31 January 2009

Winged beasts

Not a lot doing this afternoon; a few Blackcaps at Redwick were followed by a couple of Pegs, a couple of Stonechat, a few Snipe and a Cetti's at Magor Pill. All told, it was pretty dire on the bird front. Luckily, I did see a big bloaty dead cow and a communist angel. Unluckily, the photo of the big dead bloaty cow came out crap, so...

NB 1. Please note the angels down-at-the-mouth demeanor, this is common among angels as they live with the terrible irony that, whilst they possess wings, they can't actually fly, lacking, as they do, a sternum and an appropriate flight muscle bulk to enable a large, solid-boned biped to fly. In fact, strangely, they totally lack the anatomical architecture, as supplied by evolution to other flying organisms, to fly. If only they had believed in Darwin.
NB 2. For this particular angel, the tale is sadder still. Close inspection of the neck region shows a rather large amount of repair work which had to be undertaken after the poor chap/chappess/he-she (does angel sexuality confuse anyone else?) attempted to hang themselves (the damage was blamed on local youths but we know the truth).

30 January 2009

Swanning about

No Bewick's Swans at St. Brides this morning, just the same 50 Mutes in the same field they were in on the 11th. Different story in the Usk valley though; the Bewick's were with Mutes, Canada Geese and a solitary Shelduck just north of Llangibby Walks. Unfortunately, the field they were in is miles from the nearest viewing point, didn't even see a colour ring, let alone read the darn thing.

28 January 2009

Let's be serious for a moment

The proposed shortlist of Severn estuary energy schemes was announced on Monday. Unfortunately, the government are already attempting to rule out the tidal stream and tidal reef/fence options (potentially the least damaging) on engineering grounds; no scheme has been ruled out on ecological grounds. As per usual, it would appear engineering/economic/business concerns are being afforded more weight than the ecological/environmental issues.

The public consultation exercise runs until 23rd April and consultation responses can be filled out online here, make sure you have your say.

The initial responses of the major conservation bodies are listed below for your information (just click on the name):



The Wildlife Trusts


Personally, I think a 'green energy' scheme is inevitable but a barrage is going to completely fuck the estuary (that's a technical ecological term btw) and will be used by the likes of the Welsh Assembly, local planners, 'developers' and poxy little local business consortiums to further purely economic (and unsustainable) goals such as: 1. a "golden triangle" of development between Cardiff, Bristol and Brean; 2. another road bridge across the Severn; and 3. a significantly expanded Cardiff Airport.

Like I say, wherever you live (this is an internationally important site), have your say now and at every future stage of the process. I'm sure your MP, MEP, AM and local councillor would also like to hear your views too.

27 January 2009

Edson Arantes do Nascimento,... or maybe not

Saw this on the Transfers January 2009 section of the BBC Football website:

"Pele [Porto - Portsmouth] Loan"

Avoiding the oh-too-obvious 'isn't he a bit long in the tooth,... even for Portsmouth' gag; I would like to nominate the naming of this poor unfortunate footballer for the 'Making a rod for your own (or a close family member/friend's) back award 2009'.

Deed poll my little footballing fellow, deed poll.

26 January 2009

American Swallow-tailed Kite!!!

Have you seen this?!

Oh me, oh my, what will those magical little isles turn up next?

PS. Are you thinking "Pity there isn't a little bit of background in these pics"? Then you are a very, very cynical birder and should be much more trusting,... no really, you should.

PPS. Remember, there is only one thing to do,... learn the language of the flea, earn their trust and breed with their women,... or something like that.

25 January 2009

Wild swaaans

I am reliably informed one of the Bewick's in the Usk valley is the proud owner of an, as yet unread, colour ring. So, if you are swanning around between Llanllowell and Llangibby Bottom, keep 'em peeled.

24 January 2009

Is it all a dream?

By the time I got to Goldcliff, the Glaucous Gull was parading up and down the far bank of the first lagoon, all very nice, if not the crippling views experienced earlier. A third Gwent tick in as many weeks, outrageous! I have two competing (though not mutually exclusive) theories for this unprecedented run of good(ish) birds: 1. we are using up all our 'good bird credit' in January and the rest of 2009 will break records for ornithological turgidity; or 2. I am actually laying on an intensive care ward in a boredom induced coma and what I am experiencing as half decent birding in Gwent is just a complex neurological reaction to the drugs they are giving me in a valiant attempt to bring me round (a la 'Life on Mars'). Only time will tell which is true,... stay tuned for the next gripping installment...

