We haven't had any "vans" lately .... you know, vans and "ghostbirds" !
If you see a van with R.D.E. ELECTRICALS on the back, you "use" the RDE bit to bring a bird back to life ...... in this case, SOLITARY SANDPIPER will do.
Or, for that matter, RUFOUS-SIDED TOWHEE . And many others.
I've written about them a lot...here's the helpful links with lots more examples ....
..the first two are using 3-letter number plates... and last two are on vans ...
Lately I've been doing the same thing but with 4-letter sequences ...obviously these are trickier and most of them won't work ..but these two will.....
... the first one is easier, but just use the first four letters MEAR .
.... and the second one is a bit harder .... but both are do-able.
I hope you did OK .... and once you've got the idea, you can have endless competitions while you zoom up the motorway to see who comes up with an answer first .... and it is almost as good when you're on your own. As are many things.
Helpful Hint/Swizz .. you CAN find a "result" for all 5 letters of MEARS if you use Latin names instead of the English ones ...... there's more than one result, and it will improve your Latin no end. And you will feel superior to the "Lack-of-Latin_Lot. "
... so, on to " Music Time" ... we listened to this on the way back from Grumbling Stumps yesterday .... 5 Cetti's doing their "in-your-face" outbursts, Flying Bittern, Water Rails, swarms of midges ( year tick) and no sign of Dodgy ! Perfection !!
Two days ago I heard the first Willow Warbler .... just one wispy 3-second burst was enough.
I was wondering when they were going to turn up ..were they late ?
And then yesterday on a short stroll, I heard 5 of them ...they were " in".
As us orthli-nogolisters say.
And when I got back to my office/junk-heap I worked out what the average arrival dates were for the usual suspects .... and here's what I found from my impeccably collected data over many years .... earliest to latest ...
BIRD MEAN ARRIVAL DATE
Chiffchaff 3rd April
Willow Warbler 6th April
Blackcap 7th April
Swallow 15th April
House Martin 2nd May
Swift 4th May
And as for this Spring, it was very different to those figures.
Here's what actually happened.
( I've left Blackcap out as they've been around the garden all winter and so it was difficult to be sure when the migrant ones arrived.)
The first Chiffchaff .... 24th March.
First House Martin .... 1st April
First Swallow ............. 11th April
First Willow Warbler... 14th April
( Swifts, obviously, have not yet arrived)
After all that analysis, this ....
Yesterday I couldn't get into weebly, the site that hosts this blog.
They insisted that I had to accept cookies, which is odd, and hasn't happened before, and I certainly didn't accept them..
So, I didn't think I'd be able to write this today.
But, strangely, no cookies were requested this morning, and all is fine.
But .... I won't be surprised if some day soon I'll not be able to get into it.
In which case, I thank all my readers over the 3 years of its little life.
That RSPB bloke Martin Fowler was in the paper today.
You might remember him from his previous appearance on here due to his multi-birdy- name...... Martin, Owl and Fowl.
Martin Fowler Martin Fowler Martin Fowler
( I'm not going to mention that "tin" = arse in Welsh !)
So ..... in the interests of farting about I thought it would be fun to conjure up a few more of such names ........ and after decades of lockdown we're ready for a bit of fun ...
Robin Uthatchaffincheron ( 4 in there)
Pip I. Tits-Erin
C. Raneleg Ant-Tern
H. Awkestrel ( A founder-member of Awkestrel Manoeuvres in the Dark)
T. E. Aleutian Ternut-hatchobby ( there's 4 of them in there)
Will O'Warblerookitealinnet ( there's 5 of them in there )
So far I haven't ventured into foreign stuff ..but there must be a rich vein of "that sort of thing" in those distant climes.
Any similar ridiculous conglomerations will be happily accepted and published, as long as they are within the bounds of decency and decorum.
But now ..... music .... obviously it will be Awkestrel Manoeuvres in the Dark.........
Here's a sequence of people and birds ....
Mark Andrews Firecrest
Tim Appleton Shoveler
Eustace Barnes Barn Owl
Richard Bashford Hobby
Bo Beolens Swift
Keith Betton Tree Sparrow
Carl Buttle Barn Owl
Clive Byers ?
So ... what was that next bird ..and where ... and why ?
While you're thinking about that ...this .... turn it up to "Full Power" !
