Monday 15 November 2010

It's not fair!

After the unprecedented autumn passage, I naively thought that when I got home from Shetland there would be Lapland Buntings everywhere. I feverishly imagined vast flocks of them creeping around in every field (maybe even in the field behind my house), blotting out the sun as they migrated over in their countless millions, drowning out every other bird with their calls. Over and over again I visualised myself triumphantly adding that glorious tick to my county list, wiping out the years of hurt. Yes, I would finally see a Lapland Bunting in Leicestershire and everything would be all right.

How wrong I was. In the last month there have been precisely TWO reports in Leics, and one of those was only ‘99% certain’. It’s not as if I haven’t tried – every time I’ve been out I’ve been straining my ears skywards for just the faintest hint of a ‘tickitick’ or a ‘teu’, but not a thing. I even resisted stringing one, foolishly thinking I’d be bound to get a real one flying over eventually.

So where have they all gone? It’s a conspiracy, that’s what it is. Some bastard’s been catching them and putting them all in a big cage somewhere just to stop me adding it to my county list. Just one miserable county tick, that’s all I ask. Everyone else has seen one. It’s not fair.

And don’t try and fob me off with Waxwings. I’ve seen thousands of fucking Waxwings. Although one on the rowan tree outside my house would be nice, please.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Blast From The Past

I've absolutely no idea why, but I've just been seized with a sudden urge to post this completely random page from the original Leicester Llamas site (this was written in 2001):

The Stringers Page

Like most counties, Leicestershire and Rutland has a few well-known stringers. However, ours do seem to be rather prolific. The Leicester Llamas have gone undercover into the dim world of stringing to find out what is going on.

[And for some equally inexplicable reason I've decided that I'll leave out 'Case 1' and just post the second part of the original page. I don't know why I've done this, as this bit was probably even more libellous than the first. But fuck it, we got away with it in 2001, so I'll probably get away with it now. I think Richard wrote this anyway, so that's OK.]

Case 2 - the 'Wildlife Writer'

A very sad tale. This individual used to be the county ecologist, but was sacked after a rather dubious incident involving late night nudity in the office. He writes a regular weekly wildlife column in the local paper (which covers the whole county and has a large readership). He sees a wide variety of birds and insects in his normally bird-free, bland, intensively farmed section of the county, and only tells us about them a few weeks later in the paper. This, at least, saves us from having to look for these fantasy birds.

By far the best of his recent claims was only last September, when a few skuas turned up inland. The 'Wildlife Writer' saw a skua at Swithland Res, which is not impossible to believe. Anyone else would have been happy enough with finding a Bonxie, but our man has to find a South Polar Skua! Something in the name of this species suggests, to me at least, that it would be unlikely to be found, for the first time in Europe, at a Leicestershire reservoir.

Almost as good, in early November, was a Lesser Short-toed Lark in a field near his home!

Some of his other 'finds' have included: Rough-legged Buzzard (to which he devoted an entire column in the paper, but didn't see the tail colour!), Honey Buzzards, Ring-billed (which he described as 'the same size and shape as Common Gull') and Bonaparte's Gull together amongst a small group of Black-headed and Common Gulls that one of the Llamas had already looked through, breeding Red-backed Shrikes, Wrynecks and Golden Orioles, a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver on a farm pond, a Sociable Plover, etc etc. He has also added a couple of species of dragonfly to the county list (on local streams), and found some 'unusual' butterflies. Diagnosis: a disturbing combination of madness and incompetence.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Oh go on then

Having initially resisted watching and commenting on the Twitchers programme on Sunday, I cracked and watched it on the iPlayer at lunchtime today. There’s not much to be said that hasn’t already been said at great length elsewhere (life’s too short to read the entire Birdforum thread), so I’ll restrict myself to a few observations.

I was going to say that the programme would have been much more enjoyable without the oppressive presence of Evans, but on reflection, I think it’s good that they included him – hopefully as a result more people will realise what a poisonous individual he is, and how much more pleasant birding would be without him. And don’t say that someone else would just come along and fill his shoes, because there is no-one else like him and hopefully never will be. To sum up in one definitely non-PC word how he came across in the film: retarded. And that’s my honest opinion, rather than just trying to be offensive.

Most sensible thing anyone said in the whole film? Brett Richards: “There’s no point to anything in the universe – we’re all here by accident.”

Least sensible thing? Spoilt for choice, but a good contender would be LGRE, quoted by Garry Bagnell: “Lee said my chance of seeing the bird was less than 41%.” Sums him (Lee) up perfectly, although of course he wouldn’t understand why!