31 March 2009

Dem birds done gone

Two reports of Gwent megas in two days and it's already too much excitement for the local fraternity. The Honey Buzzard appears to be getting a right old bricking from the shadowy figures inhabiting the gloomy sewer that is the Gwentglamcestershire corner of the interweb. Just for a change, I think this record is probably getting a harsher than deserved response. Yes, it is bleeding early for a Honey Buzzard and no, there isn't a photo, but the facts are: at least one of the observers isn't a numpty; the bird in question showed reasonably well; and the decription I have heard is not that bad. I'm not saying it was definitely a Honey Buzzard, but I would argue it is one for the committee as opposed to one for people that can't even dream up a good pseudonym.

Anyway the chase, to which I will now cut, is that neither of the reported beasties could be bothered to hang around, so we are all in the same sinking boat - stood here like so many botty-burps on the breeze in a cold, birdless, shitey corner of the UK without two rarities to rub together. But don't despair! The camaraderie of this band of birding brothers will see us through! Failing that, I find standing on the sea-wall and gazing longingly into the distance helps,... *sob*.

PS. How many early migrants are around this year?! How ironic would it be if the teensy-weensy brained birds are reacting to global warming quicker than the frontal cortex laden Homo sapiens. Oh, how I will laugh.

29 March 2009

The post-industrial wilds

Visited a couple of the less than picturesque Gwentish sites today. The pseudo-martian landscape of Red Pools produced 3 Goldeneye, 2 Blackcap, 10 Chiffchaff and a Cetti's Warbler plus 1 Comma and 2 Peacock flutterbys (also had Orange-tip alongside the nearby Solutia Reserve). The lovely rolling acres of Llanwern Steelworks produced 1 Swallow, 1 Wheatear, 8 Cetti's Warbler and 4 Chiffchaff plus another Comma, 4 more Peacocks and 4 Small Tortoiseshells.

Is anything as redolent of the untamed landscape as wild geese? Probably not.

27 March 2009

Birding vs. cricket

A morning touring the eastern levels produced very little apart from singing Willow Warbler and Blackcap at Magor Marsh. An afternoon listening to England capitulating in the cricket was an even less judicious use of my precious time. Given the way Gayle has started, I don't think I'll be wasting too much of my evening on the wireless broadcast from Barbados.

My first Willow Warbler of the year, showing like a wrong 'un.

26 March 2009

Psychological operations

As the battle of the back garden enters its fifth year I am wheeling out a new weapon which I am hoping will deliver a decisive blow to the feline-squirrel axis. The squirty-bottle barrage has proven to have only a limited impact and katyusha-esque volleys of tennis balls have resulted in very few hits and nothing like a knock out blow. But now I'm predicting a seismic shift in the balance of power as we move to a completely new level of tactical psychological warfare, the enemies morale will be crushed, it will all be over by Christmas. There will be no hiding place, nothing can withstand the might of... the Power Megaphone (with pistol grip).

The first salvo went something like this...


You cat! Come out from under the privet, your creepy-creepy across the lawny-lawny won't work now.

*squeal of feedback*

Yes, you can act all nonchalant but your time of unhindered Greenfinchery is over, no longer will untrammelled Blue Tittery occur on this corner of some foreign (well Welsh) field. Now it is you who will live under constant harassment, your every step will be announced to the world, you have nothing to look forward to but guttering, choking, drowning ridicule [long drawn out bout of evil laughter].


Oh, hi Darren,... ...Yep, got it for Christmas, it's taken me this long to get batteries... ...Oh, just talking to your cat,... ...No, not much doing,... ...Uh-huh,... OK,... See-ya.


21 March 2009

A wand'ring milvus I

The highlight of an afternoon potter round the pools was a second calendar-year Red Kite drifting west at about 14:30. Other predators, periodically upsetting the waterfowl, included the 1st-winter Marsh Harrier and a very obliging Short-eared Owl (that is, very obliging for those who weren't totally oblivious to the fact that it was parading around the third platform, see here). The best of the waders included a ruff and long-staying Greenshank and Spotted Redshank; and the only half-decent passerine migrants were 1 Wheatear, 2-3 Chiffchaff and 20+ Sand Martins.

The afternoon was devoid of LRP, Garganey, Swallow, Nanki-Poos and Yum-Yums,... gutted.

18 March 2009

A plea to whoever you are

Given the raison d'être of the RSPB at the Newport Wetlands appears to be to attract screaming hordes of the ornithologically retarded, is it not somewhat remiss of them to then take as gospel the patently arse-gravyesque reports generated by the aforementioned duffers? I had a quick look at the RSPB website this evening and, as anticipated here, it is already adorned with two lovely gobbits of duff gen; not bad going, given that only three sightings updates have been posted so far.

