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.


made up names

So there I was, perusing the notices on Birdguides to see what was about.  Got.  Got.  Need.  Got.  That kind of thing, when my eyes fell on two words which have left me in an occasional funk of ornithological despair.  Channel Wagtail.  Never ‘eard of it you say.  Nor me.  I’ve been reading field guides of various sizes and quality for over thirty years, and have yet to see reference to such a beast until yesterday.  For your elucidation, here is a screen dump from Birdguides (other news services are available)…

birdguides doing screen dump. is this theft?


Oh, I see now.  It is an intermediate form between two sub-species of a normal bird that has been given a name so it can gain validity and then get put on lists as another tick by desperate List addicts.  In other words it’s been made up.  Nonsense.  I’ll have no truck with that.  If I should see one of those, it will go down in the book as a funny looking Yellow Wagtail.  Channel Wagtail my arse.

I might go and see some Dotterel today.  I might not.

norwich’n list

That doesn’t work does it?

Anyhow, the Lister Demon struck again Dear Reader, and I have given in to his evil listing temptations.  I had pondered the fact that I’ll soon be seeing the Peregrines at the Cathedral and that it would be a nice tick.  Yes it would, but a tick on which list exactly?  Not the Norfolk list as Peregrine already resides there.  Nor the year list, as I’ve seen them on the patch this year and manifestly not the patch list as it is 30 odd miles away.  So I cannot put the Peregrines on a list because there is no list to put them on! 


Unless of course I start another list!  BINGO!  If I cobble together a Norwich list, then I can add the Peregrines to that list.  So there we have it.  I have started a list so that I can add a bird to it that I haven’t seen yet.  My logic is quite simply stunning don’t you think?

To quantify – it’s quite simply a list of birds I have seen in Norwich.  For the purposes of this list, I have included only the birds seen or heard within the ring road.  So places like Whitlingham and Costessy Pits are out, but Dolphin Bridge and Mousehold are in.

There is a pagetabthingy up the top.  I’ll update it in time.  And yes, Pied Flycatcher and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker are not usual round here, but they were seen a long time ago…

Have a picture.  It was not taken in Norwich.

a skylark at runton not being a wheatear

listers anonymous?

This may sound a bit crazed, and to the outsider it is.  However, the Lister Demon reared his head again tonight.  I assure you dear reader, that this is a true story.

As I was going out this evening, to take Mrs Thing to the local out of town local mega-grocer, she brought my attention to the fact that there were a fair few Pink-footed Geese flying over the house.  Good ear! Top stuff I thought, and I’m on the front step of the house, so I now have them on the Garden List.  Kerching!

“Non-kerching matey!!” said the Lister Demon – the Garden List is running from the BACK GARDEN you fool!  Since when have you been ticking birds in the front garden?  Eh? Did you stare at the early autumn sky looking for raptors in the FRONT garden? Did you? NO! Do you sift through Tit flocks in the FRONT garden looking for rarities?  No you don’t!!!  These birds ARE NOT on the garden list – but by the devil they could be, couldn’t they?  Couldn’t they?  Well? What are you waiting for?

These voices in my head thoughts toook a millisecond to process, followed by a barked message to Mrs Thing and all of a sudden I was tearing through the house to get into the back garden so that I could have these Geese on the real garden list.  Which I duly did, while a Tawny Owl sent mating calls out in the trees.  Which was pretty cool in itself. It was then that I realised that my actions were on the verge of being some kind of  lunatic obsessive person, and wondered what the hell I was doing.  And had no answer, or the inclination to probe deeper.  I have to admit it.  A part of me is controlled by my lists of birds.  Listers Anonymous anyone?

And I hadn’t taken my boots off either.  Nevermind, better go and get some eggs then.

off with a whimper

The patch year list began yesterday with all guns blazing, but only in my dreams unfortunately. 

