Death to Pandas!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On the front of the Daily Mirror yesterday there was the inevitable tabloid reaction to a comment by Chris Packham "LET THE PANDAS DIE OUT" it screamed.  Subsequently it seems that he has half heartedly retracted the statement, but not really.  David Bellamy was one of the people that also came out to support the idea.  Lots of folk are saying that he shouldn't have said it and that he is irresponsible.  Yes he should, and no it isn't.

Obviously the intention was stir up debate, but there is good and valid logic inside the argument and largely pragmatic it is too I reckon.  The Panda is evidently the flagship species for conservation, the nonpareil of big endangered animals and thus should never be allowed to become extinct.  Ever.  Even though there isn't enough space for it any more.  It's pretty much doomed.  The same applies to the Tiger I guess.  Yes, there is no space for them anymore because of human activity and I'm not saying that humans have first dibs on everything but by our nature if we just run around breeding with a trail of destruction scattered all around us - there is a certain inevitability to the extinction of many many species.

The problem with conservation now is that the big organisations are based on 50 year old ideologies and tokenistic gestures that started the organisations, but the world has changed.  A lot.  Conservation bodies should be (as Packham says) focus on biodiversity hotspots, as biodiversity as a whole is far more important on a large scale than the protection of some dumb ass bear in China.  They don't have to do anything with the land, but buying it and stopping it being built on is good enough isn't it?

I doubt very much if this whole argument will change anything in the short term, the sun has yet to set on the wild Panda that much is sure.  But give it a decade or two and the consensus will be that we should have spent the money on rainforest instead.

A Handbaaaag?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eleonora’s Falcon, Glossy Ibis, Yellow Browned Warbler, Spotted Crake, Buzzards, Harriers and Kites. All seen fairly local to here in the last day or so, power to the finders’ elbows and all that. Autumn is now in full flow.

So what is happening in Fulham? Well funny you should ask, I can tell you that the Mallard count was up to 52 on the river yesterday. Belting eh?

Here’s something new though.

As I've mentioned before, the Thames and its tributaries do have a fair bit of rubbish chucked into them – some of it just moves down and/or up stream. Some just sits in the mud and gets exposed a couple times a day. The ‘tutting’ list that I have in my head (I see it float by, I tut) has so far not included a handbag.

But now it does.

What the weekend brought

Monday, September 21, 2009

The weekend was dominated (ornithogically) by Little Owl, Yellow Wagtail, Red Kite, Goldcrest and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

The Owl and Kite for obvious reasons, the Yellow Wagtail was a London tick but perhaps most significantly the latter two.  Reader, in the space of 5 minutes on Saturday I picked up two Loo ticks, yes two.  There was a fair size flock of tits roaming around, with Goldfinches and Chaffinches and tagging along with them was a Goldcrest, which was nice.  While pondering on how nice this was, a Great Spotted Woodpecker entered stage left and landed in a tree.  Double nice.

No post would be complete without a picture, so here is a picture of a post.

A post doing geddoutofthebloodyway.

More Tufted joy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We are an excitable lot aren't we?  The interweb has gone bonkers for Tufted Puffins.  Hardly suprising really.  Flippantly many London birders (including myself) stated that they would be staking out the Thames as the bird in Kent had been seen flying west (which is right up the mouth of the river for those with minimal geographical awareness), and I suspect that many would be checking out the river a little more intently than usual if they see it during the commute.  I cannot claim to be any different, I had a few minutes outside this morning and there were plenty of birds on the river.  Many of them were mainly dark, and some had white bits on them.  No matter how hard I looked at them they all seemed to steadfastly remain as Cormorants and Grebes. 

Until there was something dark in the distance.  Just moving round a bend in the river.  It dived, and was not like anything I had seen in the last couple of weeks here, nor anything that could be expected in that part of the river really.  Could it be?  Could it?

Yes it could.

The first Tufted Duck of the winter in pin sharp clarity. 


Who needs Tufted Puffins?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So yesterday it rather did rain down here. But there was a quandary. On Monday a Kittiwake had been seen in Crossness, and then probably found its way to Greenwich (discounting the two bird theory) which means that it was drifting west. Which is where Fulham is. On Tuesday there was a Common Scoter drifting west along the Thames. West is where Fulham is. It is with this kind of information in mind that a dedicated (or just plain stupid) patch birder will still venture out in the pissing rain. Optimistically thinking that he can find shelter from the precipitate when he knows fine well that there isn’t any. And optimistically thinking that an interesting bird might get forced down the river for him to view. Of course this didn’t happen and I saw a gull and got wet.

