24 April 2008

Sky watching

Following the Veracruz-esque raptor movement logged 'up county' on Wednesday, I have spent each of the last two evenings sky watching. If you would like to partake of this new craze sweeping Gwent this is how:

1. gather together bins, mobile phone/wireless internet device (to disseminate the news when the rares start passing over), comfy chair and a sustaining beverage;
2. take the above out into your garden (back garden for the chattering classes, front for the working classes, either if you lack the other, on the pavement if you have neither);
3. locate that point in your garden with the greatest vista and place chair thereon;
4. sit down (ideally slightly reclining) and scan the heavens (top tip - alternate scanning with and without bins);
5. every 10 minutes or so partake of your chosen beverage (if there is a slight chill in the air I'd opt for a nice blended tea, if warm perhaps a Pimms or a glass of an obscure continental beer, Kazbegi p'raps);
6. should a local/national rarity pass overhead phone/email the news out without delay.

Thus far I've got to say the results have been a little disappointing, yesterday a not-to-be-mentioned-on-the-internet raptor and a Swallow were the highlights; today another not-to-be-mentioned-on-the-internet raptor (different to yesterday's), a Swift, a few high altitude hirundines (almost certainly House Martins) and an unknown passerine (approximately 5,000m above my head going north, probably a pipit, possibly a finch, definitely a bird) were the sum of my efforts. Oh well, I'll keep looking up.

[Edit - this isn't a new craze at all, I just found this photograph which purports to show Death and Antonius Block sky watching at a site close to modern day Falsterbo somewhen between 1271 and 1480. NB. notice that Death (a renowned stringer) is reaching for an American identification guide having just claimed Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus sanctijohannis!]

Click on the pic for a slightly larger version.

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