29 March 2011

Rodentia,... Rodentia Buttocks!

Both Chiffchaff and Blackcap have appeared in the garden over the last couple of days but, in order to maintain the theme of 'a blog about birding minus the pretty pictures of birds', I give you...

I am a vole and I live in a hole. [Cor! Steady on, I mean I know South Wales is no prelapsarian Eden but "a hole"? Harsh, my little furry friend, harsh.]

26 March 2011

All's go

All manner of stuff coming and going in all manner of places today. First stop, Saltmarsh/Farmfield lanes, at the confluence of which were a singing Water Pipit and 10 Wheatear, at least, they were there, until the future heart attack/cancer statistics that we call fishermen, trolled down the lane, grunted their way across the fence and waddled out across the saltmarsh, flushing species for which the SPA is designated with every labouring, sweaty step. I assume the fisherfolk have immunity regarding the law and protected European sites(?).

Moving on, actually mostly over (mostly), were Sand Martin, a Swallow plus Redpoll, Mipit, etc., and in the hedgerows loads of Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler and a tardy group of Fieldfare. Trumping everything though was the silvery vision of softly spoken loveliness that we call a Bar-headed Goose,... aaah.

Next on the itinerary was Boat Lane, which produced more Chiffchaff, another Willow Warbler and three Ruff (all males, one in white-headed breeding plumage). The Bar-headed Goose had also pottered over to replace our former escaped goosey inhabitant which now appears to have taken up residence on Severnside. [Come back Barney, all is forgiven].

Finally, I thought I'd try for LRP at the pools; failed, but did get more Sand Martin and Chiffchaff plus Spotted Redshank and Greenshank.

25 March 2011

Show and tell

And now for the first post in an, in all likelihood, irregular series entitled 'Whilst going through a load of recordings in my little room I got side-tracked and ended up doing this more-or-less by mistake but now I've done it I might as well stick it up on the interweb because it will fit in just dandy amongst all the other largely ignored inconsequential shite hanging about in the ether with absolutely no grammar in their titles'. Snappy moniker huh?

Number 1. The Marsh Tit. Number 1. The Marsh Tit.

You'll need to click on the pic to read the gubbins.

For information on the effects of noise on birdsong see:
Brumm, H. (2004). The impact of environmental noise on song amplitude in a territorial bird. Journal of Animal Ecology 73:434-440.
Brumm, H, and Todt, D. (2002). Noise-dependent song amplitude regulation in a territorial songbird. Animal Behaviour 63:891-897.
Slabbekoorn, H. & Peet, M. (2003). Birds sing at a higher pitch in urban noise: Great Tits hit the high notes to ensure that their mating calls are heard above the city's din. Nature 424:267.
Wood, W.E. & Yezerinac, S.M. (2006). Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) song varies with urban noise. The Auk 123: 650-659.

24 March 2011

Saint Crispin ain't got nuffin' on me

Pre-dusk at Ynys-y-fro, migrants were literally, almost entirely, somewhere else. I did cobble together 5 Sand Martin, 26 Meadow Pipit, 4 Redwing and 2 Chiffchaff, but it took Olympic class cobbling.

The causeway at Ynys-y-fro Reservoirs, it's just like the one at Staines Reservoirs only the following have not been seen from the tarmac pictured above: Collared Pratincole, Baird's, Buff-breasted, Sharp-tailed or Pectoral Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Phalarope, Lesser Yellowlegs, Whiskered, White-winged Black or Caspian Tern, Leach's Petrel, Sabine's Gull, any skua species, Marsh, Hen or Montagu's Harriers, Alpine Swift, Roller, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Wryneck or Icterine Warbler. But, apart from that, the causeway at Ynys-y-fro Reservoirs is just like the one at Staines Reservoirs; and it has the added benefit of a bountiful display of Primrose, Lesser Celandine and Wood Anemone,... lovely.

20 March 2011

Still no photos of birds

Spent most of the day dithering about with recordings of Iberian Chiffchaff, consuming various cakey comestibles and keeping half an eye/ear to the cricket and football. Did sneak off for a late afternoon at the migrant mecca that goes by the name of Ynys-y-fro though. Naturally, it produced the goods: one Sand Martin [Oh yeah!] and three flyover Golden Plover heading north [OMGWTFBBQ!]. Had to come home and do an hour of pilates to restore my inner calm after that little lot.

