31 July 2009


A pretty low high-tide this afternoon meant most of the waders were to be found on the foreshore. Three Whimbrel, 4 Turnstone, 1 Common and 1 Green Sand were the 'highlights', however, Ringed Plover numbers were also up and the 120 strong flock of Black-tailed Godwits included the Icelandic ringed bird from last week (but none of the Barwits reported earlier in the day). Three Yellow Wags, a single Rock Pipit and a partially dismembered sheep carcass also made it into the notebook; the latter was partaking of a game of tug o' war with a playful Herring Gull and, despite the lack of a suitable rope, was putting up a selfless show of sportsmanship by making do with its own duodenum. I think we can all learn from that,... it's not the winning that counts, it's the taking part.

28 July 2009

An 'owler

I'm just sticking this picture here to: a. alleviate weather inflicted ornithological boredom; and b. to illustrate a posting I'm just about to stick/have stuck (depending on your time of arrival) on 'the forum that shall not be named'. I could describe the discussion being had over there, but I neither possess the necessary vocabulary or mental fortitude to express the ineffable combination of 'identification dilemma' and dubious ticking morals seen here. I also lack the literary talent to describe the symptoms I experience on each masochistic foray into the threads of hell,... let's just say each time I venture into TurdForum* I die a little inside.

Actually, if I did attempt to describe my involuntary response to 'the other place' I would probably be sued for plagiarism by the estate of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Suffice to say that a momentary period of denial is rapidly followed by earsplitting raving tourette's-esque obloquy, a great billowing tsunami of gloom and then,... the blessed release of acceptance. Luckily, all this takes about 30 seconds and I can get on with writing blog posts dripping in barely concealed though utterly baffling vitriol.

Pallid Scops Owl, Birecik 2009. Yes, despite what some have suggested, they were present this year (as were a family of Long-eared Owls); and, no, you are not the only one reading this thinking "Long-eared Owl/Pallid Scops ID conundrum?! I didn't see that coming"

*heartfelt thanks to the CBC blog for the use of terminology clearly stolen from their comments section.

25 July 2009

A blue and glowing day

A morning's ringing produced a reasonable number of acros, suggesting Sedgies at least are already on the move. However, the only really notable 'movers and shakers' were the three Crossbills which glipped over heading west - patch tick, albeit a rather predictable one, given the number of birds being reported elsewhere in the UK. Must get up into Wentwood with the Telinga, see if there are any 'odd' call-types to be heard; or, as an alternative, I could use my super-sensitive parabola to search high and low for sounds indicative of 'a life',... Crossbills it is then.

Post-Uskmouth popped along to Goldcliff for the arse end of the high tide, nothing outrageous but enough to ensure hope lives to fight another day: 1 Grey Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Green Sands, 2 Common Sands and 3 colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits.

24 July 2009

Rain again

Another day of crappy weather, stuck inside staring at stair rods pouring passed the window pane,... luckily tomorrow looks OK,... must get out to play.

21 July 2009

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Have ID skills really slipped that far?

They have wings, they fly and they regularly appear over the Goldcliff lagoons,... it's the Whitson Aerodrome disturbance display team,... yay! Currently available for the flushing of Gadwall, Dunlin, Shelduck, Redshank or any other birds listed as Article 4.1 or 4.2 qualification species on the Severn Estuary SPA - high-tide roosts a speciality!

18 July 2009

ID required

Despite a pretty low high-tide and a hmm-haa-fiscal-brouhaha of a water-level, Goldcliff produced the first Little Stint of the autumn today,... which was nice. The rather bright wee fella was ably supported by 3 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Knot, 1 Green Sand, 1 Common Sand and 4 LRPs,... which, once again, was nice.

For the second week running WWII vintage aircraft burst onto the scene just after lunch, what is going on? Have the RAF started shopping at rummage sales? What next, Chinooks restricted to flying above 500ft in cloudless skies, with pilots using landmarks on the ground to navigate? Oh,... wait a minute.

Two more questions - is this a 'Gooney Bird' (aka Dakota aka Douglas C-47)? And what was it doing hopping hedgerows down at Goldcliff?

