27 March 2011

Weekend Round-up

Early morning on Sat 26th March - Archer arrives at mine, we enter the motor, collect Rich and then inevitably wait for nearly 15 minutes for Feely to wake up, brush his teeth and make a flask of 'Jiff Tea'!

The inaugural use of the infamous 'ASBO Birderz' twitching signage!

Archer discovers that the 'Porn Fairy' lives on...along the A14

We arrived at Landguard NR, Suffolk, shortly before 8am and within minutes of exiting the car we had bagged our target bird - Short-toed Treecreeper, which constituted my 400th British bird. Nice!
I could bore you by going into detail about this bird but to be honest it was pretty shite - We had semi-prolonged satisfactory views of it, enough to say ''yes, it's a short-toed, even though we haven't grilled it's feet''.
At the time there were only 28 of us present but after the obligatory breakfast at a nearby McD's, we returned to find that the crowd had increased to around 75 and the bird had inevitably become more elusive. It did show again briefly during our second stint but with the crowd getting closer & closer to the compound fence, the bird obviously got abit 'camera' shy and headed deep into cover and apparently wasn't seen again for the rest of the day.
Other bits on the reserve included 1+ Black Redstart and 2+ Wheatears.

Before heading back to the Midlands we popped into Levington Marina to allow Archer to year-tick Long-tailed Duck. Afterwards, as I tanked it back home, Archer realised that he hadn't phoned the 'Listing Police' to inform him of the latest addition to his BRITISH list. Sadly, Archer's hero didn't pick up and the pain of not being able to have his sighting verified was clear to see. An handful of Red Kites were noted in this area.

With his phone battery dead, Archer resorts to desperate measures to ensure his sighting of the Short-toed Treecreeper is acknowledged.

Sunday 27th March - The patch beckoned...
Arriving at KMR early doors, with thoughts of possibly a Kittiwake or Scoter on the water, I headed to the Sailing Club to do some staring. A brief scan revealed nothing interesting so I headed round to the SW corner. As I was counting the Teal, Wayne Collingham rang to say/scream that he'd just had an Avocet flying over the trees on the east bank. I began scanning the skyline but within a minute or so I realised that it had prob gone straight thru. With no wader habitat at KMR the bird certainly hadn't hit the deck so unless it was swimming on the water in the middle (what a ridiculous notion I thought), I had missed the second ever record of Avocet at King's Mill. Fortunately, the bird apparently found KMR to it's liking and I soon relocated it......swimming in the middle of the reservoir!

I then made a few necessary phone calls/texts to the locals to alert them to it - Paul Naylor was in his kitchen making a brew at the other side of town when I rang him, yet arrived within 7 minutes!! I also woke Mikipedia from his slumber but with his bicycle out of action, he refused to walk the couple of miles to bag a much sought after patch bird. Sad times!
Other bits during the morning included a LRP heading SW at 8.20am, an handful of Sand Martins and 3 Gadwall. The Avocet apparently remained until c1.45pm when Wayne left but with the Boating C*nts about to hit the swell, it's doubtfull that the bird remained for much longer. It represented the 2nd record for KMR, the first being a single observer fly-thru on July 24th 2001.
It also constituted my 174th bird for King's Mill.......and without doubt the bird of the weekend!

21 March 2011

Patching (catch up)

A brief write up on three visits to KMR over the last 8 days (13th, 20th & 21st)...

Sunday March 13th - The undoubted highlight was the presence of three female Goosanders that were loafing on the water. During the nineties, Goosander was almost expected most weekends during the winter months but during the last ten years the species has become almost 'rare' with less than 3 records per year during a period in the mid 'noughties'. Bizarrely, this year seems to have seen a revival of the species 90's status with a deluge of sightings during the first couple of months! Another strange occurrence on the 13th came in the discovery of a flock of c100 'SINGING' Redwings. From a distance, the sound emanating from the trees recalled a pre-roost Starling gathering. I'd never witnessed/heard this before in 20yrs birding and can only assume that with perfect migration conditions (clear skies and light winds) they were all busy chattering away discussing their imminent trek back to the breeding grounds?
Other padders for the morning consisted of c70 Siskin, 15 Teal, 3 Snipe, Pheasant (not that common at KMR!), 2 Willow Tits, 2 Gadwall & 4 Greylags.

Sunday March 20th - A Redshank was loitering in the SW corner with Lapwings. A drk Shoveler was knocking about with 16 Teal. A trickle of Vis-Mig saw 13 Mipits head NW and 18 LBBG's SW. Other bits included 2 Gadwall, 1 Greylag, 1 Willow Tit, 1 Yellowhammer at the feeding station, 6 Snipe, 1 Bullfinch & a G-S.Woodpecker. No Hirundines or Wheatear...surprisingly! The usual waddling weight loss women were again doing their best to get hot, sweaty and breathless and provided excellent comedy value! Seriousley I can't think of a worse punishment for a pair of legs!

