Caption competition

Monday, December 28, 2009

As it is the christmas break I will thankfully be nowhere near a computer or the interweb for ages.

Just to keep my loyal 'fans' briefly amused in my absence - I've come up with a caption competition!  Think of it as my blogoweb Christmas present to you all. 

There aren't any prizes or anything.  Nor should you have expected any.

Off you go.

Or not.

A Gull doing what?

The 28th best patch in London.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This is the last day of the year that I will be in the patch, and I doubt very much if anything will be added to the over all excitement today.  However, if I do find a Med on the foreshore at lunchtime I will add a hastily prepared and very sweary and happy post later today. Don't expect that post to appear.

For the sake of a final post, let me get all retrospective on yo' ass.  This year I have seen 63 species within the self imposed patch boundary, which makes this the 28th best patch in London - officially!  That's right kids, there are only 27 better places within 20 miles of St Pauls Cathedral that are better to watch birds in this year.  Kinda makes your heart sing eh?

Those 63 species are...

Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Black Headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow Legged Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Ring Necked Parakeet, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Long tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, Linnet, Redwing, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Jackdaw, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Swallow, Common Tern, House Martin, Swift, Common Sandpiper, Collared Dove, Kestrel, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Jay, Linnet, Fieldfare.

Bet you are glad that I didn't have a hundred and fifty, not that anyone piles through a list of common birds like this anyway.

Rarity wise, the highlight had to be the Greenshank, which was mostly suprising.  The most annoying was a  Godwit that was reported flying up the Thames down river from here and ended up in Barnes, which means that it must have flown through Fulham.  The biggest dip was a Peregrine.  Despite the many hours spent in the patch, and the relative proximity of a pair, I didn't clap eyes on them once, which is annoying.  The most pleasure came from the Starling roost I reckon (which is also the ornithological highlight) and obviously the most pain came from the damned Coots on the shopping trolley.  You may have wondered why a blog that refers to a certain species in it's title hasn't mentioned them recently, well just wait until the spring folks, it will all change then!

And finally, this would be the perfect juncture to wish yuletide splenditude and sprinklings of magic santa dust to my massive fan fanbase and all those that pop in via Google on the hunt for bizarre forms of pornography.

Happy christmas Dear reader.  Happy christmas to you.

A Coot doing remembering what it looks like.

It is not dirty.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I thought that I might count the Starlings from the roost this morning, but I wasn't early enough to catch the start, so didn't think that it was worth it.  Watched them for a bit though, which is always good.

Took a couple of pictures of the sunrise though, and when I loaded them up I was thinking 'jeez there's loads of shite on the lens'.  Except it isn't dirt - it's birds!  Starlings floating across the wonder that is the sky in Wandsworth at sun up.

No there hasn't been much else going on...

Starlings doing dirty.

I and the bird

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Some of you may know about the 'blog carnival' thingies that are regularly published via the prolific 10,000 Birds.   They are worth reading, and worth hitting those links as you never know what you are going to find beyond ones normal blog reading.  The current offering, however is quite excellent (and not just because this humble blog is involved).

Check it out for yourself here -   I and the bird #115

A Kestrel doing obligatory post photograph.  On a post.

Bird eats fish!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Honest!  Just you wait and see! 

Yes, the patch is quiet.  Real quiet.  There have been no suprises and very little to report.  Minor behavioural nuances, that kind of thing.

Like this.  I have seen this kind of activity at distance a couple of times, but recently I had it close enough to digimon some 'pictures' of it.  Cormorant v flat fish.  A Flounder perhaps?  Dunno, I'm rubbish at fish.

The fish is caught and held in the beak at 90 degrees to the angle that the bird needs to swallow it.  With a lack of opposing thumbs, this is a bit tricky.  So long as it can avoid a GBB getting hold of it, they are usually successful.

But not pretty.

A Cormorant doing pelican

The return of a blogger

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

That's right folks - Des is back on the blogoweb.

Birding Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

A welcome return.

So here is a picture taken at said location.

Tawny Owls and a Magpie doing staring out

Pintails and gardening humour

Monday, December 14, 2009

There was a piece in the paper in the weekend where a bloke of the gardening telly made a funny point about the latin name of a plant, or a shrub or a tree. Anyway the was binomial specific was cockburnianus which produces hoots of laughter in garden centres.

That brings me neatly, perhaps, to the promised Pintails. Possibly the best looking duck going. Possibly the best duck latin name going (Anas acuta). Last winter the Wandle basin didn’t get much Pintail action due to the creation of the Attenuation ponds, which scared them off.  Hopefully this winter will be better, as it is currently not a building site.  Started with a male, increased to two males and a female by mid week, and back down to a single male by Friday.  Hoping to be back to the levels of two winters ago when there would be a dozen or so, kicking about with a fair few Gadwall and a couple of dozen sleeping Tufties.

