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".

23 April 2015


Having vanquished the über bogey that was Pied Flycatcher, I thought it might be a bit much to expect another patch tick this spring.  But no!  Goldcliff produces another wader, albeit a rather odd one.  Flipping Stone-curlew, get in! 
 The view throughout the afternoon.  Not great.  It's,... it's in the rushes.

 And then, rather predictably, it came out to play at dusk.

 Ended up coming reasonably close.  Which was handy for the patient few and/or wily types who rocked up late in the day.

Though not doughnut distance,... and it was dark,... hence the gawd awful pics.

By the way, the bird was/is colour-ringed and seems to have been ringed in 2010 at Porton Down on the Wiltshire/Hampshire border.  Thanks to Messrs Rylands and Tomalin for the rapid provision of information. 

13 March 2015

"Are they still there?"

Three hours at Goldcliff, all three notable for their distinct lack of proper migrants.  Copious amounts of rain fell but neither LRP, Sand Martin nor Wheatear had bothered to drop in.  A (non-singing) Chiffchaff tried, and failed, to give the impression that nature's twice yearly spectacle was underway but I had to make do with a reasonable array of waders and wintering hangers-on.  The waders included 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, six Ruff, three Knot, three Spotted Redshank, two Greenshank, three Grey Plover and just the one (count 'em) Ringed Plover.  On the winter visitor front, the female Merlin was probably the best.

At Boat Lane the semi-notables included another (non-singing) Chiffchaff, one of Marsh Harriers and a few more Black-tailed Godwits.

Two Pintails managing to maintain their elegant air despite the dreich and the appearance overhead of wingèd death.

NB. The 'they' in the titular enquiry referred to Avocet,... and yes,... yes, they are still there. 

12 March 2015

Exalted among the heathen

A lone deciduous Scot surrounded by legions of innumerable coniferous aliens.

[Addendum: Dear Google Adsense, What. Are. You. On. About?!]

01 March 2015

Angels of death

A few images of the five Glaucous Gulls and some of their friends that were knocking about Ponta Delgada harbour last week.  Came to bread like your average Aylesbury.  As ever, click on the images for slightly larger versions.

"Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head..."

Lovely bit of photo-bombing by a first-winter 'Azores Gull'.

A different oooooge great big one.

Second-winter angel of death.

One or two birds showed a reasonable amount of head streaking producing a slightly hooded effect,...

... but the general impression of all five individuals was of uniformly pale birds, perhaps they'd spent their winter in a bleaching southerly sun.  Feather mites were apparent on at least a couple of the birds.

Contrasted beautifully with the local volcanic rock, nice little test of the new camera's dynamic range.

28 February 2015

Mostly Azores gulls,... mostly

Flight to Lisbon, night in a decent hotel, flight to Terceira, abortive landing attempt at a fog-bound Lajes, flight back to Lisbon, night in Lisbon's answer to the Hotel Earle, another flight to Terceira,...

And so began my latest trip to the Azores.  However, once the stop-starty start had been overcome it was a high-octane, fun-filled, knockabout adventure amidst the beautiful landscapes of Terceira and São Miguel.

High-octane gulling, I assume he was gulling as he was tazzing around within metres of the pontoons in Ponta Delgada harbour.  He probably got some cracking views of Glaucous and Ring-billed Gull.  

The port at Praia da Vitória,... in the dark; moments earlier two Bonaparte's Gull, two Mediterranean Gull and 15 Ring-billed Gull had tucked their bills under their wings and settled down to sleep for the night.

On Terceira, days were largely spent touring such fragrant delights as the tip, the fishing port and the oil refinery quarry in search of a mythical hyphenated larid (think Glaucous-winged, Slaty-backed, Black-tailed,...).  In between times we took time to stare in wonder and awe at 'Azores Gull' (for which read, 'obtain yet more photos and some very poor sound recordings'). 

Gull.  Tip.  Gull tip tip: speak to the manager of the tip and gain a VIP pass and a front row seat at the tipping face,... get in! 

Second-winter 'Azores Gull' on a bollard.  [Dear reader, as per any reference to large white-headed gulls, please remember to add the suffix '-type' in your head after the assumed age class as, a. I can't be bothered to type it every five seconds, and b. neither you, me or anyone else can be 100% sure of this little bleeder's age.  Some of them do weird shit and we shouldn't let them get away with it.]
First-winter 'Azores Gull', this one looks a bit fluffy because it is preening in readiness for going out on the town, they don't all look this fluffy.

First-winter 'Azores Gull', the main confusion species here is Laughing Gull, just because a gull is laughing does not mean it's a Laughing Gull.  This one is actually laughing because it had seen a hilarious discussion about a stringy 'Azores Gull' on Facebook.

Second-winter 'Azores Gull'.  There is always a modicum of head-scratching when gull watching, this one is pondering the much overlooked conundrums that Lesser Black-backed Gull can cause. 

An, as yet unidentified, small, presumably first-winter, gull.

Variously aged 'Azores Gulls' all nicely lined up on the quayside.  On this evidence it appears first-winters and adults can appear very fuzzy, an anti-predator strategy p'raps?

Probably an advanced second-winter,... or retarded third-winter,... or downright educationally subnormal fourth-winter,...

A poorly looking fish.  Luckily this Great Black-backed Gull was on hand to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation,... did not go quite as it should.  I should probably have intervened when the gull started by pulling the patient's guts out through his bunghole,... I knew that wasn't what you're supposed to do.  
Sub-adult (third/fourth-winter) 'Azores Gull' with young 'uns looking on. 

The gull roost in the port at Praia da Vitória.