Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Monday, 31 March 2008

From the garden trap - 30/03/2008

Put both garden traps out last night, fairly calm and still but clear and cold. No rain but residual damp in the garden from Saturday's downpour. I also decided for no particular reason to photograph the trap lights (no flash photography, just using the in-built 'twilight' camera mode).

The 80W actinic (double 40W U-tubes) gives off a fairly typical blue-white glow that makes your white trainer laces glow disco-style. This is very bright for an actinic, but doesn't actually light up much of an area visibly (although clearly fairly good UV output).

80W actinic

The 125W MV on the other hand, gives off a very bright white visible light that does act like a floodlight whilst still having a high UV content. I have to block off the direct light from shining on ours and our neighbours house using an old garden table top.

125W MV


Floodlit garden - notice my shed needs re-treating :-(

Both traps are the Adrian Russell patented home-made design using a clear plastic 'Really Useful' box with a cut-off medical funnel and a perspex bulb housing with vane assembly. The box has half egg trays arranged in a meticulously and anally-retentive fashion.

Anyway, enough nonsense - here's the catch:

Total catch 18 of 7sp
(80W Actinic 11 of 6sp, 125W MV 7 of 4sp)
Diurnea fagella
1
Agonopterix heracliana 2
Emmelina monodactyla 2
Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) 1
Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 1
Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 4
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 7


Very drab indeed

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Welsh Blackcock

With apologies to anyone who has inadvertently stumbled on this posting whilst looking for information on Shirley Bassey's dad, Colin Charvis or specialist 'Cymru porno'. Another long overdue birding first for me yesterday, when John picked me up at stupid o'clock (02:30) to drive us over to Wales. I've been birding with John many times since February 1996, but this was the first time he'd driven with me as passenger. Naturally I celebrated by nodding off at various points during the journey. We were headed to the Coed Llandegla Forest for a pre-booked RSPB guided walk to a Black Grouse lek. John had originally planned to go with his wife, Leigh, but she'd quite sensibly spurned the offer in favour of sleeping in a comfy bed. Seeing as I'd last seen lekking Black Grouse in 1997, and the RSPB blurb had built this up as being the ulimate lek-watch, I was keen to go. We arrived at 04:45, after taking various ffecking llengthy diversions through places less pronounceable than if driving through Holland. We got kitted up for an uphill slog through coniferous Tilhill plantations and onto the viewpoint overlooking moorland. We were also overloaded with photographic and video kit in anticipation of good close views of the lekking blackcocks. Once in the hide, it was immediately clear that the expected frame-filling views was a pipe-dream - the lek was so far off that the birds were barely visible with the naked eye and we were not even getting scope filling views. DSLR shots were impossible and even digiscoping was a waste of time. I did get some distant video footage of flying birds but that will have to wait until I can transfer to PC and upload. We watched the cocks (6+) for a good while, and a couple of greyhens were also seen. Despite the less than promising forecast for later in the day the early morning sunshine was superb. Of the walk leaders, one of the volunteers was fucking annoying due to his repeated outpourings of orgasmic exclamation every time a bird was in view of one of the cameras beaming images to his laptop. The RSPB had also installed microphones to beam back the bubbling, burping and farting which was good to hear albeit too loud. Something like this but much louder: Overall I felt it was a slightly disappointing venture. The RPSB could do a better job of deterring visits to other leks if this one was setup with better viewing facilities (the hide was plain shitty) and closer views. I'm sure a decent sized hide 100m from the lek, with the approach in darkness and no leaving until 2hrs after sun-up would not affect the lekking birds. If you haven't seen a lek before then this is a good walk to book, but otherwise you are better off going it alone at other well known leks - just don't be a fucking moron by disturbing the birds. The walk back was enlivened by 20 or so good close Crossbills, including a couple of nice males and several smart stripey juveniles. Also loads of Siskin and a few Redpoll including pinky breasted males mixed in with Goldfinches and Chaffinches. I was always stalking the wrong birds though and only managed a few dodgy shots that aren't worth posting - see John's blog for photos of this trip whilst I photoshop mine to death. Also worth noting that the motley crew of RSPB members and volunteers included a couple of dodgy looking characters that are members of the crowd formally known to many as The Eyebrook Wankers. On returning to the visitors centre (the OnePlanet Adventure cafe and bike shop) we duly enjoyed decent sized and very tasty breakfast baps - bacon&egg and sausage for me with a mug of tea. Grand. We left the forest just as the throngs of mountain biking enthusiasts were preparing their erosive assault on the pathways and moorland - just the right time to leave as I doubt there'd be any enjoyable walking or birding to be done with all those two-wheeled wankers about. I guess it's just as well that they have centres and places like this to limit the potential damage, but we saw other bikers during the morning on open moorland and plenty of evidence of churned up pathways. They're just as bad as quad-bikers and green-laners for damaging habitat. We next had a look around the moorland at World's End - as it turned out we were effectively looking at the same moorland but from the other side. We could even see the poxy RSPB hide from one point. Here we eventually found a group of feeding Black Grouse (8+ males) and managed to get a lot closer then at the lekking site, but by now the wind was getting up and the weather was turning so digiscoping was still useless. We also saw a single distant flying Red Grouse, but the moorland looked in pretty poor condition for this species with loads of bracken, old woody heather growth and very little bilberry. Peregrine, Buzzard and Ravens were also seen, along with a fair few Stonechats, but we were probably too early in the spring for Ring Ouzel and Wheatear and definitely too early for Whinchat. Another month and this could be a great birding day out. A small coniferous copse held more Crossbills and Siskins, but now the rain was starting so we decided to head home. On the way, we stopped at Park Hill CP just outside of Stoke on Trent (translates to shit-hole). The park holds regular wintering Long-eared Owls in a pine wood. After half an hour of neck-breaking searching of the tree-tops, John thought he'd picked one up but had then completely lost his bearings as the canopy was an ever-moving target in the increasing wind. Just as I was starting to loudly think 'stringy bastard', a local dog-walker with a fucking huge donkey-sized Rottweiler (though it was going to chew my bollocks off) knew of the birds and pointed us to the 'regular' tree where we soon picked up the lone bird that John had seen previously. Very strange to see a Long-eared Owl so high up, and oddly it was initially sitting on a branch away from the trunk so was being blown senseless before it then moved to the trunk-side. I've only ever seen LEOs before lower down in scrubby hawthorn or similar. Three girls then turned up with bins looking for the owl - another unfamiliar birding site! We then moved on to nearby horse-paddocks to unsuccessfully look for a pager reported Lapland Bunting. This turned out to be a mistake as we then got completely drenched and chilled as the rain and wind really picked up once we'd walked a few hundred metres from the car. Time to call it quits and head home.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Tooth fairy offering

