30 December 2007

Farmfield finches

Still about half a dozen Brambling in the finch flock down Farmfield Lane, not an awful lot else though. The girlfriend had a couple of Woodcock at Forest Drive this evening along with two off-roading arseholes pulling doughnuts and generally carving up the top of Twmbarlwm,... I'm thinking of getting me one of these...

Apparently the Javelin is a portable anti-tank 'fire-and-forget' missile, designed for use in the hectic lifestyle of the modern anti-tank man, with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance.

The warhead is fitted with two shaped charges: a ‘starter’ to initiate explosive reactive armour and a ‘main’ to penetrate base armour (unfortunately there is no ‘desert’). The propulsion system is a two-stage solid propellant design which provides a minimum smoke soft launch, this complies with all EU legislation on smoking in confined spaces and ensures no contraventions of the Health Act 2006 will occur if you choose to launch it from the bar of your local pub.

The system is deployed and ready to fire in less than 30 seconds and reload time is less than 20 seconds. The gunner engages the target by placing a cursor box over the image of the target, just like Battalion Wars II on the Nintendo Wii. Unlike conventional wire guided, fibre-optic cable guided, or laser beam riding missiles, Javelin is autonomously guided to the target after launch, leaving the gunner free to reposition, reload or redo his hair immediately after launch.

The weapon has two attack modes: direct attack mode to engage covered targets, bunkers, buildings and helicopters; and top attack mode for tanks and wankers in 4x4s, in which case the Javelin climbs above and strikes down on the target to penetrate the roof where there is the least armour protection.

If it’s good enough for the 16 air assault and three commando it’s good enough for me.

29 December 2007

Pom tiddly pom pom

An hour and a half at Goldcliff Point produced (eventually) with a Pom flying overhead and then up-channel into the estuary to kick seven shades of shite out of the Common Gulls; and a Purp flying past in the opposite direction presumably off to roost with the accompanying Dunlin. No Dunlin roost at the pools, a lone Greenshank being the only wader of note. Lots of Black-tailed Godwits at Boat Lane though (including a colour-ringed bird) but the real quality was provided by the wildfowl - Black Swan and Bar-headed Goose!

27 December 2007

SEO and the ghost of Bob

What do you do whilst waiting for SEOs to appear at Aust Warth? Why re-enact an iconic image in the life of the mighty Robert Zimmerman, that's what.
What you will need: a copy of Barry Feinstein's pic of the aforementioned Bob from 11th May 1966 (see www.barryfeinsteinphotography.com/photography.htm) and a few willing accomplices.
What to do: find the old Aust Ferry slipway; step through the gaping hole in the fence; briefly admire the Banksy-esque graffiti on the remains of the building on your right (is this an original Banksy?); place two of your accomplices in the approximate positions of Howard Alk and the 1960s vintage limo in the pic (unless of course you have Howard Alk and a 1960s limo to hand); place yourself on the spot once occupied by, arguably, America's foremost singer-songwriter, author, musician, poet, and, of late, disc jockey; and get someone to take a photo; and then hang around and bag an SEO just before dark. It really is that simple.

Thanks go to my dog for playing the role of Mr Alk, Sarah for a passable impersonation of an old limo and my girlfriend for her photography skills.

26 December 2007

Fake fudge

The Uskmouth end of the patch has produced yet another aythya hybrid. This one is a peach of a Ferruginous-type Pochard hybrid and looks unerringly like a bird that has been recorded at Slimbridge over the last two winters (see pic below and compare it to http://anserdiary.blogspot.com/2006/10/wwt-slimbridge-sightings-12-october.html and http://anserdiary.blogspot.com/2006/11/ferruginous-x-pochard-hybrid-wwt.html). Other 'notables', which momentarily took the mind off the hordes of dog-walkers, screaming overweight kids and the usual cross-section of Newport freakery, included: 3 Bearded Tits, 1 Brambling, 2 Goldeneye, 12 Siskin, 6 Stonechat, 10 Water Rail and 18 Cetti's Warblers (including 12 singing males). A much quieter Saltmarsh grasslands held 1 Bewick's Swan, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Bar-headed Goose and a possible Greylag x Canada hybrid (it were miles away in the dark).