17 July 2009

Enter random title here

Spent a fair part of the day watching the golf whilst listening to the cricket and reading 'The History of British Birds' (who said boys can't multi-task? Some female polymath probably, Dr. Alice Roberts perhaps? Anyhoo...). Bagged Mallard, Pheasant, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull, Swallow, Carrion Crow and Yellowhammer for my Turnberry TV list; revelled in Blowers attempts to Twitter; and learnt that chicken has been by far the most abundant bird in the UK for some considerable time.

Felt duty bound to drag my lazy arse out birding and got absolutely no reward for the effort. Very little of note at Goldcliff Pools over high-tide; one of the Black-tailed Godwits was sporting colour-rings but, unfortunately, the recent increase water levels made them unreadable. The lack of exposed mud on the eastern lagoon has also shifted what few waders were present onto the first lagoon.

PS. The Ruddy Shelducks are still knocking about,... joy.

15 July 2009

Rejoice, rejoice!

Rejoice and be happy mofos,... at least for now. You'll be pleased to know your elected members down in Cardiff town have engaged their brains, removed themselves from local business interests' (whatever that means) pockets and opted for a series of less expensive and less environmentally catastrophic measures as opposed to the new M4 toll road. See here and be happy.

I should point out the Conservatives and CBI Wales have described the decision as "a bad day" and "depressing and disturbing", what a cunch of silly bunts.

12 July 2009

"We didn't kill the actress pig"

A day of dudery down at the Uskmouth Country Park. One ringing demo, 11 hours, and precisely eight birds later and, barring yet more evidence that 'bright and breezy' is shit for ringing, we had almost naff all to show for it. Luckily a Gropper leapt into the net just after lunch, which, if nothing else, just about stopped anyone from slitting their wrists with a sharpened wing rule.

Lancaster PA474 (and all manner of other airplanes designed to kill people) skimmed the reedbeds this afternoon, you might recognise her from such great moments of cinematic history as ‘Operation Crossbow’ and ‘The Guns of Navarone’,... never saw proper hostile service mind.

10 July 2009

Into the mud with you scum-queen

Very little on the mud at the pools this morning, the numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and Curlew are increasing but, beyond that, wader passage has more-or-less ground to a halt.

Bagged a few mud monkies on the way home (not real ones obviously),...

07 July 2009

Sittin' when the evenin' come

An hour at the point resulted in precisely no seabirds. It was so tedious I found myself watching the passing boats which got me wondering, how do they name vessels nowadays? I only ask because there's a tug over at Avonmouth or Portbury called SS Brunel's Knackers and a yacht called The Lady Chlamydia drifted up-channel on the tide.

At the pools Knot and Common Sandpiper were the 'best' of the southbound migrants whilst the Ruddy Shelducks and a Barnacle Goose were the best of the escapes.

A gob full of inverts, nice... but not as nice as a couple of veggie burgers in crusty baps with a crispy salad on the side.

06 July 2009

Fly the Jolly Fish

There just aren't enough pirates in the world today, must remember to regularly swash my buckles, now,... where did I put my three-cornered hat? That is, my hat that has three corners,...

Interesting facts regarding pirates:
1. Did you know that humans evolved from pirates? Apparently humans share around 95% DNA with monkeys, and more than 99.9% DNA with pirates.
2. Global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, the suppression of local rarities and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of pirates since the 1800s.
3. Real pirates use cutlasses, those “pirates” in the Indian Ocean are guys with machine guns, cruising around in power-boats. They’re not pirates. And the song-downloading “pirates” are smelly nerds, and therefore not real pirates either.

All the above facts and more earth-shattering pirate related enlightenment can be found here.

04 July 2009

Spot the birdy

For those who didn't get out birding today, here's your chance to relive the unadulterated excitement of the pools this evening. You're on the third platform, the dudes have left, you're scanning the gull flock, and... ker-ching,... a little ray of Mediterranean sunshine.

The supporting cast was a few passage waders (1 Grey Plover, 2 Green Sandpipers and 70 Black-tailed Godwits) and our two friends from central Asia or Slimbridge (or whatever cage they crept out of).

03 July 2009

Meg Ryan circa 1986

The Ruddy Shelducks are still stealing the show down at Goldcliff but there were a few passage waders knocking around too - 1 Knot, 3-4 Green Sands and 50 Black-tailed Godwits were about the sum of it though.

PS. And irrelevant title of the year goes to...