Grumbling Stumps STQC Reserve has its own little band of regulars .... Here's what I wrote about them the first time they appeared on here ... ...
Whenever I'm around Grumbling Stumps STQC Reserve I eventually come across "The Trogs" ... a loose group of five birdwatchers who seem to spend most of their waking lives either sitting in hides for an eternity, or staggering around to the next one. You could, at a pinch, compare them to that lot from the TV .... the Last of the Summer Wine lot.
We all call them the Trogs, though they don't know that.
As in every group, one of them is an amiable but useless birder... you couldn't really rely on any of his identifications . However, he's really nice bloke,and well liked too ... mainly because he isn't any sort of rival and he makes the other four feel like experts. Win-win. We'll call him Jim.
And here's the others ...
Dan ..... the best birder in the group, and he's been to Scilly .. twice !
Ed ....... the joker of the group. He's been to Benidorm and seen a Red-Rumped Swallow.. maybe.
Stan ... the quiet one. But he carries a bird book with him. Not done in top circles.
Mac .... the Scottish one. A giant of a man too. I hope he's a gentle giant.
OK ...back to today's story ....
This one is a much more recent adventure ....
The Trogs and the Ovenbird
The Trogs are usually an amiable bunch, if not perhaps top birders, but what does that matter. But, they are loyal, if nothing else, and they provide entertainment to all they meet.
But over the last few weeks, their equilibrium has been disturbed by an interloper, a rather bumptious, over-confident type who had latched onto them. But the thing is, he spends all his time criticising them, insulting them, belittling their birding skills, and generally being a prize turd. And he hangs around with them for hours at a time, dogging their every move, and generally being a bloody nuisance.
The only positive is that he's doing it to everybody else as well. The tearooms are awash with people complaining about his awful presence, his insulting attitude. In fact, many have stopped going there so often, keeping away just to avoid his attentions. They are all desperate for him to bog off to one of those top twitches he keeps boasting about.
Anyway, after a few weeks of this, Ed, the one who's been to Benidorm and claims to have ticked Red-rumped Swallow, hatched a plan. A cunning plan. An ad hominem plan, to boot ! Here we go then ....
So there they are, the Trogs, minus Ed for some reason, and sure enough, Stodgy ( that's their nickname for him) turns up and get going with his usual slagging-off routine,when Ed burst into the hide (most unlike him) brandishing his smartphone ,and shows it to the assembled Trogs ... their response is .. "blimey" ..not that any of them has a clue what he's showing them ... for it is an Ovenbird !
Stodgy takes a look .... bloody bastard Ovenbird ... he knows his stuff, fair do's ... and before you know it, they're all racing up the path to the remote corner of the reserve where it was showing... Stodgy continually telling them to bloody well speed up.... but after a bit the Trogs can run no longer, so Ed quickly tells him how to get there ... he's then got to climb a tree ... he can't miss it, an ancient, dead tree which just pokes above the canopy and from there, from the top, the very top branch,he will be able to see it. It's the only viewpoint really ... and off he goes, does Stodgy, at great speed.
But guess what ? He never comes back. We'll never know whether he saw that Ovenbird. He's never been seen again, not that anyone wants to.
Only 5 people know what happened to him. And that's those five Trogs.
Mind you, Ed didn't tell the others for years ... just in case they couldn't keep it to themselves. But once the whole thing had died down, and Stodgy had been forgotten by everybody, he told them what had happened. Here we go ...
Ed, besides being a keen birder, was also a local historian. And especially, the interaction between "natural history" as it used to be called, and the human population. And one day, in the County Archives, he came across a curious tale about a large, dead tree which ,way back in the 1700's, had been rumoured to have strange powers.
The gist of it was, anybody the villagers didn't like would be encouraged, tricked if you like, to climb up it. Money would be offered, fake " competitions" would be invented, whatever it took. And up they would go .... never to return. As soon as they set foot on the top branch, they vanished. Totally. Gone.
And for about a year, Ed had known this. All the locals had been told about it, and if anyone came to stay in the area, they would be warned. Most poo-poo'd the idea,but they didn't risk it !
