Ol' Blue Eyes is back...

Friday, August 28, 2009

You probably know this, but it’s the Bank Holiday weekend. Ideal time to get the Germans out to go and see some birds I reckon. But where dear reader? Where?

On Monday it is the Autumn Bird Count at Brent Res, all welcome, So that’s one possibility. The last time I went for this, by the time I turned up, everyone had gone home. Which was disappointing, but I continued nonetheless.

However, I’m thinking that the absolute very best thing to do would be to go to Cornwall for a spot of seawatching. There are some belting winds coming off the Atlantic over the next couple of days going straight along that peninsula, so it can hardly fail to produce results. Birdguides are already showing nice finds. But. London to Cornwall and back on a Bank Holiday weekend? I think not.

How about a visit to the cottage in Norfolk, what? Well the winds that are blowing all the birds into the south west headlands will be blowing all the birds away from the Norfolk coast into the North Sea, and the journey will also be on the bad side of bitch. So that’s pretty much out.

There was a Hoopoe in Kent that might have got me tempted to drag Mrs Thing along to twitch, but it didn’t hang around. Which is a bit of a bummer.

So I’m leaning towards local birding, hell that even sounds like it could involve a patch or two! Splendid! However, there is another option which sounds quite appealing. The Chilterns. A sunny day, a big hill, Mrs Thing and the Germans – and Kites. With the possibility of some wind whacked vagrancy. Sounds very tempting indeed...

Here is a picture. It is a picture of the beady eyed dodgy gull from previous posts (attentive readers will be aware that I mentioned that it had returned). Note the eye colour. Dodgy.

Did you mean Coutts?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I like birds but I'm not overly keen on people in general. So why produce a blog about something that you like for the 'enjoyment' of something that you might not? I don't know the answer to that, and I'm not entirely sure why I do it or why this blog exists at all some days. I know that when I started it, I had no idea that it would end up like this! Should a small change in my personal circumstances occur, I wouldn't have the time to do it anyway.

The whole thing seems to have taken a life of it's own, it's a monster that needs to be fed postings, photos, anecdotes, misspellings, swearing and witticisms on an almost daily basis or it's fatbirder ranking will fall. So what? Initially the birds and the patch naturally produced subjects to write about, but lately I reckon that there has been a fair bit of barrel scraping for the sake of feeding the monster. This is not how it should be. So rather than look for things to write about, I'll let the subjects find me and ultimately spend a little more time in the field, watching birds. The quality of the posts may increase, or they may not. The fatbirderism will fall, and I can then take a perverse pride in seeing how low it can get.

So if you come here and nothing has changed for a day or two, worry not. I have not fallen off the end of the blogoweb, I am not dieing from pig fever, I just haven't seen anything worth writing about. Which for my usual patch is quite the norm. Having said all that, I may be dining out for a fortnight on Britain's first Willet by this time tomorrow...

And for the dude in Missouri that was looking for a financial institution in London and ended up on this blog, the bank you were looking for is called Coutts. Not coots. Coutts.

You want a rubbish picture now don't you.

A Cadana Gose doing fucky scary huge aaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggrrrrrrhhhhhhhh!

Phylloscopus passage

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Now with a title like that you would think that it might be a proper bird blog. Fear not dear reader, the swearing will start shortly!

During my alloted patch time yesterday, I had spied some Larids on the foreshore in two directions and hatched a cunning plan to look at them all. There were some dodgy lookers (aren't there always) so I reckoned that I had the time and the motivation to get to them all.

Except for the children. Yes, the children ruined my birding day. Stupid bloody bastard children floating up the Thames in a flotilla of bright blue canoes that seemed far to efficient at not sinking them into the mud to my mind. Up they came, all along the area where the gulls were sitting and proceeding to make so much bastard noise with screaming and shouting and screaming and screaming that all of the gulls fucked off. Every single one. Without exception.

