Patch first

Friday, July 31, 2009

Don't get too excited, it's not a patch first in the way that a Caspian Gull might be, more of a movement into new territory by a vagrant species. While watching gulls on the Thames yesterday lunchtime (who, me?) I also found a couple of Common Sandpipers. Waders = Good.

Now it seems to me that waders generally have two main types of flight. There is the normal 'I am going from A to B, in the air, and I will flap my wings regularly to get there' type flight and then there is the 'Whoooaaaa shiiiiit' erratic flight that they do when close to feeding and resting areas. Common Sandpipers, of course, also have the 'I'm pretending to be cold and just about to fall into the water just below me' type flight. Which is what they were doing over the Thames yesterday.

It was while watching them do this, that I saw them fly into the Wandle Basin AND LAND! This, dear reader, is the first. Despite all the mud and coots in the low tide wandle basin, it is distinctly unpopular with waders. Until yesterday. Waders actually on the river Wandle. See - it's not just about Gulls and coots here.

The apposite thing here would be to give you a picture of a Common Sandpiper flying up the Wandle. Unfortunately at that distance they were little more than jizzblobs, so that is out of the Question.

Instead of that, if I leave a picture from the Counting Coots library of 'not sure what that is for' images of the area that they were in, you can then imagine them flying over the mud and into the distance yourself.

Happy with that?

Whacked out.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

After some cogitation by a few slightly more experienced gullers, it would seem that yesterdays postage of a putative Caspian is in fact a Yellow Legged Gull. Albeit a YLG with long pinky legs and a funny head. I'm tempted to go along with the Punkbirders advice from last winter 'Don't do gulls', but you and I know dear reader that it just isn't going to happen.

And it is catching. A recent visitor to this blog found it by entering 'blogs for larophiles' into google - I expect that he didn't linger too long. Alan is at it too, and I dare say that a fair few bloggers will be joining in before the winter is out. If you want more Larobloggage, you could do a lot worse than this...Gulls on Film

Perhaps there should be health warnings on field guides. Once you inhale your first Med, it's downhill from there sonny-jim. Soon you'll be stringing funny looking Black-heads into Bonapartes, 2cy Common to Ring-billed and any vaguely pale winged Herring into a Thayers. It's inevitable, and there is no escape. Just look at me, it's too late already. I'm so totally off me head and whacked out on gulls I'm probably even repeating previous posts without noticing it!

Have a cheeky young Med from last week. On a beach. Oh, niiice...

Go on, turn round for the camera.

Aw, go on.

Aw, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on

Go on, go on, go on go on, go on, go on, go on.

Go on, go on, go on, oh, you did. Thank you already.

Dodgy Gulls Of Winter part 4

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Found this yesterday lunchtime. Another dodgy looking gull. I reckon it's a half decent shout for a Caspian. Hungry it was too.

Any ideas?


Standing again.


Walking next to a Herring Gull.

Grabbing a pigeon.

Keeping hold of a pigeon.

Flying off with a pigeon.

Drowning a pigeon.

Still drowning a pigeon.

Trying to fly off with a pigeon.

Post pigeon drop.

A pigeon doing drowning.

A pigeon doing survival.

Crazy bird, crazy name!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Somebody who I share a certain amount of genetic material with has been unwell. The somebody who has been unwell, is better than a short while ago but not as good as the ideal. There is more doctoring to be done before restoration of full wellness. I felt that it was a good idea for me, and Mrs Thing, to visit said somebody and to check on some 'business' at the same time. The visit was good.

Hence the absence, and the huge fall in fatbirderism. The visit that we undertook was in the county of Norfolk. Some of you may have heard of it. Despite the nature of the visit to Norfolk, and the metaphorical cloud that was hanging over it, there is always time for a cheeky visit to Cley on the way back, eh?


Loads of fucking Spoonbills!

Normally when I see a Spoonbill they are sitting in the corner of a scrape/lagoon. Sleeping. But not these ones, they were proper bloody bonkers Spoonbills. Bonkers! Look at them! Look! Running around and everything! With a bill shaped like a fucking spoon! Look! They are mad.

The reserve had just shut, so this was as close as we got, but I nevertheless whacked out the trusty germans and got stuck in. Mrs Thing was mildly surprised by the amount of rudewordness caused by these birds so I insisted that she have a look at what all the fuss was about. "Have a look, they are like a big Little Egret but with a spoon shaped bill, honest!" "Yeah, yeah, as if a bird round here is going to have a bill shaped like a, they have a bill shaped like a spoon!"

Bonkers! Spoonbills! Kinell!

Then a Marsh Harrier came over and sent the whole marsh up.

Spoonbills in flight!

Spoonbills doing bonkers, in flight.

Work avoidance

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm not around at the moment for blogging and what not, but if you came here looking for work avoidance on an ornithological theme, check out this crazy Finnish bird counting game!!

