were getting into their vehicle a cup.  They turned it down - their loss!  Ha ha.  Very good joke there to keep you all amused.  Who says birdspotting can't be fun?

Oh fuck this, walked around a bit, saw and heard one Richard's Pipit just as I was leaving, then another flew in, showed well, went back to the car, drove back to holiday park, drank Carling drinks, watched Bradley Bear.

Got a bit bored there with all the inane shite, sorry.

Bally sensible old chap.

10th October. 

Mega Fall.  Spurn.

Dripping with birds, jumping, bouncing, crawling, heaving with birds.  All phrases one hears when this kind o fall happens.  I find 'crawling with birds' to be the best verb to describe the scenes. If it is a verb.  I'm pretty sure it is.  If you're ever unsure of anything like this or even if you're unsure of a certain spelling or even have a question regarding punctuation and grammar, simply log onto Birdforum, add a post with your questionable word within it and sit back and wait for the responses!  Easy.  I was unsure of the spelling of the word 'definite'.  Googling the answer or using a dictionary is far too long winded.  So I posted this:

Hi there, I was after some help.  I sometimes find pipits difficult and was wondering if there is a definate way of seperating Tawny from Richard's.
Thanks in advance.

The answers came flooding in:

Hi there, Q@Spurn.  Just to let you know that you've spelt definite incorrectly.

registered user
posts: 7
last lifer: Ring necked Duck.

Sorry Q, but you've spelt definite wrongly, it's spelt with an 'i' not an 'a'
Happy birding.

Southern Finch
registered user
posts: 1
last lifer: Coal Tit

Yes, I noticed that too.

Wigan Roy
senior member
posts: 2,463
last lifer: Northern Parula

He's also got it wrong with separately.  Spelt it with an 'e'.

Black Noddy
registered user
posts: 80
last lifer: Black Brant.

Notice that there is not one utterance of pale lores or unstreaked mantles in reference to the actual birding question!  Pedants.
Pedants of life will fall onto him,
And the ship it sinks like lead into the sea,
And the hermit shrieves the mariner of his sins.
It is actually 'penance of life' but I thought it sounded about right.  Of course, I'm not supposed to mention Iron Maiden and I haven't as yet, as it is Tom McKinney's domain and his alone, and I don't want to step on his toes or be accused of plagueris....plagie....plaguearis.......copying.  The lyric is of course taken from Maiden's epic 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' which featured on the World Slavery Tour and is a song that has the words 'shrieves', 'penance' and 'pang' contained within it's lyrics, which are pretty good words to get into your song.  Brucey is a pilot and actually flew Liverpool FC to Italy for their UEFA Cup game last week against Napoli.  Apparently, thieves from across Europe bring stolen goods to Brucey for him to store and sell on, as he is also an international fence.....

.....and you're back in the room.  What the fuck was all that about?

Meanwhile, back at Spurn....

...Spurn was crawling.  Chiffs and Crests had to feed on the deck as if there was not enough room in the bushes.  And there wasn't (enough room in the bushes) as every bush contained at least 300 (5 or 6) Goldcrest, 250+ (3 or 4) Chiffchaff, and 150 (1or 2) Brambling.  Song Thrush and Redwing were absolutely everywhere and even tried to burrow into my trainer to find shelter and/or food.  It was a lovely day so halfway along Sammy's I took off my coat only to find 14 Thrush sp. fly out of my left arm, 9 Brambling fly out of my top pocket and 139 Chiffchaff holding off an entire army of Goldcrest at Rourke's Drift (also known as my right coat pocket).

Now I know I've covered this already but I need to hammer this home about there being birds everywhere.  There were Goldcrestios (Italian sub-species), el Goldo Cresto (Spanish sub-species), Goldfuckingcrestsinnit (Coventry sub-species) al zuber la platz (which Craig Taylor of 3B told me, maybe erroniously, meant 'all over the place' in German).  They really were using every perch available, I don't think you beilieve me, and some really were spilling onto the deck to feed with Chiffs.  Honestly!  Why can't you believe me?

As for the rarer species,a Pallas's Warbler showed very well to the crowd of almost four million on Sammy's.  Always a pleasure, never a chore.  Down there for dancing.  I'll go to the foot of our stair, etc.  Tiny, tiny, beautiful, bald, tiny baby mites Pallas's Warblers.  They really are.  Bedecked with so many stripes it was like a K-Swiss vs Adidas dance-off.  I'll delete that, it's a terrible analogy.  Analogy?

4 Shore Lark were at Chalk Bank, the Egyptian Goose (Spurn tick!) still, a Great Grey Shrike opposite Rose Cottage meant a good day all-in-all apart from leaving Spurn around 4 o'clock, just before news came out of a Radde's Warbler trapped and ringed at Kew!  The only thing to do when missing the chance of Radde's in-the-hand is to go home and get twatted on Carling drinks, Jack Daniels and Monster Munch whilst the missus and the kids cower in the corner staring at Daddy, whispering amongst themselves "he's doing it again....he's doing it again....why does he do this every night?  Why can't he have Walker Cheese and Onion instead.....just once...."

Spicy flavour baked corn snacks