24 December 2007

Real swans

A pre-Xmas tour of the Usk Valley produced 11 Bewick's Swan, all adults as far as I could see, 2007 would not appear to have been the greatest of breeding seasons. Eleven Goldeneye on the river included four displaying males; and a half decent flock of Siskins included a few Redpolls.

22 December 2007

Yet more

Another 200+ Brambling, this time up on Cefn Rhyswg; it's starting to get silly isn't it, hardly a vowel in sight. Must be the altitude,... or I've just broken my keyboard.

21 December 2007

Once more unto the beech

Had another bash at the Bramblings today, thought I might have a go at recording a few calls. There were probably only half as many knocking around as yesterday with the largest flock (perhaps 100) down by Pen-y-fan. Unfortunately the Manmoel road is a little busier than I'd have liked and, along with the off-road motorbikes, sirens and overhead jets, getting good quality recording was a little tricky. I did manage the following though which, I think you'll agree, captures the unique ambience of the Gwent countryside. For a bit of fun, you might like to see how many species of bird you can hear.

20 December 2007

More Brambles

Saw a few hundred Brambling alongside the Oakdale-Manmoel Common road at lunchtime today. The biggest flock was of about 200-250 birds, all a little disappointing given the monumental flocks reported over the last few days.

16 December 2007

GPs and Brambles

Back down to the patch today; half a dozen Golden Plover came out of a field just outside the reserve and, despite most of the Chaffinches having buggered off, a couple of Brambling were still feeding in the 'sunflower field'.

15 December 2007

Quarley, Shipton Bellinger, Hotel California

Spent the day staring at various bits of Wiltshire and Hampshire awaiting a flypast from a barn door,... never did happen.

09 December 2007

Yet more wet and windy

Only got as far as Ynys-y-fro, predictably bugger all of note, thought about impaling myself on the railings but it started to rain so I went home.

02 December 2007

Wet and windy

What to do to shake a cold? Why, sit in the wind and rain peering at more wind and rain. Weather looked half promising for a seawatch but a handful of Kittiwake were all the reward for an hour and a half at the golden cliff.

25 November 2007

Effort [B+], attainment [D-]

Ringing then birding on Saturday, birding then ringing on Sunday. Very little to show for it other than a few Brambling, a field devoid of Glossy Ibis and a cold.

22 November 2007


Having resisted manfully yesterday, one's self-control deserted me today and, as if by magic, at dawn I found myself stood on a path over-looking habo not unlike bits of Magor Marsh. For the first couple of hours there was a distinct lack of Sibe megas, again not unlike Magor Marsh, but then this little fella crept out,...

Luckily there were loads of people around with bottom of the range DSLRs and cheapo zoom lenses to get heaps of terrible pics. Unfortunately for them, I had my trusty point and shoot with me and outshone them all. Please form an orderly queue for prints, available at £100.00 each (plus P&P) from iamabirdernotaphotographer@andsoareyou.com

18 November 2007

Nuffin' to do?

If the weather is keeping you from birding today why not read this http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7099720.stm and then do something constructive about it. Here are a few options:

1. write a letter outlining what you think of whaling to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan, 1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8914, Japan;
2. write a similar letter to His Excellency Mr Yoshiji Nogami, 101-104 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7JT or email info@jpembassy.org.uk;
3. check out the WDCS (www.wdcs.org) for further info, petitions, etc.; or
4. when you next find a stranded porpoise, dolphin or whale, chuck it in the back of your car, drive up to the Japanese Embassy (address above) and leave it on the doorstep.