Some of the locals he talked to were able to tell him of more recent incidents .... or things their parents or even grandparents had told them about that tree.It had brought the tally up to around 20 or so.
But Stodgy .... he was a fly-in. He would just come roaring up in his fancy fast car ...and bog off to whatever distant place he lived in. He was a prime candidate to be got rid of !
An ideal candidate for a spot of tree-climbing ...of course, there was no Ovenbird.Ed had just snapped a picture from a magazine. But here's an odd thing ... exactly 1 year later, an Ovenbird did turn up on the reserve... no tree-climbing required ! And it was Ed that found it. Well well.
... and all manner of things shall be well !
If you fancy reading their first story, its here ...
And appropriately, from Stodgy's point of view, here's Manu ... "Goodbye"
Here's a "3-part extravaganza" of "birdwatching" hosted by Bill Bailey.
It's Bill Bailey's Birdwatching Bonanza.
This is part 1. Rhan un in Welsh . Pam lai ? Dere ymlaen pawb ....
Well, I think we can agree that that was more of a lesson in how NOT to do it.
There's some odd counting methods in there for a start.
And here's another thing ... once again, my mum Doris, were she still amongst us, would want to know where, exactly, were they going to go to the toilet.
A good question. An important question. And, an unanswered question. Hmmmm.
This next one ( "Part Two" is its nifty name ) starts with an awful, AWFUL bit of dastardly doggerel, vile verse and putrid poetry. Ace !! And good to see that Kara has taken the trouble to do her nails with pink nail varnish, in a gloomy, dank,putrid tent, in the perishing cold and damp, by whatever-time-of-the-morning-this-is.
But basically this is "bad-lad-birding" on a grand scale.
Yes, a "new" genre of birding has been created. By me.. or rather, them....
You'll never guess what this next one's called.
Anyhow, Jeff and Joe are typical examples of the old farmer's maxim for hiring lads ....
If you've got 1 lad, you've got a lad.
If you've got 2 lads, you've got half a lad.
If you've got 3 lads, you've got no lads.
( This also applies to lads in cars.)
Actually, Jeff and Joe are worse than half a lad.
They're half of a halfwit. Fractions in action or what ?
Let's get on with it then ... you're keen to find out who will win ... I bet you are ....
Well, there's one good thing come out of all that ... we all feel like birding giants compared to that lot of lumpkins. Result !!
What bit of music could possibly "go" with that then ?
Got it ! Roy Harper ... " In a beautiful rambling mess"
I was taking the air one sunny evening
watching everything being happy
in a fire the restless sun was turning
in my body the pages of my love
and I saw them all soaring past (ha)
from the first to the very last
through the surging crest of
the waves of a memory made from them all by everyone
yesterday's laughing loving 'round my head
I remember the times when I was (?)
(um, what a beautiful sunset sky... um)
pleading words, burning eyes and ripping heartache
scorching fury of youth that fills me
but as sweet as these memories are
(what a fantastic sky)
they're as near as the farthest star
just a daydream away
sheltered by some nearest far
what a sky, laughing, loving round my head
what's her name?
oh, she's a lovely piece of woman
flowing hair in the early morning
well I think I'll sit down and use this sunset
as a timeship to travel through my head
and I'll wander just where I please
through my wallowing dreams with ease
and the cows can come home and go out again and
I'll still be here after pancake doomsday
what a beautiful rambling mess we live ... in.
This fell out of a book yesterday ... it must be at least 25 years old. Like me.
It's also rather creased and crumpled .... like me.
... my daughter, when she was at secondary school, had to do some sort of homework, I think, doing a "shape poem", or something similar, but I finished up doing it, and this was the rough version.
Here's it is written out properly ...
I roam the seas with feet of rubber
I feed on scraps of crabs and blubber
eyes have I none, nowhere to go
I heed the ocean's ebb and flow.
A thousand razor teeth have I
a thousand tiny feet to pry
and preen, and all unseen
I to and fro on foaming dream.
Colder than stars, nor like a fish
I have no will, nor any wish -
you humans know me by this term -
As you can see, I took myself much more seriously in those days.... didn't we all ?