Any parents out there will be familiar with the range of feelings that hit when your child is hurt. The initial overriding sense of concern whilst comforting said child gradually eases, only to be replaced by an irrational sense of guilt that maybe you could have prevented the accident. This is far worse for a father, as there is the additional burdon of having to explain to the mother why you let it happen (because by then it clearly was your fault entirely). I should know, having successfully overseen and dismissed Isabelle's broken arm when she was six!
And so to today; I'd taken Josh and Alex to the local indoor play area on the Meridian estate. This should have been straight-forward, despite the cacophony of c150 kids running, shouting and doing whilst my post Leffe Blonde, bottle of Rioja and double Macallan hangover kicked in. With only around 15 minutes to go, I am confronted by Alex bawling his little eyes out and bleeding profusely from the mouth. Great. A quick check confirmed that he had indeed managed to ruin his cheeky smile by dislodging one of his teeth away from his otherwise healthy gums. Seems he caught it on the side netting whilst falling and effectively tugged it out from its gummy home. It looked bloody painful as well. He soon recovered though and managed to pose with his broken tooth at a jaunty angle when we got home.

Toofless

A visit to the dentist a couple of hours later (at least it was the same day) relieved him of this tooth and confirmed that there should be no problem for his forming big teeth. He's fine now, albeit looking like a Shane McGowan wannabe.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

This week, I have mostly been listening to ...

A fairly general mix of guitar-based rock and indie pop/rock type stuff from across the years. I'm sure there are more definitive genre classifications for most of this stuff, but quite frankly I don't give a flying F. The contributors to this particular i-Pod upload included: Keane, Kasabian, Kula Shaker, Killers (all the K's then) Therapy?, Skunk Anansie, Arctic Monkeys, Feeder, The Fratellis, The Futureheads, REM, Nirvana, Linkin Park, Jesus and Mary Chain, Carter USM, Jesus Jones, and quite a few others that I can't be arsed to remember. Some good stuff though, but I think I need another electronic blast at the next upload.

