16 May 2011

My first idea was much the better

Whilst casting around for a way to kickstart my return to Gwentish birding and delay a 'most consecutive playings of the Sparklehorse back catalogue' world record attempt, I whittled down the options to:
  1. wandering the local patch whacked out on lysergic acid diethylamide; or
  2. taking part in an ultra-local bird race.
Perhaps fortunately for the Gwent rarities committee, the birdrace appeared on the horizon before the local purveyor of all things hallucinogenic and another day of tear-arsing about, mostly looking for common but strangely uncooperative species loomed. The boundary for these things is fast becoming an ever-decreasing circle and, this time, the perimeter of the 'city' [*cough*] of Newport was chosen to minimise the day's carbon footprint and maximise the sheer pointlessness of it all [btw next year it will be the NWR, the year after Goldcliff Lagoons, then my garden and finally, in 2015, I'll be attempting a new record for how many birds I can see (or hear) in a 24 hour period through a partially obscured window whilst peering out from under my bed]. To avoid any build-up of heart-damaging tension I'll cut to the chase, we started at 02:30 and ended at 21:00 on 107 species (although, due to our statistician having run out of fingers and toes we thought we were on 105).

For the record, during the inaugural Newport Birdrace we found: Avocet, Barn Owl, Bearded Tit, Blackcap, Blackbird, Black-tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Canada Goose, Cetti's Warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Common Scoter, Coal Tit, Crossbill, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dipper, Dunlin, Dunnock, Feral Dove, Gadwall, Garden Warbler, Great Black-backed Gull, Great-crested Grebe, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Goosander, Goshawk, Greenfinch, Greylag Goose, Grey Heron, Great Tit, Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Herring Gull, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Lesser Whitethroat, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Linnet, Little Owl, Little Ringed Plover, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Marsh Harrier, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Nightjar, Nuthatch, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Reed Bunting, Redshank, Redstart, Reed Warbler, Ringed Plover, Robin, Rook, Rock Pipit, Ruff, Sand Martin, Sanderling, Sedge Warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Siskin, Skylark, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Spotted Flycatcher, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Swift, Tawny Owl, Treecreeper, Tree Pipit, Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck, Wheatear, Whimbrel, Whitethroat, Wigeon, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wood Warbler, Wren and Yellowhammer.

However, much more interesting (and inspiring of gasps of awe), are the species we missed which included: Black-headed Gull, Green Woodpecker, Kestrel, Raven, all manner of waders and Woodcock. I have no rational explanation for the lack of Kestrel and Raven but Green Woodpecker was the only total duff-up. One was recorded but two members of the team failed to hear it (including me).

Please note, no other teams were invited to take part this year, largely to ensure we won; however, if anyone is interested in a re-run next year, feel free to make yourselves known (alternatively, keep schtum and we can all pretend this sorry-arsed waste of an otherwise perfectly good Sunday never happened).

Anyway,... back to the musical offerings of Mr. Linkous.

PS. Please note I have not mentioned getting lost in Wentwood or the navigational dyslexia of a certain member of the team thus saving Mr. Richard Clarke from any embarrassment.

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