31 July 2008

Surprise, surprise!

The government,... talking bollocks about the levels of the UK's greenhouse gases? No! Surely they wouldn't do such a thing,... a British government burying bad news in an obscure press release, they wouldn't,... would they? See here to find out for yourself.

But it's alright dearest reader because every cloud has a silver lining, as can be seen here. Presumably this is a totally different 'Exxon' to that which was recently forced to admit to having spent the last decade funding a climate change denial industry to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. I assume, at some point in the future, Rex Tillerson and the other Exxon high-ups will be dragged (in a Radovan Karadzic stylee) in front of a 'crimes against humanity' tribunal in The Hague. I can't wait, what fun we'll have.

Phew! For a moment there I thought this would be another Eeyore-esque post from deepest Gwent (a gloomy place, rather boggy and sad).

PS. My favourite food is thistles don't you know.

30 July 2008

Subbuteo, oh, oh, oh, oh.

A disappointing turn out of hirundines at Uskmouth this evening; the three Hobbies present had to make do chasing each other and the the odd invertebrate. The number of acros is building up nicely.

27 July 2008

Keep an eye out

The first few signs of passerine passage are appearing on the horizon; Sedge and Reed Warbler numbers are slowly increasing down at Uskmouth and, this morning, a decent number of young phylloscs were also knocking about. Nothing to get the pulse racing but just the merest hint of the slightest intimation of a barely perceptible glimmer that autumn is on the way.

15 July 2008

Spend it

There is nothing more fun than exchanging cash for books. Despite the nice little vignette of our monarch (gawd bless 'er), money pales into insignificance alongside a good read. Even more exciting is to have them delivered, in this house it often goes like this,...

"A parcel? For me?" [cue girly squeals of delight, a blur of scissors and a trail of cardboard, bubble wrap, etc. between front door and study].

Actually, that might be the slightest of slight exaggerations but you get my drift. Today it was pretty close to the mark as five (oh yes, count 'em) books appeared in two parcels from the lovely people at NHBS and CUP. Just so you can partake of the fun here is a pic.

I'm halfway through 'Frontiers of Birding' and the hybrids book is really reference only, so that leaves three for the weekend, let's hope there's not much about.

PS. Bubble wrap, will its appeal ever wane?

13 July 2008

Lumping in the age of the split

Some time ago I drew a pretty picture depicting a 20 year snapshot of the turbulent seas of large white-headed gull taxonomy (see here). July's British Birds included the most recent gripping installment in the ongoing saga. Collinson et al. explains last year's, pretty uncontroversial, recommendations by the BOURC TSC and, amongst other things: extends the range of 'American Herring Gull' way beyond the nearctic; and reduces a fair few peoples' lists by two or three species. Due to the fact that I was bored whilst listening to this morning's cricket, I have redrawn my original flow diagram. I look forward to the day when this step-by-step process results in a frieze extending right round my study, how jolly nice that will look. Interior decor by taxonomists, surely the last word in birding chic.

PS. The asterisk is there to highlight the fact that taimyrensis may actually be best lumped with heuglini or treated as a hybrid between heuglini and vegae; the bold type is there to help you see which taxa have occurred in the UK (I don't think any of the claimed atlantis have yet been accepted, feel free to drop me a comment if you know better).

12 July 2008

Once more

A four and a half hour vigil at Goldcliff this evening produced nothing particularly pulse quickening. There was a distinct lack of Cattle Egret action and it fell to the motley male Ruff to collect the best bird award. I think two, as yet uneaten, Redshank chicks and two Stock Dove picked up the silver and bronze medals, a true reflection of Gwent's form at present. There was a good turnout of the, ever optimistic, county's birding fraternity though, which was nice.

11 July 2008

Long-eared squeaker

Bumped into a very vocal and pretty mobile young LEO last night (unfortunately beyond the bounds of Gwentcestershire), probably a good time to check your local haunts, should you feel the need to partake of some squeaky gate action.

09 July 2008

If you're out Cattling

If, whilst you are out searching for last weekend's Cattle Egret, you're looking through Littles, it might be worth checking their legs. There may well be one or two colour-ringed birds amongst them, looking a bit like this,...

08 July 2008

Bad news, good news

Went looking for the Cattle Egret this evening, nothing doing. The highlights, and I really am stretching the definition of 'highlights' here, were Red-legged Partridge and Stock Dove.

On a more positive note, I have had enough of tinkering with my trip report for California so, if you feel the need to read about my birding exploits abroad, 'right click' here to download a rather heavily compressed pdf version of my write-up. On the other hand, drop me an email and I'll send you a slightly better quality less compressed version.

06 July 2008

It's July and it's raining

Very little to attract me out birding at the moment, this weekend I mostly sat in watching tennis and waiting for the rain to stop. Then, just as it got dark this evening, somebody reports a Cattle Egret from Goldcliff; timing, the secret of good Gwentish ornithological comedy is in the timing. Bet it'll have gone by tomorrow morning but let's hope not.

PS. Aren't Spain having a good year on the sport front?

01 July 2008

Another temptation

Oops, forgot to mention, whilst in the US I had a very quick look through a very fancy birder's fancy new Nikon EDG bins. Even more fancy was the fact that they were the very first ones off the production line (or at least serial number 000001), bragging rights included in the box I do believe. How come Nikon, Leica, Swarovski or Zeiss don't send me toys to field test?

Very nice contrasty image, neutral colours and very good depth of field; definitely beat my (non HD) Ultravids, albeit I doubt the Nikons had been abused quite as much as my Leicas. Of course I gave them back with a shrug and said something along the lines of "Yeah, they're alright" and "Well, once you've spent more than £500 it's down to personal preference isn't it?", didn't want to over do it. It will be interesting to test them up against the Ultravid HDs though, perhaps I will change the habit of a lifetime and go to the Birdfair this year.

I need a new scope too and I'm just about to order a mixer/preamp,... must check my bank balance at some point.