Get up, in the dark, put bird food out, go to work. Watch gulls at lunchtime. Come home, in the dark, bird food gone. Repeat five times a week until March. On a Saturday though, I can actually get to see the birds that have snuffled those parts of the fatty feast that the bastard squirrels haven’t got to. Tits and sparrows in the main and this week a Great Spot has put in a violent appearance. Blackbirds too. The zeitgeist would have you believe that we are swamped with continental Blackbirds, egged on by Springautumnwatch if I remember correctly. This is what you might see.
It is a first winter male and was probably raised in them there woods. It is not anything more exotic than that.
There seems to be a tendency to try and squeak out rare morphs or races out of common birds (and I may have made this point before) and I think that this particular one is going to be more commonly claimed but generally it can only be definitively identified in the hand so I’m told. So anyone that is claiming one in the field should be looked at with suspicion. I know that this is not a finnish bird because I scoped it and saw the brown on the wings. Yes, I trained a telescope on a Blackbird in the garden for fun. When was the last time you did that?
That Flight Identification of European Seabirds. It’s a bit pricey isn’t it? I mean, it’s nearly twice the price of a keenly priced Collins and it seems to be lacking. Stick some maps in and give me better pictures in the second edition please because I’ll probably buy it anyway.
I recently finished Birdwatchingwatching by Alex Horne. At one point it did make me laugh audibly*. However, I think he told a lie. He claimed to have seen Birding World in WH Smith. And I thought it was prescription only.**
The ever annoying wordpress changes have told me that the previous post was number 175. Also, the hit count has just gone over 15,000. Which means my total bloggage hit ever is somewhere around 55,000. Dedication, idiocy, boredom or nihilism. You decide!
Recently, the patch birding has been dominated by seawatching (which I am still carrying out in inappropriate windage) but it has been enjoyable. There, I said it. I enjoy seawatching. It’s not because I see loads of cracking birds when I do it, because I don’t. It’s a more philosophical thing. If I had more wine inside me I may have felt compelled to qualify this, but I haven’t.
But there are birds. This week has been spent watching Kittiwakes amongst the other gulls. Due to their wheeling tendency there have been between three and thirty in each session. I suspect the former due to the normal lack of birds that I see at sea, but the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Mainly adult birds, and lovely and elegant and delicate but robust at the same time. They really are a treat to watch in a strong wind.
Yesterday, I watched a Peregrine come in off the sea carrying prey. Due to the colour (blackish) and the length of the legs (longish) I instantly thought Moorhen. Which would be a patch tick. I have ticked flat fish in the gob of a Cormorant and Sand Eels in the ‘marf’ of a Common Tern, but they were twitching. The boid that the Peregrine had was properly dead, and not tickable (patch rule 14 – Thou shalt not ticketh the dead aviform).
That stupid bloody snow that wordpress automatically turn on each year. Did I ask for snow on my blog? Of course I didn’t. Did I ask for lots of interesting birds to write about? Of course I did. Still, you can’t have everything I guess.
a gull doing reasonably normal
Mrs Thing likes Herring Gulls, so I take photos of them. Can’t blame her when they look like this…
I recently finished a book called ‘Feathers’ by an Amurkn. I highly recommend it. I now know what snarge is. If you don’t know what it is, you can find out by reading the book. You will find out other things too. You will also find out that rather than being rather shabby looking and seemingly not suited to the environment that they live in (what with all that wing drying and everything), Cormorants are actually very advanced feather wise, and clever about it too. If feathers can be clever if you see what I mean. Either way, there is my half-arsed review of the book in very few words (did I mention that it has a nice cover?).
This fresh perspective on the relative merits of the Cormorant still doesn’t stop the internal monologue prefixing their identification with an ‘oh it’s a’. They keep flying around doing impressions of birds that I generally don’t see before morphing back into a Cormorant. And they do that an awful lot. Still, serves me right for seawatching on the east coast in a westerly breeze. I did have a Peregrine performing some low level thuggery though, which was by far the most interesting thing I saw today.
Nice year tick today with a Grey Wagtail, only my second in this patch. Lovely little bird that I don’t see enough of lately. Fair few Pied, but as handsome as they are I do prefer their Grey cousin.
Lately the birding has been dominated by seawatching. This has generally been dominated by Great Black-backed Gulls interspersed with very occasional little black things steaming past that I cannot identify. Largely due to the distance rather than my inability to identify little black things that steam past, which is in itself quite vast. This is quite typical of my seawatching experience and I love it.
Let’s have a picture of one of them there gulls eh?
great black backed doing 2nd winter, or possibly not
What a beast! Just look at the hook on it! Look at that mantle! Yummy!
I saw a Wheatear in the patch yesterday. As I did the day before. Crikey, thought I, that’s quite late. To see if this was actually a late date, I looked up some information in a book, called a ‘report’ which pertained to 2009.
This indicated that mid-December is late, and the Wheatear(s) that I saw are quite ordinary in their non-lateness.
I also saw a Black Redstart, which is the first time I’ve seen them since they did the thing that I cannot talk about, but more unusually a male Blackbird. Niiiice!!
These patch ticks are coming thick and fast. Relatively. Warm on the heels of the Hen Harrier and Gadwall comes today’s little cracker in the shape of Dabchick on the sea. Yes, I said Dabchick. Not a Litte Grebe, no. When I were a lad it was a Podiceps, and a Dabchick and I’m happy for it to stay that way. Here is the obligatory stunning image.
dabchick doing refusenik
Later in the day, Redwings were heard overhead which is also a patch tick. I would produce a picture of Redwings flying overhead at night, represented by a black rectangle but I did that gag months ago.
I really should update the patch list page at some point this year.
Today, whilst on a pretty mediocre seawatch (Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover – no ducks, no geese – ok, obviously less than mediocre) I witnessed Herring Gulls picking up and fighting over what looked very much like a gherkin. Floating in the sea. A whole gherkin. That is, dear reader, is an ‘observation’.
Tune in next time when there may be more of these ‘observations’.
I have a jar. No ordinary jar is this jar. It is the bug jar. I use it to catch and mis-identify bugs and moths and butterflies and things like that. It is also used to catch bugs and moths and butterflies and things that are in the house and are not welcome. Spiders generally. And anything else that Mrs Thing takes exception to. Now there was a moth in the house the other day that had really big feathery antennae. I took a photo, which was rubbish. I thought that I would leave it where it was until the light improved, get out the jar and take better photo of it. With an extreme close up of the feathery antennae. However, Mrs Thing wanted it ousted (the house would be full of ‘creatures’ if this didn’t happen regularly by the way) and I put it in the jar. However, I had forgotten that there was a spider in the jar. It had been there for a few days (awaiting its close up) and had done some webmaking in the jar. Understandably, when the moth went in the jar and was confronted by a hungry spider and lots of webbing it went spastic. So I let it go.
Here is a rubbish version of a picture that I didn’t take of a moth with feathery antennae – it is, I believe a male Feathered Thorn Colotois pennaria although it would have been better if it was the Canary-shouldered Thorn, but it isn’t.
a thorn doing feathers
Cracking eh? Just imagine how good the better photo would have been…