26 June 2011

There's no spark, no light in the dark

An even less high high tide today and even less to show for it. Kingfisher probably the best of the bunch [NB. Had one on Friday too but forgot to mention it]. It was so awful I was reduced to sitting next to a puddle taking pictures of dirt common birds having a bath,...

The missus,...


... and the boys.

PS. If a bang wakes you up tonight, you'll know I have shot myself out of boredom; if it's a creaking that disturbs your slumber, I'll have opted for the noose.
PPS. Radiohead and Pam Ayres references in the same post; pearls, I'm giving you pearls here.

24 June 2011


Not the highest of high tides at the pools over lunchtime, mind you, any birds that had been pushed onto the lagoons were kicked back off as the farmer rounded up his sheep just before high water. Two Knot on the tideline were the 'highlight' but a Common Sandpiper also hinted at passage, as did a few Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, etc. A few of the young waders seem to have made it, more-or-less full-grown young of Avocet, Oystercatcher and Redshank were all present.

One of the nibbling horde currently carpeting the turf behind the viewing platforms with hundreds of potential silent footsteps.

22 June 2011

Scarlet Pimpernel

No sign of the Common Rosefinch this evening, perhaps it took one look at the local Peregrine and moved on sharpish.

Well of course it was nailed there, otherwise it would have muscled up to that chainlink fence and 'voom'!

20 June 2011

Pixie parasols

Mycena sp. presumably a [something] Bonnet; narrowed it down to probably one of about four species. If anyone knows what it is, feel free to drop me a line, otherwise I'll label it Mycena impossiblensis Lesser Ivory Nipple-bonnet.

PS. Note the photo-bombing thrip(?), little geezer managed to sneak into both pictures (you may have to click on the images to view the larger versions to truly appreciate his cheeky little fizzog).

19 June 2011

No cars, only boats?

Meant to post this ages ago and, by now, I guess y'all aware of this but,... we are not supposed to park down Boat Lane anymore, albeit the miniscule and not particularly eye-catching sign is easily missed.

17 June 2011

A funny old week

"If at first you don't succeed, call in an airstrike."

It's been a funny old week. Day and night traversing the black-veined hills, weaving between the malignancies of misuse and pocket-sized refuges of moor, fridd and mire. Things that have flown by have included: Goshawk, Red Kite, Little Ringed Plover, Nightjar, Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Dark Green Fritillary and a fair few water droplets.

16 June 2011

A bit red in the cheeks

Given the bloke has a face that looks like that, I almost feel sorry for him, talk about shooting fish in a barrel,... feel free to write your own punchline.

[NB. FYI one of the above is a minister with a portfolio including climate change and yet suggests Britain strongly supports drilling for oil in the Arctic,... the other is not a twat.]

15 June 2011

National Dog Reserve

Isn't Kenfig lovely, that is, once you have weaved through the packs of dogs at the car park, avoided the fragrant piles of sun-baked turds and got beyond the bloke testing his retriever by repeatedly kicking a rugby ball into the scrub, beyond the old dear with her plastic catapulty-arm-extension-throwing-thingy, beyond the two people encouraging their four dogs into the lake and, finally, beyond the Alan Partridge-esque bloke stood atop a dune shouting "Buster,... Buster,... Buster,... Buster,... ... ... Buster,... Buster,... Buster,... ... ... Buster!" Really, isn't it lovely. Country parks, amenity grasslands, National Nature Reserves they're all the same thing aren't they?

I'm glad botany is nothing but a black hole of unknowing to me, otherwise I'd have been there for ages.

I'll just stick to the big pretty ones.

Ditto regarding bugs; plenty of these about, also Grass Rivulets all over the place.

12 June 2011

Summer is here

Not a day for sitting on Goldcliff Point, no matter how many Sooty Shearwaters have just been seen off Glamorgan.

Given I couldn't see the outdoors through the deluge, I have spent the day poring over an article about Bulgaria and reading about the interesting chaps of 'The Milesian School', that Anaximander eh? Bit of a trailblazer. He was pondering evolution in 550 BC. What a clever little bunny.

11 June 2011

Over the sea to Dunye

"And opposite to this Clyff [Goldcliff], about the midst of the Severn, lyeth a small Isle, called Denny Island." Monmouthshire, Blome's Britannia 1673. Unbelievably, Denny has its own Wikipedia page which, amongst all manner of other incredibly interesting facts, states that the island first appears in the historical record as 'Dunye' in 1373 and that, in Old English, the name means 'island shaped like a down (i.e. a hill with a rounded profile), see here for more Denny titbits, a perusal of which is guaranteed to instantly cure insomnia.

