25 July 2014

Fun week,... fungi

Spent most of this wonderfully hot and humid week up to my sweat/sunscreen-filled eyeballs in aquatic (and other, largely stingly/prickly) vegetation.  Heard a Kingfisher, found a Harvest Mouse nest and a brood of Tufted Duck, was bitten by horse flies, mosquitoes and red ants, and have had enough of Water Voles for the foreseeable future.  Also had a very showy, bordering on nonchalant, Water Vole during a quick stop at Magor Marsh but little there in the way of bird interest. 

PS. Can anyone identify the fungi in the image below?  Three appeared in a plant pot out front this week, almost certainly a garden tick if someone can put a name to it. 

When they first appeared the colour of the cap was shiny and a sandy-yellow (a little brighter than the tip is here) which bleached over a couple of days to this. This one measured 10 cm from tip to 'root' and could neither speak English nor play the piano.

20 July 2014

Let's. Get. Ready. To. CRUMBLE!

Home-grown rhubarb, homemade crumble,... custard on the way.  Yummers!

15 July 2014

We went east

The greatest of Knots, partially obscured by a Redshank and phone-scoped from within a rolled up carpet whilst suffering from temporary tunnel vision.  Fusion technology performance art at its very best.  Luckily, before the bird moved onto the mudflats to feed, half decent views had been secured as it repeatedly flitted around in the wader roost amongst the Sea Lavender in the foreground. 

13 June 2014

Last week

A week of early starts, ickle ponies, six foot rabbits and countless moist bottoms in the lovely New Forest.  Bagged a couple of long overdue avian year ticks (Eider [in the Solent] and Spotted Flycatcher) and a fair number of new invertebrates for 2014 (e.g. Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Keeled Skimmer, etc., etc.) but the highlight was the quality and variety of the breeding stuff and the accompanying dawn chorus.  It can't be too bad when you're surrounded by oodles of singing/displaying Curlew, Snipe, Woodlark, Redstart, Dartford Warbler, Firecrest, etc., etc.  Did manage to not see Short-toed Eagle or Black Kite though.

Clayhill Bottom. Very moist, if wearing walking boots and gaiters (or 'birding spats' as I like to call them) best crossed at pace whilst being very mindful of your step. "That looks solid,... nope,... that looks solid,... nope,... that looks solid,... nope." [ad infinitum]

A horsey.

09 June 2014

Smell the roses

Pottered around the grasslands on Sunday, rounded up a few more Cetti's but little else of note on the ornithological side of things. Plenty of dragon-, damsel- and butterflies though, and a smattering of pwiddy flowers.

A rose by any other name would,... err,... be a misidentified rose.

06 June 2014

That's the way to do it

Mother Shipton in the sun at Uskmouth. That's supposed to be the profile of a witch on the forewing, looks more like Mr. Punch.

Thought I'd better get down the patch whilst the sun was shining.  Nothing new on the bird front but the number and variety of bugs, and other spineless wonders, seems to be on the up.  Down at the pools most of the action was provided by regular sorties by the resident, wader bothering, Buzzard.  High tide was almost a total wash-out, just two Dunlin came in off the estuary.

Umbridge at Goldcliff. [In the interests of full disclosure, the above is a composite of several images (can you see the join[s]?); no less authentic than images taken with the aid of MP3s, mealworms, etc., especially when photographers then fail to mention their use. Of course, all photography is, at best, a manipulated, imperfect reflection of reality, but that's another, yawn-inducing discussion altogether.]

01 June 2014

It's very green out there

It was very green and, in places, moist (right up to your pockets); and, in other places, stingy, today. The Cetti's Warbler survey is complete. The Savi's is still present. That is all.

A wee hoppy-kitten-bunny early doors but mostly greenery.

Latticed Heath but mostly greenery.

Untrampled Grass Vetchling between path and Savi's Warbler (well done everybody),... but mostly greenery.

31 May 2014

Just reeling

Both Savi's and Grasshopper Warbler whirring away at Uskmouth this morning.

Still a trickle of birders coming to pay their respects to the Savi's, though they are now outnumbered by an expressionless undead horde of hardcore dudery.  Look down their binoculars, down, down into the distant, diminished eyes and you will see,... you will see nothing,... nothing but vacancy.  Their leaky-milky orbs, opaque, weepy windows into a soulless dusty void; rigid tympanic membranes deafened, unmoving within the dusty crack-waxed auricles; an arrhythmic slurry of vapid syllables oozing intermittantly from their slack, dribble-cornered, jaws.  Oh!  The horror!  What did they do in their past lives to be cast out this way?  Back!  What merry murderers must they have been?  Back I say!  What unfathomable crimes must have been conjured behind those unseeing eyes?  Get thee back into the tempest!  Back!  Back to night's Plutonian shore!

The scene of panic at Uskmouth today, triggered when a recently retired sales executive from Fladbury, Worcestershire, was overheard to mispronounce Cetti's.  The dudes were among them!  Even the crows were terrified.

29 May 2014



The Savi's Warbler is still present, still singing and still showing on-and-off at close range.  There really is no need to encroach on the edge of the reedbed or to resort to playing MP3 recordings at this bird.   

And to the aged pizzle-stick with the 'oops-no-manual-focus-option-bridge-camera-thingy' bemoaning the fact he couldn't get a clear view, standing right up against the reedbed and overheard muttering something to the effect of 'somebody should have cut some of the reeds back' - piss off you ... [the author removed the following text as, even for him, it was "a little bit ranty"].

27 May 2014

And lo, it came to pass that Gwent had a good day

Soaked up the Savi's Warbler for a few hours this morning, bagged a few more recordings (one of which is now here) and generally revelled in its whirring glory.  Then, on leaving, I decided to detour via the shelter belt, 'just in case'.  Pottered eastwards, entered said shelter belt, heard Golden Oriole singing. 

Slight panic. 

Quickly recorded a snatch [he said snatch] of song, then flailed around with the phone in an attempt to get the news out from one of the few 3G black spots on the reserve.  Then totally titted up the chance of a good recording as the bird performed, hidden to view, from somewhere almost above me - song, calls, the whole nine yards [note to self, next time make double sure you press 'record'].  After a very quick flash of oriole-shaped/sized bird in the canopy, I had another go at phoning/tweeting/semaphoring out the fact that, for the first time in ten years an oriole was in Gwent.  Unfortunately, despite a small group forming, I don't think it was certainly heard or seen again.  Luckily for all you lovely people, you can go here and hear the few phrases I did shoe-horn onto the CF card before having my techno-brainfart.

... and now a Pectoral Sandpiper has rocked up at Goldcliff.  It's all kicking off!