Sunday 28 August 2011

Dear BBC

I see the BBC is asking for ideas for this year’s Autumnwatch. Personally I don’t agree with all this ‘interactive’ bollocks – it’s just a guaranteed way of ending up with lowest common denominator dross. Did Tony Soper ever ask people what they wanted to see? No, he showed us what he thought was interesting (usually Cormorants, Puffins and Guillemots as I recall), and we were grateful for it. Does David Attenborough ever read out emails and tweets from cretins on his programmes? No, and he's all the more respected for it.

But if the BBC really has run out of ideas, here are a few they might like to consider. Let’s get the most predictable one out of the way first:

Beaver Patrol

Kate Fumble adopts an orphaned beaver and prepares it for release back into the wild. Each week she gets it out for Charlie Hambleton-Peninsula to check on its progress, giving him an excuse to leer disturbingly into the camera whilst using the word 'beaver' as many times as he can (actually, come to think of it, he doesn't need an excuse - he does that anyway).

Peew with Pacman

(Does anyone else get really irritated with the way Packham pronounces ‘poo’? In fact do they even have to keep going on about ‘poo’ all the time? It’s like listening to a bunch of four year olds.)

Pacman gets to indulge his coprophilia by rolling around in shit for ten minutes, after which he has to identify the species that produced it. Just for a laugh, in the final programme of the series the producers get him to roll in his own.

Sorry – I can’t show this, it’s just too gross.

A Shag with Martin (the housewife’s favourite)
Martin Huge-Gains has to try and pronounce ‘Phalacrocorax’ without mugging frantically to the camera or constantly pushing his glasses up into his mane...... with electrodes attached to his gonads to ‘remind’ him if he fails.

Introducing: Lichen Cam!
Never again will viewers complain about non-performing badgers on the webcams after they've suffered the mind-numbing tedium that is Lichen Cam. Watch for a couple of years and you might even see it grow! (thanks to Mrs Llama for this one)

I’m sure I saw it move!
Deer Diary

Simon Thing dons his best camo gear to get as close as he possibly can to Red Deer mating on a remote island where there’s no-one around to stop him.

Oh no, hang on, they’ve done that one. Every fucking year in fact......

Friday 19 August 2011

World's Worst Rarity Photos

In my ongoing contest with the Hooded Birder to see who can post the crappest bird photos, I offer below a couple of images which originally appeared on the 'World's Worst Rarity Photos page' on the old Leicester Llamas site. I've got quite a few more like this, but they're all in a shoe box somewhere and I can't be arsed to find/scan them at the moment. But I may do at some stage. Something to look forward to eh?

Richard helpfully points out the Common Rosefinch
feeding on our spilt seed at Gord, Shetland, May 1999

No such help with this one - you'll have to pick out the King Eider for yourselves!
Ythan Estuary, April 1996

Friday 12 August 2011

Maps, lovely maps

I love maps. I don’t feel I can really get to grips with a place unless I’ve studied every inch of as large a scale map of the area as I can get my hands on. One that shows each individual tree would be ideal, but they’re very expensive. And very big (cue Steven Wright joke: I have a map of the United States...... it’s actual size. It says ‘one mile equals one mile’. Last summer I folded it.).

Anyway, this October, along with my esteemed colleague of the pie, I will be spending a week on Unst, the most northerly of the main Shetland Isles (there are a few lumps of rock, including Muckle Flugga, further north, but they don’t really count). Surprisingly, although I’ve been to Shetland several times over the last 15 years, I’ve never actually owned a map of the place. Mainly because I’ve always either been with, or stayed with Rob, who has the complete set.

But as we won’t have that ‘luxury’ this year I’ve had to buy my own map of Unst. It arrived today, and very exciting it is too – OS Explorer map number 470, the highest number of all this series, since they started at the bottom this time, unlike the Landrangers which start at the top. A double sided, 1:25000 scale veritable smorgasbord of cartographical delights and birding potential is how I would describe it. The cover photo even shows a pseudo-birder looking down at the Hermaness gannetry, although the blurb inside warns, rather bizarrely ‘...the photograph on the cover is intended merely as an illustration of the type of activity that your map is designed to facilitate...’ Not sure what that’s all about – maybe Ordnance Survey have been sued in the past by people who were disappointed that they didn’t see a Gannet when they went to Shetland?

I can’t quite remember how many times I’ve been to Unst, but I think it’s only twice – once in 1996 when we went for a day and saw nothing, and again in 2006 to see a Red-flanked Bluetail at Westing, then on to Halligarth, where I seem to remember we didn’t see a Bonelli’s Warbler sp. But I can’t find my notebook from that visit, and my memory is worse than that of an expenses-fiddling MP foaming at the mouth about ‘criminal behaviour’.

So it’s all going to be new and exciting. Probably. Right, I’m off to pore over my new map a bit more. In bed. Expect more excessively long posts going on and on about Shetland between now and 1st October....

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Digiscoper of the Year

I see Swarovski are running a Digiscoper of the Year award - here are my entries. I think I've got a good chance of winning a prize:

Greenshank (I think, or it might be a Greater Yellowlegs - the legs do look quite yellow)

Little Egret - taken when they were rare, which is surely worth extra points

Slavonian Grebe - I like the composition of this one

Wood Sandpiper - lovely light on this shot