Postscript - Famous at last

Monday, June 13, 2011

The old patch was on the telly the other night, on an episode of The Apprentice where the madheads had to make money from scrap.  In Fulham - luxury scrap if you will.  The helicopter view drifted over the waste site, showing the Wandle Creek at high tide in the top of the image along with some of the paths in the old stomping ground.  Incredible. 

If you look carefully, you can pick out a retarded Coot watching it's nest being washed away...

Wandle Creek doing quite lush actually...

that really is it.

Monday, November 08, 2010


This blog is no more.  I no longer watch my humble little patch in Fulham and therefore have no more to post.

Thank you for arriving.  Feel free to flick through the previous posts, it's not entirely full of drivvle.  If you get bored of the ornithological history of Fulham, click on the links on the right.  They are generally rather good...

Thanks to all that have read this over the last couple of years and commented and linked and all of that.  It's been emotional

a final word on starlings

Friday, November 05, 2010

It seems that the Wandsworth Bridge Starlings get together a little up river before moving in as there were a couple of thousand on the dump waste transfer station this evening.

In my recent travels criss-crossing the river over the past couple of months I've noticed Starling activity on other bridges. Tower Bridge has some, as does Battersea Bridge (a similar construction to Wandsworth Bridge - the Starlings roost underneath remember) and there have been a couple of other dusky encounters.

The question is - are all (or the majority) London Starlings roosting on the bridges over the Thames? With 4500 regular under Wandsworth Bridge, it isn't too much of a stretch to extrapolate that up to the 10,000 mark for the whole city. If I wasn't moving out I may have considered trying to get counts for each of the bridges over the course of the winter, but that may have to wait for later in life.

better late than never

Friday, October 22, 2010


That Wheatear what I found, like ages ago, may appear below this sentence (blogger is playing up like stupid).

If it doesn't, your dose of stunning photography can be found here...a wheatear picture on the wrong blog

Not only was it a patch tick, it also goes on the London List.  Cracking little boid.

like buses

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wheatears that is.  You wait five years for one to come along, and then two turn up in the same week.  Found another this morning, all perched up and everything.  Incredible.  Totally.

I even took a rubbish picture. 

If you can handle this kind of excitement I'll be uploading it later...

67 and rising

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yep, 67 - that is now the stunning year's total for 2010.  A stunning 4 more more species than last year, and the remainder of October to add to the total.

The Wheatear yesterday was a complete surprise.  Although it was moving with determination southwards, I was lucky enough to see it close in (and without optical aids - naked birding I believe it is called) as it first came past.  That's a Wheatear I said to myself.  Bloody hell, I also thought.

Apropos nothing at all, have a picture of a gull that won't load properly.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Just had a Wheatear flying south across the river.

Patch tick mega and everything!  Result!  Fulham continues it's run as vis-mig hotspot! 

Sort of.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Migrating Magpies.  Really?  Well it would seem so, as less than an hour ago there was a rag-tag stream of Magpies steadily moving south over the river.  There were nineteen of them.  There are not that many Magpies round here.  Yet more vis-mig in the on fire patch...

mega year tick

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The patch has been quiet, and to be honest I haven’t been expecting much of late as the tide is high at lunchtime and the weather not great. Have been in the patch of course but there has been little to report, despite cracking birds being found all over the show. Ring Ouzels a couple of miles up the road. Little Gulls. Terns. That sort of thing, but obviously not likely to show up in humble Fulham of course. Or could they?

Whilst time wasting by the river yesterday afternoon, I saw a bird flying up river which is not unusual in itself, but was unusual specifically as it was a bloody Sandwich Tern! Patch Mega! Year tick! 66 for the year now. I’ve seen one of these rarities in this location only once before and that was years ago so it was thoroughly unexpected. Get on in!

tube strike list update

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Well in the end it was if nothing was happening underneath the streets, and the traffic was more normal than usual. But for the sake of completion, here is yesterday evenings list.

Black Headed Gull


Herring Gull

Crow, Carrion – not Bob

Wood Pigeon



Canada Goose




Stunning, eh?

No owls unfortunately, nor could I see much bombing past Rainham at 70mph in the failing light....

how to beat the tube strike revisited

Monday, October 04, 2010

Some time ago I wrote about how I (internally) beat the tube strike - read it here if inclined.