So there you go, a short post regarding Pintails, and no swearing.

A Pintail doing out of focus and everything

Sixth form climate change installation hypocrisy. Or so I think.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

This post is going to be a bit sweary.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Honestly, really sweary.  If you don't like bad language click on one of the other blogs, on the right of this page.  Go the new one, it's got some excellent pictures of Mandarins and Herons and Coots, and he (Fraser Simpson) doesn't seem to swear much.

Otherwise scroll the fuck on down.

Take a look at these fucking fuckwits.

Viewed from the other side of the bank on Wednesday,  I took a photo of them (regardless of the implications of Section 44 cos I'm rock hard me) as the situation looked a bit poncy to me, and I reckon I'm right.  They are fuckwits.  But you say, am I being too harsh too early?  Too judgemental, too world weary.  Let's see shall we?

Basically, here are two floppy haired  sixth form art student twats that have decided that it would be really cool to make some kind of comment on the state of the worlds climate (cos it's all topical and in the news and everything) by doing some kind of 'installation' or whatever they are fucking taught in school these days.  The said 'installation' is a model of a cute polar bear, sittting on a pretend sheet of ice looking all sorrowful and sad-eyed because mankind has properly fucked up the planet.  The pretend last-ice-sheet-in-the-world-ever is made from a polystyrene sheet that is three inches thick.  The whole thing was then set afloat in the Thames while they take pictures of the sad little polar bear, poorliddlepolarbear

But I gave them the benefit of the doubt.  I am an ageing pessimistic cynic. They are young and optimisitic.  I was like that once upon a time.  They are trying to highlight an issue that matters to them in one of the few ways that they know how.  By floating a silly bit of plastic with a fluffy toy on top of it in the fucking Thames.  I moved on. 

Yesterday I was again in my new patch within a patch when I saw something on the far bank.  It looked like it might be a dead swan.  A bank of tightly roosting egrets perhaps.  An albino bustard sunbathing?  I lined up the optics and had a look.

Yes, that is what you think it is.  A six foot by three foot lump of bloody polystyrene with straps on to hold a fluffy toy.

Thats right - the floppy haired twats had gone through the motions of taking their oh so important pictures for their poxy fucking art project that was focussing on how shite the world was because we pollute so much and we are all so bad and the prettyliddlepolarbears are all adrift in the big fucking ocean because everything like sucks yeah and we need to fix it like now and then gone and finished off their work by DUMPING THE PLASTIC IN THE FUCKING RIVER!

You stupid fucking idiots.  The level of hypocrisy and sheer fucking stupidity that I have witnessed just beggars belief.  Why do this?  Why pretend that you have any kind of green concerns and/or credentials and then go and pollute and litter so gratuitously? Shame on you, whoever you are.

Rather than sit in my ivory blog tower and rant about it, I borrowed a van and removed the plastic.  Idiots.

Rant over.  Unless something incredible happens today, this blog will shortly be discussing Pintail.

Thought for the day

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Take a moment to ponder the following...

Fact.  During the last inter-glacial period (approximately 125,000 years ago) the global temperature was 1.7 degrees higher than it is now. At that time the sea levels were 4-6 meters higher than we have presently.

In July, the G8 bloc of industrialised countries and some major developing countries adopted a target of keeping the global average temperature rise since pre-industrial times to 2C. However, small island states think this would cause serious climate impacts from rising sea levels, and have been arguing for a lower target of 1.5C. A number of African nations also back the lower target.

In  a letter to the Times yesterday, seven Fellows of the Royal Society (all professors in their field) state that "if there is no global agreement in Copenhagen, or soon after, to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the chances of the global warming by the end of this century being much less than 4C would seem to be very small".


A Chaffinch doing not related to this post other than in the big scheme of things.

New path by the Thames

Monday, December 07, 2009

Let me introduce you to a new part of my patch.  Not often do new bits of patch turn up, and not often do new bits of the Thames path get opened up.  Well last week I got both. 

Firstly, let me just say that the Thames path on this section of the river is irregular, being broken up by things like waste plants, rivers, wharfs (wharves?), The Hurlingham Club and industrial areas.  This means that much of the time that would be spent birding is actually spent walking around urban areas to get from one er, hot spot, to another.  These inconvenient areas also mean that much of the habitat that I would like to view/visit is out of reach.  Inconvenient.

