Friday, 5 September 2014

EU to Ban High-powered Optics

by Nathan Rare

Birders are rallying round (and also flocking) to vent their fury as Brussels bureaucrats unveiled their latest plan to erode the "lifestyles and choices of ordinary people".

It follows the banning this week of binoculars with a higher magnification than 6x and spotting scopes above 15x. In further moves which seem certain to provoke outrage amongst the nation's birders, tripods will be restricted to a maximum fully extended height of 1.2m, and DSLR burst rates will not be permitted to exceed 3 frames per second.

EU Commissioner for Birding Affairs, Lars Ole, speaking from his palatial penthouse suite at the Stockholm Hilton, said, "This new legislation is essential to improve standards of fieldcraft. For years now, people have been using high-powered optics to avoid the need to learn any kind of fieldcraft. We feel that reducing magnifications will improve the situation dramatically, especially in the UK, where birders' field skills are lamentable."

Condemnation of the announcement was swift and almost universal. Derek Sandpiper, 52, a twitching veteran with a British list of "nearly 300", said, "This will just mean that I need to get even closer to the bird than I do already. Fieldcraft? I thought that's what people did in the 19th century. Things have moved on since then, mate." He went on to say that he would be stockpiling "enough pairs of 10x42 Swaro ELs and 30-70x eyepieces to see me out. I can afford it, so bollocks to the EU".

L.G.R. Falarga, 52, of the IQ40 Club seemed rather confused by the news: "I've been saying for years that everyone should vote UKIP because of their thoroughly sound environmental policies, and this just proves my point. But on the plus side, maybe some people will give up birding, which would be a good thing. There are far too many birders in this country nowadays. And it might also save a lot of time chasing up reports of Great Knots and Long-toed Stints, as they'll be too distant for anyone to string them in the first place. Maybe we shouldn't vote UKIP after all? I don't know really. What planet am I on again?"

However, Billy Boring, 52, who described himself as a "keen patcher" said, "I couldn't give a toss really. No-one else ever goes to my patch, so I can get as close to the birds as I like, and it doesn't matter if I flush them. I don't even own a pair of binoculars, let alone a scope."

While Mrs Bessy Ducker, 93, a keen back garden birdspotter said, "How am I supposed to identify anything down the end of my garden with 6x binoculars? What do they expect me to do, go outside? At my age? It's fucking ridiculous. I'm 93, you know!"

When asked about the proposed decrease in permissable tripod height, Mr Ole was evasive. "Um, I can't remember – I think it was something to do with the legs obstructing air flow near wind turbines."

And the DSLR burst rate restriction? "Oh, that's simply because people at twitches with machine gun rate burst speeds are annoying twats."

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Experts Predict Best Autumn EVER!!

by Nathan Rare

Twitchers throughout the country are set to spend tens of thousands of pounds EACH to charter planes, boats and helicopters after experts predicted that this autumn could be the best EVER for rare birds in the UK.

A boat similar to one which might be chartered by twitchers

Eric Twatt, of Forecast-A-Rare Technology Ltd, made his startling prediction after studying ancient manuscripts, the movements of eels, sunspot activity and conducting lengthy conversations with Princess Diana via a medium.

Mr Twatt, 52, said “All the portents are in place for a mega rare autumn. According to my calculations, MILLIONS of birds never seen before in Britain are poised to make epic journeys in a bid to claim their place on the British List.

One of the many birds never seen before in Britain
“Birds from all over the globe will descend on the country between now and the end of November, bringing CHAOS to the roads and long delays at all major airports. Twitchers literally won’t know which way to turn.”

Mr Twatt’s exciting predictions were immediately confirmed by The Reverend John Vague, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher from Wisbech, who said “This has long been foretold in the Bible, for example Wallace ch.14, v.12: And lo!, the winds shall rise mightily and blow from the eastern lands of Dauria, and yet further east thereof, and from the west also shall they come (but not at the same time). Great shall be the accompanying precipitation, and a plague of Locustellas shall fall from the sky.

“And I’m sure there was something about the Moon as well. You always get rare birds when there’s a Moon.”

 The Moon. It’s a Sign...
Avid twitcher Ross Franklin, 52, said “I can’t wait. It’s about time we had a decent autumn, and hopefully it won’t all be on Shetland, because I can’t afford to go there. Or Scilly. And Ireland doesn’t count, of course. Something like a mainland Canada Warbler would be nice, but not a gull please. I fucking hate gulls.”