So we find ourselves in the same position today, but with considerably less pleasant weather and largely darkness as a companion.  But I have three times the distance to travel and a metropolis to cross.  Bitching doesn't even get half way to describing the commute this morning.  However, when a river has to be crossed there are birds to be seen.  Somehow this morning I found myself on the Woolwich Ferry, and while on said ferry there were three Common Terns to watch around the side of the boat.  A nice interlude.

I'll count the birds on the way home tonight but don't have my hopes up for 26 species, or for that matter finishing the journey within two hours.


vis-mig in Fulham

Thursday, September 30, 2010

No, really - full on proper vis-mig.  Not just Woodpigeons chuffiing over all about the place that may or may not be from round here but summer birds moving in a southerly direction one after the other.

Swallows they were too, which are pretty unusual in this locale, making it more special.  First six flew over Hurlingham Park to Wandsworth park, then three, then one then three more and two more.  That's like, loads.

Proper visible migration at the end of September.  Lovely.

i did birding

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No, really.

I went into the patch and I stood there and watched birds.  First time for ages, and it was brilliant.  Relatively.

The Yellow Legged Gull was knocking about for twenty minutes or so, and other than that there wasn't much.  A few Common Gulls, the returned Jackdaws in the distance.

And that's about it.

Better than nowt.

do have a picture this time

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The one that I couldn't load up, but is now compressed so doesn't look as it did when it wasn't.  Anyway, the patch is wet, the tide is high so there is little going on.

Whitlingham doing swan cliche photo.

don't have a picture

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three weeks in Norfolk.  Not really a birding trip per se, but some birding was done.  Most notably was going to Whitlingham CP and finding 4 Black Terns doing lengths of the water in the late evening.  Much pleased.

I would give you a picture, but for some reason by computer is reluctant to let anything be uploaded.  Once fixed I'll proffer some cliched sunsets etc.

Back to the patch today.  Not expecting Black Terns though...

a week off

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

This is the blogging equivalent of the out of office reply.  But prettier. 

I'm away from the big smoke this week, preparing for life in the other place.  Did I mention the new patch

I did


Here's a picture of it.  Just in case anyone missed it the first few times.

A Norfolk beach doing rubbing it in...

peter scott's house for sale

Friday, August 27, 2010

A snip at £435,000!

See more by clicking this link - ooh get me with my parallel blogging!

what I will miss part 2

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I’m going to miss a website. As the website is not closing that may sound a bit strange, but I will miss it because it will cease to be entirely relevant to my new patch and I will have little cause to read it.

The website is the Londonbirders Wiki.

You may think that as London is a generally a more frosty place to live on an interpersonal level that you would have more coherence amongst birders in the idyllic flatlands of Norfolk than you do in London. It is my opinion that the reverse is true. Londonbirders seem to be able to work better as a unit in spite of the difficulties that the city presents whereas the individuals in the Norfolk birding scene don’t seem to be able to get it together to maintain a project as good as the wiki, which is a pity. They have yahoo groups and what not but they don’t seem to be able to unite behind a common technowebical cause. As far as I know the most popular venue for discussion is a thread on Birdforum that is as long as it is chaotic, and I’m willing to be corrected. Yes, it is true that the Londonbirders mail group does have the odd barny, and a certain Mr Evans of the parish of Amersham has been, erm ‘deselected’ but that was a rarity. I suppose it could be that Norfolk birders are all out in the field seeing birds, and London birders are all keeping the interweb up to date rather than doing their employers will. Something that I would obviously have no truck with. No that would be very naughty indeed.  The nub of my point is that the birders in London have got all this interweb thing all sorted and have an excellent resource. I will miss it.

Meanwhile in another land, a listers list is listed.

what i will miss - part 1

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Part 1 of how many, I don't know.  But certainly at least two. 

When I leave this patch to go here, I will miss this.

Yep, that is the view of the shopping trolley Coot nest from Friday.  Empty, no eggs or chicks visible but the adults were still knocking about (as they always are).  The nest really is enormous now, and is likely to last the winter to leave a much better base for earlier success next year. 

I would think that this is the last time that I will set eyes on this (eventually painful) scene for two reasons.  Firstly is that there is little point in going this far up the Wandle if the Coots are not nesting, and secondly the Coots are not nesting.

It has been quite a rollercoaster watching these bloody birds over the last few years, and to a certain extent they have come to represent the the blog itself (although the image that adorned the header for quite some time was from a bird that lives some 8 miles away), although qualifying that statement might be a bit tricky to be honest.  What I do know however, is that the day that I found that they had actually produced young was as high as the day was low when I found that they had all gone to the big shopping trolley in the sky.  Which might tell you something.

