Thursday, 27 December 2007
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Thursday, 6 December 2007
This site is accessed from the end of Eldernell Lane off of the A605 just east of Coates - see here for access details. As can be seen from this ariel view, the site is a mixture of rough pasture and fenland wash - sadly surrounded by mainly arable farming.
A Customer meeting in Wisbech today gave me the opportunity to drop in for an hour or so on the way home, though given the time (c13:45 - 03:15) and very dull, windy and damp conditions, I certainly wasn't expecting a big raptor and owl haul.
The large pool just south of the bank held Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Greylags, but the bulk of the wildfowl was on the washes with 1000s of Wigeon, 100s of Teal and good numbers of Pintail. Plenty of Lapwings and Golden Plovers also. Aside from the many Mute Swans, a small party of Whoopers flew over heading east.
Sadly the raptor count included only Kestrel (several) but a superb Short-eared Owl was quartering at sheep-head level for a good half hour apart from when being harassed by Crows. I strongly expect that a visit with more time (ie up to dusk) and in better conditions would produce more. A great site well worth a visit.
Monday, 3 December 2007
Sunday, 2 December 2007
Friday, 30 November 2007
Here's a couple of crappy grainy photos of the band - my scanner is bust so these are digital photos of the prints.
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Monday, 26 November 2007
Saturday, 24 November 2007
Thursday, 22 November 2007
The female of this species is wingless - just looks like an egg-bound sack with 6 legs.
22nd November is a typical date for this species to start appearing here, although I have a few records of individuals towards end of first week of November.
Monday, 19 November 2007
Sunday, 18 November 2007
The camera catches the moment when Dave finds that after a day driving, and too many bags of salty crisps, he is unfortunately touching cloth.
Our destination was Selsey Bill, and the target was the White-billed Diver that had been knocking around on and off for a while. I have to say that whilst the prospect of a days birding was appealing, and of course I was looking forward to a long-awaited tick, I have never really enjoyed seawatching. Once we'd arrived and got ourselves kitted up in the obligatory protective layers, the size of the task was obvious - miles of open choppy waters and a long shingly beach - my idea of birding hell.
Back out on the beach front but still no further sign of the diver, which was not seen again until a good two hours after we'd left. So, all in all very brief, distant and unsatisfying views - sums up most of my seawatching experiences! Other birds noted during the day included a superb Bonxie heading east, adult winter Med Gull directly over our heads in the car park, a superb close Purple Sand which only just evaded a Kestrel, a Kingfisher darting low over the tide, a Razorbill, loads of Gannets, an Eider, and a few Red-breasted Merganser.
Selsey council have employed a gang of wintering Turnstones to keep the car-park clean.
Perhaps the best birding first for me though was the luxury of being able to doze off in the car whilst being chauffeured around by Mr Gray.
Grayboy driving - OMFL!
Monday, 12 November 2007
Sunday, 11 November 2007
Saturday, 10 November 2007
I used to visit this site regularly when I first started birding regularly in c1990. Back then I used to park in a sort of slip road off of the main ring road, next to where now there is the optimistically named Waxwing Wood. It was relatively quiet and the waterside scrub was almost non-existent. There was no board-walk, but there was a fairly adequate hide looking onto the southern lake. I've seen some good birds there in the past, and ticked my first White-winged Black Tern (1994) and Marsh Warbler (1996) there. Most of the developments that are in place now have been there for some time, and the last time I visited was when a Kittiwake was there in 2000. Aside from the birds, or lack of, there were three things in particular that struck me today as I walked around:
The Good: once you get away from the car-park, the waterside scrub and reeds have developed into a very promising looking habitat. I especially like the southern end of the southern lake and the board -walk section of the northern lake. It's no surprise that Cetti's should turn up here, and the habitat is not unfavourable for breeding (but how long have we said that about Cetti's in VC55).
Thursday, 8 November 2007
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Every story has a beginning though, and here's mine ....
I am nearly 40, b1968 in Leicester. I have lived in Leicestershire all of my life, in Whetstone since 1994 but grew up in the Humberstone area. I am happily married to Nichola (we met in late 1989 and eventually decided to get married in 1999), and we have three children - Isabelle (b1995), Joshua (b2001) & Alexander (b2002). They all share a common dis-interest in my interests. Okay, not quite true - the boys are always keen to see what moths I've caught, Isabelle is a budding musician and has seen some good birds (though not necessarily by choice) and Nichola really just dislikes the amount of time I spend pursuing my interests or researching / documenting / writing about them on this PC ................