2008 v 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dear reader, I'm not the most religious of record keepers when it comes to birds. For instance when I go to somewhere like the Brent Reservoir, there are a lot of Coots. Despite the title of this humble blog, I don't sit down in the hide, crack open the big optics and start counting my little black friends ignoring all else. Of course, they get a scan to make sure that there is nothing amongst them that shouldn't be there, but like many, perhaps most, it is the 'significant' birds that I'm looking for. This can be the mundane in an unfamiliar setting, or the opposite of course.

Yesterday, the mundane in a mundane setting was the interest. Behold!

A Gull doing common

The first Common Gull in Fulham of the winter. I like Common Gulls. I thought I would check my records to see when the first one appeared last year, and this one is about five days earlier than the first in 2008. Flicking through the book, I found a startling fact. Last year a Yellow Legged Gull appeared in Fulham on exactly the same day as this year. Crikey. I also noted that flying ant day was two days earlier than last year, and extrapolating this logic I'm due a Kingfisher in the next week or so. Nice.

Killer on the Loose

Monday, July 20, 2009

Today, dear reader, I am going to explore two scenarios regarding the population of the breeding ducks in the local park. Specifically it involves the family of Tufted Ducks that I mentioned in this here blog earlier in the month, and a much smaller family of Pochard, which involves a female and single duckling.

The background is this. There were initially eleven Tufted ducklings. The next visit showed only nine. Subsequent to this there are only none. The Pochard is the only child of the only female, and has been doing quite nicely but yesterday it looked orphaned and was kopping much more agro from the Tufties (non-breeding) as it is nearly as big as them now.

Scenario one

The Tufted Duck mother decided that the park was far too much aggro and decided to take the whole brood for a walk through the little woodland to the river/canal where it is much quieter.

The female pochard was wandering about yesterday, looking for another mate or a new area to live in once the duckling could fly.

Scenario two

Death. Yep, combinations of duck scoffing death animals.

The mother tuftie could have been nabbled by a fox, and the semi-resident Heron could have taken a break from rat catching and finished the ducklings off. Or a fox ate all of them. Or the Heron ate all of them (maybe barring the adult Tuftie). But I doubt if the Heron would have been able to take all of the ducklings without the mother being taken first.

The mother pochard could also have been taken by a fox. This means that the young Pochard, who has been doing quite well might not do so well. 'He' can feed ok, but might not be able to make those good overnight decisions on keeping warm and away from predation. Time will tell on that one.

Although I have no proof on the duck murder scenario, my gut feeling is that this is what has happened. The Coots don't seem to have suffered, the Moorhen seem to be doing ok (second brood hatched, first brood chipping in). Interestingly, a Canada Goose was nursing a sore leg last week...........

Rather than have a photo of something that may not exist, have an incredible digimonned Mallard hybrid thingy.

A Mallard doing mutant

Dodgy Gulls Of Winter part 3

Friday, July 17, 2009

Or perhaps, once-was-dodgy-but-as-it's-hanging-about-long-enough-it-got-an-ID-gull-of-winter part 1.

Not much of a ring to it though.

It was still there for the fourth day yesterday, and it's a Yellow-Legged Gull. Bear in mind that the moult is incomplete, and the primaries are expected to project more. Also, my trusty Canon seems to slightly darken the mantle colour. Either way, here it is...

A Gull doing posing.

Another picture of the same gull.

That will be the same gull then.

A slightly different picture of a gull you have already seen pictures of.

You bored of gull pictures yet?

A gull doing buggering off.

You may have the impression that I am not particularly excited by this (perhaps by the lack of swearing and exclamation marks), but I am. Although a YLG is not a patch tick, or even patch year tick, it still comes under the category of a proper bird. Even though it's a gull.

And now on the BBC...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

..........(Blogger Broadcasting Catastrophe) – it’s time for Thing Cravens Bird-Newsround.

Diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit

In inner London yesterday, a local birdtwitcher reported a Black Tailed Godwit, a big pointy bird, flying up the river Thames. It was later reported to have been seen further up river in Barnes. Another birdtwitcher described the event as ‘MEGA’. A birdtwitcher in Fulham said ‘It must have ****ing flown through my ****ing patch and I ****ing missed it – I’m not very ****ing happy about it, all I’ve got is dodgy ****ing gulls and they’ve all got ****ing Godwits - *****rds’. The Newsround doctor has said that this man is ‘gripped off’.

In Fulham this morning, a man saw a Blackbird, a small black bird, with what he described as ‘a proper gobful’ of nesting material. The man was quoted as saying 'well, b*gger me that's a late one'.

And finally, in Wandsworth today, a pair of Coots, a small black bird, were found to be nesting on a Shopping Trolley. A local birdtwitcher told newsround that they have been there for a long time, but the eggs have probably got cold in the water. A local sceptic is quoted as saying 'Doomed - doomed - DOOOOOOMMMED'

Come back tomorrow for more of Thing Craven's Newsround - diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit -diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle-it-dit-diddle-diddle it dit- diddle-diddle-it-dit

Dodgy Gulls Of Winter part 2

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Anyone noticed that patch blogging can be repetitive?

