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January 23rd, 2017

07:09 pm: Latest BOURC decision
Oh bugger.

The BOURC just decided to adopt IOC taxonomy in future. We just lost Hudsonian Whimbrel and Mealy Redpoll. :(

Well, sod it. In the UK it may be usual to remove them from past Year Lists when they get lumped, but I think the ABA has a much better idea, and I'm going to keep my year lists according to the rules of the year they were listed in.

On a plus note, I no longer have any reason to make an expensive trip to Cornwall this half term for the Hudsonian whimbrel. And those who already have must be furious.

January 8th, 2017

08:25 pm: Article in a national newspaper saying that GPs are seing a lot more patients than normal, in fact loads, with a nasty cough. Now, obviously some people who are immunosuppressed will need to consult their doctor in these circumstances (though I thought it was generally the specialist dealing with the cause of the immunosuppresion). But it seems as if healthy people are wasting public money going to the GP just because they have a nasty cough. I hope this is not true.

But I have a horrible suspicion that it might be.

06:51 pm: Birding weekend
Marking not too excessive this weekend, so I spent a long weekend in Devon and Dorset, birding madly all of the seven or so daylight hours until I am exhausted, and driving a little over 800 miles. Things went fairly well; of the seven target birds I got five (American wigeon, desert wheatear, lesser yellowlegs, green-winged teal, and rose-coloured starling). The ones I missed (cattle egret and surf scoter) were probably the least important, as they are the ones of which there are currectly the greatest number elsewhere in the UK at the moment. I also found time to pop in and get two species which are easy to get when you go for them, but only in a VERY few locations in the UK: Bewick's swan and cirl bunting. So in general a good weekend.

Cost 400 pounds and I'm still not even in the top hundred in the league table (http://www.bubo.org/Listing/view-all-lists.html?showlists=1,BOU,1,2017,0)

Current Mood: fairly happy

January 3rd, 2017

05:54 pm: So. Management sent round an e-mail at the end of term asking staff to remove all food from the communal fridges so they could be switched off to defrost over the break.

Someone was obviously dispatched to go round and do this. Looking into the biology labs, he saw a number of fridges and freezers, so he turned those off as well...

January 2nd, 2017

05:54 pm: Birding: 2 rares, one lifer
Today went a little better. Since the weather was supposed to be bright and sunny I went for the juvenile pallid harrier in Holderness. Arrived on site about 9, to be told it was sitting on a post half a mile away. Within five minutes it had taken flight and proceeded to quarter the marsh for about ten minutes, giving excellent views.

Given how fast the harrier had appeared, I then headed over to a village near Chatsworth where a juvenile dusky thrush has been hanging around for a couple of weeks, arriving around half-one, after awful traddic in Chesterfield and awful signposting. The bird news services were trying to prevent birders from parking in the village, but although the parking is limited it was coping this afternoon, with no-one parking anti-socially or illegally. Anyway, most of the non-residents' cars seemed to belong to walkers with spiked sitcks and inappropriately-bright clothing. The thrush was some 300 yards from a public road, feeding under a hedge. It was rather prettier than most little brown jobs, or perhaps that is because it was a life tick?

Given the distance at which the birds were seen, the record shots were exactly that. Or perhaps record blobs is betterCollapse )

Last time I kept a year list I got two rares and a lifer on the first day; this time it took me twice as long :) On the other hand as I have been to a small town park, some fields with an expanse of reedbed, some more fields and some fields in a village, I have seen hardly any birds this year, which is rather embarrassing. In fact I have seen a total of 34 species, not including great tit.

January 1st, 2017

08:35 pm: First twitch of the year...first dip of the year
With 12 rare birds in the country, and a resolution not to seek anything non-rare before half term (to prevent birding taking over my life), I chose a black-throated thrush in Llanelwy in North Wales today. The bird had been showing three or four times a day recently in various places, and I reckoned that Jan 1, with lots of pairs of eyes in the field, would be a good day to look for a wide ranging bird.

I was wrong. The damned thing didn't show all day...except for one occasion on which someone 'saw it in flight'. Hmmm.

The only positive thing resulting from a 240 mile drive and 10 hours of total effort came when I took a lunch break and zipped 5 miles down the road for an easy tick...

06:55 am: Another year, another year list
And off I go on the first twitch of the year...

March 6th, 2016

03:29 pm: Gardening update
Well alright! That's the perennial fruit planted.

