07 October 2014


Wrote a blogpost, accidentally uploaded it to the wrong blog, quickly deleted it,... realised I hadn't copied it to paste it on here.  Can.  Not.  Be.  Bothered.  To.  Start.  Again.

In brief: car, plane, bird, eat, sleep, car, birds, car, bird, eat, sleep, plane, bit more unscheduled plane, not many birds,... bedtime.

14 September 2014

Invertebrate biocosmology Part II

An inter-dimensional caterpillar in it’s natural habitat.  Whilst the adult Dot Moth Melanchra persicariae largely resides within the bounds of ‘our’ four yawn-inspiring dimensions of space and time, in its larval form it spends significant periods of its existence wandering between the extra ten/eleven (argue amongst yourselves) spacetime dimensions.  This occupation of inter-dimensional subspace, the space between spaces if you will, is thought to allow the attractive, if highly strung, little caterpillar to avoid predation, take advantage of bountiful but unfathomably widespread food sources, and to chill the f**k out.  Isn't nature amazing?!

13 September 2014

Invertebrate biocosmology Part I

Some cultures believe that everything in existence was created by a giant spider which now sits at the centre of the universe controlling every particle (and every force acting on every particle) with timely tugs on its silken web.  I believe it’s called the big fang theory.

12 September 2014

Variety not numbers

Following an enforced, manflu-related, absence (feel free to send flowers and chocolates) I finally got back down the patch today,…

Waders present included: 45 Avocet, nine (then seven) Knot (see below). two Little Stint, one Curlew Sandpiper, one Ruff, 31 Black-tailed Godwit, one Bar-tailed Godwit, one Spotted Redshank and six Greenshank.  The Knot count fell before our very eyes as an adult Peregrine knocked two off over the course of the high tide.  The only other semi-notable non-passerines consisted of one Hobby and one Kingfisher. 

Migrant passerines included singles of Redstart, Whinchat, Wheatear, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler; a few each of Yellow Wagtail, Blackcap and Chiffchaff; and a steady flow of Swallow, with a sprinkling of House Martin, overhead.

31 August 2014

Groundhog Goldcliff

This morning's high tide produced much the same as Friday's.  On the wildfowl front, the Wigeon count has now climbed into double figures and the Bar-headed Goose is back; the wader highlights were two Knot, eight Greenshank and two Turnstone; and passerine migrants included 14 Tree Pipit, 30 Yellow Wagtail, one Whinchat and one Wheatear over or around the lagoons, and Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler in the hedgerows. 

As you were.

29 August 2014

Water up, birds down

Had thought a few bands of blustery showers coinciding with high tide would drop something in,... didn't.  First up, nothing dropped in; secondly, there was very little to drop in on.  The recent (and ongoing) rainfall has pushed the water levels right up and there is now very little exposed mud to draw down the flyover rare/scarce/mildly interesting wader.  The bits and bobs that were present included: three Wigeon, ten Pintail, one juvenile Marsh Harrier, two Peregrine, three Avocet, 79 Ringed Plover, just 12 Dunlin, one Ruff, ten Snipe, 13 Black-tailed Godwit, six Greenshank, one juvenile Mediterranean Gull and 30+ Yellow Wagtail. 

The Marsh Harrier caught another duck, that's two this week, it gonna get fat!

24 August 2014

Some more actual Gwent birding

Another evening high tide at Goldcliff, nothing shocking, but a trickle of migrants keeps hope from flat-lining.  Waders included: two Ruff, nine Knot, six Greenshank, four Little Ringed Plover, 65 Ringed Plover, 120 Dunlin, 43 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Avocet, plus the odd Snipe, Curlew, etc.  On the passerine side of things, one flyover Tree Pipit, 25+ (again, probably ++) Yellow Wagtail, two Redstart, one Whinchat and two Lesser Whitethroat were about the best of it.  The goose roost honked to the tune of 500 Canadas, ably accompanied by 55 Greylags, and was topped off with the glowing form of the white 'farmyard goose'.  Joy.

23 August 2014

Come fly (spider, moth,...) with me,...

One flowering Oregano plant and half an hour playing with a new gizmo for the flashgun produced,...

... four species of hoverfly, including the drone fly Eristalis pertinax,...

... a few greenbottle Lucilia sp.,...

... one tachinid fly Tachina fera,...

... three species of spider, including this female crab spider Xysticus cristatus,...

... and hordes of Small Purple and Gold Pyrausta aurata.

Or, in other words,... there's a tonne of bird food in my garden.

22 August 2014

My autumn has begun

Spent a few hours at Goldcliff over this evening's high tide. Highlights meriting the scribble of biro on scrap paper included: two Wigeon, one Marsh Harrier, one Avocet, five or six Little Ringed Plover, 43 Ringed Plover, four Knot, 85 Dunlin, one Ruff, four Snipe, 36 Black-tailed Godwit, four Greenshank, 15+ (probably ++) Yellow Wagtail, two or three Redstart, three Whinchat and eight Wheatear.  

During the quieter moments I counted all 345 members of the Canada Goose flock along with the one 'farmyard goose'/white Greylag-type; and all 236 Black-headed Gulls, amongst which were only three juveniles. 

Yes, at times, it was reasonably quiet. 

17 August 2014


Popped up to the Birdfair yesterday.  Quite fun as a social event, bumped into some people I hadn't seen in ages; also managed to cadge a full English breakfast off Conservation Grade, coffee off the World Land Trust, cake and biscuits from REGUA, a CD from The Sound Approach and, best of all, a cracking collection of sound recordings from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Did wonder about the aim and/or target audience of one, or three, of the talks though.  I also found it difficult to dismiss a nagging feeling that one ill-judged short-cut, through an apparently innocent looking marquee, could lead to one blundering into a League of Gentleman inspired cult of aging Bill Oddie devotees, decked out in nothing but overly pocketed Country Innovation waistcoats and thongs, prostrating themselves at the feet of a huge papier-mâché effigy of Kate Humble. 

Could happen,... could definitely happen.