How's that for topical?
Well, dear reader, it may not be new, but the quality is unquestionable. Recently on Londonbirders, the former Inner London Bird Recorder and Hyde Park regular Des McKenzie offered up a bookcase of old bird reports from all over the place, for nothing, for whoever wanted them. So I got in contact. Having been a resident of Norfolk for a couple of decades, and that is also where I learned the craft, I was only to happy to get hold of a dozen or so Norfolk Bird and Mammal reports starting in the mid-sixties up to 1984 and a dozen or so Norfolk Bird Club bulletins. Sweet.
I have only reached 1968 on my reading and the ever tolerant Mrs Thing is being bombarded with lots and lots of "Listen to this!". Last night was spent reading an article by Richard Richardson and Billy Bishop on the attempted breeding of a couple of pairs of Black Tailed Godwits. This is not an article that would be submitted to an academic journal, but is all the better for it. An eight page analysis of their behaviour, habits, calls and attempts to breed at Cley one summer, it is very thorough and quite brilliant. As would be expected, it is illustrated fully by Richard Richardson's line drawings which are excellent at capturing the essence of a bird in a particular situation and what he leaves out is as good as what he puts in (remember that he rarely sketched in the field). Class.
But that wasn't all. The next article was a breakdown of the irruption of Nutcrackers from that year - and they were bloody everywhere! Two phases - one in August in which produced 23 birds (yes, 23 Nutcrackers in one county) and the second phase from August to mid-september that produced 54 (fifty-four). Kinell!
And I've seen some pictures too - they were not funny looking starlings, they were definitely Nutcrackers. And that is just the figures for Norfolk! Stunning. Proper birding, proper reading and I've still got loads left to read!