Swithland revisited & dipping Pipit

Nipped back to Swithland Res. today, albeit with Josh and Alex in tow to get some fresh air. I had another half-arsed look at the Lesser Scaup (still distant whilst I was there), managed a quick scan to confirm that I could no longer see any Scoters, picked up a Peregrine in the usual tree and noted a pair of Grey Wagtails that appeared to be preparing to breed. However the main focus for me today was moths - unfortunately they were not aware and I failed to pick up any Orange Underwings during the brief sunny spells. Plenty of Dahlica lichenella and Dahlica triquetrella on the walls by the water tower on the dam, and a few Taleporia tubulosa, Psyche casta and Coleophora serratella on the Kinchley Lane walls. I also found a roosting Small Quaker on the dam. We then moved on to Cossington Meadows seeing as the Water Pipit had been seen again. There was one flighty Little Egret, five Redshank but (again for me) no sign of the Pipit. I'm not bothering again with this bloody pipit - fecking thing is never about when I've looked.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Swithland Scroters, Smew & Scaup

Back in Leicestershire after the very enjoyable and knackering mini-break. Catching up on news and blogs last night I learnt about the Swithland Res. Lesser Scaup and thought I'd have a look sometime this week (April 2000 since I last saw this species in VC55). However, a phone call from Dave Gray about Common Scoters got me there this afternoon despite the less than ideal weather. I'd only seen one previous group in the County so was keen to see these birds.
As I drove along the causeway approach I could see Dave standing with his scope and tripod, attempting to digiscope. I blasted the car horn as I passed and much to my amusement this made Dave jump and reactively throw the Vs. I was still laughing when I got out the car a couple of minutes later.
Anyway, Dave was on a group of scroters, eight drakes and one female. After watching these for a bit, and showing Dave two of the Swithland Res. moth specialities - Luffia ferchaultella and Psyche casta - I moved on to Kinchley Lane.
I soon found the other group of Scoters (seven drakes), and also the long-staying pair of Smew (smart birds). Moving on to the dam I quickly picked up the drake Lesser Scaup, albeit very distantly. Moving back onto Kinchley Lane I eventually got good scope views of this bird, fairly clean looking but apparently a first-summer.
During the course of the afternoon I made several pathetic attempts at digiscoping - not the easiest thing to do hand-held, especially with no tripod for the scope (good job there are low walls all around the res.).

Shocking scroter silhouette shot


Plenty of noisy Great Crested Grebes about.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Weekend away and Easter

We are having a family break at the Longleat CentreParc over the weekend, joining up with Nichola's family to celebrate her 40th and her sister's 30th. The car is loaded up with cameras, bins and beer, but apparently - on pain of death - I need to pack some swimming gear and the bikes. Looking forward to it really, the kids have a great time in the big indoor pool complex and we're doing a few outdoor pursuit type activities aswell. Hopefully the park will be free of god-botherers wittering on about some resurrection and a touring shrewd whatever the fuck that is. I don't know why these wankers have to have a special Palm Sunday either - I'm sure they are at it every day of the week. I do hope that there really is some sort of re-incarnation though, as long as there is a choice. I want to come back as a Swedish donkey in the 1970s.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Sonic

We get a few hedgepigs in and around the garden during the year, and tonight we had our first spiny visitor despite the foul weather. Poor bugger, not only having to contend with cold wind and rain but then some lardy bastard pokes a camera up its nose and blinds it with flash.


Piss off and leave me alone.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Captured for captions - Squirrel

Here's a new irregular and irrelevant feature, where I'll take a photo of something and open up to offers for a suitably funny caption. Puerile entries would be appreciated, and indeed are expected. There are no prizes other than the warm feeling of smugness if you come up with something. Entries via the comments link please - postcards will be recycled without being read.

On this day - 19/03/1994

John Hackett and me set off for Colwick CP in neighbouring Notts for a superb drake Bufflehead. We got good scope views but it was a little wary and buggered off to other pools after an hour or so. Back in those pre-pager days I was occasionally driven to write down birdline messages - like this one: "The drake Bufflehead arrived with several Goldeneye on the early afternoon of 17/03/1994. All signs are that it may well be a wild bird; it is wary, keeping well away from the shore, and is fully winged on several occasions flying around. It also appears that it is unringed when observed preening and diving. Scarce in captivity and won't readily breed, expensive (£600 per pair) therefore owners take care. Winters on eastern seaboard of the USA." All previous accepted records at the time were from Feb/March and this one was duly accepted. Nice one.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Titchwell 18/03/2008

A pair of Red Kites over the A43/A47 roundabout early this morning put me in the frame of mind for a spot of birding. I had a work commitment in south Lincs close to Wisbech & Kings Lynn, but once I'd left the plant I decided to head up to Titchwell for a couple of hours - first visit since November 2001.
A very optimistic drive around the Wolverton triangle on the way produced the expected no sighting of Golden Pheasant (are they still there even?) but a Mutjac was at the roadside out in the open briefly - too brief to photograph!
I wasn't really expecting anything in particular at Titchwell, although Bearded Tits would have been nice (proper ones, not the female bearded tit we encountered at Blacktoft). The weather was a bit off and on - nice sunny spells increasingly interspersed with very dull and blustery conditions and threatening rain.
After watching the usual suspects on and around the feeders, including some extremely fat looking Woodpigeons, I headed off onto the reserve.

