near miss

It seemed that Friday was a good day for a seawatch.   I mean, a Fea’s Petrel flew past the evening before.  How good does it need to get? What with the patch being by the sea, it seemed a good idea to then proceed to sea and watch it.  Getting ready for ‘the big one’.  The patch tick of patch ticks.  A rare seabird.  Lets go!

The first Brents of the winter, some Wigeon, some Scoters.  No shearwaters, certainly not any Cory’s.  Or Gannets.  Some gulls.  No skuas. Some terns.  Hmmm.  But then!   Hang on one a second there is a small dark bird with a white rump flying almost on the waves!!! Bloody hell!  It couldn’t be could it?  Where has it gone?  Find it find it!  Oh, what is that what has gone and landed on that there rock.  Oh, it is a Wheatear. 

Swallow anyone?

a swallow doing not long now


stink on stink on stink

Do you remember those cans of ‘fart gas’ that you could buy when you were a kid?

a can doing pthfhwahyeurrknoaaaargh!

It would generally waste a large chunk of the pocket money that you had saved up for the annual summer holiday, having purchased it after falling for the illusion of actually having a real can of real flatus.  The reality was that the smell was rank, but not really that similar to proper anal gaseous discharge.  When I say rank, I mean rank.  Proper rank.  Not enough to produce instant projectile vomiting (that would be amaaaaazing), but enough to clear a ridge tent in quick time, even in the rain.  Chemically mixed rankness in spray form.  The smell contained in these containers was definitely not pleasant.  I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it was some concoction from the depths of hell, but certainly a little lister demon that may have passed this region had given a little whisper in the ear of the creator of fart gas.  You don’t remember fart gas?  Oh.

Compared to what I had whaft under my nostrils on Friday, cans of fart gas are about as unpleasant as fresh honeysuckle.  Here is a picture of something that really does smell.  Technically, this thing here “really really fucking stinks”.

a horn doing stink


As I approached it, the smell situation wasn’t in my mind but once I got close and the hoard of flies vacated the whaft whafted.  Rankness of another level.  Needless to say, this is a pan species patch tick and evidently it has a rude sounding scientific name – Phallus impudicus.  Gurgle.

rainy double patch tick whammy

So I went out into the patch and it looked like this.

sky doing just you wait sonny

Understandably, I started getting rained on.  So I retreated to the shelter of a nearby motorised vehicle and by the magic of the internal combustion engine I found myself by an area of scrubland.  Actually it is desolate industrial wasteground, but scrub makes it sound all wild and authentic and everything.  Bored out of my patch mind by the lack of birds to watch I even ended up taking pictures of a bird I don’t like.

a wood pigeon doing rubbish

I muttered, and took the Lords name in vain with reference to the rubbishness of local birds etc.  I mean Wrynecks are stalking local dunes, but not mine.  Greenish Warblers are being found in bushes a mere few miles away, but not here.  All I have is a Wood Pigeon.  And those Sparrows.  And that Blue Tit.  FFS.  Blue Tit?  But that would be a member of an entire family of birds that do not present themselves around here at all.  Have I fallen into the complacency of the common place again?  Yes!  Patch tick! Niiiiice!  Better get the bins out then and look at it properly.  It’s a respect thing.  But hang on, what is that flicky thing that is with the Tit and Sparrows in that rubbish bit of scrub/wasteland.  Oh it seems to look like a warbler.  At 8x magnification it revealed itself to be no less than a Chiffchaff.  Another bleeding patch tick!  Shmokin!

One rain shower for me, two photos for you dear reader, and a rambling post about two patch ticks.  Splendid.

extreme chafing!

Cock, Common, Garden or Welsh?  That is the question.  Something to do with feet.  Something to do with habitat.  I really don’t know, and until a few days ago it would just have been a beetle.  To assist with the definitive identification here are extreme close-up versions of every image I have of the beast, with varying degrees of quality.

So if you know anything about beetles and have nothing to do on this rainy day – chuck your expertise at this lot!

boring fly id post

Do you sometime read posts on blogs and fora where people ask for ID assistance and get annoyed?  You know the kind of thing – I took this photo of a bird and I don’t know whether it is a Blackcap or a Sacred Ibis, can you help?  – it annoys me anyway.  There are those that seem incapable of bothering to identify anything themselves and have 10,000 posts of laziness on line when if they looked in a book or interweb equivalent, they might learn something and stop pestering everyone with trivial ID requests.  Anyway, be rest assured Dear Reader that the ID problem that I present does not fall into this category, absolutely not!  My research has been thorough, concentrated and protracted.  It has caused me to break the spine of my bug book as I have been thumbing so very vigorously, but obviously to no avail.  I am slowly coming to the conclusion that my bug book is rubbish, or I haven’t got a clue.  So here goes, it’s a fly, it flies around a sandy beach with loads of its mates and I don’t know what it is.  Sorry to bother you and all that, what?

a fly doing still, for a moment

sea gooseberry

Naming wildlife in the old days must have been a pretty easy job.  It looks like a cucumber, it lives in the sea – it’s a Sea Cucumber!  It looks like a gooseberry, it lives in the sea – its a Sea Gooseberry!  It looks like a lion, it lives in the sea – its a Sea Lion!   Perhaps not then. 