Anyway that's enough navel-picking-shoe-gazing-introspective nonsense for one day.  Yes I'll miss them but they bollocked my nut in for most of each year, see ya!

don't watch that...

Monday, August 23, 2010 this!

A stag party at cley...

if i build it...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Did I mention that I've got a new patch coming?  I did? 

Well, I reckon that a new patch deserves a new blog (might have mentioned that too).

It's still in it's infancy, and lots of honourable links are yet to be added and all that kind of malarkey, but for the moment feel free to enjoy the first, and reasonably uninspiring entry to Norfolk'n Birds.  

Click on the bluey bit - it's a link...

a gull eats a balloon

Friday, August 20, 2010

Have you ever been asked the question "will a gull eat a balloon?".  No, nor me.  Now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology you can answer that question.  Read on.

Initially I thought it intersting that a gull had found a balloon on the foreshore (and ironically only a few days after Thames21 had done a big clean up in the area) and thought that it might be investigating this new thing in it's life.

But it decided that it needed a wash, becuase it probably mistook it for a lugworm or something similar.

At this point I thought that it had realised it's folly and was going to leave it alone.   Sensibly.

But it picked it up again, and with a flick of it's head it had it in the correct place for an efficient swallow...

It was at this point that I realised that the bird was actually going to eat the bloody thing.  By waving my hands in the area and swearing loudly at the gull, I thought that it might be persuaded to take flight and drop it.  But with what it thought was a lugworm that big though, it wasn't going to budge.  With hindsight, I should have known that it may well of flown off, but it wouldn't have dropped it as that isn't what gulls tend to do.

It swallowed it. 

Completely.  Bloody thing.

It then proceeded to have a little drink and carried on feeding in the river.

Then it had a preen.

And then it had a kip.

Unless it regurgitates it (which I have seen in gulls before) it's shortly going to be a very, very,  dead gull indeed.  I know it's only a gull, and not an uncommon one and that I am not one for shying away from nature when it is at it's most raw and unforgiving.  If this gull was killed by a Peregrine I would have loved it.  But this is at the other end of the scale, the shitty end of urban birding.

it's ok, they are only gulls

Thursday, August 19, 2010

If you look at the Birdguides reports of rarities that are knocking about these fair isles, you will occasionally see that there are entries for Yellow Legged Gulls.  That means that they are unusual.  So I should make more of a song and dance about this bird as it is still hanging about in Fulham and seen yesterday.

Of course, just because it is on Birdguides (other rare bird information services are available) doesn't necessarily mean that the birds are hard to find or that significant.  How many times in a day do people need to tell everyone else that there are Spoonbills at Cley for example?

Anyhow, elsewhere in the patch, Common Gull numbers are on the rise, as there were two yesterday.  Here is one, ain't it purdy?

Else-elsewhere in the patch, this ringed Herring Gull (white A6LK) has been seen.  I'm not the first to have seen it but it's the first time I've seen it.

Now if you think that me moving to a new patch means that I'll stop yapping on about Larids, think again  (even if I'm able to find the time to do it, it will depend on servers and monitoring and stuff).  So it might not be Norfolk'n Birds, it might well be Norfolk'n Posts!  I digress, regardless of the blogability of my situation, this photo of the new patch gives you an idea of what kind of gullage I'll be up to.

Now ain't that purdy?

I can't bloody wait.

a list of birds what i saw

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You know those waffle free posts where someone that birds in a patch actually puts up a list of birds they saw in the patch?  The ones like what I don't do very often?  Lets have one for yesterday.

Mute Swan - 2 adults, 5 cygnets
Mallard - loads
Tufted Duck - 1 female, 6 ducklings (no, really)
Grey Heron - 7
Cormorant - c15
Lesser Black Backed Gull - 5+
Herring Gull - 15+
Common Gull - 1
Black-headed Gull - 30+
Long Tailed Tit - c7
Blue Tit - 1
Goldfinch - 3
Magpie - 5
Carrion Crow - loads
Starling - c20
Moorhen - 2
Coot - 4
Pigeons - loads
Wood Pigeon - 10+
Ring-necked Parakeet - 3
Pied Wagtail - 1
Blackbird - 2
House Sparrow - 6+
Canada Goose - 2

Not very exciting I grant you.  The only notable from that list is the Tufted Duck with ducklings.  If they stay loyal to the site over the coming weeks it may be proof of breeding, which will be a first.  But there are Tufties on Wandsworth Common, and it is not unknown for ducks to take their progeny for a walk.  But round here it seems a little unlikely.