Mr Creosote

Approaching the Parinder Hide, suddenly everything was up and I picked up a Peregrine diving through the gulls, ducks and waders - amazingly it missed them all.

Post-Peregrine Panic

A pair of smart adult breeding plumaged Med Gulls amongst the many Black-headeds and Commons reminded me of when I ticked Med Gull at Titchwell in May 1993.

Spot the distant Med Gulls

Ducks were mainly Shoveler and Teal with a good few Shelduck and odd Mallards, Wigeon, Gadwall and Tufted.

Shoveler shovelling

Teal drowning

Plenty of Brents although no sign of the Black Brant (probably due to not bothering to look for it). Waders were predominantly Avocet, with Oystercatcher, Curlew, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing and Turnstone also noted. It's probably classed as treason by the RSPB, but I really don't like Avocet - I think they're a bit aggressive when breeding to the detriment of other breeders.

Avago - You looking at me? You looking at me?

A stroll down to the beach, picking up Little Egret on the brackish marsh en route, produced nothing but cold hands and watery eyes. It was blowing hard in-off! The beach was littered with razor shells.

seagulls

shells

Back to the new-ish Fen Hide in time to see typically brief views of a Bittern diving into the reeds, plus three Marsh Harriers and a Barn Owl. It was now getting cold so I buggered off rather than hanging about to see if the recently regular Hen Harrier got heavily buffeted on its landing.
The birding wasn't quite over though, as I picked up both Barn and Tawny Owls along the roadway exiting Houghton-on-the-Hill before turning onto the Stoughton Road.

From the garden trap - 17/03/2008

No surprises that the markedly colder night brought fewer moths:
March Moth (Alsophila aescularia) 1
Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 1

On this day - 18/03/2000

I can count on one hand the number of twitches I've been on with Andy Mackay - but today eight years ago the pair of us set off for Cheddar Reservoir, and we were soon enjoying views of a fairly tatty 2nd year Franklin's Gull. Splendid.

Monday, 17 March 2008

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

.. some quite simply brilliant ska & punk/rock from c1977 - 1981. Following a comment in Blyth Birders blog I was compelled to go up to the loft and dig out a load of my oldest vinyl, including the first single I ever bought (The Prince by Madness) and other Two-Tone classics. The c1979 - 1981 Ska and Mod revival was the first musical movement I got caught up in (being a couple of years too young at the time to really appreciate the real punk movement) so really good to listen in again to this. Made me want to go and buy a pair of stay-prest, Fred Perry polo shirt, black loafers and harrington jacket - again.


'Buster, he sold the heat ..'

I duly recorded this to the PC using the 'Clean' software and then uploaded to the i-Pod alongside some downloaded and copied from CD classics. So the listening has included early Madness, The Specials, The Selector and The Beat alongside The Clash, The Stranglers, Souxsie and the Banshees and a bit of The Sex Pistols for good measure. A few odd tracks by the like of The Buzzcocks and Bad Manners (Inner London Violence), and also a few 'white-reggae' tracks from the first two albums by The Police (don't laugh, they were great before Sting disappeared up his own tantric arse in the amazon). Only stuff missing is some good early tracks by The Jam as I've not got to that CD yet.
I've been missing the in-car i-Pod entertainment for a few weeks - my crappy old Peugeot at least had an auxilliary input to the cheapo stereo but since having a company provided car I've had to go without. However, I've now bought a FM transmitter so I can tune into radio Skev's i-Pod again.
As usual I'm now changing the mood (completely) so the i-Pod is in the process of being re-populated with some dirty house, hard house and club techno mixes for a weeks or so.

From the garden trap - 16/03/2008

Just ran the one trap last night - no point in going overboard at this early stage of the season. I ran the 80W actinic from dusk - dawn; this is a great trap at 10x the wattage of a standard actinic heath trap and on good nights it beats the 125W MV as top trap in the garden. Pretty cool and overcast for most of the night, with a light breeze and rain at some point. Nothing exciting or unexpected - the trap was empty at midnight but this is typical at this time of year.