Naturally I stood on the bank and started to swear. But I still had time on my hands and Ornithology to do, so I ended up watching House Sparrows dust bathing. Scant consolation for an hour of staring at gulls.

A House Sparrow doing fluttering on the ground in dust.

Whilst watching and digimonning said sparrows a bloody warbler stuck it's cheeky little head out of the bushes. Result! So I proceeded to watch and snap. A little reticently though, as this area is partially residential. Standing by some bushes which are near some open windows taking photos and muttering things like 'come on', 'come out', 'thaaats it' etc etc is probably not the look I was going for.

Anyway, here is a rubbish picture of the Phylloscopus that you were waiting for...

A Chiffchaff doing juvenile passage migrancy.

Brent Res tick frenzy

Monday, August 24, 2009

Saturday morning was a belter at Brent Res, not just for me I hasten to add dear reader. I arrived with Mrs Thing just before noon, to a reasonably full hide. The diary thingy detailed that at about 10.20 that morning a Marsh Harrier had put the gulls up, and it was joined by a bloody Buzzard! Obviously, I missed this excitement but there was still plenty going on.

I managed to get 4 patch ticks. Four. FOUR! They are Egyptian Goose (although a nagging part of me thinks that I must have seen them here before), Shelduck (a juvenile), Ruff (two of them), and a juvenile Black Necked Grebe (oh yes baby, Black Necked Grebe).

Have some rubbish pictures!

A Ruff doing feeding by some coots.

A Black Necked Grebe doing 'oh yes baby'.

The same Black Necked Grebe still doing 'Oh yes baby'.

Now a small precedent has been set over the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, I missed the Little Egret at Brent Res but caught up with it the following week. While dribbling on about that on here, I mentioned that a Black Necked 'Oh yes baby' Grebe had been seen but I had missed that. So let me tempt fate by saying that on Sunday there were 2 (two) Black Terns that I missed.

Tune in next week kids for the "I saw two yummy terns at Brent Res at the weekend".

Earth shattering...

Friday, August 21, 2009

On the Wandle the other day, there was a juvenile Moorhen. Most of you will probably sigh, and exclaim ‘so what?’.

But hang about – this is actually a little strange. Moorhens did try to breed earlier in the year by hanging on to the walls of the Wandle, but suffered from high tide-ism. Juvenile birds are so rare here (especially water birds) that they stand out a bloody mile, so I would have noticed a juvenile or two knocking about in the water.

Also, usually a Moorhen juvenile will normally hang around the territory and help out with the second brood.

A little strange yes, but hardly an earth shattering observation. And hardly the greatest post ever. But as I am suffering from issues with most of the technology that surrounds me, it's about all I've got today!

A Moorhen doing juvenile, strangely.

Flashers invade my patch!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I took some photographs of gulls yesterday morning. You could probably do without another one of my dodgy gull posts right now dear reader (the beady-eyed bugger is back by the way) so let me change direction a little.

I have been informed both by Natalie and by some signs up by the river bank, that there is a flash mob going on in Fulham tomorrow.

Now, I’m not entirely sure what a flash mob is to be honest, but if they had been about when I were a lad I doubt very much if I would have been allowed to go on one, because it would probably been filed along with 'Stranglers in dungareens' or some such. I think I am right in saying that a flash mob is akin to the T-Mobile advert on telly with the big twat singing a Bonnie Tyler song at the top of his annoying big twatty voice with a mobile phone waving in the air. Because it’s ‘like, uh, amazing’ or nonsense the kids trot out these days.

Anyway, I digress that this flash mob is going to be a little more sensible and constructive as all these people are going to turn up on the banks of the muddy Thames and pick all the rubbish up! For nothing! Loads of them, all at once! Honest.

Who are these people I here you cry? Well it's a charity called Thames21 and they are pretty organised too – interwebs everything! And they don’t just do it in Fulham. They do it all the time all over the river, and I have nothing but praise for them. At the time they are doing all this excellence, I will of course be a slave the Queen's coin, and cannot join in.