However, the gods were mayhaps smiling on my diligence dear reader, as this morning I managed to locate a Jay. Yes, a Jay alright? Jays, Collared Doves, Thrushes - all proper rare birds round here and this Jay is actually a year tick, giving me a hefty 2008 busting total of 61 for the year.

To many of you this may seem like the most trivial of records and I accept that this is not the most stunning ornithological record, and it is highly unlikely to be sent to or excite the pagerists (although I’m really tempted to stick it on Birdguides just for the annoyance of the easily annoyed) but it’s a year tick. So there.

You want a picture don’t you.

Starlings doing flying.

It is not a Mew Gull.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Indeed.  They are Common Gulls, they are not Mew Gulls.  They are called Common Gulls because they have a habit of congregating on commons in the winter.  They are not called Mew Gulls because their call sounds nothing like anything that even vaguely looks like a fucking cat.

Anyone (other than Amurkns who don't have commons) that thinks that calling them Mew Gulls is a good idea is a very silly billy.
And they are returning to the patch.  Over the winter there may be up to 20 at a time in the coldest times, but for now we have no more than 4 and the one below is possibly the youngest I have seen round here.  And they are one of the best looking juvenile gulls I reckon.  Hell, they are one of the best looking gulls all round.  Exquisite little birds.  Watch 'em a bit closer now that they are here.  Little belters.  Honest.
A juvenile, and adult and a retard.

Not patch birding!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A break from the patch monotony as much for me as for you dear reader.  Not so long back I mooted the idea of chuffing off to the Chilterns to see some Kites, which duly happened although the weather left a lot to be desired.  This weeked the trip was undertaken again with lots of hot weather, a little wind and no cloud.  Perfect raptor weather.  And so it proved. 

Mrs Thing and I picked a spot from our previous sujourn and parked up.  And there were kites.  Everywhere it seemed.  At one point we could easily count a dozen with the naked eye and there was plenty more in the back of the optics.  The most spectacular results came with a bit of stillness and Mrs Things excellent pishing, which may not have fooled the adults but certainly brought a juvenile in for a closer look.  It hung in the air above us for the best part of ten minutes, the air by that time being full of four letter words of wonder and delight.  This particular bird is digimonned for your pleasure below.  Eventually the kites were joined by a trio of Buzzards (Common) and a few of them rose up in a thermal, which also was pretty nice for a city dweller to see.  I also managed to find a Spotted Flycatcher high in an oak tree, which was actually a year tick!  There were other passerines about, but the Kites were so enthralling that nothing else really mattered. 

A Red Kite doing awesome.

Gulls, Gulls, Gulls.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yesterday lunchtime some inconsiderate dogwalkers decided that they would investigate the attentuation ponds.  This meant that the gulls that normally loaf there on low tide flew off.  They then settled on my side of the Thames, especially for my delectation.  Which meant that I had a flock of lovely gulls, right in front of me for an hour.  Six species, possible subspecies and lots of juveniles and things.  Abso-bloody-lutely brilliant.
There was Black-headed, Common, Herring, Lesser and Greater Black Backed and Yellow Legged.
So far so good, but then once they have a good bit of looking done, there are differences within the species.  Yum.  So there was 2 Yellow legged, but one was smallish and one a bit meaty (see below).  The Herring Gulls obviously are all over the place at this time of year but the most interesting thing was the LBB's.  There were two or three with a consistent mantle colour and then a third, which looked a bit nastier and had a much darker mantle and it could well have been an intermedius.  It certainly wasn't as black as a fuscus might be, but much darker than the nearby graellsii.  The picture below doesn't really to the difference justice.  Hopefully it will be there again today and I can have another look.

Yellow Legged Gull doing standing on something.
Great Black Backed doing 'boss'.

Two Lesser Black Backed Gulls doing differing mantles.
At the end of the month I am hoping to get the big Helm gull book, which I suspect is only going to raise more questions than it answers (which is nice).  I just hope to god that there is not a subspecies of Black-headed gull that I didn' know about.

For those that are interested, there is evidently a cracking paper on Caspian Gulls in the recently published 2006 London Bird Report.

That's enough gullage from me I reckon.  For a few hours anyway...

More advances in digimonning technology

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Remember the adaptor? The amazing advance in digimonning producing a more cohesive monocular camera interface? Well, as good as it was it had some small flaws, and needed to be updated. This has now happened.
Behold version 2...