I should point out that none of the above are likely to do much good, but they will give you a satisfying feeling of moral well-being and provide a use for an, otherwise wasted, porpoise carcass.

17 November 2007

Back to the patch

A half decent flock of finches continues to inhabit the game crop. Ten Brambling were knocking around amongst the hordes of Chaffinch and Greenfinch, with smaller numbers of Linnet, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting and House Sparrow also tucking into the sunflowers, etc. At the other end of the reserve, three Bewick's were still sitting on Lagoon 3 when I bowled up at lunchtime, but flew off low NE at 14:40. Depending on where you come from, the photo below is entitled either zwergschwan mit schafe or schafe mit zwergschwan, take your pick.

04 November 2007

The great crossbill hunt

A couple of days in Wentwood resulted in getting a series of type 1 flight calls on 'tape' (see below); just need to bag the excitement calls now. Also managed to get top quality recordings of wheezing middle-aged blokes on mountain bikes, the banging tunes emanating from a poxy little red Corsa and the shuffling around of two members of the local constabulary wondering where a nice new pile of fly-tipped car parts had come from.

01 November 2007

Back in blighty

Back home and the last week has produced such gripping highlights as: a couple of pairs of Willow Tits, 800+ Woodpigeon west in ten minutes, and a few Siskins and Lesser Redpolls. South Wales - the ornithological slough of despond.

26 October 2007

An Azores first!

Bump, the 1960s vintage military transport plane arrived in Terceira. Two hours of daylight remained and, thanks to the most efficient baggage retrieval, airport evacuation and taxi hijacking yet performed, we (myself, Vincent and David) spent over an hour of it at the mighty Cabo da Praia. Whilst the paparazzi chased the Laughing Gull, I scanned the waders and soon stumbled onto a small, dull-axilleried, short-winged pluvialis. Having fought off the initial disbelief, I cautiously uttered "I think I might have a Pacific here". All three of us then grilled the bird and slowly (oh, so slowly) became more and more confident as the gloom became more and more impenetrable. I also took this opportunity to obtain some of the worst photos and video of any bird ever (some of which I present here, see/squint below).

If you listen very, very carefully the bird calls right at the end of the clip, seemingly in response to a Semi-palmated Plover, it appears to utter a very similar 'chew-it'.

25 October 2007

My last full day on here

What a way to finish! Spent three hours caning some distant valley with no reward but, on the way back down the track, we walked straight up to a Common Nighthawk and, due to the increasingly dense fog, almost straight past it (thank God for mobbing Chaffinches). Pandemonium ensued, eventually everybody got outrageous views before the bird had enough, flew around a couple of times, and settled on a nearby wall. An absolutely unmissable and unforgettable birding experience.

24 October 2007


Woke up to blustery south-easterlies and decided against flogging oneself in the valleys. Seawatching and sauntering between fields and fig groves was the order of the day. Seawatching produced next to nothing beyond the usual doughnut of cagarro that encircles this rock (see pic). On a positive note, further views today may mean we have gained an additional Tree Swallow and yet another Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

23 October 2007

Oh dear

Having shunned Grey-cheeked Thrush, Indigo Bunting, Tree Swallow, Corncrake, etc. today. I ended up going for a bit of actitis action on the beach but only ended up with crabs (Oh,... and a Whimbrel).

22 October 2007

Eradicate them all

Cuckoo Killer
Qu'est-ce que c'est?
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away

Probably the biggest threat to any rarity on these islands, shudder to think what their impact is on the breeding seabirds.

21 October 2007

They keep coming

So far, I haven't spent a day on Corvo that didn't produce a new American bird, today was no different with top-billing going to an additional Indigo Bunting and a Grey-cheeked Thrush. The two buntings are now hanging around together, showing down to less than 4m and the male has even been heard to sing. The thrush, on the other hand, has been a usual bastard catharus, showing for seconds at most and often only in flight. Given the aforementioned, it will come as no surprise which species is featured in the photo below.

