28 November 2010

Par score for the forestry

Had a saunter around the forestry this morning, not much doing. It didn't help that the labradoodle count had doubled and, despite being half gun dog, they are useless at finding birds.

25 November 2010

Thinking of birding Kuwait?

As far as I can tell, the winter months in Gwent are for planning next year's trips abroad. Personally, I'm still in the early stages of planning, but I did notice this little snippet regarding Kuwait that might well put off the travelling birder. It would appear that whilst you can still seek out Socotra Cormorant, Red-vented Bulbul and Bank Myna (or perhaps Crab Plover, Crested Tern, White-cheeked Tern, Bridled Tern, Dunn’s Lark, White-eared Bulbul, Grey Hypocolius and Basra Reed Warbler) you may well not be allowed to take a photograph, at least, not with a decent camera. Bizarre as it may sound, three Kuwaiti government ministries appear to have deemed the DSLR unsuitable for use by the general public. There does, however, seem to be a distinct lack of clarity on the issue, so it's probably worth keeping an eye on, should you be thinking of winging your way Persian Gulfwards.

[NB. See comments with an update from Kuwait,...] 

24 November 2010

Education is preciousss

I've come to the conclusion that power does things to people,... not good things. He used to look like a charming educational puppet (see here), not any more.

[Addendum: I've had an email from Gollum's mother and thought it only fair to let her have her say,... "Dear Gwent Birding, I think the comparison of my son to Michael Gove is unfair, whilst I accept my little Sméagol may not, to use modern parlance, be a 'looker' and for some time his mental health was negatively impacted upon by the one ring to rule them all, I would like to point out that he: a. would never do terrible things to an education system; b. has never partaken of 'flipping' properties as part of an expenses claim procedure; and c. he most certainly does not have ginger hair."]

23 November 2010

"Scarecrow and a yellow moon,..."

See, this is the positive spin-off of listening to the radio whilst sat at the computer. Somewhere between hearing Arsenal balls it up in Portugal (shame huh?) and humming along to 'Look Out Cleveland', I unconsciously/accidentally processed another hummer NEF from California. Precisely no mental effort expended.

21 November 2010

It's grim up north

God it's cold and grey up-country! No Waxwings on show and almost sod all else. I don't know what I was thinking, won't be going up there again in a hurry.

12 November 2010

The future of birding

Local sub-rarities are so much easier to see when somebody else phones up and warns of their imminent appearance. And so it was today, I'm counting Wigeon, the phone goes, [crackly voice of erstwhile colleague working through the pain of a shattered rib-cage] "Bonxie coming your way, about mid-channel...", I look up and the bird, now decidedly not mid-channel, flies straight past my nose and, looking a little non-plussed at the rapidly narrowing 'sea' below him, meanders off towards Sharpness. Excellent.

I think I might start taking 'help' everywhere I go, a sort of ornithological gentleman's gentleman, I guess he'd be called Alfred, Parker, Merriman, Hobson, Passepartout or the like. Basically, I imagine it would work like this:

[a late autumn morning at the confluence of Farmfield and Saltmarsh lanes]
Standish: Sir.
Me: Yes, Standish?
Standish: It may prove profitable were sir to raise his binoculars and look in an approximately westerly direction, sir.
Me: [looking in said direction] Hmmm, I don't mean to be overly critical Standish, but I'm not paying you to point out distant fillies on bicycles,... however pretty.
Standish: Er, no sir. I fear you have somewhat overlooked the subject in question, if I may refocus your binoculars?
Me: Aah [hands binoculars to Standish].
Standish: Sir [handing back binoculars].
Me: OK, what do we have here?
Standish: In the hedgerow sir.
Me: A hawthorn Standish?
Standish: Immediately to the right of the prominent hawthorn sir.
Me: A willow? Look here Standish, once again I fear I shall have to express a critical viewpoint. Now I'm as interested as the next man in all things arboricultural but,... well dammit Standish, we are supposed to be spotting birds.
Standish: In the willow sir, the bird is foraging within the boughs of the willow.
Me: Aah,... [long pause],... big or small Standish?
Standish: Small sir.
Me: [another long pause] Oh, I see him, tiny little fellow, hopping about like a dervish that has ceased to whirl and taken up hopping.
Standish: That is the one sir.
Me: And what might he be?
Standish: That sir, is Phylloscopus proregulus or, were we to find ourselves in a position where the vernacular was appropriate, Pallas' Warbler, sir.
Me: Oh,... hyperactive little chap isn't he? Pretty too, what with all those stripey bits. Oh well Standish, jot it down in the notebook.
Standish: And forward the record to the county recorder sir?
Me: If you think it necessary Standish, if you think it necessary.
Standish: Yes sir.
Me: Oh well Standish, onward, ever onward,... I assume we brought a flask of tea Standish?
Standish: Naturally sir.
[party moves off, minutes later stumbling onto Gwent's first Siberian Blue Robin]

And that is exactly how it's gonna be.

11 November 2010

Somehow I knew this wasn't it

Whilst the early hours of a 'blow' are rarely the most profitable, commitments tomorrow meant this morning was my only opportunity to peer out into the estuary, hum Lambchop songs and hope for a lost seabird to pass by.

It was a predictably low key couple of hours with only a rash of Common Scoters to maintain the interest: a pair battled their way down-channel, a male headed up-channel, four females did a circuit around the 'bay', another female did the same and, so as not to be left out, yet another female repeated the game. I guess the last couple of sightings could have involved a bird from the flock of four. Excepting the original pair, they were all very close in, mind you they had to be, for significant periods of time, anything beyond halfway out was lost in the murk. Naturally, I had left my camera at home,... naturally.

I would predict the 'biggest' bird on this system will appear tomorrow, and probably on the other side.

10 November 2010

In the city of the swan

Another brief visit to the outer limits of Swansea and the semi-ornithological tagging persists,...

Requires a little work, seems to be a slightly wonky stencil tarted up with a little freehand. C+ good effort, but needs a little more attention to detail.

09 November 2010

It's oh so quiet

It's all gone rather quiet over here,
Really rather quiet indeed,
So, so terribly quiet,... hardly anything doing at all.

07 November 2010

Dear RaSPBerry,...

I noticed the following quote on the RaSPBerry sightings page for the Newport Wetlands:
"Another exciting development was the appearance of a green-winged teal at our Goldcliff lagoons..."
Could someone define 'our' for me?

05 November 2010

That twitching programme

Finally got to watch the twitching 'documentary' on iPlayer. I'm not going to offer a critique beyond - did anyone learn anything they didn't already know? However, despite the disappointment it has inspired me to design next year's must have birding/twitching attire. So, if you're stuck for a Xmas present for the ornithologist with everything, your search is over,... as I give you,... the all new winter 2010/spring 2011 range from "13% Apparel".

Composition: 100% fair trade organic cotton
Sizes: small, medium & large
Colour: 'birding green'
Price: tba