a butterfly

Small copper I think you’ll find.  Been seeing a few, but this is the first one that sat still enough to get a shot of.

a butterfly doing tatty

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.

like buses

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…

 

a bus doing patch tick

another beetle

Way.

Bet you can’t much more of this, eh?

This one is straightforward though.

beetle doing identifiied

 

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?

mild chafing

My other option for this blogpost title would have been “ay-up cock” or any equivalent.  But as you can see I have chosen the above.  If for no other reason than to paraphrase the following intercourse.

“Oh, Vic – I’ve fallen”

“Oh, no – are you alright?”

“I think so, just some mild chafing”

Your internal monologue may be working around a phrase resembling “what on God’s earth is the man going on about now?”

Fair enough I say – best you have a look at this picture of a bug what I saw in the patch yesterday.

a cock doing chafing

It is, according to my best estimate a Cockchafer Melolontha melolontha.  And according to my (unreliable) bug book it should have stopped flying around a couple of weeks ago.

Nevertheless, fly it does.  A bit.

Another tick on the pathetically small panpatchtickon.

panpatchtickon

There has been talk, or perhaps type, on various internet fora lately regarding the phenomenon known as pan-listing.  For those of you are unfamiliar with this term it is not a listing of pans (whether this is for cooking or otherwise) but another use of the word – pan-listing is the listing of every living thing that you have seen.  Absolutely everything.  Without exception.  What an idiotic admirable task you might think.  Listing everything that you have ever seen (within a Natural History framework of course) in a little book or on some check-sheets or whatever.  Simple eh?  Well the chap that has the most pan-ticks in the UK is at a little over 10,000.  Does that sound a lot to you?  It does to me, especially after I thought I’d put some stuff together to see where I was up to, and once I totted up my list I realised that I have seen bugger all.  Honestly, absolutely bugger all.  I thought that I’d seen a few things –  I like to try and identify the odd insect, or an interesting plant, the odd sea gooseberry here and there so my thinking was that there would be a fair few ticks on my list, but how wrong I was.  Even less than bugger all.

However, not being unfazed so easily I gave the matter some thought and wondered if it would be a practical thing to do.  The theory sounded easy at first; just go around identifying everything and then writing it down in a book.   Easy.  With a little bit of thought it occurred to me exactly what everything actually meant and with a little bit of investigation the numbers started to come in and the size of the task began to dawn on me.  Everything.  Flowers, reptiles, plants, molluscs, trees, birds, mammals, moths, butterflies, flies, beetles, arachnids, crustaceans, fungi, lichen, moss,  etc etc.  Want some numbers?  14,000 + fungi in the UK.  600 + birds, hundreds of spiders, thousands of insects, 2500 moths, and the list goes on.  There are literally tens of thousands of ‘stuff’ to identify, all of which I haven’t got a clue where to start (other than flicking through a book of bugs – got, got, need, got, swap etc).  And to put a specific name to some of them you need to get them under a microscope and piss about with their genitals before you can be sure.  No, really.  The question then raises its head – can I really be bothered with all that?  Joan Collins reportedly said that life is too short to stuff mushrooms.  Well I have come to the conclusion that my life is too short to be dissecting the genitalia of Lepidoptera.  And that is the end of it.  No pan-listing for me. No way.

 But hang on a one Gossypium-picking minute.  Without doubt the journey would be interesting, but the road is like too long and wide, yah?  So what if the pan-listing thing was downsized a bit?  Would it be more sensible then?  Limit it to just Norfolk perhaps?  Still daft, Norfolk is bloody big and there is loads and loads of stuff in it, still a stupidly stupid endeavour.  No Norfolk pan-listing for me.  No way.

But.  Isn’t there always a but?  But, perhaps downsize it a bit more??  What if I put two and two together.  Go for a spot of pan-listing, but limit it to the patch!?!?!  Ooooh – identify and list every single species that can be found in the patch!  Even then it really is a stupid thing to do.  Have you any idea how many different types of grass there are?  Nah, not doing it.  I’ll stick to the birds.  That is plenty.  Small, insignificant, but plenty for me.

Not that easy now though is it?  It’s out of the bag now.  The creation of a bird list brings out the Lister Demon and his evil temptations, but pan-listing brings out the demon, all his little helpers, the demon’s boss and most of the rest of the hordes from listing-demon-central.  The temptation is difficult to resist.  The whole idea has the potential to be a stupid tempt filled crusade.  In fact I would go as far as to say that it is verging on lunacy.  Stupidity.  Folly.  Trying to identify everything in a patch when you don’t know the first thing about botany or zoology, and not much about birds.  Truly, truly stupid.

Bollocks.  I’m in.  Lets get listing!

In the spirit of the insane new quest, here is a picture of a grasshopper (which I have yet to identify).

a grasshopper doing knee high to what?

Not just a picture of a grasshopper anymore is it?  No, it is sitting on some lichen! AAAaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

tick and a bug

Patch tickeroo today, but hardly the most exciting.  While the twitcherati are going mad for a brown job with bits of white on it in Cleveland I am making do with a dozen Canada Geese flying over.

What I need to do is actually spend a bit of time in the patch, and see some more birds.

In the meantime, here is an incredible picture of another Damselfly from my garden.  I think it might be the female version of the one that I had before (Large Red), although I am happy to be corrected.  Either way, nothing exciting outside of the garden but massively important within it.

damselfly doing female

patch stuff and nonsense

It’s beginning to pick up a bit.  But the birds are very much of the winter variety, and the longed for migrants have yet to show their face.  Yesterday produced a pair of Teal on the beach, while today produced a couple of Oystercatchers and three Sanderling, which you can see from this image still have their winter coats on.

sanderlings not doing spring

Having studied the prevailing pressure charts for the next few days, I can now firmly state that the first summer migrant will arrive on my patch on Thursday and it will be a Sand Martin.  Or a Wheatear.  Or an Osprey.  Or another species.  But it will be on Friday, that much is sure.