Fat Jogger leaves trail of distruction - check out the devastation she caused when she clipped the adjacent bushes!

The worst Redshank photo'...IN THE WORLD!

Monday March 21st - A much needed after work Wheatear hunt proved successful in not seeing the not expected Wheatear(s)! The drk Shoveler remained in the SW corner with 16 Teal & 7 Snipe. Also 2 Greylags, 1 Willow Tit & 1 Yellowhammer were noted.

SW corner at dusk.

If the 'Wheatear' field held a Wheatear, this is what a Wheatear in the 'Wheatear' field would see.

'Birders Only - Keep Out!'

13 March 2011

Saturday 12th March - lengthy yet eventful, kind of.

Saturday morning (12th March) I intended to have a rendezvous at Rufford CP with some Geordie kids who were apparently hell bent on baggin themselves a Lesser 'pecker. I had intended to 'guide' them to the favoured spots within the county in return for a sexy 27yr old Geordie lass (with a surname that sounds abit like Tweety) that they had bundled into the boot of their car somewhere up their way. Unfortunately life often throws ya a cruel hand and I was forced to pull out of the engagement at the last minute but thankfully the northern boys still travelled and bagged their prey - Ya see, they didn't need me, just some gentle encouragement!

Anyhow, after I'd cleared my calendar early on, I managed to escape the house and headed for King's Mill Res'. En-route, I decided to have a gleg at some farm buildings near Stanton Hill/Brierley Forest Park, in the vain hope of having a one-on-one with a Little Owl. Seeing as though I haven't seen one at that location since around 2004 I already knew it would be a waste of time....and I was right! Consolation came however in the form of a tart walking a very big dog, or was it a horse(?) who was wearing a pretty tight pair of arse hugging jodhpurs (the tart, not the dog/horse) and two calling Chiffchffs......... She wasn't wearing the Chiffys!

I then headed to KMR where the only highlights during the hour I was present were 8 Shoveler, 15 Teal, 5 Snipe & a pretty decent, for KMR standards, 16 Reed Bunts around the car-park feeding station. Already getting claustrophobic with the volume of waddling chunky joggers, geriatric dog walkers and teen parents with offspring, I swiftly headed back to the motor to think of something else to do. I quickly recalled a Golden Pheasant(s) that had been reported on & off over the last few years at Haywood Oaks, near Blidworth so that's where I went! I shouldn't have bothered!
My next destination was gonna be Hoveringham but I decided against it and turned the Vectra west towards home. Driving thru the notorious dogging district of Blidworth Bottoms, I was suddenly engulfed in the shadow of a huge finch swarm that had suddenly erupted from a roadside field. Slamming the motor onto the nearest verge/rabbit/dogger, I eventually located the birds. Grubbing about in amongst the set-aside were c100 Blings, c300 Chaffinch, c100 Linnet & c50 Yellowhammer but despite giving it some proper grillage, I couldn't bring myself to string a Lap, Pine or Little Bunt. I attempted a few pix but sadly my new phone ain't nothing like my old trusty C905 and thus the results aren't worth a w*nk altho' I managed one or two scenic shots just to give you the idea of the habitat.

As I was throwing the scope in the car, my phone battery decided to have a nap and thus I didn't get to know about Mikipedia's Firecrest in his garden until I was nearly home and decided to have a gleg thru the pager as I sat at some traffic lights. Arriving home I gave the phone a quick blast of juice and then caned it Mikes but alas I was too late, in fact even if I'd have been within 500yds of his house when he had it I wouldn't have connected as the 'crest had actually tanked it thru his garden instead of loitering and wasn't actually seen (heard only). Leaving Mikes, I headed back to KMR hoping that with a bit of sun, I might bag a few early Sand Martins but with Joe Public having increased I didn't linger long, in fact the only thing of interest being a very smartly dressed bloke, who resembled Harold Shipman, holding an open umbrella aloft (it wasn't raining) and swagging a can of Asda smart price lager - what made it more interesting is that he had one of those nifty plastic Betterware resealable lids attached to it! After 17 years of watching it, KMR never fails to throw up a non-avian surprise (although a bloke lying on the bank of the reservoir, whipping his 'man-bits' with a bunch of nettles on summers evening a few years back takes some beating!).

