30 December 2007

Farmfield finches

Still about half a dozen Brambling in the finch flock down Farmfield Lane, not an awful lot else though. The girlfriend had a couple of Woodcock at Forest Drive this evening along with two off-roading arseholes pulling doughnuts and generally carving up the top of Twmbarlwm,... I'm thinking of getting me one of these...

Apparently the Javelin is a portable anti-tank 'fire-and-forget' missile, designed for use in the hectic lifestyle of the modern anti-tank man, with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance.

The warhead is fitted with two shaped charges: a ‘starter’ to initiate explosive reactive armour and a ‘main’ to penetrate base armour (unfortunately there is no ‘desert’). The propulsion system is a two-stage solid propellant design which provides a minimum smoke soft launch, this complies with all EU legislation on smoking in confined spaces and ensures no contraventions of the Health Act 2006 will occur if you choose to launch it from the bar of your local pub.

The system is deployed and ready to fire in less than 30 seconds and reload time is less than 20 seconds. The gunner engages the target by placing a cursor box over the image of the target, just like Battalion Wars II on the Nintendo Wii. Unlike conventional wire guided, fibre-optic cable guided, or laser beam riding missiles, Javelin is autonomously guided to the target after launch, leaving the gunner free to reposition, reload or redo his hair immediately after launch.

The weapon has two attack modes: direct attack mode to engage covered targets, bunkers, buildings and helicopters; and top attack mode for tanks and wankers in 4x4s, in which case the Javelin climbs above and strikes down on the target to penetrate the roof where there is the least armour protection.

If it’s good enough for the 16 air assault and three commando it’s good enough for me.

29 December 2007

Pom tiddly pom pom

An hour and a half at Goldcliff Point produced (eventually) with a Pom flying overhead and then up-channel into the estuary to kick seven shades of shite out of the Common Gulls; and a Purp flying past in the opposite direction presumably off to roost with the accompanying Dunlin. No Dunlin roost at the pools, a lone Greenshank being the only wader of note. Lots of Black-tailed Godwits at Boat Lane though (including a colour-ringed bird) but the real quality was provided by the wildfowl - Black Swan and Bar-headed Goose!

27 December 2007

SEO and the ghost of Bob

What do you do whilst waiting for SEOs to appear at Aust Warth? Why re-enact an iconic image in the life of the mighty Robert Zimmerman, that's what.
What you will need: a copy of Barry Feinstein's pic of the aforementioned Bob from 11th May 1966 (see www.barryfeinsteinphotography.com/photography.htm) and a few willing accomplices.
What to do: find the old Aust Ferry slipway; step through the gaping hole in the fence; briefly admire the Banksy-esque graffiti on the remains of the building on your right (is this an original Banksy?); place two of your accomplices in the approximate positions of Howard Alk and the 1960s vintage limo in the pic (unless of course you have Howard Alk and a 1960s limo to hand); place yourself on the spot once occupied by, arguably, America's foremost singer-songwriter, author, musician, poet, and, of late, disc jockey; and get someone to take a photo; and then hang around and bag an SEO just before dark. It really is that simple.

Thanks go to my dog for playing the role of Mr Alk, Sarah for a passable impersonation of an old limo and my girlfriend for her photography skills.

26 December 2007

Fake fudge

The Uskmouth end of the patch has produced yet another aythya hybrid. This one is a peach of a Ferruginous-type Pochard hybrid and looks unerringly like a bird that has been recorded at Slimbridge over the last two winters (see pic below and compare it to http://anserdiary.blogspot.com/2006/10/wwt-slimbridge-sightings-12-october.html and http://anserdiary.blogspot.com/2006/11/ferruginous-x-pochard-hybrid-wwt.html). Other 'notables', which momentarily took the mind off the hordes of dog-walkers, screaming overweight kids and the usual cross-section of Newport freakery, included: 3 Bearded Tits, 1 Brambling, 2 Goldeneye, 12 Siskin, 6 Stonechat, 10 Water Rail and 18 Cetti's Warblers (including 12 singing males). A much quieter Saltmarsh grasslands held 1 Bewick's Swan, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Bar-headed Goose and a possible Greylag x Canada hybrid (it were miles away in the dark).

24 December 2007

Real swans

A pre-Xmas tour of the Usk Valley produced 11 Bewick's Swan, all adults as far as I could see, 2007 would not appear to have been the greatest of breeding seasons. Eleven Goldeneye on the river included four displaying males; and a half decent flock of Siskins included a few Redpolls.

22 December 2007

Yet more

Another 200+ Brambling, this time up on Cefn Rhyswg; it's starting to get silly isn't it, hardly a vowel in sight. Must be the altitude,... or I've just broken my keyboard.

21 December 2007

Once more unto the beech

Had another bash at the Bramblings today, thought I might have a go at recording a few calls. There were probably only half as many knocking around as yesterday with the largest flock (perhaps 100) down by Pen-y-fan. Unfortunately the Manmoel road is a little busier than I'd have liked and, along with the off-road motorbikes, sirens and overhead jets, getting good quality recording was a little tricky. I did manage the following though which, I think you'll agree, captures the unique ambience of the Gwent countryside. For a bit of fun, you might like to see how many species of bird you can hear.

20 December 2007

More Brambles

Saw a few hundred Brambling alongside the Oakdale-Manmoel Common road at lunchtime today. The biggest flock was of about 200-250 birds, all a little disappointing given the monumental flocks reported over the last few days.

16 December 2007

GPs and Brambles

Back down to the patch today; half a dozen Golden Plover came out of a field just outside the reserve and, despite most of the Chaffinches having buggered off, a couple of Brambling were still feeding in the 'sunflower field'.

15 December 2007

Quarley, Shipton Bellinger, Hotel California

Spent the day staring at various bits of Wiltshire and Hampshire awaiting a flypast from a barn door,... never did happen.

09 December 2007

Yet more wet and windy

Only got as far as Ynys-y-fro, predictably bugger all of note, thought about impaling myself on the railings but it started to rain so I went home.

02 December 2007

Wet and windy

What to do to shake a cold? Why, sit in the wind and rain peering at more wind and rain. Weather looked half promising for a seawatch but a handful of Kittiwake were all the reward for an hour and a half at the golden cliff.