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



For some strange reason, when I typed that word (beetle) I had a mental image of Michael Howard saying it.  Like he said ‘people’ – peepooool.  Beetooool.

a beetle doing diagnositic id feature


I’ll name it later.  Probably

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.


Although you might think that an insult, just imagine that it was your actual name!

Behold the Long-winged Conehead Conocephalus discolor.


a conehead doing not a cricket



That’ll be a patch tick and everything like that.  And I identified it all by myself for a change.  My bug book is not completely useless after all…

That patch pan listing thing hasn’t gone away by the way.  There’s no rush…

bus analogies are like buses

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.

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

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

no surprises

Patch list and year list updated.  As the title says, no surprises within.

Although the Chaffinch was nearly missed.  You know what it is like at the beginning of the birders year, well for those that like to keep a year list anyway.  All the common birds have to be firmly identified, and ticked with all the excitement of the years first Wheatear.  Blue Tits, Wrens, Blackbirds all put in the book with a satisfied tick.  Then as the year goes by, they are relegated to the ‘oh, it’s only an X’ box and largely overlooked.  This kind of attitude nearly cost me a patch tick last week.  I arrived in the patch and the House Sparrows where chipping about the bush that they regularly haunt and just above them a male Chaffinch was frantically pinking away.  Oh, it’s a Chaffinch thought I.  I haven’t seen one of those since I ws in the garden this morning .  And I continued to scan the area for Siberian Rubythroats.  The Chaffinch persisted.  ‘That is a very persistent Chaffinch’ I thought, while the bird continued to pink.  And then the penny dropped.  A quick mental recap on what I have seen in the patch, and blow me down if it wasn’t a patch tick.  Easily overlooked, but pretty uncommon for the patch.  Thery’are, as they say round here.

another patch tick!

Hard to get, but it still counts – I was walking along the road this morning and I could hear a Wren singing it’s little troglodyean heart out.  Lovely. 

No migrants yet.  Which is mildly annoying.

Nor is there a picture of a Wren that I have to offer you.  They’re like, so fast and everything.  And like, small?

Weather was been a bit rough yesterday mind you…

beach doing rough


sea doing rough

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.

bird on a wire

Quite liderally!

This morning brought another patch tick, perhaps even a patch mega in the shape of a Dunnock.  Some unfortunate male has wandered into the patch thinking it was looking good for breeding purposes and started singing.  Fine by me, I’m quite a fan of the Dunnock’s scratchy little song.

Lunchtime brought two Kestrels, no Cormorants some Starlings and some Linnets.  And gulls, obviously.

Here is a picture of a Kestrel.

kestrel doing perchin' an' a huntin'


Here is another picture of a Kestrel.

kestrel doing a flyin' an' a leavin'

The stuff in the front of the picture (which I believe is called the foreground in tech-speak) is marram grass.  I had to use my incredible field craft to creep up the beach after getting the correct light for the picture (pointlessly you might think) and hiding amongst the foilage so that the native wildlife was not disturbed.  In truth the bird had probably been watching me approach for 15 minutes or so, but thats the story behind the picture…

…and here is an even more rubbish picture of some Linnets.

On a wire.

Linnets doing perchin' too


I see them everyday, and no matter how hard I look they all resolutely refuse to look like Twite.

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

rauk and roll!

Geddit?  I saw an Auk – a patch tick!  Rock Rauk and roll!



Oh well, found my first patch Auk in the shape of a Guillemot splashing about in a fairly flat sea this morning.  I am pleased.

A rubbish picture may follow.