Total catch: 7 of 2sp
Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 2
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 5


Sunday, 16 March 2008

Shoulder Stripe

Sure enough, after yesterday's hint at moth activity I had a Shoulder Stripe to a lit window last night despite the constant drizzle/rain. Not a particularly nicely marked individual mind.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

March moth milestone

I've not bothered with the garden moth trap so far in March - either too cold, too wet or too windy (or any combination). Things should pick up soon though; I hand-caught a day-flying micro an hour or so ago on the front garden - Epermenia chaerophyllella. This is usually a sign of things picking up going by previous years so I'll resume garden trapping from the next dry/calm night irrespective of temperatures.

Mute


Crap hat


A bird in the hand ....

.... is far preferable to one shitting on your head.

Friday, 14 March 2008

No GWE

I ventured back to Birstall GPs after work today, hoping to get a chance to photograph yesterday's Great White Egret seeing as it was a relatively pleasant afternoon. After a fruitless hour of searching, I discovered through a phone call to John that it had been reported on another part of the Watermead complex, but that this was in fact a Little Egret - obviously a Herroneous report. I suspect the GWE is still knocking about though - not the most exciting rarity but it would be nice to get some shots of it. Otherwise there were more Goosander knocking about and Cormorants appear to be colonising the Heronry - at least until they get their arses blown off by DEFRA licenced anglers.

On this day ... 13/03/1994

Okay, on this day yesterday seeing as blogger went off-line before I could publish the post. An early start saw John Hackett, Brian Moore and myself loitering in the well-organised queue at Pennington Flash, Gt Manchester, for views of what proved to be the first accepted British record of Black-faced Bunting. I'd like to say what a stunning bird it was etc, but in reality it was like a fat Dunnock with a pale pinky bill.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Separated at birth?


Lamont / Darling

This cannot be just coincidence, and there must be an explanation for the 11 year gap between their births, but they must be twins. Or this is a classic example of convergent evolution.

Hair - white
Eyebrows - black
Educated at - Loretto School, Musselburgh, East Lothian
Popularity - zero
Political leaning - depends on wind direction
Political party - Conservanewlabour
Briefcase colour preference - dull red
Biggest political job - Chancellor of the Exchequer
Preceded and appointed by - the bloke who went on to be a dull, dour fuckwit of a Prime Minister who in turn was preceded by an egotistical maniac that spent too long as PM (ie John Major and Gordon Brown)
Hobbies - screwing the nation through taxation

I rest my case.

Octarine ..

.. is actually the Colour of Magic. I'm really looking forward to the next film adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series - or I would be if weren't for the fact that it will be screened by the bastard Murdoch Sky empire. I shall have to beg someone at work to record it for me as I point blank refuse to pay for Sky until Murdoch joins Maxwell. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing the sapient pearwood Luggage! Also saddened to hear that Pratchett has been diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy, a rare early-onset form of Alzheimer's where the hindbrain shrinks. Hope he manages to keep going for a long while yet - I'm sure he has many more Discworld books planned before he finally gets to meet the real Death.

Egretta alba

Following a texted tip-off from Gray-boy this afternoon, I headed straight off to Birstall GPs after work for a sharpish frogmarch to the weir to look for a Great White Egret. Luckily, seeing as it's been years since I went to this part of the Soar Valley, I went the wrong way and ended up getting superb views of the bird milling about on a scrape in front of one of the old locked hides. Excellent - and a county tick to boot. I then walked round to the weir and realised that had I of gone the right way I probably wouldn't have seen it. Unfortunately I left the camera in the car as it was very dull and pissing down - might go back tomorrow afternoon if the weather is better as the bird looked pretty settled. Otherwise I didn't hang about to look for anything else but a pair of Goosander on the river was nice, and I also picked up an unwelcome mammal tick when a big manky Mink swam past.