Did it get a decent mark ? I've no idea. I'm not even at all sure she handed it in.
Such is the transience of fatherhood !
But I do think that "gannet" poem I put on here a while back is a sort of distant cousin to that one ... it's got the same sort of feel to it, but it's a deliberate "fake" poem , ascribed to a non-existent "author", Geraldine Harkness-Green, in an attempt to prove that "all bird poetry is crap." In that regard, it did its job I reckon. Here it is ....
THE GANNET by Geraldine Harkness-Green.
It swoops and steers above the wave
and cares not for its steely tint
it speeds its prey to gloomy grave
its eye a thing of doom and glint
haddock, mackerel, goby, sprat
all shall perish, be sure of that
as he dives with gleaming bill
in amongst the teeming krill
emerging from the surging sea
it speeds away to Skapa Flow
on feathery wing, with eye aglow.
...and, they've both got 12 lines ... wooo !
And now, here's a beautiful Wir sind Helden song about being under the sea .... and it's a word video so you can sing along to it ... an "Echolot" in German = an echo-sounder, a sort of beacon .... and she likens it to a heart.....
Halt still, das Bett ist ein Floß und ich
Will raus auf's Meer, komm schneid es los
Schau, unter uns flüssiges Blei
Graue Schatten ziehen träge vorbei
Sterne und Wasser
Und wir dazwischen
Komm, wir schwimmen
Mit den großen Fischen
Ich seh dein Herz, dein Echolot
Schlägt Wellen in die See
Ich seh dein Herz, ich weiß wir gehen
Tiefer auf den Grund
Komm schau, um uns tanzt glitzernder Staub
Wir sinken selig und taub
Stumm wartend und leise
Ziehen Schatten engere Kreise
Sterne und Wasser
Und wir dazwischen
Komm, wir schwimmen
Mit den großen Fischen
Ich seh dein Herz, dein Echolot
Schlägt Wellen in die See
Ich seh dein Herz, das bisschen rot
Tut nicht lange weh
Ich seh dein Herz, bleib noch nicht stehen
Ich häng an deinem Mund
Ich seh dein Herz, ich weiß wir gehen
Tiefer auf den Grund
And here's a thing ... completely unrelated to any of that.. half an hour ago I thought of a solution to 98% of the Irish border problem. Maybe 99%.
Here's what you do ...
The vast majority of all those lorries going over the border will be carrying the same stuff every week... lorries full of cabbages, lorries full of spanners, lorries full of fish, lorries full of crisps, lorries full of ping-pong balls etc. There's be maybe 784 different sorts of consignments going through. Eek.
So what you do is, you put a mix of all of that in one lorry. A box of ping-pong balls, 3 boxes of cabbages, 12 boxes of crisps, 20 spanners, 2 cases of fish. And the same in the next one. And the next one. And the next one ... and all those lorries will have a big number on them, 5 for example. Only one of those "5"s will need to be checked. The others can go through, because they're all the same inside. There might be the odd one checked at random just to make sure there's no skulduggery going on.
There might be other sorts of mixes. A "3" might have a standard "mix" of balls of string, cakes, wardrobes, bibles, woolly jumpers and ski-poles. They'd only need to stop one of them. Once the system was embedded, maybe only 1 a week. Or one a month.
Of course, there's be the odd, non-standard one-off sort of lorry carrying, maybe, a consignment of live sharks, or 27 Jum-Jum trees, or starfish, or 8000 pointed hats , wizards for the use of.
They'd have to be inspected. But there won't be many of them. Once the system got going they might only have to check, say, 12 lorries a day ... no big deal.
Now I'm not wanting anything for this terrific idea.
I'm just saying.
And if it does the job, they can have the idea free of charge.
I'm a generous, if rather peculiar, old Hector !
Later .... you won't believe this, but it's true .... after writing about that consignment of pointy hats ( witches for the use of), when I logged out, an advert popped up featuring a rather alluring young lady wearing a witch's pointy hat. So, naturally, I saved it, intending to stick it on here.... but eerily, it didn't save... oooooh !
So I've substituted something similar. It did happen.... would I lie to you ?
Here's a couple of silly things to brighten up your day .... because ...