Here's a small example of what they are up against.

Rubbish doing rubbish.

Manky Mallards

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I can't claim to have coined the phrase or for that matter had the original spark that led to this post. It is a response to an ID question over on BirdForum from Rick. Now it's not normal for an ID request to be posted that specifies a particular set of birds right in the middle of your patch is it? I knew the birds mentioned, and although they were within feet of me when I first saw them, when it came to digimonning a rubbish picture for the post they were a way off and almost constantly feeding.

But here is one of them anyway.

Mallards doing manky.

Another poster put up a link from 10,000birds (which those fixated on Fatbirderism will note is in single figures) which is quite frankly superb. Keep with it, and see if you recoil from the screen when the Muscovy Duck pops up. Jayzus they sure is ugly.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yesterday I went to check out on the Shopping Trolley Coots, and it looks like their adventure for the year is over. The trolley is back to looking like a large item of river litter rather than a hotbed of Fulica fecundity. The birds are faffing about down river, feeding and playing with discarded baby wipes. I took a couple of pictures to proffer to you dear reader but unfortunately my trusty Canon was having 'issues'. The issues have been resolved as far as I can tell so today I will be able to return to taking pictures of dodgy gulls for your delectation.

On a completely different note, does anyone know if Tufted Ducks have a habit of taking a young brood for a long walk if the initial habitat is unsuitable? Our local park has had two young broods completely vanish. No drip feed of absence - just gone. Most bird books on the my shelf are either full on ID fests, or more prosaic literature so they don't delve into the habits of the birds as much as one might like. Although I did find out that Tufties don't taste any better than rubber, which doesn't help much.

So, for no apparent reason, here is a duff picture of some Brent Geese from earlier in the year...

Brent Geese doing eating.

Brent Res Little Egret

Monday, August 17, 2009

On Saturday afternoon, in the shadow of the temple of Bono, I was hopeful that I could connect with the record breaker I spoke about some days ago. And connect I did.

For an hour.

Check it out!

On Sunday there is a report of a Black Necked Grebe. This I did not see, as I didn't go on Sunday. Ho hum.

Patch Limbo

Friday, August 14, 2009

You may, dear reader, think that I have done little on the patch this week other than look at dodgy gulls. You may be right.

But there hasn't been much else around to be honest. Which is the normal scenario for spending time analysing dodgy gulls. The swifts have departed, Terns are gone, the resident ducks are in eclipse and the wintering ducks have yet to arrive. I haven't seen a Grey Wagtail for weeks. It is a seasonal patch limbo for sure. But it could end soon.

Scilly has an Audouin's gull (a properly dodgy gull if it were here), so it is no stretch of the imagination to have it cropping up here, really. If you were to ask around these parts it would be very popular in most London boroughs. We would probably chip in for an open top bus to drive it around too.

I might go and see if those mentalist coots are nesting again at lunchtime, but then again I might get to the river and go 'hmmmm guuullls'.

Greylag Geese doing bombing downriver.

Pictures for Martin - I hope...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This link might work, but it might not

Dodgy Gulls of Winter part 6 - statistically improbable

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The picture below shows two gulls. That much we can agree on. I can verify that the gull in the rear of the photo is the resident Yellow Legged Gull. The beady eyed bugger in the foreground goes into the dodgy pile as it is showing some Caspianesque features (here we go again). Now the probability of me taking a photograph in Fulham of both of the above is remote – if it were a photo of the two suggested above this would make Fulham a Gull hotspot. Not very bloody likely methinks dear reader.

The first photograph was taken on Tuesday, when I took a fair few photos of the Dodgy Gull (DG) but when looking at them later on I deleted most of them because it wasn’t leggy enough. But yesterday it was still there and it still looked funny. So, of course, I got stuck in again.

But what bits are dodgy and what are not? Remembering that this is in moult and Caspian is split from YLG not Herring...

