24 August 2015

Trees, logs, wood, etc.

Up and down to Scotland during three of the last four weeks.  As an aficionado of alien forestry and the M6, it has been an absolute joy.  Have seen a few raptors,... silver linings and all that.

Given all these trees have been chopped off at the ankles, it seems weird that only one is visibly unhappy. Perhaps all the others just happen to be facing the other way.

PS. Have managed a couple of visits to Ynysyfro where Green and Common Sandpiper pottered about the upper pool, which also hosted a single Teal; and a Kingfisher buzzed about the lower reservoir. 

21 June 2015

A moth struggles with mortality

Red-necked Footman Atolmis rubricollis.

Popped downstairs to make a cup of tea.  Heard a teeny-tiny tapping, a teeny-tiny tapping of a Red-necked Footman's foot at the kitchen door.  On opening said door, he begged, in a teeny-tiny voice, begged to be photographed, begged to have his teeny-tiny likeness recorded for posterity.

"Why?" I asked, "Why do you want your teeny-tiny likeness recorded for posterity?" 

He recovered himself a little, stroked an antenna and, in that enigmatic manner for which footmen are famed, quoted Boltanski by way of reply:

"We are all so complicated and then we die.  We are a subject one day, with our vanities, our loves, our worries, and then one day, abruptly, we become nothing but an object, an absolutely disgusting pile of shit.  We pass very quickly from one stage to the next, it's very bizarre.  It will happen to all of us, and fairly soon too."

"But what if,..." I proffered, paraphrasing the aforementioned Frenchman so as not to appear the less well-read in this exchange between man and moth, "... what if I take your photograph, and then you die, and then, at some point in the dim and distant future, no one on earth recognizes you in the photograph?  You will have died twice."

"I'll take the risk, you take the photo,..." quipped the invertebrate, "... and make sure you get my good side."

13 June 2015

Valentia semi-uplandia

Common and approachable things that have been close to me whilst I have had my phone in my hand over the last week or so,…

 Cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus growing through a ‘reindeer lichen’ Cladonia sp.

Cloudberry growing through Heather Culluna vulgaris.

Cloudberry growing through moss Sphagnum sp. They do like to grow through stuff.

 Northern Eggar Lasiocampa quercus f. callunae larva.

 Garden Tiger Arctia caja larva or ‘woolly bear’.

Two-banded Longhorn Beetle Rhagium bifasciatum, couldn’t fly straight for all the tea in a place where there is a lot of tea, e.g. China,… or a Sainsbury’s distribution centre.

Large Pine Weevil Hylobius abietis, one of the worst/best (depending on human/weevil point of view) pests of commercially important coniferous trees in Europe.

Wood-sorrel Oxalis acetosella a mainstay of the depauperate ground flora usually found in alien forestry.

Sand Spurrey Spergularia rubra on a forestry track.

07 June 2015

Saw a bird!

Saw the Greater Yellowlegs at Posbrook Floods today,... which was nice.  

05 June 2015

Twilight of the,... err,... everything really

The Borders in the gloaming; the gloaming in the Borders.

In reiver country for much of the last week.  The ranks of alien conifers and denuded hillsides beyond are all but devoid of Black Grouse; atop the ridge the peaty-puddled heathery plateau is free of Hen Harrier; and the carbon dioxide in the sky above is tipping the balance at 400 ppm.

Take a bow everybody,... take a bow.

17 May 2015

Rude bunny

A baby rabbit sticking its tongue out at the camera,... as they often do.

08 May 2015

Gobble, gobble.

Female Lapwing looking a little bit 'down'.  It must be something to do with those great big eyes (and the tremulous cries) but they always seem to wear their emotions on their sleeve don't they.

Now that we can expect all those Tory promises to come to fruition, especially as those pesky Liberals aren't there to rein in the really loopy right-wingers, I have been through the Tory manifesto to pick out the stuff relevant to the local birder (all direct quotes from the 'little blue book'),...