 Look what happens if you move RSPB up the alphabet ... TURD
RSPB I I was remarkably chuffed when I did that !
And it's only 2 rungs up the ladder !!!!!
Surely somebody must have found that out before.
 Now let's add to the merriment by moving the Merseyside Naturalist's Association ( MNA) just 1 ( one) measly place up the alphabet ..
..who says schoolboy humour is puerile ?
Maybe your local bird association might do the same sort of thing.
Start zooming up the alphabet now.
You've got 25 chances of finding something.
But maybe it's the sort of thing you'll only find once in a lifetime.....
Early trip down to the Flood this morning ... bitterly cold ... but on the plus side, a Green Sand, 2 Snipes .... not a common sight there these days .... but absolutely nothing doing in the sky ... not even any Skylarks, which have been trickling through over the last few days.
But not much else birdingwise got done today ... nor for the past few days .... because The Significant Otter had other plans ... she wanted a room full of clutter and junk to be totally rearranged, all the furniture moved a bit to the left ( or right) , "revealed" bits of wall to be repainted, some of the "junk" to be taken to the tip, some of it put somewhere else, and some of it also moved a bit the the R or L. And I had to do it all. All of it. The lot.The good news is, it's almost done ....
So, in the absence of much bird news, I'm going to tell you about my "dream list."
For most people, a dream list is a list of things they want to do or have. But mine isn't. Mine is, literally, a list of birds that have appeared in my dreams.
It all started with a very vivid dream I had years ago featuring a flock of Bee-eaters. I thought to myself.... this is worthy of listing. It's a very cheap and effortless list to keep ... that might be important to you.
That picture at the top is only partly Bee-eater. It's that Spring Crosby contraption that appeared in the very first post ... and it is a nifty hybrid of various bits of birds stuck together. My plan was to get it put into a field guide.... I'm certain sure that people would start seeing it and reporting it. A brilliant "natural experiment."
Back to that dream list now ...
The only snag is, I very (very) rarely remember my dreams. I know I must have them, because "they" say we all do. So, my dream list is very small. Very very small. At least it saves ink. And time. And paper.
So ... here's the (annotated) "dream list" ...
... we all like annotations, do we not ? [ Yes, we do ]
... Get ready to be severely underwhelmed . [ we're ready ]
 Bee-eater .... several of them actually ... all in the one dream.
 Redleg Partridge + Black Stork ... yes, both in the same dream. No idea how.
 Spoonbill. .. it flew over the canal with 2 Cormorants ! In the dream, that is.
 Hobby. Sitting on a branch low down in a tree.
And that's it ...6 species, a pretty duff collection. Over about 20 years.
But I did warn you that I hardly ever remember my dreams .... and obviously, not many of them are about birds. They're mostly a jumble of rubbish.
But ... I'm sure some of you out there have got much better "dream bird" lists than that. And I just know deep down that you want to tell me about them . Someone somewhere will have a good one ... or a rubbish one. I don't care. It's the process that counts, not the result ... and now, remarkably , here's The Wannadies with "Someone Somewhere. " !! Nifty eh ?
Every flaming month there's more and more ornithological research papers appearing in the scientific journals, so many that you need people like me to pick out the best ones for you to read ..... and by "people like me" I mean big-headed halfwits who are, basically, deep down, just trying to think of something to write about. So here we go then .... I've read them all... so here's my Top 10 Best Reads ... and why 10 ? Because the rest were right boring !
 Gannet, A. and Nuthatch, E : Is nominative determinism getting rarer ?
Avian Review, August 2018, p7 -23.
 Darringer, P.C., Normanton, C.P.A, Harmetoff, R.E., Anstadter, G.H., Cape, W.R.,
Witzend, A.N.,Stappenworte, D.V.: Are too many avian researchers writing too much too often? Yearly Review of Avian Research, 2017 vol 523, p 231-548.
 Slopbucket,A, Bogbrush,Y. Why do big birds nest on small islands? An overview of recent studies. Big Birds, Feb 2018, pp 313-247.