Just a quick plea to the lucky bunny who gets to update the Newport Wetlands sightings page on the RSPB interweb site - if someone reports something flipping unlikely why not either: a. put it out as "an unconfirmed report of [add species name here]" (i.e. birders' code for "some numpty misidentified something as [add species name here]"); or b. check it out before putting it out. At least try developing a healthy cynicism (feel free to stop short of the rampant, vitriolic [probably quite unhealthy] cynicism I revel in) toward incredibly early records of migrants and reports of regularly strung ducks.

Today's ornithologically elitist post lacking any shred of empathy for the crapulous non-birding masses was brought to you by the letters 'G' and 'X' and the number '5'.

14 March 2009

*Cough*, *cough*, *splutter*

Finally, my path has coincided with that of a few northbound Sand Martins,... which is nice. The high-tide at Goldcliff also produced 1 Turnstone, 6 Avocet, 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 female Merlin and hardly any birders (well surprisingly few, given it was the third highest tide of the year and there might be things to see, things with feathers,... things that may be of some passing interest).

Even more interesting, however, was the drive home punctuated, as it was, with an Aurelio free-kick, an oh-so deserved sending-off, and another clinical Dossena finish,... lovely.

13 March 2009

Now I am become Death...

I have had the worst cold ever for the last few days and I've had enough. This morning I coughed up something the colour of burnt golden syrup which a. knocked on the inside of my teeth to get out; and b. probably possessed a soul.

Anyway, being the unstoppable birding machine that I am, after a morning pestering Siskins, I Lemsipped to the max and pottered off down to Goldcliff. Apart from a Chiff calling in one of the hedgerows there was not the slightest sniff of a proper migrant. Did experience a mini-predatorfest though with Merlin, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine and Sprawk all putting in appearances. The Merlin chased its potential passerine prey halfway to Newport, repeatedly stooping at, and missing, its dinner until lost to view somewhere Nashwards. The wader highlights included 7 Golden Plover on the first lagoon and the long-staying Spotted Redshank and Greenshank.

Managed to get back just in time to start feeling like shit again; blogging does not help eye burn so I shall now away to the medicine cupboard via the drinks cabinet, I feel a brandy/night nurse cocktail coming on. I wonder whether I can invent a concoction that induces Sand Martin/Wheatear/Garganey hallucinations?

09 March 2009

Somewhere in deepest Narrrfolk...

This is uncanny, it is precisely how I imagine an editorial meeting at the Birding World office. It's as if we're watching Stonerunner/Sea Lawn CCTV, although I don't suppose Messers Millington and Gantlett have a dog named Brian but, apart from that, it is exactly how I imagine the Birding World office on a Monday morning,... please say it's true.

[NB. The inclusion of a Family Guy clip should not, in any way, lead the viewer to think that Fox, News Corp. or Sky (or any of the numerous Rupert Murdoch inspired media outlets) are anything other than a bunch of arse-gravy spouting, chicken-choking weiner-wackers. They just pay a lot of money for cartoons.]

08 March 2009

Eeeeeeeeeeeeyaaa da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da

This post will be all the better if you hum the 'Dambusters March' at this point. If you think comparing Little Egrets with Avro Lancasters is a little far-fetched, click here to watch 633 Squadron attacking the Deathstar.

07 March 2009


A quick trip up to God's acre produced Ring-necked Parakeet, Dartford Warbler, Red kite and all manner of nephew/niece action.

06 March 2009

The wilds of Uskmouth

Staked out Reedbed 8 late this afternoon/evening in the hope that the Bittern might flap across in front of the viewing tump; didn't happen, but both Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl did put in appearances. However, the highlight of the tripette was seeing Pob doing a circuit of the cycle-path, I tried to stop him for his autograph but he just blew a great big raspberry and cycled on muttering "Pob, er Pob, er Pob, Pob, Pob, Pob,..." By the way, his hair has changed colour and his legs are much bandier than they used to be (or perhaps he was riding a much smaller person's bike, or perhaps it was some bloke that just looked like Pob [if you struggle with 1980s children's TV references see here]).

The view from the tump (tump, tump, tumpitty-tump [note to self: must use the word 'tump' more often]), I can't work out if this photo is evidence of: a. nature's resilience/rebirth against the odds; or b. the ever smaller corners of the UK into which nature is shoe-horned.

PS. Who is it leaving little piles of cheap bird seed on the fence posts down there? Do we have some sort of Hänsel und Gretel fetishist stalking the reserve? I do hope so.

02 March 2009

St. Hogwart's in the Marsh?

Saw this on the BBC footy gossip page and thought you'd like to know (the BBC hacks obviously saw it elsewhere too),...

"Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and his fiancee Rebecca Ellison have arranged for a barn owl to swoop down the aisle and deliver their rings in a velvet pouch when they get married in August. (Daily Mirror)"

How classy is that?!

Sorry,... tacky,... I meant 'How stupefyingly, cloyingly tacky is that?!'

Better correct myself, you could get arrested for such blatant misuse of the term 'classy'.