September 11, 2006

Speck Sand

After the heartbreak of missing the pectoral sandpiper at my old local patch at Willington, I subjected Katie to psychic chinese burns all day today in the hope she would psychologically collapse and go to Grafham Water with me for the 8,147th pectoral sandpiper to appear in the UK this autumn.

She did.

''It's only a f*cking pec sand!'' she said of the last one.

''But a very smart looking individual'' I countered, eyebrows arched knowingly, but secretly thinking ''Yes, but we both need to see it for it to count. Even though it won't because we're only counting UK breeders''

We arrived, I scanned. Katie watched f*cking mallards on the bird table. But i guess thats better than watching mallards f*cking on the bird table.

I got onto the bird. By the time Katie got there it had disappeared behind the most stupidly positioned tree since the death of Marc Bolan.

(If you've ever been to the Valley Creek Hide at Grafham, you'll know what I mean).

I scanned again for another 30 minutes. A small, long-winged wader with pale underwings flew across and alighted at a distance of about four and a half miles.

Thank f*ck for that. Katie gets on to it and concurs with my now somewhat desperate identification. A pec sand alright, but hardly crippling views.

I wonder if I can persuade her to go back tomorrow? ;-)

September 10, 2006

Easy Ticks

We went sea-watching at Weybourne this weekend. God, its bloody hard.

I consider myself to be a careful birder, but the number of birds that went unidentified was staggering. What I can report is that around a thousand terns - mainly Sandwich - flew east in little under two hours. Five skuas were positively identified: two arctic and three great. The bonxies couldn't be arsed with the terns but the arctics put on a superb display of elegant thuggery.

A distant red-throated diver gave itself up along with a few guillemots. I couldn't string a pomarine for the life of me.

It made me think how easy some people have it - they never seem to dip. I wish I had such a god-like prowess in the field.

Bird 'A' seen at location 'B' in bush 'C' means that the first bird that observer 'X' sees flitting about in bush 'C' must be bird 'A'

Well, in my experience, it just doesn't work like that. And if it did, this birding business would be a boring waste of time and you may as well just log on to BirdGuides for your daily fix.

F*ck 'em.

We also saw a very attractive and rather showy barred warbler. Sometimes things don't pan out as you anticipate...

Species added today
188. Great Skua
189. Arctic Skua