  1. "We will provide fuck-all leadership on climate change, we will do the bare-arse minimum as long as it doesn’t cost us (or our multi-national corporate pals) anything."
  2. "We will continue to water down environmental protection measures, you wanna build a housing estate on a SSSI? Crack on! We might even drop all that pesky European legislation. SPAs? SACs? Fuck that foreign guff."
  3. "On airport expansion, we say 'More planes, fuck yeah!' We might even build a landing strip in the middle of an estuary! We’re plane bonkers."
  4. "We will start all manner of new road building schemes because one motorway from A to B is never enough. The Gwent Levels? We’ll level Gwent alright."
  5. "We will fuck over the renewable energy industry because: a. now they want to put turbines in Tory constituencies and we can’t have that; and b. our friends in the oil, coal and gas sector give us bigger cheques."
  6. "There will be more tax breaks for North Sea oil and gas. Looking after our ‘friends in the north’."
  7. "Fracking? Frack yeah! We're gonna frack under your house. We're gonna frack your water supply. We are fracking mad for it."
  8. "Badger, Fox and Hen Harrier culling will be made Olympic events. Tally ho!"
Fortunately, none of the above should unduly worry anyone because they are promising to "look after the economy".  Unfortunately, whilst you might think this will mean you and your family will be better off, it actually means their mates in the multi-national corporations can just get back to harvesting what is left of our natural resources, collective wealth and human capital.  Oops!

So, anyhooooo,... you just run along now, get back in your cage, gorge yourself on the lies, page three girls, celebrity gossip and footy in your paper; run up your credit card bill and pay your mortgage.  Stand aside and, whilst you stare at your shiny new mobile phone, allow the city boys to rape the planet. Feel free to gawp over the 24 hour loop-the-loop news coverage of the spluttering, guttering death of the welfare system.  It'll all be alright, it's not like you or your family will be needing the NHS or an environment anyway because you invested in that magical spaceship you keep in the shed and when it gets really bad you can just pop down the garden and,...


Well done you. That is some impressive foresight you showed there,... and you are in no way a turkey that just voted for Christmas. 


PS. Two Turnstone, a Barwit, five Blackwit, 360 Dunlin, 10+ Ringed Plover, etc., at Goldcliff.

05 May 2015

Foghorn longhorn

Somebody… ah say somebody… knocked.  What’s the big… ah say,… what’s the big idea knocking on my door?!  You’re a moth son,… moths don’t knock on doors!  This boys making more noise than a couple of skeletons on a tin roof.  I’m trying to have my breakfast boy, you’re taking the food right outta my mouth… I don’t go round flitting about lights,… listen to me boy… pay attention when I’m talking to ya,… now you stay away from doors and I’ll stay away from lights.  You're not payin' attention boy!

Nice moth but he’s got more nerve than a bum tooth.  Hey that’s a joke son,… ah say a joke,… don’t ya geddit?

Nematopogon swammerdamella, neither particularly good looking nor rare as 'longhorn' moths go but a great one to know next time you’re playing scrabble.

03 May 2015

Bring da rain

Three early mornings at Uskmouth and Goldcliff, one breezy, one moist, one flipping moist.  Apart from a single Grasshopper Warbler, a couple of Cuckoo and a Curlew Sandpiper, very little of note.

The highlight of the weekend thus far was my attempt to drown a group IDCD* punters.  Failed miserably though, they all survived the deluge, some of them even appearing to enjoy the trial by water.  Foiled again.   

[Enter witty caption about weather and ducks.]

* International Dawn Chorus Day, more information at http://www.idcd.info/ 

25 April 2015


An underwing of pure velvety blackness. 

Left home to do a Firecrest survey,... ended up bombing over to Meare Heath for a stonking all-of-the-whole-wide-world tick.  What a flipping beauty, showed really well, performed a couple of flypasts and then plonked itself down more-or-less as close as it could get to the assembled twitch.  What a jolly well-behaved bird.  A half-decent, albeit largely predictable, supporting cast was racked up too: Great White Egret, Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Wood Sandpiper,...  

Popped in on Goldcliff on the way home: 10 Barwit [all three godwits on the British list in a day, how terribly satisfying], 3 Blackwit, 3 Spotshank, 2 White Wagtail, etc.  Also distant flight views of two of the plastic Cranes.

PS.  Does anyone know anything about the Little Gull reported from the "Newport Wetlands" this afternoon?  "Newport Wetlands" doesn't really narrow it down much.

Addendum: details on the Little Gull via GOS site "Goldcliff [...] 2nd-summer, flew in and landed on 1st lagoon briefly before flying off north-east".