Much the same story yesterday as there was the day before. There is a certain amount of site fidelity with over-wintering gulls here, there was a Yellow-legged Gull in this area over a chunk of the winter and at certain times I pretty much new where it would be. So it is no surprise to me to find a gull in the same place on consecutive days.

Here are some more images of the dodgy gull.

Nice comparison with a Lesser Black Backed

Nice comparison with a Lesser Black Backed

Interesting that it is moulting so the pattern on the primaries is not clear


Not entirely sure what this photo brings to the table

Yeah, it perched on something. In direct sunlight. Cheers.

In flight windows and things. You still reading this?

Close up! More inconclusive imagery.

In flight chase sequence! Again, not helping much with the ID.

It's the one on the right by the way.

So there we are. No real new clues to nail the identity. I'm sort of veering away from the washed out LBB theory but without some more salient ID features (wing projection, orbital ring, close comparison to an equally aged Herring, good gawp at the bill etc etc - some of which may not be clear until the primaries poke through) this gull stays firmly in the 'dodgy pile'.

Dodgy Gulls Of Winter part 1

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More gullage. You can't say that I didn't warn you...

Proper low tide yesterday lunchtime, and as winter is approaching the gull numbers start to rise (Black heads are pushing towards 100 now). Thus begins the series ‘Things dodgy gulls of winter’ and we have entry number 1.

A Gull doing dodgy

This gull is one of three things. It is either a Herring Gull with yellow legs and a dark mantle, or it is a Lesser Black Back with a pale mantle, or it is a Yellow Legged Gull. The mantle is darker in the photos than it appeared in reality.

It was flying around briefly and showed lots of black on the primary tips, and hardly any white in the mirror thingies. It, of course, landed on the far bank and just wandered about a little bit. Near enough to an LBB and a Herring Gull to ascertain the differences in colour. The yellow legs were mighty prominent at rest.

As I was trying different techniques of digimonocularisation it decided to take to flight with a Lesser Black Back (interesting!) and then came straight for me. To say that I was unprepared for this is a mild understatement, it takes about 5 seconds for it to cross the river, so all I had time to do was swear (of course) whack off the macro button on the camera and let rip. Except that when it had finished a quick loop and flew off it transpired that the macro button had not been turned off. So the pictures are less than useful. Nice clouds though.

A gull doing more dodgy

So there you have it, dodgy gull number 1. Probably just a washed out Lesser Black Back.

This was an adult. Just wait until I get on to the juvenile winterers. Yummy.

Tits. That's right. Tits.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yes, that’s right kids. Tits. Lots of them.

The big news is that there has been an addition to the Loo List in the shape of , you guessed, a tit. A Coal Tit. In fact a whole family of tits! Cracking they were too - all pitchooing all over the place.

As for the other tits, well they are part of today's digimonned offering. Pictures of tits.

A Great Tit doing feeding.

A Blue Tit doing that upside down stuff like what they do.

A Blue Tit doing falling.

So there you are, a whole post about tits (gurgle).

Time and tide...

Friday, July 10, 2009

One of the delights of patch birding is watching the way the natural world unfolds, and pointing your efforts in the right place to get the most of what is going on around you, and ultimately the birds. On this patch, the birds that I am able to see are often dictated by the tidal flow of the Thames as the exposed foreshore means that birds are more likely to be about. I don't often consult tide tables, but work out what today will be like at a certain time based on the tidal situation yesterday. When I went out yesterday, I reckoned that I had a good chance of a little foreshore and the possibility of something interesting turning up (even if it was more Black-headed Gulls than the day before). I arrived at the river, and I was right - just a little left before the incoming tide covered it all (there is a five metre height difference here between high and low tide generally).

Just as I got to the area I was planning to hang about in a ruddy great barge sounded it's horn. Not just a little horn, this is loud enough for the whole of SW London to hear. A little bit of overkill to remind a pleasure boat to get the fuck out of the way. This alarmed most of the birds in the area (and probably killed a couple of pensioners through shock) and many left. Immediately after this a low flying Chinook flew down the river, which would have shaken the teeth out of the remaining live pensioners and sent the remaining birds on the river off to the wetland centre.

Thank you very bloody much. I had to entertain myself with the mundane again. 'Oh look, that Greenfinch is on a wall, not a tree! I wonder when the last time I saw a Greenfinch on a wall was?' FFS.

The most interesting thing that happened was this blackbird. He has been on the blog before, and yesterday he was giving me evils.

A Blackbird doing semi-albinism

Tuftie club

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The pictures here are all of one species of Duck. On my patch, they do very little. They just sit around and do nothing. They rarely can even be arsed to fight with a Mallard. The pictures here are not taken from my patch, but from a local park and the first two amuse me.

A Tuftie doing fear

A Tuftie doing I know not what

Regular readers will know that I am not one for indulging in Humble-esque eeuuaarrgh loogat them Bill they’re zooo sweeeeeeeettt outbursts when a young bird is in the vicinity. However, this family of day old chicks that were found yesterday are not bad looking. Mrs Thing got it right when she said they were 'adorable'

See what you think.

Tufties doing Eeuuaarrgh loogat them Bill they’re zooo sweeeeeeeettt!!

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