For years I have stared into the trees beyond my back gate. Not just staring for the sake of it, well not usually. Staring at trees, and staring at things that may be in trees or on trees or around trees or by trees. Normally this will produce the normal things that you would expect around the trees that are also normally there (It’s not like the trees are migratory or anything – a tree with zugunruhe, that would be psychological torture! If a tree could think of course). Anyway, once all the normal ticks had been put on the garden list it was obvious that there was one species missing. And it has been missing from the list for a long time, despite the years of staring. I’ve seen them around here before, on many occasions and some of those occasions were in the previous century and it always seemed that it would only be a matter of time before I saw one, but that time never came.
Until this morning when, during a period of staring, I saw one. Shuffling up a tree. Or perhaps more accurately, creeping. A Treecreeper. At long last, an inevitable garden tick.
Lists are updated, which is timely. Despite the patch year being only eight days old, I have yet to see a Med. This is a little embarrassing really. But I remember the days that I would yearn for a Med on my patch. These days I know that it inevitabubble, which is nice.
Have a picture of a suffolk gull.
a gull doing flying in the direction it didn't when the camera was in the case
All the lists on this weblog are up to date – feel free to click on them and then to stare at your computer with slack jawed disbelief at the quality on show. Or tut, knowing that the numbers should be higher. . I know that one of them is empty, but it is correct.
Yes, it’s that day that birders dread. Ask me what my year list is. Go on, ask me.
Well, right now the answer is nought. Nada, zero, nothing, zilch, diddly squat, naff all, nuttin’, naaaht!
This is not acceptable and can only be rectified by racing around the roads of north norfolk and shouting bird names out of the window of a vehicle to my trusty, if only for one day of the year, secretary in the form of the long suffering Mrs Thing. If you tune in later, after the dark after the light after this dark, I may have a number for you. I may even compare that number to the number from last year. Don’t get too excited though, they are generally not very big numbers. And this year, I may even have seen a dead sperm whale which appears on none of my lists ever.
For your information, this is one of those auto-timed postings that I prepared in April last year for a laugh. I am not really blogging drivel as the new year comes in. The reality of the situation at 12:01 on new years day is that I am either stupified by booze watching fireworks, or in bed. Asleep.
Either way, my year list is rather poor right now.
No, not the Van Halen album, and actually not statistically accurate as quite the opposite was in effect yesterday as it was Divers Up! Which isn’t the title of an album by Van Halen.
Basically yesterday was full patch divering. The facts are this. Early morning – Great Northern Diver on the sea. Lunchtime – 106 Red-throated Divers flying north. 106. Yes, that does read one hundred and six. I know this because I used my county thing (scroll down to a previous post if you missed this monumental purchasing event). I didn’t start using my county thing because I didn’t expect to see 106 of them. I started on one hand and by the time my proverbial boots were off, I decided to use the counter and then they came and came and came. Ones, twos, half a dozen, a dozen etc etc. Bloody brilliant it was. Abso-bloody-lutely brilliant. There was a few Guillemots buzzing past too, and just before my time was up a Razorbill landed on the sea. And that is a patch tick. Absolute top notchness for a whole hour.
The keen eyed Norfolk birder may well have ignored the previous paragraph once they saw the words ‘Great Northern’ and will be looking for masses of information on the ID and some will wonder why oh why oh why it wasn’t on Birdalertpagerguides? But then again, they probably stopped reading this drivel months ago. All the same, I’ll probably get accused of being a suppressionist for not shaating about the siting the moment I confirmed the ID, but there you go. I did have to go to my place of employ immediately and it wasn’t there later in the day so that’s about the size of it.
Here is a shit photo record shot…
a diver doing great
And here is another, which looks a bit less like a Guillemot…
a diver doing northern
Before I left site I also had cracking views of a Black Redstart. Patch birding, eh?
As in the Fry and Laurie sketch. It’s in the pronunciation. Dourty. Which I may be soon. Dirty. Dirty filthy. Dirty filthy twitchering that is. Now then, dorn’t be dourty!
That little peep thingie at Cley. A Western Sandpiper. Seems to be there all the time doesn’t it? Regular as clockwork isn’t it? As I understand it, one can turn up in the early morning, sit in a particular hide, clock the bird and be at the visitor centre for 10am to hand over a few quid for the use of the hide, browse the bookshop bit, laugh at the sculpture, sup a coffee, pick up a copy of Tern, rub your thighs in Cley Spy and still be back home for lunch. Piece of wee-wee eh?
Well so long as it hangs on for another week, I might go and see it.
I might not. I mean, I wouldn’t want to get all dourty now, would I?
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?
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…
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!
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.
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…