The amount of fishing gear, litter and general anthropogenic detritus on Denny (and throughout the estuary) is beyond a fucking joke. This is what happens when an adult Cormorant gets a 1.5 inch barbed hook embedded in its carpel joint and and the hook, and attached line, becomes entangled on the tree mallow adjacent to its nest. I'm guessing this bird died of dehydration/starvation over the course of several days. We also found an unfledged chick, still within the nest, with a hook lodged in its throat and line hanging from its bill, presumably having been fed the discarded gear by an unsuspecting parent whilst still attached to a fish. Good job fisherfolk,... good job.

At this age, everything is cute,... even Great Black-backed Gulls,... even when, moments later, they shit all down your leg.

PS. Oh yeah, and this is what happens when Charlie Brooker [you know, him off the telly] 'retweets' a link to your website; getting on for 3,000 visitors precisely none of which are interested in either 'Gwent' or 'birding' and all because of this.

07 June 2011

I'm just going to slip this on here and hope nobody notices

You know when the day starts with a rude awakening at some ungodly hour to the sound of a 'The Littlest Hobo' ringtone? And then an ever so slightly rabid voice at the other end says such things as 'cracking', 'dirty twitching' and 'ladders'? Yeah,... that.

Hartlepool, it's all about monkeys and HMS Trincomalee innit?

Addendum (as promised)...

"Where's the north from here?"
"Up, just drive up."

And so we did,... and were soon parking at Hartlepool headland.

Skipping down Olive Street, full of the joys, we couldn't help but do a quick lap of the green, waving to the bowling types as we went, before barreling through the garage, wheeling around the garden squealing "Weeeeeeee!", and coming to a halt to rapturous applause from the massed ranks of camouflage fetishists. Unfortunately, it soon dawned that we wouldn't be getting to play on any ladders but we did see 'The Doctor', and his rhubarb, so it wasn't all birds, birds, birds.

Talking of birds, the bird appeared within minutes, and a grottier example of a White-throated Robin you couldn't have hoped to have seen, but it was a White-throated Robin, and this was Hartlepool, so the choice of which White-throated Robin to look at was rather limited. Just think though, with just one trip to Turkey you could have had one like this (well, one trip to Turkey and a sprinkling of magic MP3 and Photoshop dust).

After two hours of soaking up the robin, interspersed with brief bouts of hide and seek (Is he in the rose garden? No. Garage? No. Shrubbery? Yes!) and a quick game of French cricket on the lovingly manicured lawn, it was off home. At every junction we headed downwards and were soon saying our goodbyes and going our separate ways on the banks of the River Severn*. And that, apart from a closed M4, high volumes of Psychadelic Horseshit and a sweet potato and mushroom lasagne, was that.

And that is exactly what happened and any other version of events should be taken with a pinch of salt because you can't trust anyone nowadays, not even people that write stuff down.

*So named because Julius Caesar was incapable of passing up the opportunity of a good joke [it was actually the sixth river he discovered during his invasions of Britain]. To quote Vercingetorix at the Battle of Alesia "That Caesar, what a wag").

04 June 2011

Two awful photographs

Apart from a one armed farmer and an unruly sheepdog called Sancho Panza, the four and a half hours at the pools this morning didn't really produce much. There was a notable movement of small gulls with single Mediterranean and Common amongst 60+ Black-headed Gulls; and Marsh Harrier and Peregrine provided a bit of raptor-shaped interest. Apart from that, the 'best' wader was a Little Ringed Plover which flew in and, two minutes later, out again; and the 'best' duck was the crocked(?) male Wigeon.

First-summer Mediterranean Gull drifting in off the estuary, not too many minutes later it was off again having not taken a shine to the Peregrine passing over.

Much more excitement was generated this afternoon by a tweet from the SW suggesting a Red Kite was heading NE,... eyes to the skies,... and,... Shit-ting! (as I believe the youth say).

It might be a scruffy, distant, out of focus Red Kite, but it is my scruffy, distant, out of focus Red Kite garden tick. Grateful thanks to Matt B.

02 June 2011

What happens when it rains?

Apparently, the driver's seat is the only part of a Vauxhall Corsa that does not dissolve on contact with water.

01 June 2011

Tip #1012

Gwent Birding tip #1012 of an, as yet, unpublished list of life-changing tips.

#1012: if you have long toes, or claws/talons or have many-branching lower limbs (i.e. if you are a Peregrine Falcon, Velociraptor or large deciduous tree), put your socks on before your trousers to avoid distal phalange-seam/hem catchage.

You can thank me later.