18 March 2011

The end of the world is 221,567 miles away

The "super moon" as viewed from Gwentsville, our original (and still the best) satellite is at the closest point to Earth since 1992. Apparently it will only produce a 0.3% difference in size and brightness, but, at least according to the usual whackjobs of interwebland, it is the root cause of earthquakes, tsunami and all manner of other natural disasters. It will cause the elderly to drive slowly on motorways and the young to be spotty and obnoxious, the blind won't see and the deaf will listen to Rihanna. Or should that be the young will listen to Rihanna, the elderly will drive blindly on motorways and a slow deaf bloke will come out in spots,... well whatever, with a bit of luck, we're all doomed.

At least the nocturnal migrants won't be getting lost tonight.

17 March 2011

Enough with the inverts

Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tort all crossed one's bows today. Very little else mind.

I wonder what's up with this lot, they all look a little antsy.

15 March 2011

Wild? It's bleeding ferocious

Despite two hours pottering around the clearing, I somehow missed out on sloppy seconds of the shrike this afternoon. In an effort to maintain the non-bird photo theme I carefully stalked a pair of Wild Daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus (male on the right), managed to get to within just 15 feet before I backed out, didn't want to push my luck. Despite appearances they are famously unpredictable, can give a nasty bite and some populations are known to harbour the rabies virus.

Gwentbirding: another blog for the new modern young new modern generation new modern naturalist (albeit written by someone over 35, even if it reads as though scrawled by an inebriated 15 year old on a regular basis).

13 March 2011

Staying in is the new going out

A day f/m-ucking [dependent on your upbringing, education and outlook] about checking and prepping recording gear, keeping an eye 'out back' and further refining the art of loafing around. In amongst a first half of Tony Pullis inspired tat and a grindy-out-a-result Calcutta Cup, I did notice somebody else's Siskin in the garden (female, V83_184, any semi-local ringer want to claim it? Must try to catch it at some point) and this little furry fella,...


11 March 2011

Yes, but what if it had been a mega?

Not totally sure...

... if this monopod digiscoping...

... is really going to catch on.

S'pose it might.

Other highlights at Oldbury included a 'grip back' Crossbill ["Back of the net!"], flyover Brambling and a sing-songy Chiffchaff.

08 March 2011

Post something,... anything

Look, it's a bird,... it's got feathers and everything.

Can't wait for spring. I mean proper spring, not migrating Coots, gulls and Siskins; I mean sub-Saharan migrants, preferably including a few rare ones.

01 March 2011

If this isn't a hit the world has gone mad

In lieu of something about birding and/or Gwent I give you, hot off the Olivetti Lettera 32, the closing scene of Act II of the, as yet unfinished, musical masterpiece "Goldfinch",...

Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinch: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.
Bond: Er,... sing? Surely you meant sing?
Auric Goldfinch: Oh yes,... sorry, I was a million miles away.

[Camera zooms out, simultaneously the set of the interior of the villains lair is hoisted away to reveal the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra who, with a fanfare of brass, launch into "Goldfincher" (not in the slightest bit composed by John Barry, or with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley) as Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey DBE (or, if she's too expensive, someone dressed as Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey DBE [Ant or Dec p'raps?]) enters stage right and sings...]

He's the finch, the finch with the Midas touch
A finches touch
Such a cold finch
Beckons you to enter his nest of sin
But don't go in

Golden calls he will pour in your ear
But his calls can't disguise what you fear
For a golden girl knows when he's pecked her
It's the peck of death ...

From Mister Goldfincher
Pretty girl, beware of his wing of gold
This wing is cold

Golden calls he will pour in your ear
But his calls can't disguise what you fear
For a golden girl knows when he's pecked her
It's the peck of death ...

From Mister Goldfincher
Pretty girl, beware of his wing of gold
This wing is cold
He loves only gold
Only gold
He loves gold
He loves only gold
Only gold
He loves gold

... and nyger seed.

[Fade to black]

This. Is. Gold dust.