7 March 2011

Memory 'jerking'

Very occasionally I like to reminisce and think of good days gone by. Most actually involve the numerous acts of debauchery I've committed during my 'career' (two sisters within 12 hrs, a 56yr old milf, various threesomes etc) but occasionally I often recall the odd birding experience and whilst sampling a few drams of the finest scotch, I drift off into an ornithological wonderland and relive days gone by....
I started birding (or birdwatching actually) when I was around 10 when my old man used to take me to King's Mill Res, Notts, on Sunday mornings & I'd gleefully tick off such dross as Green Warbler & Crag Martin etc and by the age of 12 I'd ticked Middle Spotted Woodpecker in Sherwood Forest (non-birders reading this won't appreciate how mistaken I was).
One memory that does stand out during the very early years is bagging my first Bittern at Cauldwell Dam, near Mansfield, in c1993, after my dad was tipped off by a bloke who apparently worked for the National Geographic. Now, I can vaguely remember the bird, a small brown streaky heron perched in a bush adjacent to a very small water body - the fact that it was in late May annoys me somewhat, plus, that no record of this bird exists anywhere other than in me & my dads memories, although I am aware that the National Geographic bloke did pap some pics but sadly I've never been able to track him down.

Within a few years I'd got involved with some old codgers from the Pleasley area and in 1996 at the tender age of 15/16 I managed to bag quality in the form of Redhead (Notts), Lesser Scaup (on my patch - King's Mill Res, Notts), American Coot (Kent), Little Bustard (Cornwall), Great Knot (Seal Sands), LBD (Notts), Tawny Pip (Cornwall), RTP (Derbys), Subalp (Dorset), Pallas's & YBW (Dorset), Izzy & Lesser Grey Shrike (Norfolk), Arctic Roll (Norfolk), Northern Waterthrush (Dorset) & Indigo Bunting (Ramsey Island) amongst other things.
'97 followed with more star value Pied-blled Grebe (London), Little Bittern (Somerset), Canvasback (Norfolk), Surf Scoter (Norfolk), Little Crake (Kent), Black throated Thrush (Derbys) & Great Reed Warbler (Notts)...oh and a self found Great Grey Shrike in Notts... but (and this is the apex of this post...at last) it's a particular weekend in mid May that inevitably pokes it's cute little head up whenever I drift back to the mid nineties............

*taken from A4 ring binder style notes, now 14 years old*

May 17th 1997

Myself, Lester Allcock & Nigel Cross arrived in Norfolk mid afternoon (having survived Nigels insane driving in his Peugeot 309 GTI) and headed straight to Horsey where we bagged 2 Spoonbills. Around 5pm we tootled up to Salthouse and connected with 3 Temmincks Stints waddling around on 'some small pools adjacent to the Iron Road', also here an adult Med' Gull & Yellow legged Gull.
We then got a tip off regarding a pair of Golden Orioles, just inland at Glandford Triangle. Upon arrival, we joined just 4 other birders and watched as the male & female GO's lumbered around in a small Popular plantation. As the warmth of the day insidiously crawled away, a Cuckoo sang from overhead wires and a Barn Owl appeared, hunting low over the mist shrouded meadow. A pair of Turtle Doves swept low overhead and perched upon a nearby dead tree. With dusk now approaching, we headed back to the coast and in the dying throws of a May evening, we watched four Wood Sandpipers prancing around at Cley near Daukes Hide. We then headed to 'The George' and I illegally sampled a pint while we browsed Millingtons doodles in the log book. Upon leaving the pub, we headed to Salthouse Heath and enjoyed up to 4 Nightngales serenading us as we bathed beneath a still moonlit Norfolk sky. I recall that
we then headed back down to the Iron Road and somewhat foolishly attempted to errect a tent! We failed and proceeded to try to sleep in the 309 but due to Nigels snoring and my excitement, myself & Lester headed for the shingle bank and it was here I tried my first of many cigarettes as I listened intently to Lesters tales of bygone twitches as I gazed upon the moons reflection upon the North Sea.
The next morning, I awoke, aching like a c*nt due to the gravel, and wandered down the Iron Road and shared the daybreak with the remaining Temmincks Stint on the roadside Pools (the other two having done one during the night). Once again, a Barn Owl, a purring Turtle Dove & cuckooing Cuckoo greeted the morning sun. The next few hours are rather hazy but I believe that I was made to ring Birdline and upon doing so I gleaned news of a Subalp' at Blakeney Point so we trudged the 3ml to the end only to discover that I'd f*cked up big style and the bird was actually at the Cley 'end' of Blakeney! Ooops!! My notes then state that we headed to Hickling for a Red Footed Falcon but we dipped that (although Nigel did lose his right hand wing mirror due to a collision with a BMW down a very tight country lane). Another call to Birdline had us bombing towards Sheringham where we gained crippling views of a mint summer plum' Red-throated Pipit on the cliff top just west of the golf course. As we headed back home on that Sunday evening, I was bathing in a wave of pure ecstasy as I relived the the bangin' birds I'd had the pleasure of seeing during the weekend..........so much so that I was for a while blissfully unaware that Nigel had pulled up at the Wolferton Triangle and him and Lester were perving on two male Golden Pheasants that were trotting around the road side verges!

Well, there you go, that was the weekend that was. I've subsequently had some shit hot days/weekends in Norfolk (well, maybe one or two) but that weekend in 1997 is one I always return to when I start to get bored/f*cked off with the current scene.

Now feel free to vomit.