20 October 2007

Last year Summer this year...

On 26th October 2006 I co-found a Summer Tanager on Corvo, today I managed to stumble across a Scarlet, only two people can claim to have found both in the WP and I'm one of them,... nice. The magic moment went a bit like this:

Bird: pwee, pwee (high-pitched and rather irate due to presence of annoyed Blackcap whose figs the tanager is trying to scoff).
Me (turning to my right and seeing a tanager): Jesus titty-f**king Christ!
Bird: (flies to next fig 'orchard').
Me (on radio): Tanager! I've got a Summer Tanager! (SIC!)
Bird: (starts tucking into a fig whilst harrassed by Blackcap, see pic below).
Me: No, tanager sp., shit! (much ensuing panic as Pete arrives, photos are grabbed and various garbled directions are sent in at least three languages to get everyone else to the site).

As the adrenaline subsided, we realised it was, as belatedly suspected, a Scarlet (luckily well before any other f***er had seen it and re-identified it).

Other highlights are another view of the Tree Swallow, three Yellow-billed Cuckoos (including two sat beside one another) and a Spoonbill (Azores tick, yay!).

Hello, there are at least six of me on the Azores at the mo.

19 October 2007

A funny old day

Spent all morning thrashing Ribeiro do Cantinho for nothing more than a Woodcock. Lunch produced three Sperm Whales from the picnic site (including a little baby,... aaaaah) but the birds were still decidedly thin on the ground. However, things started to pick up when a look through the 'bean fields' resulted in the following conversation:

Peter: I say, what have I got here?
Me: That, Mr. Alfrey, is a Tree Swallow.
Peter: Gosh, so it is.
Me: Gosh indeed.

And that is exactly what happened. Having soaked up the Tree Swallow for an hour we then sauntered off towards Villa do Corvo,... where we refound the Tree Swallow, which was unlucky for two members of the circus, as they had just shot off to the 'bean fields'. Another half an hour or so was spent oohing and aahing over the swallow before we went looking for more. It was at this point I found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (see pic below), unfortunately it was a little off colour, probably due to its long transatlantic voyage or, just possibly, the local moggy (can't tell which). Luckily, Peter then found two more Yellow-billed Cuckoos in the surrounding fields, both of which were much healthier, and one of which was feeding on Convolvulous Hawk-moth caterpillars. So that'll be three Yellow-billed Cuckoos within about 250m of each other, I do so like Corvo.

18 October 2007

Pressure rising

The only quality new bird today was a flyover 2nd-winter Laughing Gull, however, interest was maintained by the cuckoo showing flipping well at times and a few other odds and sods (White-rumped Sands, etc.). No new American landbirds today and, with neighbouring Flores on two (Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Yellow-rumped Warbler) was are trailing in the inter-island competition. The mood isn't being improved any by the promised high-pressure system, which appears to be building out to the west,... ho-hum.

17 October 2007

Two more flights...

Strong overnight westerlies abated and, despite the best attempts of a trainee pilot, we are now on Corvo. As a WP tick was sitting in the caldera, two-thirds of Team UK bolted up the slope, over the edge and down into the crater. Last night's blow had significantly added to the waterbirds around the lake and, in addition to the Great Blue Heron, we also saw 1 Wilson's Phal, 2 Semi-p Sands, 3 Pecs, 1 White-rump, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Mallard x Black Duck hybrid and 4 Teal sp. All very nice, but not really the aim of the visit (finding yankee landbirds), unlike the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that the remaining member of the team had pulled out of the bushes back at Villa da Corvo. A few sweaty, knee-aching miles later and the cuckoo was safely on the Azores list. Two years ago to the day another Yellow-billed Cuckoo heralded the start of the most amazing run of records on this island,... here's hoping for a re-run of 2005.

PS. Look at the arse on that bird...

16 October 2007

Three flights later...