Tufted Ducks doing activity

the dalai lama and me

Monday, August 16, 2010

What was the relevance of the title of Friday's post?  What is the relevance of this one?  Firstly, none whatsoever and secondly none until I'm done here today.  You still with me?

Here is how it all ties together.  Trying to find witty or even slightly different titles for posts can be a bit taxing.  Now, on the way to work on Friday, rather than the dulcit tones of John Humphreys, I was listening to some of Screamadelica by Primal Scream, as you do.  In the track Don't Fight It, Feel It the backing singer(s) sing the line (taken from the superb Rocket Reducer No. 62 by the MC5 as some of you know) 'Rama Lama Lama Fa Fa Fa'. And it stuck in my head. So for my own amusement, I put it as the title of the post. So far so innocent.  That's the first bit out of the way.  The second answer, and a little installment of wierdness is that because of that post title a link to my blog ended up on a kind of daily whereabouts blog thing for the Dalai Lama.

No shit - click here.

How totally bizarre.

Erm, have a picture?

 A Heron doing itchin' an' scratchin'

another sparrowhawk post

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't worry, I'll stop soon.

However, if you want to know what a decent picture of a Sparrowhawk looks like check this out.

Birdguides photo of the week

rama lama fa fa fa

Friday, August 13, 2010

So I've been discussing with much erudition waffling on about how there are a couple of Sparrowhawks in Fulham and that I reckon that they are juveniles but they are never very close so I can't be certain that there is breeding in the patch and that I was waiting or looking for a third bird right so that I could confidently state that there was breeding, yeah?

[pauses for breath]

Well yesterday lunchtime I was going through the exact same routine as the previous days (standing, watching, waiting).  And I was watching one Sparrowhawk, which was calling a lot, and I could hear another which also was calling a lot.  So far, so the same, so fine - I'm not complaining.  After a while there was some man made disturbance at the bottom of the tree that they had been sitting in.  I cynically hoped that perhaps this would make them fly, perhaps revealing the toid boid.  It didn't produce da toid boid. 

It produced FOUR!  Four bloody Sparrowhawks!

Patch gold, no doubt about it.  Four Sparrowhawks circling above me and proof of breeding (as far as I am concerned).  Nice.

Have some pictures (It was a bit dingy, so if I say that I was trying to do arty farty silhouette pictures I might get away with the distinct lack of quality).

Three Sparrowhawks

Three Sparrowhawks

A Sparrowhawk

A Sparrowhawk

A Sparrowhawk

Yes, I know I said that there were four, but they don't exactly understand how to pose for a family photo you know.

mobbing in the morning

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What do you do if you know where to find Sparrowhawks in your patch?   Easily.  Well, if you are me, you just keep going to go and watch them. At every available moment.  So I did again yesterday, and have done so already this morning. I mean why not? What’s not to like about watching a couple of raptors in your patch? What could be better? Not much is the answer. Not much at all. Still not seen a definite toid boid, but I'm hoping that it is only a matter of time before a parent pops up with some food while I'm there.  Either way,  the two regulars are still well worth the effort. Yesterday lunchtime they were pretty static, but again this morning the Magpies were giving it some (do Magpies prefer mobbing in the morning?) and they were flying about lots and calling all the while.

Other than this excellent bit of patch birderism, there was an Egyptian Goose on the Thames this morning and a Common Sandpiper yesterday. Haven’t seen a Swift for ages, which is a bummer.

Have a picture.

A Meadow Pipit doing calling

da toid boid

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On Monday I spent about 40 minutes watching a Sparrowhawk in a tree. It didn’t do much other than sitting in the tree and calling incessantly while looking west.

Yesterday, from a different vantage point, I watched what I assumed to be the same bird doing much the same thing. Occasionally I could see another Sparrowhawk moving around the area. From this bird’s behaviour, and reasonably shabby plumage, I have assumed that it is a juvenile. This is good. It makes me think that the Sparrowhawks that I have seen over the year in one particular area have bred again (again assuming that the juvenile that was seen last autumn was a local bird).

But this is an assumption. One reasonably distant and shabby bird acting up isn’t much proof of breeding. Ideally, I need at least a second bird.