P.S. Dear nursery: when I ordered three raspberry plants, it was because I wanted three raspberry plants. You know, two raspberry plants and then one more? That was because there was only space in my garden plan for three raspberries at the recommended planting distance.

So why exactly did you send me four? Now I have a raspberry sitting in a pot while i figure out what in Hell to do with it.

November 15th, 2015

05:45 pm: A crag martin which has mistaken a football stadium in Chesterfield for a crag in North Africa has today put me one bird ahead of my previous best. Year lists available on www.bubo.org!

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

November 7th, 2015

07:11 pm: Birding update
Today I equalled my previous UK Big Year total of 304 (an arctic warbler). Unfortunately for all my efforts, it is not going to be a very good score; I managed to pick an El Nino year, which tends to equal very low Uk Year List scores (though it does mean I am still picking ripe outdoor grown tomatoes in Yorkshire... on the whole I would prefer ticks to tomatoes)

November 6th, 2015

12:30 am: Motorhead is one of the oldest bands still playing which is well known as a 'heavy metal' band. Way back in the year 2000 they recorded a song with the lyrics: 'We are the first and we just still might be the last 'relating to their music. They started in the late seventies, so Ok...

Tonight I watched some footage from the 2015 Wacken Metal Festival. The band Judas Priest played. This band started in Birmingham about the same time as Black Sabbath depending how you count it, though it didn't get signed till many years later. But two of the original members of that band were playing Wacken this year, who were definitely in the band in the 60s: Ken Downing and Ian Hill.

They were the first and they might yet be the last performers of metal. *raises my glass ti Ian Hill and KK*

October 24th, 2015

08:05 pm: I managed to reach my 300th Year bird today, nearly a month earlier than in 2013. Bird was a juvenile American Golden Plover in a field on the Yorkshire coast.

October 17th, 2015

03:34 pm: Had a rather super 24 hours birding! Red-flanked bluetail, Pallas' warbler, Hume's leaf warbler, Blyth's reed warbler, olive-backed pipit, isabelline shrike... oh and a firecrest!

September 22nd, 2015

06:48 pm: Well, that's decided me whether to leave any money to my College in my Will (finally).

I originally intended to leave my entire Estate to my College (not that I'm rolling in it, but at least there is a house worth about k250), but when I saw at Commem last year how they had chosen to spend legacies ruining things (e.g 120 year old bathrooms) I had my doubts.

Last week they chose to waste the price of a stamp sending me a letter telling me that they intended to (semi) cold-call* me to ask for money. I have a policy of refusing to give money to ANY Charity that phones unasked and asks for it.

Tonight they did. Not only did they do so, but the student who called me pretended as an introduction that she wanted to ask me 'how one got into teaching' as she was interested in becoming one. Not only did she call to beg for money, but she used deception to try to initiate a conversation ( I would imagine Cambridge Undergrads know how to get into teaching; one does a PGCE.).

Norfolk Wildlife Trust just got a lot richer! (assuming I outlive my Aunt of course!)

*Yes. I know technically it's not a cold call if we have a previous relationship, but you know what I mean.

September 19th, 2015

11:32 pm: Birding year
Ok, I know it won't last. But tonight, just tonight, I'm joint second behind LRGE in the Year List Rankings. (www.bubo.org)

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Tonight You Belong To Me

September 13th, 2015

02:26 am: Musical concert series with long history.
Opportunity for political speech.

One of these things is not like the other.


P.S. And it's not the only thing I'm unimpressed by. For example, how difficult are appropriate clothes for orchestra members to come by? I have heaps of suitable black and white clothes they could borrow if they are having trouble geting suitable clothes from charity shops for 4 pounds each (which is where I got most of mine from)

September 12th, 2015

08:36 pm: Can someone please explain to me the purpose of pure linen fitted sheets? The point of paying for linen, surely, is that you can boil it, bleach it, iron it with the hottest iron going without harming it, and carry on doing so forever (well, for a whole lifetime, anyway)

Fitted sheets. Elastic bits. Does not compute.

August 30th, 2015

05:27 pm: Third time lucky on trying for roseate terns in Northumberland as well. I have just found out about the offshore high tide roost at Newbiggin, which is a useful soemthing to know about.

