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

Monday, 28 December 2009

Taw Estuary

Nipped out for a very pleasant walk around the Isley Marsh reserve on the Taw Estuary this morning. This reserve is immediately opposite Lower Yelland Farm where there were five Cattle Egrets yesterday. Today, there were precisely zero Cattle Egrets around the area (or at least I didn't see any). The massive sandy/muddy expanse that is the Taw Estuary (click for a bigger expanse). The tide was out, so all of the waders and wildfowl were out of decent photographic range. I can't remember the last time I visited this site and didn't see Spoonbills, and today was no exception. There were initially three feeding out in the middle of the estuary, later the group had grown to four roosting on the edge of the saltmarsh. Four distant sleeping Spoonbills - honestly. Waders included 100s of Curlews, 1000s of Lapwings, loads of Oystercatchers and Turnstones, a few Redshank and a couple of Grey Plovers. There were also plenty of Shelduck, Teal and Wigeon, and a couple of Black-necked Grebes. At least five Little Egrets were knocking about, and a smart Kingfisher, flyover Raven, foraging Rock Pipits and a couple of Stonechats were nice to see. This Sonechat was out of frame a millisecond later.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Garden Game

Even though we are not too far from farmland, living in a suburban Close with little in the way of mature trees and decent habitat around the estate, you have modest expectations of what will turn up in your garden. Gamebirds were not high on the 'what will be the next new species' list. A couple of months ago though, I was not impressed when a pair of Red-legged Partridges ran down the street just past our Close as I drove off - I was only a few yards away from adding them to the list. Just in time for Christmas, today when I got home from work I was amazed to see a stupid fat garden tick Pheasant rise up from under my feeders and flap unceremoniously onto the neighbours garage roof. It soon came back to carry on feeding, so I grabbed a few shots. It was tempting to find something to catch it with for an alternative Christmas dinner ... Prime birding habitat. I have a collection of feeders on our front cherry tree - easier to fill and watch than the rear garden. This year, the Goldfinches are almost constantly present with much fewer Greenfinches than usual. I like Goldfinches, but they are messy buggers with the sunflower hearts - dropping as many as they eat which no doubt suited the Pheasant. I've also seen Chaffinches actually using the feeders this year - they are usually too crap and just flit half-arsedly near it for a couple of seconds before strutting around on the floor again. Merry Christmas to everyone - I'll be thinking of your peaceful day whilst contending with excited children, conflicting TV preferences and stuffing a bird .... After the excesses, we'll be heading down to Devon for a few days so hopefully some coastal birding to write about early next week.

Monday, 21 December 2009

X-Factor Killed In Name of Facebook

In a move that has been claimed as "a victory for the independent thinker", American rock act Rage Against The Machine have soared to the top of the UK charts following a campaign on a social networking site, demoting the rightful owner of the coveted Christmas spot to Number Two.

Rage Against The Machine are notorious for their hard-hitting political lyrics and ethos, and their aggressive cross-over rock/rap style with liberal use of expletives. Never ones to tow the corporate line, they first started releasing their vitriolic message through the Epic label (part of CBS Recordings, which in turn became part of the huge billion-dollar Sony Music Corporation) in 1992. Meanwhile their bitter chart-topping rival, Joe McElderry, who was not born when Rage first hit the scene, is a nice boy from South Shields with white teeth.

The campaign on Facebook, a multi-million dollar private internet company, was designed to prevent the X-Factor Winning Song from inevitably achieving the Christmas high-light.

Brian Washed, from Middlesex, speaking on behalf of the 500000 people who downloaded 'Killing In The Name' in support of the campaign, said "This is serious stuff! Me and everyone else who downloaded it from i-Tunes have sent a very clear message to that smug high-waisted twat that we will not pander to the whim of others and just buy stuff that we are told to like. We are free-thinking people who refuse to comply and act like sheep. To be honest the Rage song is a bit shit and not really my taste at all, I prefer lushy ballads and stuff by George Micheal, but I am an individual and refuse to pander to the corporate bastards at Sony".

When asked for his views, Joe said "Well, I canna complain like cos being a Number Two is still good and me Mam is dead proud an that, and anyways that Cheryl is a great shag and I'm just soo happy an over the moon an that". When asked for his view on being Number One in the UK Popular Music charts, guitarist Tom Morrello said "F*** off you fu**ing fu*ker!"

An early shot of Rage Aganist The Machine at a 'Stop Racism and Bigotry' festival.

Simon Cowell (left) shows which thumb put the big smile on Joe's face (right)

Cheryl Cole with a typical corporate lap-dog

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Fox eats Owl

Good to get back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats. Couldn't have picked a better team to bounce back against (sure the Drunkbirder won't agree ...) Despite the defeats, City are still in the top six. Wednesday are now in the bottom 3. Shame.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

Given that I was only 9 when it was released, it was some time afterwards that I heard it through (though I had been aware of the nonsense surrounding the band from the news and had heard the singles). It is surely the most directly relevant album title ever, and the only way to listen to it is to put the hype and bollocks (and Bill Grundy incident) aside and pretend you have no idea who they were. Just accept it for what it is - a superb aural assault. Best played with the volume at ear-bleeding levels. My favourite track is this (with the classic lyric at 1:58):