Now, allow me take you back into the mists of my meandering posts.  The first mention (I think) of the development works by the mouth of the Wandle were detailed on this Bird Forum post. I continued, but with more photos and stuff on this blog here and then here.  And that seemed to be it.  Although there was a path and some ugly buildings planned for the area the economic climate has made this kind of building very slow in starting.  I would view the area from the north side of the river and occasionally see men working, but not often.  And then a big blue wooden shuttering fence thing went up.  And then a wire fence was erected outside this.  Occasionally men would arrive with top soil and stuff, and occasionally machines but nothing much seemed to be happening, nor was there any signs of anyones intentions.

And then at the beginning of last week, from the opposite side of the river I saw a chap in a suit striding purposefully towards a dead end which was wierd in itself as that area is never used by anyone that walksfaster than a dawdle.  Imagine my suprise when he was then seen walking purposefully around the top of the attenuation pond area.  So I thought I'd go and have a look.

Get in!  There's a bloody path right by loads of habitat and everything!

And now I'll sort of let the pictures do the talking?

A sign telling me that if I break my head open, it's my fault.

A path doing new.

A view of the top of the attenuation ponds.

Another view of the top of the attenuation ponds, looking to the Thames.

Habitat doing accessible.

Looking back down the Wandle.

A view of a path on a mirrory thing.

A bit of path.

A bit of path that is a bit longer and round the corner.

Mouth of Wandle to Thames with official looking boat.

I'll more than likely talk about birds in the area over the next few days.

Finally, let me state quite clearly that this post is not a reaction to a recent spate of  'Have a look round my patch' type posts (and intented posts) that have appeared on some of my favourite blogs recently.  No Siree, no way.  This is genuine news, and anyway I did all that like ages ago and if you want to see how rubbish this patch is you can get an idea by scrolling down this set of pages. 

Counting Coots - pushing the boundaries of birdblogging as you would expect.

Starlings vs Helicopters

Friday, December 04, 2009

Yes this is about Starlings again, rightly so. The media seem to have been  quite keen on Starlings this week, but only really for the big shows that they put on at roosting time and rightly so, but the Wandsworth Bridge birds are not very good at this. They don’t spend too much time in the air once at the site and get into place reasonably quickly. Why is this so?


Just down river from Wandsworth Bridge there is a heliport.  The helicopters use the river as an initial navigation aid (or so it would seem) and come over the bridge at no more than a couple of hundred feet.  Just the kind of height that a nice flock of Starlings would like to wheel around and give a show to a hardy patch birder.

That's my theory anyway.

On Tuesday however this was all changed when a Sparrowhawk was showing interest in the murmuration.  They stayed out and made a couple of half decent groups in the air, but stayed quite dispersed within the flock rather than the tight knit version they normally have.  And they climbed - higher than I've seen them round here.  Thankfully no helicopters came by and once the raptor realised that it wasn't going to get a meal it left and they all piled in under the bridge.

The obligatory photograph of a bird that I have not been talking about follows...

A Cormorant doing that thing that they do.  With the wings and all that.

v 3.0.1 - the Ska-daptor

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

In 1980 there was one item of attire that was the coolest thing to have in the playground, bar none. Readers that are slightly older than me, or those that are slightly or considerably younger than me are unlikely to know what it is or understand why. The item in question was a belt. One of those cotton belts that were worn with the end flapping down that have had a renaissance of late. They are not very good at keeping your trousers up, but what do school kids care about that?  Not any colour would do, oh no. Primary or pastel colours were for girls, black was nearly cool, white was barely cool. No – the coolest thing to have was a belt that was black on one side and white on the other. A two tone belt. It was the time of Ska, 2-Tone, Madness, The Specials etc etc. It would all shortly be replaced by stripes across the face and highwayman costumes, but that’s another matter. Yes that 2-Tone belt instantly made you cool.

I didn’t have one.

Why am I dribbling on about this shit?  Well, I do now have an important item of two toned gear.  Yes dear reader, the third version of the Digimonocularisation adaptor is born.  The 'Ska-daptor'.

This adaptor is another leap in digimonning technology as you would expect.  It is reversible, it is adjustable (by the addition or removal of insulation tape) and it can be sourced from a never ending stock should it be lost as I know what it started as.  Yes, I took a plastic thingie and with the help of a ruddy great file and a linisher it was formed.  Topped of with several layers of insulation tape et voila!  Digimonning is back on the menu - get in!

I expect that in the near future I will have something to write about birds.  In a patch.

Not a Water Rail

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thank you for the comments and yes indeed, it was a Water Rail. Despite the dodgy shaky images, the scoped view was quite satisfactory. Nice bird, nice patch tick.

Now - let nobody say that Counting Coots does not respond to customer demand! You want a mystery bird photo – you got it.

Different patch, different day, different bird.

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