The day started on the Acle Straight with the promise (on the radio and in the horizon) of a partial solar eclipse over the sea which would have made for great photo opportunism.  So good in fact that if the photos came out then I would have changed the blog design (again) just to be able to have an envy inducing banner picture on the front page.  A totally, like, awesome rad pic, yeah?

Cometh the hour, cometh the cloud.  No sun, no eclipse, no photo.  Arse.

No problem, doesn’t really matter,  I’ll get out at lunchtime and start racking up those patch ticks for the year.  Hurrah!                     All seven of them.               Yes, that’s right the patch list for 2011 currently sits at a massive se7en species.  This does include Sanderling and Med Gull, which isn’t bad but the grand total of 7 really is rubbish by any standards.  Who knows – maybe today I’ll hit double figures!

goosey goosey gander

It’s winter, it’s Norfolk, and that means that geese are on the menu.  All good, and very dramatic and really good birding.  Shitting great flocks of Pink-feet all over the place, Bean geese, Brent and White-fronted by the side of the A149 and lots of little erm, specials amongst them.  But of course all is not as it seems.  Some of my occasional readers will know all that is to come in this diatribe, but some will not.  Ho hum.

A couple of days ago, in fact last year, perhaps even in the last decade (blimey I could start a decade list! You wouldn’t let it lie etc etc) there were plenty of Brent Geese around Salthouse and Cley with reports of Pale Bellied, Black Brant and a Ross’s Goose amongst them.  Last week/year/decade I picked out one of these half-tick subspecial thingies but none of the others.  Today, with minimal effort, the Ross’s Goose was located, exactly where it was supposed to be.  Here is an amazing photo of said goose.

really it is a ross's goose

It will be the white bit, yeah? 

This goose has been reported on Birdguides and dutifuly written in the log in the Cley visitors centre a few times.  Why?  Seriously, why?  Ross’s Goose is not on the British List unless I read the BOU website wrong earlier (the Caol Ila was very very nice earlier on but it was only an ickle bottle) and if you scan through some of the big lists on BUBO, you won’t find it included.  Yes, you will find it on the UK400 British List, but I dare say that Peacock is on there too.  No, this bird is a no go – as untickable as an unringed Bar-headed Goose in Barnet in the summer.   So why bother telling anyone that it is there, and why bother looking for it (I ask myself more than anyone) why bother at al?  No, unless this goose came to Norfolk with a ruddy great flock of Barnacle Geese that all had ‘my folks went to greenland and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’ t-shirts on, it is nothing other than an escape and everyone should know this.  But geese in Norfolk in the winter get people all excited.  There is another goose that is bothering people in Cantley and from what I can see the consensus is that it may well be a Lesser White-fronted but has dodgy provenance and isn’t really a proper tick.  But it does end up as a mega on Birdguides every day and can be seen on BUBO listings and on umpteen signatures on turdBirdforum as a new life tick.  It does seem that there is a lot of justincasism amongst ardent listers going on.  Alright, I saw a Ross’s goose and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose and didn’t find a Black Brant (whatever they are) and the life list goes up by a fat nada, and nor can I be arsed to go to Cantley just in case.

The funny looking Harrier is tempting mind you.


marshes and geese and stuff
Caveat – if it turns out that the Ross’s Goose is a proper bird (which it probably isn’t) I am quite happy to stand corrected and stick a big black mark in my little list book.

new year resolution

Here is the obligatory happy new year blog post.  Full of nostalgia and optimism in equal measure if it is done properly.  Full up on nibbles wine and whisky or hungover on the same, this is the big retrospective on the year gone by and the outlining of the goals for the new year and perhaps even a resolve to change something or set an unattainable standard for the next twelve months. 

Being the contrary chap that I am,  I have no intention of doing most/any of that.  So much so that this will have been written well in advance to ensure that there is no urgent need to type something out cometh the hour, because single malt and keyboards rarely mix well.  That statement is based entirely on the supposition that the juxtaposition of my fingers and a keyboard produce something that is worth reading when I’m sober-ish of course.  But that is for others to judge. 