August 28th, 2015

07:32 pm: Twice this month, I've driven to Land's End because the weather forecast was just perfect for seeing shearwaters. Unfortunately, it's a long drive from Yorkshire, and both times the weather has changed its mind while I was en route.

Once more the weather was perfect (visibility over 10km, SW breezes, dry*). I considered. By the end of this try I would have spent 1000 pounds on trying for these birds (mostly on petrol and accommodation). In the end I decided to give it one more try... I drove to Exeter after work, stayed in a motel 10pm till 4am and then got on with the driving...

The weather was as forecast. This morning was one of the one or two mornings each year when the normally scarce Cory's shearwaters are passing in dozens from a headland near Land's End in the 2-3 hours after dawn. So were the globally critically endangered balearic shearwaters, which was what I was expecting. I also saw sooty shearwaters and storm petrels for my year list.

But at just after 8am something else happened. Something that has only ever happened 5 times before in the UK (almost always from the 'end' of Kernow (Cornwall)... Something white and lightly built with long tail streamers and tern-like flight action and with a dark wedge along the leading edge of the wing (like a sabine's), but with much narrower wings...

Over to you, llr10 and Ruth. What did I see?

August 12th, 2015

08:38 pm: BUBO is down and I am really panicking; stupidely I haven't kept my Big Year list anywhere else! Of course I know what species I have, but the dates and places are not recordedf anywhere else. *worries*

Meanwhile, got a spotted crake today, and dipped a pec. Year list is 272

August 10th, 2015

10:05 am: In which I have an unsuccessful pelegic
I have booked myslef onto three pelagics in my life. One was cancelled because of bad weather, one because the boat wasn't working, and the one on Saturday actually went out. It might as well not have done.

Something is going very wrong with the passage of tubenoses off the southwest. A lot of birders are putting it down to El Nino shifting the Gulf Stream away from the UK, and hence shifting the food supply. The Cory's migration was 3 weeks early and seems to be over. I booked this pelagic because this is normally the prime time for that species. But all we saw was some manxies and a few fulmars. And a puffin, which isn't supposed to be there at all.

We also saw harbour porpoises, a lot of sunfish, and some dolphins following the boat, jumping out of the water almost close enough to touch. According to the boatman, they never do that when he takes tourists out to see dolphins...

I got very sunburned. But on a positive note, my seasickness does seem to be decreasing with age, at least until one of drifting on the swell in the middle of a slick of cod liver oil...

August 4th, 2015

09:07 pm: Look what I found on the Promenade in South Shields!

A huge billboard with this on it. Proving to everyone who walks past that I haven't got the sense to come in out of a shower of rain.

P.S. oooh! You can now upload pictures direct to lj! I'm not sure I like it. It encourages the Wrong Sort of People (tm)

August 2nd, 2015

11:29 pm: How quickly popular culture forgets.
I have just seen a YouTube video about odd McDonalds free toys. It records that in 1983, three years (significant the number!), after the release of the film E.T. another round of E.T. toys was released.

Please tell me there is someone else here who understands why 3 years after the cinema release was important?

July 28th, 2015

10:11 pm: Well. I've done it. I've signed up to switch my laptop to Win10 for free on Monday. My reason being that NOTHING could be worse than Win8..surely?

July 6th, 2015

09:31 pm: Watched the first half of [i] Genesis of the Daleks [/i] for the first time in longer than I care to remember tonight.

It's often been remarked that the Time Lords' transmat gave the Master a cloak...but unless I'm missing something, didn't this one remove Sarah's trousers?

July 4th, 2015

07:36 pm: Finally, after travelling from Yorkshire three times in 4 weeks to stare at a vast tidal creek on the Sussex coast, someone managed to egt me on to the whimbrel with the dark rump. Relieved is an understatement.

Also picked up the Bonaparte's gull in Kent. Year list 260.


June 24th, 2015

07:36 pm: At the weekend I spent 11 hours wandering round the Sussex coast looking for a Hudsonian whimbrel which was supposed to be in the area. Didn't find it.

The man standing next to me found this, though...


June 16th, 2015

08:00 pm: Well that was unexpected. Just about to cook dinner, checked the bird news: gull-billed tern just the other side of Barnsley. Thank the Gods I hadn't drunk any alcohol.

Grabbed the scope and ran straight out;l regretted this when trying to hurry over rough gravel paths in court shoes.

Saw a gull-billed tern. Back to Number 5 in the UK Year List rankings. (www.bubo.org)

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