Three flights down and we have nearly reached our destination, however, a little pre-trip planning means we have a full afternoon at Europe's premier location for Nearctic waders - Cabo da Praia. Basically you can't fail and I don't believe we did. In order of abundance, we managed to round up 15 White-rumps, 12 Semi-p Sands, 4 Semi-p Plovers, 2 Least Sands, 2 Pecs, 1 Long-billed Dow, 1 AGP and 1 Laughing Gull. There is nothing else even approaching this place in the WP. Just as we were winding down for the day all the above were eclipsed as we pulled out,... wait for it,... Razorbill at Porto Oceanio, third for the Azores and the first for 20 years. Two of the birds peering out at the three muppets peering in are pictured below.

14 October 2007

Another dead mammal

Anyone good at dolphin identification? Or, more precisely, dead dolphins on their side off Goldcliff Pools identification? The photos below show a smallish cetacean which bobbed downstream with the tide at lunchtime, notable features included: a reasonably long, crescent shaped pectoral fin; all dark grey upperparts; an obvious pale area in front of the pectoral fin; a seemingly rounded tail fluke; and, though difficult to judge, a reasonably large size, probably 3-4m covered the length of the visible bits. Answers on a 'comment' please (click below). Also 14 Fieldfare, 30 Swallow and 1 Wheatear amongst the migrants, and 41 Avocet flushed by the farmer on his quad (again).

13 October 2007


God knows why it has taken so long for me to catch up with Barn Owl on the reserve but the drought is over; one was hunting over the reedbeds this morning. Then, in London bus fashion, a second patch-tick appeared, a Firecrest, only my second in Gwent, very nice.

08 October 2007

Identification pitfalls (part 1)

With a bit of luck this will become a regular feature of my blog. The aim will be to provide reference illustrations relating to particularly difficult species pairs found in Gwent. In future, I hope to be able to add tips on how to separate the species involved, however, with these two, all I can suggest is that there must be some differences in wing formula or maybe moult schedule. Uncanny, isn't it.

07 October 2007

A certified Sibe!

Today a bird from Siberia ended up at Uskmouth. That is about all you need to know really. I should point out the photo below was supplied by Mr. Richard Clarke Esq., by far the healthiest member of GRG. Good birds only jump in nets when I leave my camera at home. Anyhoo, I'm off to have a nice cup of Horlicks whilst listening to the dulcet tones of Mimsy Carpenter in Mrs. Bradshaw's Hat on Radio 4.

29 September 2007

In lieu of a proper rare

Despite the north and east of the UK sinking under the weight of rares, the best we (that is GRG, not the royal 'we') could muster at Uskmouth was an abietinus Chiffchaff. If you're an international quality squinter, the photo below should enable you to make out a Chiff with pale greyish-green upperparts and what appears to be (as compared to collybita) a greater distance between the tips of P4 and P10 (and indeed between P4 and S1). All terribly interesting and, according to the next edition of Svensson (in prep.), reasonable indicators of abietinus over collybita. Of course had it been a mite greyer, some numpty would have claimed it as a tristis, largely due to the fact that a good proportion of people don't know what tristis looks like. Personally, I feel sorry for messers Dean and Svensson, they write a perfectly good paper and no muppet can be arsed to read it.

28 September 2007

Pygmy Shrew car-jacking

If I hadn't got photos, I wouldn't have believed it myself. Here is the scene I was confronted with on returning to my motor,...

... and here's the heart-stopping expression on the evil-doer's fizzog.

22 September 2007

It's raining (well drizzling) Chiffchaffs

Blundered onto a mini fall of Chiffs at Uskmouth this morning; 50-100 were knocking around within 150m of scrub and reedbed. Visible migration during the morning included a good passage of Swallow and Mipits plus smaller numbers of Skylark, House Martin, Grey Wag, Siskin and Redpoll. On the deck 1 Snipe, 1 Stonechat, 2 Sedge Warbler, 6 Reed Warbler, 10 Blackcap, 4 Goldcrest and 1 Clouded Yellow provided the interest. It might not be gob-smackingly good, but it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

16 September 2007

A day in the field!