  Adult Scruttock’s Gull, showing the diagnostic flange coverts, or something
But others in the birding world sought to play down Mr Twatt’s sensational forecasts. Len Savee, 52, President of the IQ40 Club® said “Eric Twatt is absolutely clueless. Easily in the bottom 6.73% of birders ranked according to ability. He once claimed to have seen a Pacific Swift when everyone knew he was miles away at the time. He just wants to get his name in the papers and be on the telly.”

A spokesman from information service Birders’ Rarity Alerts who insisted on remaining anonymous agreed. “He might be right. He might not. Who cares really? I’ll still be raking it in from subscriptions and app sales whether there’s actually anything to go and look at or not!”

He later retracted this statement when he realised how many customers he was losing to the growing number of free Twitter news services.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Silly Season

I was highly alarmed to read this today, until I realised that ‘the Daily Express’ is just another one of those spoof news sites which litter the Internet these days. Oh how I laughed to think that I'd fallen for something as ridiculous as that.

Good job it’s not a real news site really, as there was also this! Blimey – the end of the world AND some wind and rain – I don’t think I could cope with that. Tom Logan, a retard from Plagiarismsville (near Bristol, I think), said “Well, I heard where it said something in the Bible about the Moon being something to do with the end of the world, or something, and it proper shit me up, like”.

But ‘Bertha’ might at least fart a few decent birds our way, although more likely off the coast of Cornwall rather than this far inland. It certainly looks pretty grim first thing tomorrow, so I think I’ll stay in bed and see whether there’s anything around anywhere in the Midlands before venturing out. Trouble is, everyone else will probably do the same, and Leicestershire’s first Wilson’s Petrel will be pattering its yellow webs over the water at Eyebrook with no-one there to see it.

Bargain of the year (even better than the 2012 Suffolk Bird Report I found in a charity shop in Southwold for two quid recently) – I bought a hardback Collins Bird Guide today, in really good condition, for 20p from a stall at the local fete. I even paid for it with a 50p and made sure I got my 30p change. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Affordable Art Sale

I'm having a bit of a sale of a few pieces of original art, all priced between £35 & £55.

Full details on my new 'serious' website, which you may have noticed has rather taken over from this one recently!

Update - the Nightingale and the landscape format Hare are now sold.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

March PWC roundup

With other commitments from Saturday till Monday, I shan't be going to Eyebrook again this month (unless someone else finds something mega there today or tomorrow!), so that's March done for me, and on the whole I shall be glad to see the back of it, to be honest. Seven visits totalling nearly 27 hours for a measly six new birds for the year, bringing the total to 96 species and 107 points.

But at least a couple of the birds were unexpected: a pair of Egyptian Geese (woohoo!) on the 9th, and a Nuthatch on the 21st. The latter appears to be the first record for the site for several years, and to show just how scarce Nuthatches are around Eyebrook, here's the BirdTrack map for the species. The red flag in the middle is my record for this month, and there are no others in about a 5 mile radius. Which is odd really, as there is plenty of suitable woodland in the area. No doubt it's largely down to under-recording, but there's a definite Nuthatch 'hole' here!

Apart from these, the only other bird of any real interest during the month was a nice summer adult Med Gull which flew over me at the Stoke Dry car park on the 18th. The other three new species were Oystercatcher, Redshank and Sand Martin, of which there were just two on the 21st, in contrast to the hundreds at Rutland Water.

So that's it for the winter; from next week the list should start to rise dramatically as the migrants start to arrive...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


February has been a surprisingly good month for me at Eyebrook, and I reached my rough target of 90 species for the year this morning with amazing views of the Bittern at the inflow. Definitely a case of third time lucky, having failed to see it last Friday and again on Saturday. This bird has the rather odd habit of feeding under the trees, usually well away from the inflow stream, and today it was doing just that, although it did walk along the stream at one point.

Having never photographed a Bittern before, I was quite pleased to get these first few shots, but even more pleased with the final ones, taken from the bridge in excellent light at a range of about 25 yards. These are just a few from the 150+ I took:

Initial views under the trees were OK, but unspectacular

Then it moved into the open

Posed a bit...

Then appeared much closer at the edge of the stream

Came a bit closer still, then...

Boom! (it didn’t actually go ‘boom’, of course, that’s just a way of expressing satisfaction in modern birding parlance).

After this it walked off back into the trees, where I later saw it catch and eat a vole. In all, it was on view for about an hour.

Other February highlights were the site’s first ever Cetti’s Warbler, which I heard calling at the inflow on the 16th, and a Peregrine on the 2nd. The remaining new species for the year were Pintail, Tawny Owl, Grey Wagtail and Mistle Thrush.