We went to Grumbling Stumps ( my nickname for our local bird reserve) today, for the first time since December 28th. For obvious reasons.
We got a welcome reception of sn*w and hail and bitter cold.
So we wandered around getting steadily colder and colder, and eventually heard a Bittern.
We rambled around a bit more, and "got" the first Swallow of the year ..well, Swallows actually.. rather strangely, there were loads of them, and stacks of Sand Martins too, all whizzing around totally silent ...but no House Martins at all. How bizarre .
And right at the end of the wander, as our fingers started to turn purple and drop off, two Treecreepers appeared trundling up some trunks busily as they generally do .... sadly, I can't hear them any more .... I got to wondering when I last saw two Treecreepers together.
A very long time ago. I think.
Then we encountered Dodgy and Mark in the Car Park, and then we ate our picnic in the sub-zero-temperature car, and then I drove us home and gradually thawed out.
I was really pleased to find out that some incredibly wealthy person was able to travel all over the world on some fancy boat. And on top of that, that person also went all over the world on planes as well. I suspect that it was all "free of charge" too.
And then he rubs our noses in it by writing a book all about it.
Plus, it must be very nice to be able to flit from one huge estate to another, each with extensive grounds and plenty of servants to fulfil their every whim. Free of charge.
But apart from all that, everything is fine and dandy.
We'll all just struggle on with our many many months of Covid ... spread around the world by people in planes belching out pollutants and squandering one of the most expensive fuels in the world.
Apparently, day by day, 1000's of "tourists" are piling into the UK.
But, it seems, we can't reciprocate their enthusiasm for travel.
Ah well, I'm sure our terrific government knows what to do.....
... so happiness abounds !
..but on the plus side, I spotted my first Wheatear of the year yesterday. Woo !
Here's some data for you ... we all like data ...
Which of these totally plausible scenarios is the "right" one ...
[a] Number of members of the " Young Ornithologist's Club."
[b] Sales of " The Observers Book of Birds."
[c] The results of the " UK Rookeries Survey"
[d] The number of prosecutions of "egg collectors."
[e] The sales of " Bill Oddie's Little Black Bird Book"
There's something for you to think about in these lockdown times ... but now ...
The Music ...... ( What's it all about ?) Alfie
If you want to see if you got the "right" answer, here's the link to it.
You just scroll down to the end of that post 663, and there it will be, after the music ..
Yes, here's a selection of my exciting sightings in previous Aprils .. I think I've "done" all the other months now ...here we go then .....
1st April Nowt.
2nd 1985 Black Grouse, my first, with Mr. G somewhere on the Pennine Way.
4th 1997 Rough-legged Buzzard, Dunsop Valley. ( + Goshawk)
5th -7th A barren wilderness.
8th 2008 White-Spotted Bluethroat, Sedburgh ( 374th tick)
9th 2004 2 Red-Rumped Swallows, Farnham Gravel pits. Woo !
Also 1 brilliant Hoopoe ,Settle, same day.
10th 2001 1st-summer Iceland Gull, Heysham Harbour North Wall.
11th 1987 Green-Winged Teal, Leighton Moss.
2010 Me and Tony Parnell found a magnificent and huge White-tailed Eagle flying North over L.M. ( I spotted it first)(so there) !
13th 1991 Ring-necked Duck (f), Dockacres GP,
15th 1989 Richard's Pipit, Inskip, Lancs.
16th 2004 Black Tern, off Heysham Harbout North Wall. ( HHNW)
17th 2003 Ad Pom Skua HHNW ... the best Skua I've ever seen.
18th 2000 Rose-coloured Starling, 1st-Summer, Ripon. Plus a Waxwing in a treetop over the road .
20th 2001 1st-summer Glaucous Gull at Lancaster Tip ... now sadly gone ....
the tip I mean .... and, presumably, the gull.
21st 2000 Blue-headed Wagtail, Milnethorpe Sewage Works. Plus 2 Black- necked Grebes at LM Public Hide.
2001 Crane flew North over Ripley Heights, Lancaster at 5pm. Coo !
House Tick !!
22nd 2001 Ferruginous Duck... can't remember where !
23rd 1997 Glossy Ibis x2 at Pilling Lane Ends on the Fylde. Wizard !
+ a Spoonbill.
