11 June 2010

Mr, Mrs, Miss, Other

Well, well, well, there really is some total shite being written and uttered about the Barolo's Shearwater isn't there? From twat camp one we have the, now predictable, "They can't stop me using a beam and a tape! We can charter a boat, steam in, bag it from the harbour and fuck-off" (you won't see it, you will disturb the Manxies [listed as a reason for notification on the Lundy SSSI citation] and you'll run the risk of getting you and the boatman a fine of up to £20,000); and, from twat camp two, we have "You might as well stay at home and listen to a recording" (well, yes you could, and you sir, are what we call a blinkered, ornithological retard).

The fact is, any night spent listening to a colony of performing Procellariiformes is a night well spent. Add the bonus that the choir's star countertenor is a quality rarity and it's a no-brainer isn't it? OK, so you're not going to see it but, you'll learn more about the bird from its calls than from its plumage. A good view might let you identify a 'Little' Shearwater to subspecies; a nice vocal performance will let you confidently assign the bird a sex and subspecies. A thinking birder presumably wants to know the most about any bird they come across and, if a bird is only going to 'give itself up' in one sensory modality, presumably would want to see those species whose plumage provides the answers and hear those whose song/calls proffer more information. Or, to put it another way, which would you bet on to find a nailed-on Iberian Chiffchaff, a blind birder or a deaf birder? Are you a birder or a birdwatcher/spotter?

Anyhoo, I couldn't give a tinker's cuss, listening to a Little Shear piping in the darkness whilst being besieged by the usual cacophony of cackling and wheezing Manxies was superb. Given the added bonus of the Telinga-Sound Devices-Sennheiser set-up and ornitho-acoustic nirvana was within my grasp (had it not been for some amateurish microphone handling on my part and a chorus of coughing, spluttering, foot-twitching, farting, etc., etc. of the half-dozen birders present - you know who you are!).

Barolo's Shearwater, Lundy, 8th June 2010, recorded at 02:38, minutes later I was snoozing on the track, by the time we got to bed proper the first Skylark had started up.

We also accumulated a nice little supporting cast during daylight hours including a full summer plumaged Great Northern Diver, a second calendar-year male Hen Harrier, the Puffins (altogether now,... aaah!) and a female second calendar-year Subalpine Warbler which found me whilst pottering down the island in my flip-flops. At first it proved a complete bugger to see, but eventually gave itself up,...

It took about four hours, three phone calls, three texts and two helpful grockles to get Jaffa out of the pub to see this bird [NB. I should point out Jaffa says he was using the wifi in the pub and not partaking of alcoholic beverages].

This blog post was written to the soothing sounds of the sun's gone dim and the sky's turned black from the album ibm 1401, a user's manual by Johann Johannsson, for which you should be thankful, the ranty bits could have been a helluva lot worse.

[Addendum: There is now a recording of the Barolo's Shearwater and its Manxie mates here]


James said...

brilliant post...saying all the things im too scared to say!

Glennis said...

Dear little bird, must of been very hard to get such a good pic. Well done.

Darryl said...