Beady eye
Parallel(ish) bill
Long forehead
Pear-shaped head
Longish neck
Weak gonydeal angle
A bit busty
No significant tertial step
Long gape line thing

Not aggressive to YLG
Hint of tertial step
Legs a bit too red

Not overly dark mantle
Bill not really long enough
Little marking on nape

Not leggy enough

I'm guessing that some readers fell asleep when they got to the words 'tertial step'.

Anyway in summary, it's probably just a funny Herring Gull. But I haven’t a bloody clue. It stays in the dodgy pile for now.

Any ideas??

Thing swears about pigeons.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You see this pigeon?

I fucking hate it.

I despise it. I wish it were dead. A bit strong you may think, but it's only a pigeon and I will of course explain why dear reader. Now I'm not one for going around wishing animals or people dead (excepting the odd octogenarian African despot of course), but this pigeon really gets on my bloody tits.

There are plenty of pigeons around here and they spend their time breeding and impersonating other bird species. Why only yesterday I was trying to get on some funny looking Grey Plovers picking their way along the Thames when a dark morph Hobby followed a GBB up the river, just after the Cuckoo was bombing around Wandsworth Park. Except I didn't. Because they were stupid coloured pigeons being bastards. But this one is special. Because it is white. Because it is white and it flies around and it has black bits on it. The initial thing that I see is WOW! Followed a millisecond later by 'oh for fucks sake you stupid fucking pigeon - go awaaaaay!'. It variously impersonates Little Gulls, Little Terns, Pied Kingfishers, Avocets, Owls, Gyrfalcons etc etc and it really winds me up. It also has a habit of flying across my field of view when the optics are up to my eye. Which really winds me up even more. Bastard.

See it again?

Now he's got a friend. And guess what? This pigeon has lovely white spots near the end of it's wings. Just like a fucking Nightjar. Stupid bloody bastard pigeons.

Go awaaaaay! Shoo! Go on - geddout! Bastards.

Dodgy gulls of winter part 5

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Funny looking creature this, but it is nothing spectacular at all.

Looking at it initially I was struck by the shortness of the bill, and some pale parts on the chest and head.

However, closer examination of the tertials and the wings reveal it to be nothing more than a juvenile Herring Gull - note that it is not a first winter but a fresh faced juvenile. The pale parts are there because it is wet. It's not dry, it's wet. And that is why presents itself as looking a bit like a juvenile YLG, which it isn't. Funny bill though.

And it looks like Des at 'Birding From The Back Door' has chucked it in, which is a pity.

Record Breaker

Monday, August 10, 2009

On Saturday there was a Little Egret at Brent Reservoir. It stayed overnight and was still there on Sunday. I understand that this is the first time that a Little Egret has been known to stay overnight, hence the title. Needless to say that it didn't hang around long enough on Sunday for me to see it. Which would have been nice. I did see a Kingfisher though, which is always welcome.

Later that same day, Mrs Thing and I were in one of the local parks, when a Heron was spotted in a tree (not by me initially I hasten to add). I proceeded to digimon it's arse off. As I was observing the Heron, my experience told me that it was going to evacuate it's bowels. As I was quite close, and it was pointing it's rear end towards me, I thought that I would retreat. Sure enough it pointed it's arse skyward and let a couple of pints out. If I had stayed where I was, it would not have got me, but you can't be too careful I reckon.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing...

A Heron doing stretching or something.

NPBW - day 7

Sunday, August 09, 2009

This is the contractual 7th post that I have to put up to claim that National Patch Birding Week lasted a week.

The Wandle doing colour.
Next year I reckon I'll go international.

NPBW day 6

Saturday, August 08, 2009

So I've been going on about why to patch watch and all that malarkey, but in the meantime haven't actually mentioned this patch!

So here is a week in summation..

Monday morning.