Almost a whole day birding in Gwent! Whatever next? Not a whole lot to show for it though, migrants at Uskmouth included: 20+ Blackcaps, 20+ Reed Warblers, 5 Sedgies, 1 Whitethroat, 6+ Tree Pipits, 5 Grey Wags, 5 House Martins, 1 Siskin and a constant trickle of Swallows and Mipits. Also had my first Clouded Yellow in the county this year and only my second ever Water Shrew (unfortunately, as with most of my shrew sightings, it was as dead as a dodo riding a dormouse in the derby). In the afternoon St. Brides produced 4 Wheatears, 1 Sand Martin, 3 Snipe and one nice pint.

13 September 2007

A flutterby

Painted Lady in the front garden for most of the afternoon, alternating between the verbena and the buddleia.

12 September 2007

Escape to Tbilisi

Another trip to the Caucasus,... nothing outrageous on the birding front just the usual raptor migration plus a supporting cast ranging from brevirostris Twite, via Bee-eater, to Booted Eagle and many other species not beginning with the letter 'b'. More easily photographed subjects included: flowers and snakes,...

... a 6th/7th century church at which Short-toed Eagle showed well and a 6th/11th century cathedral where flying saucers showed well (dipped on both Jesus and God, but then mythical beings are notoriously skulky, I've missed both the tooth fairy and Santa Claus in the past too),...

... and bugs (possibly Hesperia comma, Pyrrhocoris apterus and Rivetina baetica, drop me a 'comment' if you know better).

20 August 2007

Just out of county

A four day weekend, just over the border in Powys, produced Kingfisher, Tawny Owl and White-letter Hairstreak. Pretty poor really, did bag a few photos of the locals though,...

The Gentle Good was a little flighty and evaded the camera (though was heard to sing in Welsh, English and Spanish! And the Dawel Disgyn EP rocks,... well 'folks'); Indigo Moss and Tunng showed very well.

The school disco was very red, then blue, then green, then back to red, etc., etc. I particularly enjoyed the gaps between the records being played. Next day came the late (due to technical difficulties) great Emmy the Great.

What is a 'vetiver'? This is a Vetiver,... and a muddy tent.

Pete Molinari, one man, one guitar and six strings. Seasick Steve, one man, three guitars and between nine and fifteen strings,... It's all good.

Herman Dune minus Andre, but really really good nonetheless; and Stephen Malkmus mit The Jicks, Kasabian slayers one and all.

13 August 2007

More phone pics

Hold on,.. that's not a bird,... and neither is that! Er,... giant (and piggin' expensive) puppy strikes a blow for the get freight off the road campaign.

06 August 2007

Relocation, relocation, relocation?

Same bird as the invisible individual at Usk Reservoir? Who knows? Note to self: next time remember camera, phone-scoping is fun but ultimately rather disappointing, you can see what it is though!

31 July 2007

Not on a Roll(er)

Shot up to Usk Reservoir this evening, saw a very small number of Rollers, exactly zero to be precise, that is none, nada, bugger all, zilch, naff all. The reservoir, and surrounding area, was in a pure state of Roller shunyata.

On the other hand we saw a large number of Jays (which were very nice big colourful birds that, normally, I might not drive to Powys to see).

24 July 2007

A second for Gwent

Found a brood of Gadwall at the weekend (second confirmed breeding record for Gwent methinks) on the same pool were a couple of Tufty broods and a Cetti's was belting out its song nearby. Unfortunately, if the likes of Rhodri 'Fat Controller' Morgan and the rest get their way, this site will be under the nice new shiny second M4 before long,... oh good, more forward thinking from the Westminster rejects.

