29 December 2008

Frankly Mr. Fantasy Shankley?

I would just like to point out how well the Gruniad Allstars are doing; currently one's well-oiled and orchestrated fantasy footie team are sitting in the top 10 of the Liverpool fans league,... don't act like you're not impressed.

28 December 2008

Fly my pretties,... fly!

A warning for all the dull Sébastien Loeb wannabees who drive the length and breadth of this fair isle with your fog lights on (whatever the meteorological conditions). I have been lucky enough to be given a horde of flying monkeys for Xmas which are presently searching the highways and byways for the brainless, Top Gear-watching, twats who partake of the aforementioned unnecessary illumination. Each primate has been issued with a large jar of pickled eggs and instruction to stuff 20 of them down the throats of anyone driving around pretending to look like a racing car driver. So, unless you like broken teeth and breath reminiscent of botty burps,... turn your f*cking fogs off you blind bastards.

Fly my pretties,... fly! (sic [apparently this line doesn't actually appear in 'The Wizard of Oz' but the more accurate "Fly, fly fly!" just doesn't measure up to the apocryphal hence its retention here,... I'm glad I've cleared that up]).

PS. Yes, I did drive from the highlands to South Wales today (including the entire length of the M6 which was full of bloody arseholes).

27 December 2008

A day at the seaside

Gave up on the crossbills today (I'll be back in the spring) and headed for the coast. Bumped into all manner of sea-duck, divers, etc. on the glass-like sea between Lossiemouth and Findhorn, plus a Glaucous Gull and a few Snow Buntings to boot.

26 December 2008

It's a dog's life

I spent my day wandering around all over the shop not seeing crossbills; however, my dog had a much more entertaining day. As I was pottering about Abernethy and Glen More, Jack was tempting Tilda Swinton's black and white sheep-dog into oncoming traffic during a trip to the sea-side. Luckily oncoming traffic in northern Scotland moves at a slower pace than elsewhere in the western hemisphere and the starlet's mutt lived to tell the tale, take a number two on the beach and, I'd guess, nip home to polish off the leftover turkey,... it would appear my dog's life is more interesting than mine.

PS. Red Squirrels all over the shop today.

24 December 2008

Nothing to grouse about

All together now
Ptarmigangaroo down, sport
Ptarmigangaroo down
Ptarmigangaroo down, sport
Ptarmigangaroo down

23 December 2008

Capers, eagles and martens, oh my!

Capercaillie, Red Squirrel, Golden Eagle and Pine Marten,... not a bad day. Did dip on Feral Goat though, every silver lining has a cloud and all that. Also had more crossbill sp. will be putting in a bit more effort on those over the next few days.

22 December 2008

Into the wilds

A morning deep in the wild wood failed to produce Caper (largely due to the slightest of navigational errors) but did result in Crested Tit on ye olde wilderness peanut feeder.

Elsewhere crossbill sp. was logged a few times but none played ball and, due to a rather high snow-line, a Ptarmigan site was inhabited by Red Grouse. We'll try again tomorrow...

21 December 2008

Stoatally stiff

The first half day in the highlands and immediately pay dirt is struck; Insh Marshes, a few Whoopers and Greylags and then...

Dead mammals are good but dead mustelids are really the cream (and in full winter coat too!).

18 December 2008

Read all about it

There was a county rare in Gwent today, however, a quick check of the GOS website will leave you in no doubt as to what the real hot topic is - website design. Yes, apparently there are far too many locations in the menu on the sightings submission form,... I know, I could barely contain my apathy either.

By the way, the county rare was Snow Bunting; about 40 records in Gwent since the earth cooled and this present individual is spending half its time in Glamorgan,... and you wonder why I'm off to the Highlands for Christmas. Which reminds me, if any kind-hearted reader has recent gen on where I might be able to point a parabola at crossbill species/types/taxa within striking distance of Glenlivet, I would be most grateful if you could drop me an email or leave a comment below.

16 December 2008

All flaxen was her poll

For those long-term readers of this blog (both of you), the following may come as quite a shock. If you remember some time ago I stumbled upon this sad sight. Well, today I could barely countenance the scene laid out before me; not content with driving the poor soul to suicide, this morning they returned and flailed her pathetic lifeless form! THE HUMANITY OF IT!!!

The only comforting thought is that she was incapable of her own distress.

14 December 2008

More news from the eastern front

Yet another sojourn to the eastern wilds produced the goods. Whilst wandering down to the estuary near Mathern a rather dumpy passerine caught the eye. As it flew across a field I clocked white bases to the primaries and (self-doubt to the fore) momentarily thought I was seeing things, as it turned out, I was - a Hawfinch. Luckily it dropped into the next hedge, where it remained happily consuming Field Maple seeds until we got bored and wandered off.