 Craven, C.F.C. and Cottidge, V., Are all top birders tiny ? The semiotics of size versus skill in the birding hierarchy . Tidschrift fur Scheiss 2018 vol17 pp 306-742.
 Darling, P.M. and Thorogood, C. Juvenile migration strategies in hirundines, a "random walk" analysis compared to a Markov Chain approach. Journal of Applied Psychopathematics, July 2018, pp 6-18.
 Harris, A. and Tweedie, M. The Spring Crosby effect : how a "fake bird" deluded large numbers of UK birders and the subsequent consequences: a review with recommendations to the BBRC . Studies in Delusional States and Societal Norms, June 2018, special volume.
 Dumbledorsby, G and Hattenburrow, C. How come all those experts, who tell us that there's enough for a lifetime of study in the average back garden, bugger off to distant exotic climes when they want to make a nature documentary? Annual Bulletin of the Widnesian Institute of Vague Studies and Passable Exams, pp176 - 214
 Papp, C and Krappmeister, W.W. Genetic Drift" in the Fair Isle community: a long-term study in an isolated population, focusing on its unlikely obsession with knitting, folk-dancing and hanging around on a deserted airfield. Winstonian College Psychogenetic Review, August 2018, pp 844-1076.
 Fringe, E.E . Do conservationists conserve the right things ? Or, should they be destroying housing estates full of Blue Tits to create reed-beds with remarkably few Bitterns ? The Journal of Futility, February 2018 pp 77-85.
 Semblance, R.E. and Nuance,M. Should birders be recording what they don't see rather than what they do ? Digest of Controversy, March 2018, pp15-41.
To complement the "strangeness" of some of those papers, here's Joanna Newsom singing " Yarn and Glue" a capella in what seems to be a church hall or similar in 2004 .... 14 years ago . A gutsy performance ! And amazing words too.
Do you know what this is, son?
This is the Panopticon
And all around us blink the brash
And shifty eyes of common cash
So do we die or do we travel
Down the path by which one dabbles
In the arts of antediluvian crafts
With yarn and glue?
So gather twilight to your breast
And couch the rabble-rouser's nest
And we will take a day of rest
And we will all be heaven-blessed
And we will gather round to dine
And pass the time with wicked rhymes
And toast in dandelion wines
To hear their mellifluous chimes
We toast the fallow furrows that we sow
And we toast the monies that we owe, owe, owe
And we toast the creditors we daily face
Who topple down with gruesome grace
And we toast the aristocrats with blood of blue
'Cause we know that our collars are that color, too
And we toast the artisans of antediluvian crafts
With yarn and glue
We do, we do.
I'm typing this at 7:40 pm with a female Tawny Owl calling away like mad out in the back somewhere .... a very welcome development in a largely Owl-free season. There's also been a Gt. Spot and a Bullfinch in the garden, and several flocks of seemingly disorientated pinkfeet going over. Plus, a gloriously colourful sunset. Wooo ! Simple Stuff.
Here's the Man Booker Prizewinner 2018 .... Anna Burns and "Milkman"
That's a rubbish title for a book, by the way.
Well, it's "very experimental" ... it's got characters with no names, I seem to remember hearing that it hasn't got any paragraphs ,it's rather weird .... in a "Tristram Shandy" sort of rambling way. And anyway, all that "experimental" stuff has been done before. Haven't any of these reviewers read "La vie, mode d'emploi" or "La Disparition" or "The Pooh Perplex" or .. hang on, 20 Pinks have just flown over the attic, N. There's been 3 previous flocks so far this morning, 500+ NW, then about 200 E, and another 100 or so E as well... I suspect they're all the same ones milling about. ... as I was saying, or Martin Amis' "Time's Arrow" or for that matter, Raymond Queneau's "Exercices de Style." ?
But all we want to know is ... has it got any blasted birds in it ? At all ?
Is there an index ? That's another thing I want to know.
Then, before we bought it, we could look in the index to see if there were any blasted birds in it.
And never mind all this "set in "The Troubles"" stuff.
I've been there and done that through all "The Troubles" ... and still got lots of birding done.
I didn't wallow around in my own pool of misery.