01 July 2007

Blind faith and its ability to inspire stupidity

Following the appearance of a Yellow-nosed Albatross on the other side of the Bristol Channel, my blind faith in the almighty power of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and all things that smell slightly of brine resulted in the usual pilgrimage to Goldcliff Point, whereupon I was rewarded for my adherance to the word of the Holy Trinity (Svensson, Grant and Mullarney) by the appearance of a Stormie and two Fulmars. Seawatching in Gwent - it's as bonkers as a grown man in a dress and a silly tall hat believing in a 2000 year old fairy tale (as if such people existed in 21st century Britain).

The other find of the day was this,on MSN UK News:

"The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God's judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops. The Sunday Telegraph reports that one diocesan bishop has even claimed that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless."

If you know anyone religious, please pop round to their house, pat them on the head and tell them that it's OK and that the adults will take it from here.

17 June 2007

Thank gawd for that

At last, bagged the plover,... and what cracking views! Thank gawd there was no heat haze. Other notable moments included: a male Marsh Harrier being phoned in as a male Hen and the return of the M6 to its usual habits.

10 June 2007

Oh Crap

It's all very well being good, not throwing sickies and waiting to twitch at the weekend, but it don't half bite you in the arse sometimes. Of course no day's birding is a complete waste of time, highlights included:

1. an "I'm horny" sticker on the back of a car being driven by a women who is currently being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority;
2. a lorry on its side in a field;
3. a good view of the tight-fisted w**kers birding club (standing outside Caerlaverock, £4.40 apparently being too much for their moth-filled wallets);
4. 670 more miles for my "miles I have travelled" total; and
5. the most distant view of an Osprey EVER (in the heat haze it appeared to be doing an impression of Scooby-doo, see pic below).

03 June 2007

Birding in an armpit

As is so often the case, a nice bird turns up in an armpit of a location. Let's hope the heron doesn't tell his mates about the model aircraft, the rabid gypo horses and the scruffy little urchins on tiny little motorbikes.

19 May 2007

Manxie invasion!

More seabirds off the point this morning, and it went,... a bit like this,...

08:00 to 08:59 - 3 Manxies, a few Sanderling and a smart 1st-summer Med Gull close in down channel
09:00 to 09:59 - 1 winter plumaged Great Northern Diver close in down channel, 3 Fulmar and a few more Sanderling
10:00 to 10:59 - 6 Manxies, 1 pale phase Arctic Skua, 1 2nd-summer Common Tern straight over our heads and yet more Sanderling.
11:00 to 12:00 - 210++ Manxies in one flipping big flock, 2 dark phase Arctic Skuas and 1 adult Arctic Tern.

An entertaining morning, certainly a helluva lot more entertaining than that poor excuse for a football match this afternoon (mind you, guess you can't expect too much from the 3rd/4th place play-off for the Champions League).

12 May 2007

Back to normal

Thirty or forty Kittiwake, two Gannet, one Sanderling, four Whimbrel and a distant dark phase skua (probably Arctic) was all the point produced today.

07 May 2007

Tales from the Golden Cliff

Four hours of peering into the pea soup produced 1 Manxie, 1 Little Tern, 1 dark phase Arctic Skua, 2 Sandwich Tern, 74 Arctic Tern, 6 Fulmar, 2 Kittiwake and 33 Gannet. A seawatch in Gwent,... with seabirds! Whatever next?!

05 May 2007

Crappy Saturday

The day didn't start well, on the way to Craven Cottage got the news that both Purple Heron and Dotterel had turned up in Gwent; it didn't get any better. The best sightings were Ring-necked Parakeet in Bishop's Park, John Terry in his black Ferrari on Putney Bridge and Gary Barlow (whooooo?!) sat in the cottage at the cottage (if you know what I mean). The worst dip was missing dishy Des, also at the cottage.