This morning I was at my place of employ quite early. I considered getting stuck in for the good of the cause and all that, but as I will be leaving soon I felt more inclined to go and look for Sparrowhawks. So I did. Again I found a second bird, but this time it was sitting with the original bird and doing much the same thing as the first – calling a lot and facing west – and it looked pretty much identical. Like this.

Hmmm. That makes me think that there are two juveniles (which is very good) but they are still distant and shabby. Not quite the proof I was after. So now I need a third bird. Not quite a three bird theory, but certainly a three bird proposition. I thought that I might have found it at one point this morning. While the two probable juveniles were sitting on the tree they attracted the attention of some Magpies and after a short while there was at least half a dozen Magpies mobbing the hawks, who were giving plenty back. There ensued about half an hour of flying around at each other with some lovely views of the two hawks. Sometimes visible, sometimes not, but always audible. During the aerial skirmish I was certain that I saw a slaty-backed bird pop out of the foliage which may have been bigger than the other two. The third bird. I’m now reasonably confident that Sparrowhawks have been breeding on my patch in 2010.  I do intend to chase the third bird for a while though.  For the sake of proof.

Magpies doing mobbing.

The Heron ignored everything.

not what I had intended

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I was going to waffle on about discuss imprinting in wildfowl.  I was perhaps going to mention Konrad Lorenz (younger viewers may not remember black and white film of a bloke walking around with loads of geese following him).  I might have even mentioned his membership of the Nazi Party.  I was going to read some books and get some info and stuff.  To elucidate and enlighten and perhaps entertain.  Unfortunately, to justify all that nonsense, I needed a second view of a bird at a local park to check that my initial assumption was correct.  Basically, because the initial assumption was interesting, but unproven (that's science kids).  

Instead of all that, I proffer a picture and a brief synopsis (an abstract mayhaps) of what I might have waffled on about discussed had I found this bird last night, when in fact I found not much at all.

You see that Tufted Duckling? It thinks that the Mallard is it's mother. 



Monday, August 09, 2010

A brief visit to Brent Res on Saturday produced the goods that I had been hoping for in the shape of a small mainly brown bird.  On the way to the hide, there was a nice warbler frenzy and I managed to pick up a Lesser Whitethroat, juvenile Blackcap and Garden Warbler.  Once in the hide I set about finding the mainly brown bird, which took some time as it may have been sheltering from the recent showers.  However, once it was out, it stayed out.  It's name?  Wood Sandpiper - patch tick.  Nice.

A Wood Sandpiper doing nice.

There is a Wood Sandpiper in that shot.  No, really.  There is a small possibility that that was my last visit to Brent Res as I will obviously be moving to the new patch later in the year.

Tomorrow I intend to discuss imprinting behaviour in ducks.  Don't say you weren't warned.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

To assuage some kind of guilt regarding the eponymous Coots of this blog and the lack of interest I was showing (what, when there are Redshanks all over the show?) I went to check them out yesterday. I hadn't been to the shopping trolley since the end of the family that appeared against all belief earlier in the year.  Not once.  Which is a bit pants, but that particluar drama had left me a bit flat.  And besides, I had a fair idea of what was going to happen.  The days are still long, the sun is still warm, there is still plenty of food about.  What is a Coot supposed to do?

Nest, that's what.

A Coot doing sitting tight.  Yesterday.

And I reckon that this is high enough for success too.  Perhaps they have learned something after all.  Note the amount of vegetation that is now associated with this nest.  It has been there so long that it is turning into an island in it's own right.  A shopping trolley microclimate if you will.  Chicks may be only a week away.

I bet you never thought you'd see the words 'shopping trolley microclimate' juxtaposed did you?

An ending (Ascent)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I went to see a man last week right, and we had a chat about some stuff. He liked what I said, and I was intrigued by what he said. “We should have another chat” he said. “That’s a good idea” I said. So earlier this week, suitably attired, I went and had another chat with him. Another man was there too. We all chatted for, like, ages yeah? Then the other chap showed me around this place that we were at, which was nice of him.

Subsequent to all this chatting and stuff, they only went and offered me a bloody job. With money and benefits and stuff. I've only then gone and accepted the bloody job.