As accurately suggested by James and Harry, it would seem that the little globs of not much (99% water evidently) are not eggs but are complete beings (albeit dead ones), called Sea Gooseberry.  They are little jellyfish thingies, and they are classified in the phylum Ctenophora.  I did think about loading loads of Ctenophora facts and figures up on here, but then realised that I really didn’t have the stamina for the research.   I mean it’s not like it can fly or anything is it?  When I say ‘research’, I meant cutting and pasting loads of text what other people had written. 

However, if you click on these words it will take you to a blogpost written by Phil Gates who writes the excellent Cabinet Of Curiosities blog, and it is about Sea Gooseberries of all things.  He has photos and text and stuff.  Click on it!

feeling like a dead duck

And so to the patch. 

Several days of easterlies.  It is May.  That means migration.  The patch is on the coast.

What should this equal?  Birds – and lots of them.  What do I get?  The same Gulls and Pigeons that I always get and four Swallows.  This will not do!  If this does not improve I shall complain.  And then write a letter.  I’m not entirely sure to who, but I shall write it nonetheless!

The only item of interest on the beach today was this.

spitting out pieces of his broken luck


more randoms

Halo was incorrect, as it was probably a circumzenithal arc.  Which I reckon is pretty cool.

And that Eagle, right, must have flown through my patch.  AND I chose not to journey to work via Filby on the day that a WTE wakes up and has a look around in that area at the time that I would have been going through.  Something about a chap called sod, a law, and a very rude word comes to mind.

I didn’t get a Sand Martin on the half-heartedly predicted day, but I did get a Swallow which was simply beautiful.  And then another on Monday.  Not a magic blog perhaps, but just a magic patch perhaps.  Which is fine by me.  We’ll see.

On Saturday and Sunday the pond in the garden had been taken over by rutting water snails (spp).  As each one moved about on top of the weed, it let out a little pop.  Pond pop corn.  Great fun.

I did see Sand Martins at the weekend however, at Runton.  I could do nothing but stare and smile while they farted.

I’m not telling anyone how great Runton is.

A mammoth fell out of the cliffs once.  It was quite dead, but quite large.

Stuff still falls out of the cliffs and the cliffs still fall.  I’ll put a picture up of the beach.  It isn’t as good as it looks, no siree.  And you should make no effort to go there, as you will not like it.

Haven’t seen any patch Wheaters since first contact although I am receiving reports that they continue to move through.  That also, is fine by me.

You have had over a hundred posts of this nonsense now.

runton doing just fine thank you very much

random observations

There were half a dozen Waxwings on Riverside Road yesterday.  Might have been the only person to have noticed.  I was in a queue of traffic, looking for Peregrines.

The patch was consistently constant, and devoid of migrants last week.  An Eider, a Common Scoter.  Gulls.  Not much else.

Actually, if you ask me – everywhere is devoid of migrants up to now.

I though I saw a Treecreeper from the Garden this morning.  Not like that funny one in Suffolk.  It has shorter toes than normal evidently.  Honestly, I think birders make these things up.

Referring to a Ring Ouzel as a ‘Rouzel’ is annoying.

Quelea.  I always had it in my head that it was kway-lee-ah, but Attenborough pronounced it kwee-lee-ah on the tellybox last night.  If he says it is kwee-lee-ah then that’s what it is.

Have an iffy picture of some birds in mostly winter plumage.

plovers doing by the sea


I’m off into the garden to listen for Chiffchaff.

top o’ the world

Well, top o’ Norfolk anyway.  For a while today there was no higher pair of mince pies in the whole of the county than mine.


norfolk’n cliffs

Not the hallowed Cliffs of California (yes, in Norfolk), or the rather iffy ones at Happisburgh but a fresh set put down by the rampaging North Sea the other day.  You can tell it’s Yarmouth as the self-styled ‘Pleasure’ Beach is in the background. 

Interesting birds?  Right now?  In the patch?  No.

south denes doing perspective


It’s not all birds birds birds you know.  Although this week has produced a patch tick (expected) and seal tracks on the beach (not surprising really), I was a little surprised to see this little critter crawl about after I kicked a bit of driftwood that was sitting in the sand (yes driftwood, yes sand, yes my patch watching does involve walking around a beach most days.  It’s a dirty job etc).

a spider doing crawling


I may struggle with bird ID on occasion, but I really know very little about spiders, so unless some erudite aracnophile lets me know what Linnaeus might have called it, I will call it, for the sake of giving it a name, Dwayne.

Erudite contributions welcome, but not necessarily expected…

mystery tracks, perhaps

To my mind this is one of three things.

a) the tracks of a Seal that has hauled out on the shore

b) the tracks of a dog with an itchy arse dragging its rear end up a beach

c) Something much more sensible

Any ideas?

tracks doing mystery