Earlier the Neddern produced nothing more exciting than the Black Swans, the Scaup appears to have departed. Matthern village was nothing special either, however, it did add another point on my 'places on the levels where I have seen Coal Tit this autumn' map.

13 December 2008

Whoops shopocalypse

Ok, who let me go shopping all by myself? Found a great toy-shop in Pimlico, I do like shiny gold boxes. Well, what's money for? Actually, it's worse than it looks,... the 300mm f2.8 doesn't turn up until Thursday.

How could anyone resist this little cutie?

11 December 2008

Fox in the Snow (well frost)

Fox in the snow, where do you go,
To find something you can eat?

A day of fieldwork on a frizz hillside required some full-on anti-frostbite gear including EXTREME mittens,... oh yeah! Unfortunately, in the pic you can't make out the EXTREME string which runs up my sleeve, across my back and down to the other mitt but it is there and it is... EXTREME!

Cause the word out on the street is you are starving,
Don't let yourself grow hungry now,

It was so cold out there today that my egg and cress sandwiches (also EXTREME) had a slightly crunchy texture thanks to ice crystals in the filling.

Don't let yourself grow cold,
Fox in the snow.

PS. Also had a fox trot past resulting in four hours of humming Belle & Sebastian songs, nothing like Scottish indie pop tunes bedecked with Glaswegian omnibus inspired lyrics to warm the cockles.

10 December 2008

Well duh!?

Saw this 'news' story on the BBC website today (see below),... finally the scientific community awakens to the bleeding obvious. Given the penultimate paragraph, it would appear Professor Reinhard Genzel is a birder of sorts.

06 December 2008

Newhouse - St. Pierre Pill

Saw a fair few of these today...

Amongst which were one or two of these...

And we saw a goodly number of these...

Amongst which were three of these...

PS. Also had a Chiffchaff and a dose of Snipe at Collister Pill.

04 December 2008

Highlight of the week

Bagged a brace of Jehovah's Witnesses today, unfortunately, they escaped before I was able to convert them to the righteous path that is western scientific thought. Hopefully though, I did manage to share some small part of the joy that stems from the teachings of the great patriarchs (Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Popper, et al.); and hint at the everlasting light that shines on those of us lucky enough to embrace evolutionary theory and all that flows from it. Unfortunately though, I fear my attempt to draw them from the darkness may have failed as John (not his real name, I instantly forgot that) expressed the view that "the fossil record was the single biggest hoax of all time" and, following my effort to point out evolution in action, with reference to changes in beak morphology of Darwin's Finches, he uttered the truly wonderful repost "Yes,... but they're still finches aren't they". Well, there was nothing else for it, I had to concede that, yes, climatic changes on the Galapagos had not instantaneously turned finches into dragons.

One thing I do like to do, when visited by evangelical types, is to try and work out what it was that triggered their bizarre beliefs. It would appear that recovering alcoholics and heroine addicts are strangely attuned to the word of God, as are the educationally sub-average and those lacking in robust social networks. Am I the only one who finds it slightly puzzling that God has chosen these people to share his boundless knowledge with? He would also appear to want to populate heaven with people that have been inappropriately touched by their uncles/PE teachers and plain-looking women whose husbands have left them for a younger model. Oh, and why does he have a penchant for uptight young-men that appear to be struggling with their sexuality? Can you imagine what the next world will be like? What if all the addicts and ex-boozers fall off the wagon? I can see it now, the ivory halls caked in vomit; the saints gingerly picking their way through hordes of crack-toothed insufflators of crystal meth; and piss-sodden aficionados of Tennents Extra hurling handfulls of their own shit at passing cherubs. [Did someone say "Newport on a Friday night"?]

I didn't manage to work out what had triggered John's delusional psychosis, but I'm guessing he spent his formative years fine-tuning an, as yet unpatented, cocktail of tricyclic antidepressants, vicodin, human growth hormone, benzodiazapams and chloral hydrate. This obviously drew him closer to his God, or possibly just made him easy prey for evangelists,... one or the other.

Anyway, the real shame of the episode was that, despite me asking, they declined to call again, apparently they didn't think there was much point. Christ knows what gave them that idea, I didn't even show them my "Jesus Saves,... but Torres nets the rebound" t-shirt.

Religion, eh? SHIT IT!

02 December 2008

Has anyone seen my frisbee?

The pooch has pilfered my Pluto platter; pinched by the perro, it has presumably (possibly permanently) been placed in some particularly private pigeonhole on these very premises.

What? You were expecting something about 'Gwent' or 'birding', who suggested that preposterous idea? Was it Steve perchance? STEVE!

01 December 2008

Larking around

A recent brief exchange of emails on the finer points of not identifying Horned Lark subspecies had me perusing some photos this evening. Smart little fellow isn't he? Pity the cameraman was so unbelievably inept.