There is still the due diligence and what not to go through, but essentially I'm hired.  Professionally this really is very good news. But this blog is not about my chosen profession. Never has been, never will be. It’s about patch birding, and largely about the inadequacies of this particular patch by the Thames in Fulham. But it cannot be thus for ever dear reader, and nor will it be. This new job, you see, is nowhere near Fulham and thus nowhere near this patch. So I will need to go somewhere in the breaks between the times when I'm not contractually obliged to be sitting behind a desk or pointing at things and telling people to do stuff (I believe they call it 'managing').

“Now just hang on one cotton pickin' minute...” I hear you cry dear reader “...your patch isn’t that bad really, what with it being by the river and everything. Will you have anywhere to go in your new job? What could possibly be right outside the front door of your new place of employment that could compare? How lucky can one person get? I mean really, what’s the likelihood of finding something like that somewhere else?”

Exactly.  Life isn't like that.  I'm supposed to be resigned to the futility of modern life, in that I am forced to work for 'the man' and take the tainted dollar and abandoning what little morality I have left for the sake of an easy life.  I couldn't realistically apply for a job based on how close the birds are at lunchtime, that would be silly and financially I don't think it entirely sensible.  But what if it works out that both job and birding can reach some convenient geographical integration.  Yeah, right.  What are the chances of that happening, eh?  What are the real chances of being a hundred yards or so from somewhere worth watching on a daily basis?

Oh, I dunno.

Maybe this picture of the new patch answers the question...

A new patch, doing rock the fuck on!.

Steady. Interesting, but steady.

Friday, July 30, 2010

On Wednesday morning I found the Yellow Legged Gull again so it is looking like it is doing what it normally does and should hang about for a month or so. Which is nice. It briefly showed yesterday lunchtime. That’s the steady bit. The only interest has come from Gulls. I had quite a long look over a flock yesterday lunchtime, and it was quite varied. Black-headed Gulls loafing, including a couple of juvs, there were a few juvenile Herrrings, some of which would be classed as first winter types as well as other summer or winter 'types'. There was also a big 2nd summer GBB, and nearly every variation of LBB on show including a cracking looking 3rd winter type – nice fresh feathers on all but the secondaries. Peachy. Did I say interesting? Well, if you don’t dig gulls it is was pretty boring I guess. Your loss.

While we are on the subject of books, I have two things that I just have to get off my chest. Firstly, The Big Gull Book (which really is brilliant) is a bit disappointing with some of the coverage of argenteus Herring Gulls – it’s really good for argentatus and all the rest but we don’t have them much over here. I just find it disappointing, and a little annoying that a book that is obviously going to sell very well in blighty is a bit light on one of the trickier ID’s and a bit 'Scando-centric'. So there.

Secondly, in that Big Year book about the mad twitchers rare bird enthusiasts, right, the author reckons that Al Levantin (one of the three protagonists) cannot smell. He was evidently an industrial chemist and after many years in the lab his nose packed up. This meant that when he went to a place called Brownsville Dump to look for Tamaulipas Crows (whatever they are) he had a distinct advantage over the other birders because he couldn’t smell the detritus that was attracting the crows. However, earlier in the book he was on a pelagic and could smell the cod liver oil and chum as it went over the side. Now, either he could smell or he couldn’t. Which one is it? How do you expect me to believe all the other tales in the book if you can't tell me if for sure if a mans nose works or not? Eh?  Answer that for me.

There, I feel better already.

Have a picture of some gulls.  On a beach.

Gulls on a beach doing spot the Med.  Yummy.

letting the days go by

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

After all of last week’s patch tick craziness, it is back to normal. The days roll on, the tide rises and falls, and the same birds fly about a bit when they can be bothered. 

Admittedly I did briefly see a Common Sandpiper again on Monday but that is by far and away the most interesting thing that has happened. There does seem to be a small increase in the amount of Woodpigeons flying through, and yesterday I heard a Robin sing – now that was a novelty. Due to recent reports of a Med Gull in the vicinity, every single gull in the patch has been getting a lot of attention. Normally optics need not be raised to eliminate the flying Black Headed from a Med search, but as most of them are moulting, most of the secondaries are all over the place at the moment so the wing profile is a bit wrong. So I have been birding furiously, but to no avail.

On Sunday I was watching Red Kites. This was very enjoyable. While I was in the area there was a Jackdaw with no tail. When in flight it looked like a small black owl. This also was enjoyable.

A gull doing an example of wing moult patterns in late summer with particular attention being paid to the secondaries to illustrate what I meant in the rambling text.

Kings of Leon and pigeon poo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You might have heard about this, you might not.  The story is told here.  I think it is quite funny.

how do i work this?