Here’s the science bit. To produce the incredible images that you see in this netblog, there are certain settings that need to be used on the camera, ISO speed, white balance, macro etc. The key however is NO ZOOM. This means vignetting occurs on every image which can be removed post production. The original adaptor did keep the lens front about 1.5mm from the lens which was not ideal. The new adaptor has rectified this.

Example one.

A gull doing looking with some vignetting.

Example two.

A different gull doing looking with less vignetting.

This incredible advance in digimonning is already producing photography of such an amazing standard, that it frankly beggars belief.

No, not many birds yesterday.

Patch Art Exhibition

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Yesterday, these idling Herons reminded me of Antony Gormley's Another Place.

And then there was the Thames' interpretation of Dali's Persistence Of Memory.

No, not many birds yesterday.

A Common Gull doing passing through.

Rare patch grebe

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hot on the heels of the last common juvenile bird, here comes another common juvenile bird, that is essentially rare on this patch.

The background is thus. Last year there was a small success with breeding of Great Crested Grebes, in that they raised one chick. This bird hung around with the resident pair for most of the winter until it was chased out of the patch. This year the breeding has been an unmitigated failure. In spring there was all that head wobbling and bobbing and the occasional bit of weed grabbing. All this courtship led to a nest on one of the few platforms that were available.

Which a pair of Swans commandeered.

The Grebes had a stab at a second nest after the Swan nest failed (you still with me?). This was however, pretty half hearted, and for the last month or so, all they have really done is feed up on high tide and then sleep it up on the Thames for the rest of the day.

So it was quite pleasing to find a juvenile at lunchtime. When I saw it in the distance initially I was hoping for something more exotic. But should have known better, as should you.

Doing Tea!

Friday, September 04, 2009

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A mug doing 'the nuts'

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I had a dream

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Last night. And it was about a Med Gull, on my patch. It flew around, and then it landed. I shouted 'it landed!'. I got my optics on it and noticed that it had a ring on it. 'Bonus' I thought in my dream state. The ring then got really long and turned into other tubular things on it's leg and then the dream got reeeeaaalllly wierd.

I suspect that the more sarcaaastic and erudite readers are tempted to put on their best Freudian accent "Hmmm, dreamz eh? Tell me about your muzzer"

Well I'll tell you about my mother.

It's my mother's birthday. Happy birthday mother!
It's early, it's windy and it's autumn. I'm going for a walk...

Patch first!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Yesterday was quite unusual on the patch dear reader, as there were actually some interesting birds. No, honestly, there was.

First thing in the morning there were two Swallows flying through. Very nice. And then a Grey Wagtail showed up. Since the successful breeding of this species earlier in the year they left, which makes me think that the habitat in the area is only just good enough to sustain a pair. They'll probably be back in the winter, so maybe they've just gone to the Wetland Centre to get fat for the winter.

Lunchtime was good too. On the Wandle there were two Kingfishers which flew downstream and onto the Thames, they flew directly over the attenuation ponds (remember them?) which makes them by far the most interesting species to 'use' the area. And then there was this.

The more avid identification freaks amongst you will note that this is a picture of Fulica atra, also known as 'Coot'. But look at the bird on the left.... It is, in fact, a bloody juvenile! A juvenile Coot in my patch - something that I have not seen before and thus a first. Be assured that it certainly did not come from any breeding attempt round here, so this bird is population movement in action. Superb.
In the afternoon I saw a Yellow Legged Gull.
You were probably expecting something more exciting as a patch first, shame on you.

Invaders and orcs

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It is not unusual for the 'wild' spaces that we treasure to be multi functional, especially here in the big smoke. A place like the Brent Reservoir is not only used by birds and birders, but is home to lots of blue green algae and a sailing club. There is an unwritten rule (or perhaps it is written - I'm happy to be corrected) that says that the birds stay by the hides and the boats stay at the other end. Birds and boats don't mix kids!

Once in a while an invader from one side of the divide intrudes into the other side.

And sometimes they invade a little further than they intended. Or perhaps they really did intend to scare every bloody bird on the marsh - for a laugh. Or maybe they were rubbish at steering a boat.

This invasion did indeed freak out a lot of birds, and yes, the sight of a few hundred coots running across the water in an orc like charge was quite amusing.

But it did flush out the Little Egret. Which was nice. But I couldn't find the Black Necked Grebe afterwards. Which was not.

A Little Egret doing a bit spooked.

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