Pesky gull kept gettting in the way of my cutting edge Lapwing photography.

How to miss seeing a Glaucous Gull fly over your heads by counting Snipe on the back lagoon.

21 January 2009

The tide is high but I'm holding on

Given the number of years it has been knocking around, and as it's the closest thing we have to local avian celebrity (especially now the Ring-necked Duck appears to have shuffled off this mortal coil and joined the anatidaen choir invisible) I for one (or two, depending on how the pills are working) think this bird should be invested with a moniker. If our little leucistic friend had been male I'd have suggested 'The Lapwing with no name' or 'Blondie' but, as she is of the feminine persuasion, I'm thinking Deborah (Debbie to her friends). All those in favour say "Aye".

18 January 2009

The right duck

A quick visit to Goldcliff turned up the Green-winged Teal on the back of the 1st lagoon. At first sleeping on the far edge, it soon woke and proceeded to join in with a small group of 'normal' Teal displaying to any passing female that would stop to watch,... bad boy, dirty boy, to your room!

The Ring-billed Gull was missing from Lamby and the Lesser Scaup evaded detection at Cardiff Bay (though Slavonian Grebe, Greater Scaup, Goosander and Chiffchaff did show); the Cosmeston Bearded Tit wasn't so coy and, as per, paraded around like the little attention whore it is.

Lesser, Common and Arctic Redpoll showed spiffingly at Cardiff Museum, albeit rather stiffly in boxes with neat little labels attached, but they did show.

17 January 2009

The wrong American duck

That 'Weekend Birder' has struck again. Off I head for a day out in Berkshire/Surrey when, whilst watching the Yankee Wigeon at Lower Farm GPs, the phone rings - Green-winged Teal, Goldcliff, county first. All chipperness garnered from having found the americana bobbing before me evaporated (not that I'd usually draw chip from following someone else's directions to a long-staying duck but it was not the standard piece-of-pissery I thought it might be, due to woeful planning and an equally woeful lack of navigation aids the previous 30 mins had witnessed the birth of a new sport 'orientbirding'). Luckily, I then remembered I couldn't give a tinker's cuss about my Gwent list and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to think of an Olympic sport beginning with 'n' (not including netball), a type of soup beginning with 'e', a car model beginning with 'o' (but not Orion, Omega or Octavia [was there a Audi Orifice?]) and a singer beginning with 'x'.

16 January 2009

The passing of patio doors

Was rearranging my burgeoning collection of dark, fuzzy and largely unused photographs last night when I stumbled over my first ever digiscoping attempt. Despite complete mastery of the Coolpix 775, scope and patio door combination the result was a little disappointing. Of course, seven years, fours cameras and two patio doors later it is all so very different (e.g. see here). Where did all those patio doors go?

15 January 2009

Phew! II

So, the government decide the business/city (that infallible institution) is more important than the environment (see here); the current state of play in Gaza is 1000+ Palestinian dead (including over 300 children) vs. 13 Israeli dead (including three civilians); and Kaka is on his way to Man City. Thank jumpin' Jeebus for that, for a moment there (although I couldn't tell you which moment) I thought the world had decided to grow-up but no, once again, we can all sleep easy, safe in the knowledge everyone on this planet is a f*cking moron,... and r-e-l-a-x.

PS. Since you can't trust anyone further than you can throw them, and in the spirit of journalistic transparency (now there's a novel idea), all figures relating to Gaza above originate from The Ministry of Health in Gaza (as quoted by the BBC) who have said 1,013 people have died (including more than 300 children and 76 women) and more than 4,500 people have been injured, of whom 1,600 are children and 678 are women (isn't it quaint that women get a special mention, I was labouring under the misapprehension the sexes were equal nowadays). Thirteen Israelis have been killed, including three civilians and one soldier from rockets fired from Gaza and nine soldiers killed in fighting in Gaza.
Wait a minute my 'PS' is longer than my post, well if you need any further evidence that 'brevity is the soul of wit' you know where I am.

PPS. Score one point and award yourself a Gwentbirding gold star if you noticed the oblique Woody Guthrie reference.

