I stepped into the garden this morning expecting mist. A mallard flew over. Bloody hell, a duck over my garden I thought. Before I had a chance to digest this, 5 Greylag Geese flew over. Double garden tick!
I have not seen the bird represented in this picture in my garden.
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 birdwith 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.
Daddy has taken you for a walk on the beach hasn’t he! Lots to smell and dig and wee on isn’t there! Little doggy is having a great time isn’t he! No lead out here is there doggy? You can run in the dunes and splash in the sea and dig in the sand and chase the gulls and bark and bark and nobody say shutupdog! No they don’t!
What’s that doggy? You need to do a doggy-doo? Well feel free, just go wherever you want to! It doesn’t matter, you can just do what you did yesterday and just do a doggy-doo in the dunes. And the same as you did the day before yesterday, and the day before that. And then you can carry on smelling and running and wee-ing! In fact just go ahead and add another to the hundreds of little lumps of doggy-doo that Daddy has let you do on the beach in the last year. It’s ok, he is a proper Daddy and will clean up after you and dispose of your shit responsibly won’t he! Won’t he?
Of course not. Because you haven’t done it in the street little doggy, and because nobody can see you do it, he can just leave it where it pops out of your stinky doggy arse and move on! Yes he can. And so can most of the other doggy Daddies and Mummies on the beach! It’s easy! No plastic bags to worry about! No carrying stinky canine shits around with you! Just leave it on the beach or in the dunes several hundred times a year! Do the mathematics little doggy. Ten dogs a day (a conservative underestimation) 300 or so days a year and you have thousands of lumps of dog shit spread around the beach. I don’t blame you little doggy – just your stupid lazy ignorant self-centred bastard of a daddy. Thankyou so much dog owners, this end of town looks like shit, and thanks to you it regularly smells of shit. You shits.
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.
Pun-tastic! Because, right, it’s an oak bush cricket and I live in the city and this is at the limits of what your humour can endure? Anyway it was found in the bathroom and released into the wild where it posed for the camera. Another stunning bug i-d in the bag. Evidently this is a male because it hasn’t got an ovipositor but does have long and curved cerci. No really. So there is another first, not only have I identified a bug but I have sexed it too.
(Look, I know this is supposed to be a bird blog, but it is August ok? This was going to be a post about seeing Swifts this morning over the garden and it kind of morphed into something else. Ho hum.)
[This sounds like a great idea for a game show doesn’t it?]
How fast does a Pied Wagtail fly?
I took this measurement scientifically yesterday whilst following one in a motorised vehicle. Now you know!
You see this moth here? I don’t know what it is called and nor does it seem to appear in my ever frustrating bug book. If you leave a withering comment telling me how easy an ID it is and what a moth-simpleton I am, you will leave comment #100 on this blog. You will win nothing for this. Nor will it be mentioned again, but you will know and you will take a certain small pleasure from it.
I predicted Skua. If the magic realist patch situation had reared its head again that is what I would be reporting. It didn’t raise its head, but sort of raised a lazy eyebrow. Like an amateur Roger Moore or something, so I got a patch tick, but it was a Hobby rather than a Skua, which was nice considering I was trying to seawatch at the time.
So there am I yesterday, wittering on about how Kittiwakes are like buses and then I go back into the patch again today (cos that is what it is about, this patch watching) and lo and behold I get another patch tick! Which is immensely satisfying Dear Reader. And then I chuckle to myself about running with the patch tick and bus analogy a bit further for my own amusement and your enduring tedium no doubt. In another universe, it seems that a blogger who may be known to some of you has made much the same observation in a very similar situation.
There you have it, not only are bird blogs very similar (another topic of ‘discussion’) but the same amusing analogies are independently used to illustrate a similar point. I’m fairly sure that this is illustrative of very little, but noted nonetheless.
Anyway, the Hobby was chasing a Swift and it was abso-bloody-lutely first class. You may be hoping for a photo, but from the moment I had it in the bins (close in and being shadowed by a couple of gulls while soaring) until it became a spec in the distance of the optics I couldn’t take my eyes off it for a second. In between this, it had changed from soaring to flat-out in an instant as it chased the almost unchaseable. Tells you something about the quality of the spectacle I expect.
Kittiwakes are. You never thought that before did you? Well I can assure you that round here it seems that they are. After a tip-off from a local birder that a juvenile Kittiwake had been seen flying past, I parked my derrier on the beach this morning for little ol’ seawatch.
Started off with a Guillemot feeding quite close in followed by a quintet of Common Scoter flying past – winter ticks (not year ticks, but the first since before we pretended it was summer). Then, would you adamandeve it, a bloody juvenile Kittiwake flew past! And then a couple of minutes later, another juvenile Kittiwake flew past! Buses you see. Not having seen them in the patch before, this makes it a patch tick. But then, another two flew into view! I was, by this point, talking out loud and saying rude words about buses.
And then I remembered that pointy clicky thingy, and took what we would call a record shot. Patch tick in the bag. Skuas next then…
This one isn’t too taxing (geddit?), and so far is one of the plants that I am reasonably confident in the ID – Sea Campion Silene uniflora.
campion doing ‘aren’t you awful’
The pan species list now exceeds 100 species, which is a milestone of sorts but there remains plenty still to ID still of all kinds of stuff. The other day I spent some time watching some Ichneumon suspiciosus – no really.
That, Dear Reader, is a Red Soldier Beetle Rhagonycha fulva. I am more certain of this identification than I am of any chafer of any kind. But how much attention did you pay to the picture? Other than the ‘yellow flowered plant that looks like many other yellow plants that I haven’t worked out how to identify yet’ did you see another patch tick? Oh, yes – they are coming so thick and fast that I cannot keep up the documentary evidence (don’t worry, it’ll give me something to do in winter). Behold…
caterpillar doing warning
That is the caterpillar of the Cinnabar Moth Tyria jacobaeae. A question raises it’s head. Is it legitimate to tick a caterpillar for a moth that you haven’t seen (albeit only in the patch). Isn’t that a bit like ticking a bird’s egg?