In essence, aside from family (and as permitted by work commitments - I certainly won't be talking shop on this blog), the main interests in my life so far have been:
Music - I attended many gigs in my formative years and this escalated to being a member of Leicester based all-electronic bands The Red Branch and iNDUSTRiE (actually the same band with and without singers). We played numerous gigs between 1985 - 1994, but were loosing interest and faded into oblivion by c1996. The music developed from synth-pop (heavily influenced by Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, ABC and Human League) to a harder edged industrial-techno sound (once we'd heard the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and Front Line Assembly). By the time we were disillusioned with lack of success and packing up, the equipment that had always been prohibitively expensive was starting to become cheaper and easier to use with full blown workstations and direct-to-disc recording. The kids today can knock out a dance track with very little effort and nothing more than a PC - not quite as rewarding as spending a couple of months programming analogue synths, drum machines and sequencers and recording on 4-track, but a damn site more prolific and lucrative!
Birding - since a very young age I've been fascinated by natural history and have always enjoyed watching Attenborough et al, but it wasn't until I was 21 that I actually started making the effort to go out into the field. I'd seen Buzzards in North Devon - although I'd actually seen some large birds and wanted to check out what they were, so I bought a field guide (two in fact - on offer in WH Smiths). Flicking through I realised just how many British birds there were that I'd never heard of, let alone seen, and felt compelled to go out and see some of them. I bought some cheap bins and started going out to local reserves to identify them for myself.
My first bird-spotting guides!
The thought of going further afield than Rutland Water never really entered my head for a couple of years, until a fervent high-listing twitcher started working at the same company as me. My first out of county birding trip, to Norfolk in May 1993, was a major eye opener. Just a week later we were back in Norfolk twitching Oriental Pratincole. By the end of 1993 I'd also ticked Red-flanked Bluetail and I was hooked. Between late 1993 - end 2001 I was a regular birder and I've seen some major rarities. I was also suffering with the debilitating pageritis. My obsession dwindled sharply after Christmas 2001 following my Dad's untimely death in a car crash - not surprisingly ticking rare birds no longer seemed important. I was still birding occasionally with my last tick being American Robin in January 2004, but since then I've neglected the scope and bins in favour of moth trapping ............. but I've just dug them out to get back into local birding.
Moths - I first got interested in moths after borrowing a heath trap in 1999. I built my own Skinner trap and started regular trapping in the garden in 2000 which continues to the present. Since that Skinner trap, I've also acquired enough kit for some serious out-of-garden trapping although I rarely go out of VC55 (Leicestershire and Rutland). The big appeal for me was a) the much greater ID challenge and sheer numbers of species, b) you can build up an ever growing list of species in your own garden, and c) the records generated are of much more scientific importance than any bird I've twitched. From day-one I've focussed on the micros as well as macros, though I have never bothered to try setting anything and have not yet mastered (moth) genitalia examination. I do photograph a lot of moths though. Nichola and the kids have got used to finding pots with moths in the fridge waiting to be photographed.
Other stuff - in no particular order:
I have read all but the latest of the Terry Pratchett Discworld books.
I used to be an avid reader of the 2000AD comics - Slaine, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis and ABC Warriors being my favourite story-lines.
I became addicted to on-line Poker a couple of years ago - I defeated this addiction by buying up some first-person shoot-em-up Playstation games on e-bay.
I then became addicted to first-person shoot-em-up Playstation games ..............
I have pretty much everything that Depeche Mode, Orbital and Kraftwerk have ever released in my hugely varied music collection.
I have no time for religion.
When I play squash I have only one aim - which is not to die from a coronary attack.
I have drifted in and out of supporting Leicester City FC - but I haven't drifted into following the Premiership team of the moment since I was at junior school (when I was always Steve Coppell playing for Man U. in the playground).
I am not a Royalist - at least the French got that one right.
I am allergic to DIY.
I have watched David Lynch's Eraserhead many times and still don't get it.
I have some golf clubs, and occasionally destroy municipal fairways as I hack my way around.