Unfortunately, though rather predictably, Liverpool put out the reserves and played like it. God should have had two, but didn't, and Alonso had left his magic boots at home. Fulham just about scrambled a win though it didn't half help their cause that Bellamy, Gonzalez and Pennant took 'flattering to deceive' to a new level. If nothing else, it was great to see God in what may well be his last season in red (there really is/was only one Robbie Fowler). I might just point out that, if we win in Athens all the above is a load of inconsequential tripe.

26 April 2007

Pot Pood?

A pre-prandial perambulation to the postbox produced a perfectly performing Pood Parbler, porry the p pey is ptuck pown.

22 April 2007

What is plural for ibis?

Ibises? Ibis'? Ibi? Anyway, probably saw all 17 this evening at Slimbridge although no more than 11 at any one time, still nice though. Another four have rocked up in Somerset, surely Goldcliff will produce before long (Whinchat was the highlight today).

21 April 2007

Any one of the 17 will do

Despite a good look round, I couldn't find a single Glossy Ibis on the patch, surely one of the Slimbridge birds will visit at some point. Did bag my first Gwent Gropper and House Martins of the year plus 1 Spoonbill, 1 White Wagtail, 13 Whimbrel, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Reed Warbler, 3 Ruff and 1 Greenshank.

17 April 2007


An immature Spoonbill and a stonking summer plumaged Golden Plover were both present on Lagoon 1 at Goldcliff today.

15 April 2007

On the move

The migrants keep coming, although in pretty disappointing numbers; Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Whimbrel were all added to the 'birds I have seen whilst wandering about the patch this year' list. Much more exciting was a patch-tick: Red-legged Partridge! He shoots, he scores! Oh, and the dusky-flanked Tufted hybrid has flown the length of the reserve and is now at Uskmouth, vis mig at its best. Just for comparison, with last weeks slightly over-exposed pics, I managed to obtain some slightly under-exposed pics today.

13 April 2007

And again

Another duck, another possible escape, another reason to stick to passerines. Saul Warth in Gloucestcestcestcestershire looks like a smashing bit of habo by the way, presumably due to money from the hunting fraternity.

09 April 2007

The migrants have landed

A reasonable haul of migrants this weekend: 2 LRP, 2 Ruff, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 4-5 Swallow, 2 Wheatear, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler and a metric tonne of Chiffchaffs. Also managed to get some half-decent photos of another of the regular aythya hybrids,... Tufted x Ring-necked? Tufted x something backcross??

01 April 2007

Gwent tick and Gwent dip

Red-breasted Merganser at Goldcliff Pill, no Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Goytre.

03 March 2007

R & R

Having dipped on the Glaucous-winged Gull yesterday, I couldn't face another go today, so popped down to the Land of Corn for a jolly, stress-free day, touring round for a few nice birds. At close of play the following had been hoovered up: White-billed Diver, Gyr Falcon, Franklin's Gull, Spotted Sandpiper, Dusky Warbler and 'Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat' (does anyone actually believe these can be positively identified in the field?). Quite a day out, especially given the views of the diver, outrageous!

01 March 2007

Something to fill the void

Just a pic to prove I am still birding. This bird, present at Avonmouth on and off for the last 100 years, might have been the Gwent bird of sometime back. Some keen person should check out the dates in the reports just to be sure.

09 February 2007

Snow and brambles

A bit of excitement at the bird table, what more could you possibly ask for?

06 February 2007

Diver sp.

Had a lovely Sunday afternoon in Pembrokeshire at the weekend. I wonder where the BBRC draws the line with a recently split crypto-tick when it shows only 50% of the features that were thought to be failsafe before we all started looking at Black-throats.

Quite small (though not as small as some would have you believe), thin billed, pale nape and lacking a white flank patch...

... also lacking a chinstrap, and anything like the vent-strap of the North Yorks bird (is that a thin brownish strap beyond the foot?).

I'm assuming the overlap zone between pacifica and viridigularis isn't swarming with hybrids.