Monday, July 26, 2010

So the year list for the patch is now higher than last year by one. In fact I am now in the biggest year of my patch life for this patch. And it’s only July. I was in the 29th best patch in London last year, but even with last years total beaten, I'm only in the mid thirties.  And that's assuming that all the other worthy patch birders have updated their lists.  So to maintain the top 30 status pop-pickers I need a big year.

Funnily enough, I’ve just finished reading The Big Year by Mark Obmascik, which if you have any lists of birds that you see, you will enjoy. Three now legendary birders in America try to break the record for the most birds seen in America in a year. The winner (Sandy Komito) ended up with 745. If you haven’t read it (regardless of which side of the pond you sit on), get hold of it. It’s a ruddy good read. Their antics would make the most mental UK twitcher rare bird enthusiast look like a reasoned patch birder. Kind of.

The interweb also informs me that this subject is now being made into a comedy film with Jack Black, Angelica Houston and Steve Martin along with a load of actors that I’ve never heard of but are probably regarded as celebrities. I suspect that this will be rubbish. I digress. This is now the patch Big Year, I’ve already broken the record due to the recent run and the good fortune that the severe winter weather brought at the beginning of the year.  So what should I have, and what might I get, to move further into unknown territory?

Here are six species that I had last two years that have yet to appear this year.

Goldcrest – should be a cert in the Autumn/Winter
Collared Dove – rare but annual, only a matter of time
Brambling – a previous one off
Green Sandpiper – not wholly unlikely
Greenshank – a previous one off
Oystercatcher – a previous one off, but not uncommon in West London.

So out of that lot let’s say that I’ll get two more - 67 for sure.

Now, for the Brambling, let’s assume that there is a finch of somer sort knocking about for the year – either that or a Siskin, a Bullfinch or maybe even a Reed Bunting. 68

For the waders, let’s assume that one of the above will drop in at some point – 69

Which leaves me one off the heady heights of 70. So we need to spread the net a bit wider.

Ducks. I have never seen a Pochard on this patch, which is slightly odd. Other candidates in this area are Shelduck and/or Shoveler. So let’s call that a nice round 70.

Gulls. I’m never short of Gulls in the winter, so it’s only a matter of time before something from the top drawer pops in . Med is my best bet (there was one in Chiswick over the weekend - hubba hubba!). – 71

Accidentals. This is where I need to be really lucky. But the following are seen on occasion within a couple of miles, Warblers, Osprey, Hobby, Sand Martin, Snipe, Dunlin, Plovers, Godwits, etc etc etc

Extrapolate from that lot, and in the spirit of the Big Year, nothing less than 73 will be accepted.  The chances of getting it though is another matter...

A Swallow, doing into the blue again.

well, how did i get here?

Friday, July 23, 2010

I think that I may have been in the wrong patch this morning.  I got uncommon birds and a patch tick par excellence.

The tides have been high at lunchtime this week, so the only good birding is in the morning.  Obviously, this being this particular patch, good birding means that the birds that are not there at lunchtime are there in the morning.  Which is fine.  It's a patch, and that's what it is all about.  Or is it?

I got to the river this morning, spied a couple of Grebes close in and some gulls.  So far, so really very normal indeed.  Then a Common Sandpiper flew past calling, and it was close in.  That'll do me.  Waders on this patch are very hard to come by so I was more than happy to try and follow this shivery winged rarity for half an hour or so.  Except that as I turned in one direction, I heard a familiar call behind me.  If I was at Cley, I wouldn't think twice about it.  Well maybe to check if something rarer was with it, maybe with spots.  But in the context of the patch I knew this was special.  I was stopped in my tracks and the adrenalin started to flow.  It called again - tyu-yu-yu - "holy shit I've got a Redshank".  There have been reports of one in the same borough, but just up river so I was hoping against all hope that one might come past, but as I spun round and eyeballed the foreshore there were five.  FIVE!  "Holy shit - there's five Redshanks".  Five lovely little patch ticks all in a row.  I was staggered.  And still am.  Of course, they flew off.  Record shots below.

Bloody hell.  I'll go and look for this sandpiper then.  Two wader species in a day.  Remarkable.  I got further down river and didn't find a sandpiper, but did find a Yellow-legged Gull.  And there was a Common Tern, and a summer plumage Common Gull (niiiiice..).

What is going on?  It's like the birding equivalent of Once In A Lifetime...