In anticipation of this momentous event, I have produced a new page for your perusal dear reader.  It is the patch list for 2010. 

I can feel the excitement oozing through the screen.  Oh yes I can.

and it was called yellow

And here is the stunning photograph of the incredibly reasonably rare uncommon bird.  A small caveat on the quality of the image, or more properly the lack of quality therein.  There are two gulls in the picture, the gull in the background is a Herring Gull.  The foreground, the YLG. And it is asleep.  The photographic process has darkened the mantle somewhat, and no you cannot see the legs but thought against pissing about with the image. 

yellow legged gull doing sleeping

However,  before it started sleeping, I did see it’s legs and they are yellow.  So is it a dead pale LBB you ask?  I reckon no.  I’ve had a fair bit of recent experience with the ol’ YLG and have a fair handle on the mantle colour that I should be looking for and this one was good enough to stop me sharply when driving past.  I reckon it’s a good ‘un. 

And that bit about trying to connect with it later?  Folly.  I forget that my patch is mainly a beach, by a port, with a river, many chip-n-bap-vans and several hundred gulls knocking about a hugely large area.  The chances of me connecting with that bird at lunchtime were about the same as casually walking up to a Hoopoe when I fancy it.  Eejit.

year tick

Lunchtime brought a female Blackbird on to the patch year list.  Yes, nearly two months in and that is my first thrush. Not at all common round here don’t you know.  Remember that in all the time I’ve spent on this patch, I can count my Robins on one hand, and have yet to see a Dunnock or a Wren.  Which still feels a bit strange.

Anyhow, with the migration season about to begin in earnest I’m expecting the passerine count to rise considerably but wouldn’t be surprised if the rarer species out number the common, but we’ll see.  Either way, I’m not getting my hopes up on the Wren.

rock on!

Literally! No really – literally in the correct sense of the word, a Rock Pipit on the patch! 

Today, and not long ago either.  Rubbish pictures may follow if they turn out to show any more detail than a light brown bird shaped blob.  Might even try and find it again later – hurrah!

Top drawer patch tickery!  Rock on!

how long is not long?

How long does a Great Crested Grebe wait between dives?

It’s an interesting question perhaps.  Although I haven’t actually timed it with a chronograph I can tell you from my own bitter experience that the time taken between dives is almost exactly the same amount of time that it takes a weatherbeaten birder to see a bird pop up from under the water, focus optics on said bird, present pre-set camera to optics and take picture of latest patch tick and then note that bird has resumed it’s underwater foray and there is nothing ornithological to take a picture of as it is swimming away in a random direction at up to 14 metres a second under the water. 

Or almost as long as it takes to read that sentence.

 The fact remains that there was Great Crested Grebe on the sea at the tail end of the week.  A wholly expected patch tick, and thankfully taken and will be added to the list page shortly.  Strangely, I had seen this species here previously, but it was before I had decided that it was my patch, and therefore had not begun the patch list so it wasn’t on the patch list.  No, I can’t see the sense in it either.

As for the last week in the patch, it has been much the same and reasonably tedious.  I have to remind myself that the tedium does involve Med Gulls, Peregrines and Snow Buntings, so it isn’t all bad.

Now, I would have loaded up a picture of the above detailed failure, but a picture of a splash over a grey sea would be quite dull. 

Here are some gulls instead.

gulls doing semi-obligatory post photo

patch tickery

As not promised, but nonetheless materialised.

a guillemot doing flapping

 

The other patch tick that came about this week was when the sea was quite flat earlier in the week and two Mute Swans went floating by.  On the sea.  Not usual.  The local Snow Buntings are now up to 40 (counted on the ground, not guessed) and there was a Peregrine knocking about at lunchtime yesterday too. There had been very little patch action of late, hopefully this is not a blip until spring as it is has recently been inhabiting the tedious end of the patch birding spectrum.

Patch list update, and now over fifty.  No longer described as pitiful.  Halfway to the ton.

Consider this a patch update.

pink patch tick!

And this time it lives!

Firstly, the preamble.  Before I get to the headlines I get to ramble on a bit about birds and stuff.  It’s how this works.  You should be used to it by now.

The Acle Straight is a regular feature of my life.  In fact, it is a part of my ‘commute’.  If you don’t know Norfolk, this will mean nothing to you but I am sure that a visit to an online map provider may elucidate why it is named thus.  If you know Norfolk, you will know what I am taking about.  If you live in Norfolk you may know that this is a double edged sword.  The traffic can be a ball-ache, but the scenery can be seriously pretty.  Sunrise in the middle of winter is pretty good.  My ‘commute’, as it is difficult to call it that these days, can run up the Acle Straight if I choose and it is currently the middle of winter.  It can look like this…

Geese doing straight

Those dots at the top of the (dodgy) picture are Pink-footed Geese. Neat, huh?  This morning there was a lot of them.  Several skeins of geese flying across the road as the sun came up.  Several hundreds of geese flying  in the sky when the sun came up all pinkey and purpley and orangey and bluey and lots of other coloureys.  This is part of the reason why it is difficult to use the word ‘commute’ which has connotations in my head of stress, congestion, fumes, buildings and shaaatin’.

Anyhow, while I was in the patch this evening doing ‘work’ I happened to be outside and happened to hear a familiar sound in the sky.  You’ve probably guessed what it was – Pink-feet!  All over the show – patchtastic!  Ticktastic! Bang-a-gong daddy-o!

I got out the camera and snapped away – but the results were not great.  I believe that it’s referred to as a record shot.

geese doing night flying

It was a bit dark.