Beer

Let's face it, aside from the pleasures of the flesh there's not too much that puts a smile on the face of the average bloke like beer does. Last night saw John 'Camra-man' Hague, Dave 'bottled-lager-boy' Gray, Dave 'make-mine-mild' Mack and myself enjoying the Leicester Beer Festival at the Charotar Patidar Samaj on Bay Street. Not sure how an asian community centre type place came to be the home of this particular festival but it was very good anyway. Although I'm always happy with a pint of something I don't make any claim to be a real ale buff, but I was more than happy to try a few different beers. Time available before the last bus home and work in the morning prevented me from going over the top, but I managed to sample seven beers as follows: 'Fission' from the Atomic Brewery in Rugby - a very nice 3.9 golden ale to start with. 'Rutland Panther' from the Grainstore Brewery in Oakham - an excellent 3.4 dark mild. 'Claridge's Crystal' from Nobby's Brewery in Kettering - a 3.6 light golden ale but a bit too citrussy for my liking. 'Bee Mine' from the St Georges Brewery in Worcester - an okay 4.3 light bitter with a honey twang. 'Beijing Black' from the Potbelly Brewery in Kettering - an excellent 4.4 mild. 'Colorado IPA' from the Red Squirrel Brewery in Hertford - a really good pale and hoppy 5.4 IPA. 'Father Mike's' from the Brunswick Inn Brewery in Derby - best of the night for me, a superb 5.8 dark mild. Food was also on offer, although the recommended 'meatball curry' wasn't to my taste. I'll definitely be putting this festival on the calendar for future years - a really good night with great banter and superb beer, and best of all no (well not too many) wanky chav youths.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Britishness ...

What does it really mean to British? These days, as always in fact, the main aspect of our daily lives that truly makes us British is the completely fucking bonkers politics we have to put up with. I know that as an adult I should bear in mind all angles and sides to a political debate, but as a rational and sane adult I find this increasingly difficult. Goldsmith and Brown can bear their harebrained scheme to force the youf of today to pledge an oath to Queen and Country up their collectively cavenous arses. Fucking wankers.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

New Links

Added - they are at the top out of alphabetical order at the moment. Go see for yourself.

Some records should not be attempted ...

.. for reasons of general common sense. WTF goes through this blokes mind during his morning hygiene routine! http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/player/nol/newsid_7280000/newsid_7285900?redirect=7285904.stm&news=1&bbram=1&nbwm=1&bbwm=1&nbram=1&asb=1

carolinensis

Took the opportunity today to get over to Eyebrook Reservoir, after a week of working through man-flu and then being stuck in home on Friday & Saturday with ill kids. The main purpose of this visit, other than getting some fresh air, was the on-off presence of a drake Green-winged Teal. It was only after a week or so of it being reported that I remembered that it had been split and I needed it for a county tick.
It was a fairly good late morning with nice bright sunny spells in between very dull and threatening cloudy spells. Pretty calm though - the proverbial calm before the storm if the weather geeks are to be believed.
Anyway, this bloody duck was damned elusive to say the least. I eventually found it, very luckily, whilst scanning the partly obscured shoreline along th western edge between Holyoaks Farm and the island. It was with a small Teal group and way too distant for anything other than a very crap record shot. Like this:

Nevertheless a county tick, and it's a good few years since I last saw one.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Carmunication let me down ....

.... as Spandau Ballet once sang.
My new car arrived at the plant on Monday, and naturally I was keen to go out to view it and sign the paperwork. As I approached the temp. car park at the far side of the plant I started to get an uneasy feeling as I could see the car head-on. It was the right colour, but no sign of the hoped-for roof rails yet there were unexpected front fog lights. As I got a bit nearer there was a more fundamental difference between the as-ordered and as-delivered:

Expected Estate - note the big square shape at the rear.

Delivered Hatch - note the slopey window thing at the back.

Christ - it's not hard is it! In fairness, whilst completely the wrong shape it has the correct engine and is a higher spec. trim level. Still nice to have a new car with delivery mileage only - plus I get to have that experience again in 6 - 8 weeks when the right car turns up. Just aswell the mothing season won't be fully underway before I get it - I should be able to get a fair bit in the boot of the hatch though in the meantime.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Harry

Send the fucker back to Afghanistan where he can't harm our scarce raptors.

The Taleban and Hen Harrier Hunter

Birch

Part of the wider art of entomology is finding and identifying early life-stages on their host plants. This requires a certain level of botanical knowledge. Sadly, my botanical skills are somewhere between poor and hopeless, but even a leaf-blind flower-failure like me can identify Silver Birch!
I like birch - I find the straggly uniform trunks of a dense stand aesthetically pleasing. I'm sure there is some deep-rooted psychological theory about this but quite frankly I don't give a ..
Anyway, these shots are from along Kinchley Lane on the fringe of the quarry. This is an excellent place to look out for Orange Underwings - they should be flying about in sunshine from mid-March for a couple of weeks or so. They are usually seen flitting about the tree-tops until later in the afternoon when they may descend.

Birch

More Birch