I just got on with spotting Iceland Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls and the like. Gulls, mainly.And Waxwings. And that "flamingo" that wasn't. Eek. Blimey !
So ...we're all agreed then ... no index, probably no birds ... a dead loss.
And as for yesterday's brilliant idea about everybody having to live in London, and all the good things that would flow from it .... I've also considered the "opposite" idea ... everybody lives apart from everyone else ... spread out over the whole of the UK, equidistant from each other. Well, it would cut down on fights outside pubs I suppose. And for a lot of people, it would be a long way to the shops. Quite how far, I'm not sure.
There we were. The Significant Otter and me, listening to all this Brexit stuff and DUP stuff and Irish stuff .... and all this Universal Credit stuff and Kanye West wanting to be called "Ye" in future, and how the North is starved of government funding ....
Anyhow, we came up with a solution to many of our current problems ... it's do-able, and environmentally friendly as well. Here we go then ...
EVERYBODY WILL HAVE TO LIVE IN LONDON
Think about it ! Think about all the benefits !!
The whole of the rest of the country will be a huge, massive National Park , like the Everglades or Lithuania or whatever , with environmentally-aware farms, huge forests, unpolluted lakes, no noisy kids and their noisy families in bloody theme parks .... it would all be gloriously empty.
We'll cart all the Ulsterers over to London as well, and the Scots, and the Welsh.
Think of the huge reduction in travel..... lower emissions and no more need for a Northern Powerhouse ( surely some sort of joke anyway) or ... or anything !
No need for a hard border between N and S Ireland .. there'll be nobody in the top bit !! or we could sell it to the southerners ... that would be good.Win-win .. from hard-border to no-border.
London's bloody massive already ... so a bit more won't hurt, and it will get all those poor, sad, cold, "Nonlondeners" into warmth, more daylight (lack of daylight is a huge driver of depression), less rain,sleet,show,hail etc and a rapid and efficient transport system, plus the opportunity to see celebrities that you don't get in Wigan, I can assure you. And every day there's more royals to see, so that's good.
Plus ... that London " Heat Island" would be even heatier !
Think of the energy saving there.
But what about the dear dear dicky birds ?
Well, there'd be more or less the whole of the UK freed from humans, and in many parts it would revert to what it used to be ... mainly a huge forest, with moorland and mountains higher up. Capercaillies everywhere, so I might get to tick it. If I had a big enough telescope.
But hey .... we could do all our ticking and twitching with webcams and drones these days ... we could stay in our luxury flat in London, and spot birds wherever we like from the warmth and comfort of our very own London home. As well as being so high up, we could scope stuff for miles around.
Webcams and drones .. much better than whizzing across the country in those car thingys with your mates. Much, much better .
... and safer
London would have far more peanut-feeders per cubic metre, more bird-baths, more ponds .... perfect. And people would learn to appreciate all those urban birds , of which there would be many more. And the extra heat would encourage more exotics to live there as well.
Maybe we could even do the farming thing remotely too ... farmers are already guiding their tractors etc with satnavs ... why not do the whole thing that way ?
I can't see why they don't get started now.
What could possibly go wrong ??
They'll have to be careful though, to avoid it finishing up like this ....
But they have proved to be very good at delivering huge projects in the past, have they not ? ... er .....
At the minute I can't think of a bit of music to go with that ... I'll give it a think.
OK ... I've thunk..... Lou Reed ... "Berlin" ..... a wisp of a song for a hulk of a city ....
Yes ... another brilliant, inspiring birding book ... but this is one you've most probably never heard of. It's an account, almost day-by-day , of Ted Abraham's 1984 birding exploits .... it's more-or-less home-made, typewritten !? then professionally printed , and packed with smashing drawings by Bill Morton ( WM in the pictures).
You had to "send off" for it to the author ... it might even have involved Postal Orders ...this was a long time ago .... but it was well worth the wait ... have a look at a few pages and you'll see for yourself ... here's a "twitched" Little Egret ... different times !
Although T.A. is Cheshire-based, over that year in pursuit of a 300 year-list he went everywhere ..... along with a variable set of companions ....
Here he is writing about his own area ... Frodsham Marsh ... getting a bird I saw too, but on May 9th . What a bird that was.