You may find yourself birding in a half decent patch

You may find yourself in another part of the Thames

You may find yourself in a beautiful patch, with a beautiful tick

You may ask yourself: well... how did I get here?

loo list update

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This morning I was incredibly not excited when I saw a female Mallard flying across the wide vista that can be seen from the loo window.  'Oh' I thought, 'that is a mallard' I continued internally.  'Hang on a minute', I continued again, and internally again, 'thats a bloody loo tick!'.  And so it was.  This brings the loo list to a staggering 32 species. 

The patch continues to do little.  Loafing Black-headed Gulls now regularly over 100.  5+ LBB.  The odd Tern.  Only a Wren sings.  I Redshank upriver refuses to show itself.  I can almost smell the imminent Med Gull.

'A Med Gull?' you say.  'What does that look like?' you continue.

Well if you insist...

A Med Gull doing what it looks like.

no pictures of flying ants

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yesterday was Flying Ant Day in Fulham.  That day in the year that flying ants come out and kamikaze style whack into everything, largely including my head. 

It is of course on flying ant day that people walk around going "it's flying ant day - look at all those ants".  All day.  And to everyone that they know.  As if we all know why it is that the ants take to the air, and that we care.  Or that we have some affinity with the ants, or even that we had been looking forward to flying ant day.  Although it has no cultural significance, it never gets on the news, everyone was talking about flying ants yesterday.  I suppose it beats going around saying "it is hot" all day which is equally inane.  Maybe it's the company I keep during the day.  Anyway,  I didn't take any photos of the ants, but instead I proffer some random buggage that I have come across recently.

Exhibit 1

Harpalus affinus

According to my book...

The elytra range from metallic green or blue, through bronzy red, to almost black with the outer areas punctate and slightly pubescent.
I have no idea what that means.

It is small and it looks like this.

Exhibit 2

Yellow Shell.  Camptogramma bilineata

It's a moth.

Exhibit 3.

Ringlet.  Aphantopus hyperantus.

It's a butterfly.

I have recently found a spider with a pink back but I cannot discuss this here as spiders, as I am sure you know dear reader, are not bugs.

I did see some birds yesterday.  But it wasn't very exciting.

they're back

Friday, July 16, 2010

Stop!  To ensure that the atmospherics of todays offering are correct, go back to the title of the post and put on your horror-movie-trailer-voiceover-voice on.  Go on.  The super deep gravelly voice that scares children but makes adults laugh because it is a bit stoopid really.  You know, the one that you can only do for a couple of words before it hurts your throat. And makes you cough.  But is occasionally worth it.  Now try again.

They're - baaack....


Now see if you can read the next paragraph out loud (or if you must, internally) - but still with the horror-movie-trailer-voiceover-voice on.  If you don't follow the instructions, you will not get the most out of the post.  Now come on, play along!

In a world where everything was tidal, he was a humble patch birder.  He thought that they had gone, but this winter they have returned.  To haunt his dreams....  They are back, and this time they have abraded tertials.  He, armed with nothing more than a copy of the the old Collins and the Big Gull Book, must I-D them all.        Before.    They.    Send.    Him.     Insane.            From the maker of Death On the Wandle, and I Know What You Moulted Last Summer, coming to a patch near you - Thing stars in Dodgy Gulls Of Winter Part II - The Hunt For The Cachinnans....

A Common Gull doing first of the winter in a second summer progressing to second winter progression situation.

more kestrel food

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

As I mentioned, and you've probably forgotten already,  gull numbers rise.  Interestingly (in the context of not much being of interest) a couple of juvenile Black Headed Gulls are knocking about.  Their inconsistent wing pattern does occasionally give microseconds of excitement as nothing similar has been seen round here quite some time.  In other gull action, the GBB's were back on the barge, but are doing nothing more exciting than standing up, moving a bit, and sitting back down.

A juvenile gull doing floating.

There is more fresh Kestrel food in the patch too, with a lovely new batch of a half dozen Mallard ducklings knocking about by the houseboats and a single duckling in the Wandle delta.  Here is the obligatory rubbish picture of one of them on a handy bit of river detritus.

A duckling doing fattening itself up for a Kestrels lunch.

All of this incredible patch action paled into insignificance yesterday when it transpired that Mrs Thing has been awarded (and earned) a 1st Class degree.  To say that this is very good news is really understating the fact by a country mile.  Good on you kiddo.

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