1996 Spoonbill at EM Pools, LMoss.
24th ............. nothing !!
25th 1993 Little Bittern (!!) Leighton Moss . Hey-ho !
1996 Red-rumped Swallow, Ormsgill Res, Barrow.
26th Nothing whatsoever.
27th 1996 Lesser Yellowlegs, Delph Lane, Warrington. ( Warrington!!)
28th 2009 No rarities, but a hefty earthquake whilst I was teaching students about conic sections. It felt like a lorry had bashed into the wall !
29th 1987 Spotted Crake .... can't remember where.
30th A large amount of nothing.
Here's a fine U2 song ... "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
But who has ?
Every so often revisions are made to the British List ....
..and here's the species that will be re-named ..
Lesser White-fronted Goose
Little Ringed Plover
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Short-toed Lark
Lesser Grey Shrike
All of those birds have a diminutive, or a disparaging description such as Common. This may have been acceptable in the past, but must no longer be used.
"Little", "Lesser", "Least" and "Short" will in future be replaced with "Stature- disadvantaged"
" Common" will be replaced with " Frequent" or "Ubiquitous" depending on exactly how "Common " they are.
The Committee is much minded to remove such disparaging adjectives as "Spotted", "Collared", "Rustic"*, "Thick", "Rough-legged", "Ancient" and "Oven."
*"Rustic" will almost certainly be replaced by " Agricultural".
These changes will be implemented on May 1st.
There will, of course, be controversy and sadness at these changes, but we must move
with the times.
And now, some appropriate music ...
Here's a small selection of my own Pertinent Place-names for you to absorb....
When you've got a carload of twitchers, there's always one old gaffer
who has to get out for a furtive piss every 20 minutes. That's your "Old Leake" scenario .. it seems funny at the time, but when you reach the rarity site and find that the blasted bird vanished 4 mins ago, it ain't funny any more.
The only reasonably elevated spot in your local patch ..... topped with a sometimes productive grove of trees as well. Apart from it being a great raptor-spotting spot, it also is a mecca for furtive and hurried
conjugations ..... amo amas amat in real life !
"HERONSHAW HALL "
I bet you've got some sort of decrepit once-stately home in your area. And round our way it is a "first port of call" when there's a "Big Day" in progress. There's acres of mixed woodland, two huge lakes, the house itself is awash with nest-sites of all sorts, and the only occupant is 93 years old and hasn't been seen for 12 years. Perfect.
I hope you've got one nearby. Your very own "Heronshaw Hall."
I hope you've got a Sea Dyke equivalent where you live.
The original Sea Dyke was a narrow, ½-mile-long inlet which brought the sea right into my patch. In fact, it has come to mean any unusual/unlikely feature in your own sphere of activity. We, for example, have a neglected and diverse woodland tucked away behind the Town Hall which very few people have
even noticed and is a magnet for migrants . You might have a secret pond with an easy-to-spot resident Black Duck .. that's your "Sea Dyke Scenario."
The B1184 is infamous for its total lack of any birds at all.
It is rumoured that way back in the distant past, around 1953
actually, the road was re-surfaced with effluent from the
newly-built nuclear power station .... due to idiocy, mainly.
These things will happen you know. You'll notice it is the only
road with a red number on it .... this is a warning to anybody daft enough to use it.
So ... B1184 is a simple code for a birdless and deadly spot.
It's on the left there .... the locals call it Sadcake Ings, but obviously the twit who drew the map didn't know that.
Deep research by me has revealed that it is actually 5AD CAKE
INGS .. so nowadays the whole area is awash with metal
detectorists and those Unthanks singing songs.
So, Sadcake Ings ,for us birders, means a potentially bird-filled ornithological paradise that has been ruined by "members of the public", film crews, media folk and brass bands.
Or, to put it bluntly, us humans.
Here's a smashing video + song of sad detectorists .....
1184, by the way, is a very special number.
It forms an "amicable pair" with 1210 .
The factors of 1184 are 1 2 4 8 16 32 37 74 148 296 592 .... add them up !
And the factors of 1210 are 1 2 5 10 11 22 55 110 121 242 605 ... add them up.!
I hope you were successful, and also impressed.
If it's cutting-edge rarity-hunting, or in-depth analysis of tertial fringes or even updates on the activities of the "top 100", this isn't the blog for you.