14 January 2009


So, the Steller's Eider was a hoax and the Nutcracker seems to have been a Starling, thank jumpin' Jeebus for that, for a moment I thought Wales had turned into a mega mecca. Once again, we can all sleep easy, safe in the knowledge all the good birds are somebody else's problem,... and r-e-l-a-x.

11 January 2009

Glamorgan calling

I finally gave in to the draw of the Lesser Scaup this morning; the bird was (for the most part) sleeping amongst the Tufteds at the afterthought of a nature reserve on the edge of the former Taff/Ely Estuary SSSI. Didn't manage to see any Greater/normal/bulk standard Scaup or the Slavonian Grebe, but one shouldn't get greedy, and I did get to see a Mute Swan fly headlong into a buddleia so it wasn't all bad.

Dropped in on Lamby Way on the way back, got more views of the 2nd-winter Ring-billed Gull and a pristine adult Med Gull dropped in making all the Black-heads look just a little bit grubby. The 1st-winter Ring-bill and Bittern avoided detection but I did get to meet a certain world-renowned birding dog.

Peterstone Gout was worse than useless, in fact it was worse than my garden which turned up Blackcap.

10 January 2009


Left the house meaning to mop up the Waxwings and then potter down the Usk valley. The Waxwings were just settling in the Spindle as we arrived and proceeded to show rather nicely. As we shaped to leave, the magic of the mobile phone piped news of a flock of Woodlark straight from Mr Jerry Lewis Esq. to the very inside of the car I was sat in, isn't modern technology amazing! Half an hour later we were at the site but it took another 45 minutes before we found the flock; it's a big field and they are quite skulky little buggers, nice though and a Gwent tick too.

08 January 2009

ECB bonkers? Or KP nuts?

This might just be the last straw, the world has gone flipping mad. No, it's not the flagrant disregard of international law currently underway in Gaza; it's not even the fact that Gwent actually has a few sub-rarities knocking around (albeit all of the same, housewife's favourite-type species); it's the bloody cricket! What the ferkin merkin is going on? KP and Moores can't stand each other so the ECB send both to the naughty step. And just as I was starting to entertain thoughts of us getting the Ashes back. I think I might start a 'Blowers for coach' campaign.

One little flicker of good sports news mind, Ronaldo stuffed his £200,000 Ferrari into the tunnel wall at Manchester Airport today,... diddums.

05 January 2009

In lieu of Waxwings

Another new series, today I present the first installment of 'thoughts that fill the void left by a lack of semi-rare birds outside TK Maxx'...

Found myself looking at a reproduction of Morot's 'The Temptation of St. Anthony' today. I couldn't help but think "Go on St. Anthony, grab yourself a handful,... you'll feel all the better for it". Do you suppose this is the thought the artist was hoping to plant in the observers mind?

04 January 2009

... there's no kind of atmosphere...

A quick search in the afternoon gloom failed to locate the Redwick Firecrest, there were about 100 thrushes knocking around the village though (mostly Fieldfare and Blackbird). Nothing else of note on the levels and a frigid Ynys-y-Fro only managed a few Gadwall and Pochard and a flyover Peregrine. Also missed out on the Waxwing gen due to an inability to find my phone, despite hearing the bleeding thing go off; naturally enough, on returning home, I realised it was in my pocket,... oh, how I laughed.

03 January 2009

It's cold outside...

A quick hour at an almost entirely iced over Virginia Water Lake turned up Ring-necked Parakeet, Crossbill, a couple of Kingfishers and possibly the most expertly laid child/dog trap I have ever seen...

01 January 2009

Birding in Israel or Geneva?

Something to ponder over whilst planning your holidays for the forthcoming year.
Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War
Adopted on 12 August 1949 by the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, held in Geneva from 21 April to 12 August, 1949
Entry into force 21 October 1950

Part III Status and treatment of protected persons
Section I Provisions common to the territories of the parties to the conflict and to occupied territories

Article 33
No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
Pillage is prohibited.
Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

At the last count 402 Palestinians and four Israelis have died during the last six days of mindless shite in southern Palestine/Israel. The UN says 25% of the Palestinians killed were civilians and Palestinian medical officials say more than 2,000 people have been injured. The question is - when does collateral damage become collective penalty?

Will you be birding in Israel anytime soon? May I suggest Turkey, Jordan or Egypt instead.