Friday 27 June 2008


I always get told off by my girlfriend for saying things like 'the nights are drawing in now' at the end of June, but the fact is that if you're a birder, 'summer' doesn't really exist. The first returning passage waders are already starting to appear, which means that from now until the beginning of November it's officially autumn. My favourite season. Hurrah. And it's only 14 weeks until I go to Shetland. I've just booked my flights - Friday 3rd October till Wednesday 15th October in case you're interested. Trust me - this is the year of the Siberian Accentor at Grutness. This is what it will look like... I've already written my description and pencilled it in on my found list:

Saturday 14 June 2008

Coming to a gull roost near you

Birders who 'don't do gulls' would be well advised to stay away from Folkestone at the moment. As part of a 'public art' event in the town, American artist Mark Dion has created a "mobile gull appreciation unit." A giant gull on wheels, it will be "driven round Folkestone complete with its onboard gull expert and gull library."

(Photo nicked from the Guardian in flagrant breach of copyright laws)

I've peered very closely at the photo, but I don't think either of the two people inside the gull is Klaus Malling Olsen, because he (rather worryingly) looks like this.

After the Folkestone event is over, the unit will undertake a tour of well-known gull roosts around Britain in an attempt to get more birders to take an interest in pointless crap like how to separate 1st-winter barabensis from eastern cacchinans.

Actually I made that last bit up - Tracey Emin's going to live in it for a year, fill it with hairbrushes and used condoms and then exhibit it at Tate Modern. OK, I made that up too - it will probably just end up as a novelty ice cream kiosk in Folkestone.

Thursday 12 June 2008

More on bird names

Or should that be 'moron bird names'?

Rob Fray has written an excellent piece on this important subject - read it here, and also please sign his petition if you agree with the sentiments expressed!

I was going to write something very similar here, but he's beaten me to it, so I'll have to think of something else. Arse.

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Sorry - couldn't resist this!

Marcus wants to see 'a modicum of character assassination' on this blog. Will this do for a start?

Sorry Andy - I know you can take a joke!

Monday 9 June 2008

Sprosser? Tosser!

There have been a few Thrush Nightingales about this spring, which has led to an unfortunate outbreak of Sprosseritis on certain blogs and websites. Now, I'm probably as guilty as anyone of using 'esoteric' nicknames for birds which are (according to leading psychologist Professor P. Witt) "designed to exclude the newcomer or casual birdwatcher, and signal membership of a self-proclaimed elite", but calling a Thrush Nightingale a 'Sprosser' is one that I just don't get.

Everyone knows that it's simply the German name for the species, but when and more importantly why did it enter some British birders' vocabularies? We don't go around saying we've had good views of a Nachtigall, or twitched an Erddrossel or a Gartenbaumlรคufer for fuck's sake, so why pick on this one? Yes, it's a bit quicker than saying 'Thrush Nightingale', but then 'Streifenschwirl' is shorter than 'Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler' and we don't use that, do we? Although perhaps that's because it looks a bit difficult to pronounce, whereas even the dullest, most linguistically challenged twitcher can cope with Sprosser.

And why use the German name? Why not the Dutch, or Swedish or Serbo-Croat? It's complete bollocks.

I think Rob Fray summed it up perfectly on his website when he said "If I ever call this species ‘Sprosser’ then somebody please shoot me". The message is clear: if you call it a Sprosser, it means you're a tosser.

Thursday 5 June 2008

Award! Award!

The RSPB has announced a new competition to find 'Britain's favourite farmer'. Whilst this is a laudable and positive idea to encourage and reward environmental awareness amongst farmers, a small minority at the other end of the agricultural spectrum may feel they have no chance of winning this prestigious award. The Leicester Llama is therefore pleased to announce a realistic alternative they can aim for: The 'Get orf moy laaand' award for Britain's worst farmer.

Categories will include:

  • Largest acreage of land given over to stinking oilseed rape for 'biofuels' rather than growing food

  • Greatest length of hedgerows removed

  • Highest volume of toxic chemicals used per acre

  • Most badgers and other 'vermin' unnecessarily exterminated

  • Most SSSIs destroyed

Plus there will be a special award for Britain's surliest farmer. In this category I would like to nominate the inbred Neanderthal fuckwit who accosted me on a public footpath in Leicestershire a few years ago while I was carrying out a BTO farmland bunting survey. This 25 stone, red-faced prize specimen came out with some classics in the course of our 'conversation', including: "Who cares how many little brown birds there are anyway?", "Since we started paintballing in that wood over there, there are far more birds in it than there used to be" and "I've got a conviction for GBH, you know!"

The winner will be ceremonially sprayed with a muck spreader loaded with his own shite.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

Sunday 1 June 2008