Low tide. Looking for a Purple Heron (which I knew wouldn’t be there), found the hopefully resident YLG. Apart from that the usual gulls in place, Mallards flighty – so too Parakeets. Best by a mile was a Kingfisher bombing along the river’s edge heading up stream. Always a good day when a Kingfisher is seen.

Monday lunchtime

High tide. Visit to the Wandle to see the shopping trolley coots. Still on the nest, with eggs but are they on the eggs from two weeks ago or another set? That would make it 6 nests this year which is bonkers. On another section, a pair of Mute Swans bring out 7 cygnets. Fuck knows where they came from. The Swans were nesting earlier in the year but I thought that they had abandoned. Found a Heron sitting on the riverbank, posing very well for arty-farty-fotos.


Starlings look like the are forming the flocks for the winter roost already. They can be seen dispersing from the usual site early in the morning. Last winter peaked at about 1500-2000 birds. Lunchtime spent watching cormorants fight over a flat fish (not often that you hear them make a noise, and when they do you are thankful that they are largely silent!), and then following a male Sparrowhawk up and down the Thames path.

PATCH TICK! A bloody patch tick during National Patch Birding Week! How cool is that? Greenshank fly through first thing, cracking. Brings me to 60 for the year and 73 all in for the patch. I’ve equalled last years total and still have to pick up a Peregrine from somewhere and still lack Jay and Linnet!

Three Herons flying over first thing. Herons round here generally cannot stand each others company, so three together makes me think that they were interlopers. Yellow-legged Gull in situ as are the expected Black Heads and Herrings. A flypast of a summer plumaged Common Gull was nice. Pretty birds.

Visit to the Wandle at lunchtime. Guess what? The shopping trolley coots are on a nest. I think this might well be the sixth attempt – it might be the remnants of the fifth attempt but those eggs will be a bit off. Not much else around, but Banded Demoiselles provided a little distraction.


Morning, er gulls.
Lunchtime, a Mr GREvans of Amersham informs Surrey Birders that there is a White Winged Black Tern (yummy!) at Staines, and reckons it is hardly suprising what with all these Black Terns coming through yesterday. Not here sonny!! Anyway that's a good enough reason to check every bleedin' bird that flies over the river for an hour. Of course they are all either gulls flying along the river or Woodpigeons flying across the river. Ho hum.

A Damselfly doing delicate

National Patch Birding week - day 5

Friday, August 07, 2009

'Biodiversity is an unequalled entity, found to derive positive benefits from people when they are in contact with it’. Rohde & Jendle 1994.

I that kind of sums it up for me, that is what it is aaaaall about. You cannot appreciate biodiversity by gunning up and down the A11 in a day to look at a lost and knackered small brown bird. You can appreciate biodiversity by going to your patch and just being there.

Next time you are at a twitch (because as much as we resist, we are all bound to crack), start mumbling that it was a waste of time, and that you should have gone to your patch instead. Twitching is rubbish tell them. Twitching sucks tell them. Patch birding - that's were the hardcore are. We rule.

A Canada Goose doing digimonned close up

NPBW - Day 4.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Surlingham Church Marsh – the return.

On my patch yesterday I found a Greenshank. This is a patch tick. I think that an appropriate word to use for this is YEEESSSSSSSSSS! I'll probably babble on about that later in the week. For now I am returning to Surlingham to complete my brief and incomplete virtual blogtourthingy.

Initially there was one hide. It was named after Ted Ellis but seems to have been replaced (more of that later). After a while there was a call for another hide and some donations were sourced from donations in the name of the late Robert Whalley. Who I never met. But I reckon that he was a birder, and a decent chap.

One cold winter morning in 1989, it was the allocated day for the hide to go up. The area was cleared of vegetation and the hide was erected with my own bare hands. Admittedly it wasn’t just me wot did it, there was about half a dozen burly birders putting it together with hammers and nails and stuff but it did go up and it has stayed up. The day and the hide toasted with a little drop of whisky.