Here's some more glimpses from this brilliant little book .... this one I missed ... oh, I went for it ...twice I think ..but no luck.
I told you the drawings were good ...
I saw this too ... I was a busy young Hector then ...
.. and this one .....
It's the perfect book for a wet, birdless, miserable day ..although, of course, we hardly ever get them . The writing is just right, full of enthusiasm and the thrill of the chase. But I've no idea how you get hold of a copy.... I don't think many exist, and the ones that do are, I'm sure, greatly treasured.
I think this song fits well with today's post ... Senses Working Overtime ... XTC live
... you'll find a lot more of WM's artwork here .... ...
Here's a top way to do a bit of birding-related stuff whilst whooshing along in the car. Yes, you could try to add to your "in-car-list" , which is the obvious thing, or your "trip-list" which is, of course, very very important, but you know all about them already. You could spend the journey boasting about all your birding exploits, and, of course, listening to the other passengers boasting about theirs, but that can only go on for a so long ...a few weeks maybe.Then there's silly questions ... which birds are also a bird spelled backwards ... that sort of nonsense.
But this one, ghostbirds, is an endless source of ..well, I don't know what it's an endless source of, but it's fun anyhow.And you can do it whilst driving at night as well ...as the bishop said to the actress.
Let's see what a "ghost" is shall we .... then you'll know what it's all about.
TREECREEPER hey, there's a treecreeper
TREECREEPER ooooo .... it's disappearing !
R C E now it's just the "ghost" of a treecreeper.
So is CPE ..... TREECREEPER
and RER .....TREECREEPER TREECREEPER (in many ways !)
.... it's as if most of the letters have just blown away in the recent gales !
...... leaving just a "ghost" of the original, complete word.
And .. there's loads of other ghosts of treecreeper..... ERP
But what has this got to do with driving along our majestic highways ?
You're driving along and you see this numberplate .... GD08 RCE
You concentrate on the 3-letter bit .................. RCE
Whooo! that RCE .... that's the "ghost" of a treecreeper !! 1 point to me !
Hey .. it's also the ghost of Cream-coloured Courser ! Another point !
And Great-Crested Grebe ! Another point. Crumbs !!
Remember, it's what's left standing after the other letters have been stolen by those notorious gangs of alphabet thieves trying to complete their sets.
Let's try another one .... that number plate up at the top ... H41 RDO
Just look at the RDO bit.
Think of it as all that's left after a swarm of nasty Audubon's Lettergobblers have snaffled all the others.....
. ...or a bit like those shop signs where some of the letters have fallen off !
What bird could RDO have been before various letters fell off ?
For a start, we've got our old favourite ... Cream-coloured Courser !!
Yes ! Another point.
But there's a much simpler and shorter bird that has RDO as its ghost.
I'm sure you can find it ... not that there's many of them about these days.
And you can probably find more of your own RDO ghosts.
Here's some more ghostbirds for you to fathom out .....
... most of them should be easy enough...
.... right then ... music time ..... I'm going to put this on again because I like it ... and it's wordy ...... WSH ... "Nur ein Wort" ..... and I hope you like it too.
And, of course, WSH is a "ghost" of WHITE'S THRUSH
Think of it like this ... a birder finds a White's Thrush ... his life's main triumph.
So he spells out WHITE'S THRUSH" on his lawn with Crocus bulbs so in the spring it will spell out his top birding glory ... but only a W, S and H come up !
And he's so disappointed, he gives up the ghost.
I've now explained all this ghost stuff about 231 different ways .... cripes.
RDO .. TURTLE DOVE by the way.
and ... obviously ... SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER
There's probably others if you're desperate for points.
So ... next time you're out driving, or even strolling through the town, why not do a bit of "ghostbirding" with the parade of passing number-plates ?
Yes, I am the writer of this somewhat peculiar birding blog, and it's all entirely my fault. There will occasionally be glimpses of sense and sensibility, but I will try to reduce that sort of thing to the absolute minimum.My guiding stars are Flann O'Brien, Peter Simple,Georges Perec , Frederick C. Crews and Patrick Campbell.