So the obligation.  A two part synopsis of the inevitable. 

a) the look back at 2010 – that’s been done and this ‘me not looking back’ has also been touched on.  It’s a blog, this.  By it’s nature, as a sytem of logging second rate musings it is by default a look back at the year in perpetuity.  So there is little value in going back over it.  If you want to read it, it’s all there in it’s webtastic ‘majesty’.  Hit links and things.  It’s easy, innit.

b) the look forward to 2011.  I am, however,  going to set one birding goal.  But nothing to strenuous don’t you know.  I met a chap in September who was chasing 200 in Norfolk for the year, and he’s probably gone well over that by now.  A lot of running about though isn’t it?  There are those that vow to see the most species in the world/country ever in a year.  Blimey, that really does seem like a lot of running about.  Don’t fancy much about that either. No, my goal is going to be much more sensible, completely achievable, 100% realistic and utterly patch based (of course).  My new years resolution is this…. 

I resolve to see as many birds as I see in my patch in 2011.

There.  Thats going to take some doing.  How on earth will I manage to do that?  Well, all I can suggest is that if you are interested in how my amazing journey unfolds in 2011 then stay tuned.  I will see birds, and I don’t know how many, and some of them I will not even be able to name! But when I do see them, I will have seen them and they will go on my list of birds that meet the criteria of my new years resolution.  This is going to be unmissable folks!  Stay tuned!

[If you wish to syndicate the forthcoming groundbreaking and exciting ‘adventures of a patch birder’ for your periodical periodical, please contact the webmaster.]

the lister demon

This will more than likely be the last patch related post of the year and henceforthly perhaps the last blog action of the year.  There is a reasonable chance that I will take Mrs Thing to see the Snow Buntings at Salthouse in the next week and a bit so I might feel inclined to witter on about that.  As these buntings are continually fed seeds and stuff by generous photographers it’s not exactly exclusive and I might not bother.  Writing that is, not going.

It is not uncommon for a patch-birding-blogger to go in for a bit of retrospection at this time of year and summarise at ones leisure the highs and lows of the birding year and to let the blogosphere know how shite/brilliant ones patch is with much flowery verbiage to help fill out those long winter hours.  For me, taking into account the fact that the patch has only being going  properly for little over a month, it’s winter and also the small matter of being  heavily bunged up with cold and work means that I really, really,  can’t be arsed.  So I won’t.

But I will tell you this. 

There is a small issue going on the deeper recesses of my little brain which is causing me mild consternation.  A dilemma that keeps creeping up on me.  It’s about a list.  A new list.  Another list.  I’ve found that the lister demon has been sitting on my shoulder and whispering sweet nothings into my ear about how I could start another list up.  It’s just for fun he says, nobody need know – really.  But so far I have resisted.   Just. 

I am a lister (not as you might understand the character of Lister from Vic Reeves Big Night Out).  You may well be a lister too.  Most of my lists are not necessarily very big lists but they are my lists and I like them.  Some of you might remember, or have sagely chosen to forget, that in a previous incarnation I had a loo list, which was very small but I found it very amusing.  Recently, while washing my hands in a loo that I visit regularly, I  saw a Med Gull being harried by a Herring Gull.  It was then that the list-demon dropped onto my shoulder in an imaginary puff of anti-bacterial-barrier-cleanser smelling smoke or something.  And there he struck with his superb idea of creating a loo list.   I am now trying to resist the lure and temptation of compiling another loo list, as there are plenty of lists going already.  But Med Gull?  On a loo list? says the demon – impressive isn’t it?  It’s tempting to run that list just to have that on there isn’t it, he added.   Not forgetting Lapwing.  Or Kestrel. And another 4 species of gull.  And a Pied Wagtail… 

Damn you lister demon . 

You wouldn’t let it lie…

The Lister Demon