The Ellis hide is no more. I know not what has happened to it. It seems to have been replaced by the most rubbish hide I have ever seen. It’s not really a hide at all as there is nothing to hide behind. It’s more of a show. Basically there is a big bench which is covered on three sides, with the people on the bench looking directly over the lagoons. In the full view of all the birds. There isn’t any screening between the path and the access to the benchy thing, you just wander across the horizon and scare everything bar the tame ducks back into the reads. Bizarre. It is sponsored by local businesses etc, but it is just daft. I didn’t take a photo of it because I wasn’t expecting to be yacking on about patches on here, and I was so gobsmacked at the rubbishness of the whole thing. Here is the view from that area though...

But hopefully this is a minor quibble. I'm looking forward to going back again and again as it is a lovely lovely place.

National Patch Birding Week continues tomorrow, with the patch birding call to arms! In the meantime, have a picture of some deer taken from the 'hide that Thing built'.

NPBW - Day 3

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

To patch or not to patch?

Patch, obviously, otherwise this self appointed ambassador of patch would look a bit silly. But why is patch birding best and why do I have the moral high ground?

There are many methods of birding as you know dear reader. Twitching, reserve hunting, seawatching, patch birding etc etc. Twitching is by far the most vocal of these but as far as I am concerned it is a wholly unsatisfactory experience. We all love rare birds, but all this served up on the pager stuff is rubbish. No effort, no skill, no field craft - just turn up, see it, tick it and bugger off to the next one. Your life list will increase rapidly but so what? Twitches themselves are weird places, and often because birders are weird people (had you not noticed before? Take a look around at your peers one day - weird!) I particularly find it annoying when people greet your binoculars rather than your face, and dear god you don’t half hear a lot of shite coming out of some mouths. I’m not denying the veracity of the facts but do give it a rest! “Uh yeah, I was on Scilly last year with a bunch of guys on an Aquatic and a big shout went up for an Imperial Eagle right..blah blah blah”.

I’m not saying that I won’t twitch, but I doubt very much if I will go for something that doesn’t actually look that great or relatively easy to find without disturbing it to be honest. Admittedly, I am guilty of dragging Mrs Thing to see the White Crowned Sparrow in Cley a while back – but it was a proper good looking bird. The Great Spotted Cuckoo in Norfolk recently is mighty tempting though. Conversely, if I never see another Blyth’s Reed Warbler before I die it will not bother me one jot.
Ok, rant over. For now...
Patch birding. When I grew up (some would like to think that this happened in the fifties) I was interested in watching birds. Some would call this bird-watching. Some may wax lyrical about connecting with the wildlife in remote places (or avoiding hoodies in Fulham in my case) and crack out a couple of hundred words on it, but not I.

I like watching birds. I like to learn about birds. First hand. Outside. And the best place to do this is in my patch, an area that I have chosen and nominated for myself. Simple.

Oh yeah, moral high ground. I can do it on many levels, but how about the birdwatchers code. Anyone remember that?

Well folks, it is a beautiful morning out there so I'm going to stop yacking on and go and watch in all probability the same birds I watched yesterday. Sweet.

A Black-headed Gull doing underrated.

National Patch Birding Week. Day two.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My first patch.

How the RSPB sees it.

How google sees it.

How I see it.

If I was to calculate the birding related place that I have spent the most amount of time in, it would without doubt be Havergate Island, but only due to the fact that on one visit I spent a whole month on the island with only two visits ashore for a pub lunch. After that and Fulham I would reckon that the patch of my youth comes in third on the timescale. Here is a little more on it.

Surlingham is a village on the south bank of the river Yare, a few miles south of Norwich. The RSPB reserve is between the river and the village by the rather higgledy piggledy church. The reserve is close to Wheatfen Broad, to the west and a little up river from the relative behemoth that is Strumpshaw Fen. Surlingham Church Marsh (I’ll call it Surlingham from now on) can be ‘done’ in a couple of hours whereas Strumpshaw will take you all day to do it properly – this is one of the reasons for choosing Surlingham as a patch. And the fact that it is never busy. I recently returned to Surlingham after a break of 15 or so years and took Mrs Thing for the first time. It wasn’t the busiest of birding days, but it is still a lovely spot and we intend to re-familiarise ourselves with the patch given the opportunity.

This was my patch between the mid 80’s (just after the RSPB bought it) until the very early 90’s. It had been a grazing marsh, and will have been prone to a bit of flooding. At that time the initial landscaping work had been done. The lagoons had been dug out and there was a couple of shingly islands in the middle. Dykes had been cleared and the natural vegetation was being left to re-establish itself. The lagoons were popular with ducks, especially in the winter and the shingle was proving to be a draw for occasional breeding and the usual vagrant waders. It was here that I learned my Ringed from my Little Ringed, the Wood from the Sand, and how to split my shanks. At one point the Little Ringed were trying to breed, but I remember not how successful they were. Other species of note that could be found included Turtle Dove, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Cuckoo, Greenshank, Water Rail, Gadwall, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge, Reed and occasional Cettis Warblers, occasional Bittern and Egyptian Goose (which was still quite unusual then). Other wildlife could include Muntjac Dear and Swallowtail Butterflies (super super pretty I can tell you).

After a few visits I managed to get in contact with the Warden and got into a bit of the volunteering side of things. Just the usual reserve stuff. Do any of you remember the initiative that the RSPB was involved with in 1987? It was called ‘Follow the Swallow’ and was a Europe wide push to get more people birdwatching. I still have the yellow sticker on the case of my bins, and I was one of the helpful volunteers on site that day. How could I not – it was my patch and I would be able to answer most questions about the place without hesitation.

I never found (or knew of for that matter) anything that would get a twitchers heart racing, but that is, and never was, the point. It's a patch, and it's about more than finding rare birds.

I'll yack on about it again later in the (National Patch Birding) week. For now, here is a view from near the church towards the river.

Surlingham doing patch.

National Patch Birding Week

Monday, August 03, 2009

Many of you may have bought the latest issue of 'Birdwatch' - the one with the egret on the front. It seems to have inadvertently become a tribute to Patch Birding. Which is good. The Punkbirder column is all about the importance of patch birding (the essence being 'who do you think finds the rarities in the daft places then?') and a chap called Rich Bonser has the first of two articles on 'Fringe Birding' which also leans towards birding in the less well trodden path (good it is too). Regular reader(s) will know that I am essentially a patch birder and will remain so, although I have been on twitches planned and otherwise, they are essentially unsatisfactory. With all this in mind I have dedicated this week as National Patch Birding Week. I'm sure you have to apply to some Quango to get these things verified, but sod it - it's not like anyone is going to read this...

So what will NPBW entail? Not much beyond the scope of this blog I reckon, but I will try to impart some of the magic of patch birding to the masses. I will update you on what is going on in my local patch, show how rewarding the local park can be, and introduce you to my first patch - Surlingham Church Marsh. I may even yack on about some important patch birders from history and maybe point out a few of the recent birds that have popped up in unlikely places (from memory, I'm not going to trawl through the interweb records to work it out). So there is plenty to er, look forward to dear reader. Hell, I might even go and see how the mentalist coots are doing on the shopping trolley.

So let's start with Fulham shall we? Although there was a misidentified gull last week (no bloody surprise there), which was reckoned to be a Yellow-legged Gull, it didn't reappear. However, the bird from the previous week (and I reckon the bird that was here for most of last Autumn) is still knocking about and being very yellow legged. These pictures were taken on Thursday, and the bird was also in the area on Friday.

A Yellow Legged Gull doing posing for the camera

A Yellow Legged Gull doing walking.

That's enough from me for now, there was a Purple Heron at the Wetland Centre over the weekend, I'd better go and see if it has decided that Fulham is a little nicer than Barnes...

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