Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hell, CA, Pop. 4

Very unsightly, my home village of Newtonhill, the day after the village fair. Like Sauchiehall Street on a Sunday morning, the pavements are lined with pizza boxes, urine and the remains of a pipe band. There are no pizza parlours in Newtonhill (population 4), confirming my belief that they sprout out of the ground like mushrooms through the cracks in the pavement. I didn't wander out birding til 10, which isn't ideal, but gave me the opportunity to top up my sunburn. Remember kids, sunburn is bad. I fancied a walk down towards Muchalls (south), not expecting much.
And so starting off at the community park (above) - a meadow of cow parsely and dog crap, with suspiscious looking patches of nettles where generations of Newtonhill folk have quite possibly buried the bodies of their enemies. A Willow Warbler flitting delightfully around the birch trees; Great Tit, Greenfinches, Sedge Warbler and a male Yellowhammer in the gorse. Down the track to Muchalls, there were six Linnets on wires above the setaside, and when the sun came out a Skylark started up, which encouraged a Common Whitethroat to start singing from the gorse too, and then a I noticed one carrying food. Ha! So it was going to be one of those days where the lazy birder like me has to be resigned to trying to enjoy watching bird behaviour, being of course a much more worthwhile and satisfying occupation than bumping up your County records by spotting rare migrants etc. I decided to note breeding birds.... that Whitethroat, Dunnock carrying a faecal sac, juvenile Robin etc - an excellent way of annoying County Recorders. When it comes to compiling the report and they are faced with 'Common Whitethroat - 1, confirmed breeding, Deadpan farm, 25/6/06, unusual for this site' they feel compelled to put it in the report, lest they be accused of over emphasis on 'meaningless' records of occasional migrants rather than the 'scientifically valuable' records of breeding populations. Of course, ad hoc records of breeding pairs doesn't mean diddly squit for the scientific record either (that's what the BTO is for), but it's a brave Recorder that puts their head over the parapet and tells you that. Until that day, I'll go on annoying them. Whoahahahahahahahaaaaaa!!!! :-)
Of course another way of increasing the volume of your records in the County Report is to string records of interesting but not too rare stuff to get yourself noticed on
the local scene. I'm not naming names, but you know who you are and I have proof, so don't mess with me :-0

Just North of Muchalls, the small patch of likely-looking habitat I have christened Water Valley.
Looks good eh? An ideal place to bird if you like standing on the rotting remains of 50 years of garden rubbish and potato peelings (the locals use it as a dump, the 21st century not having reached us yet). More of the same sorts of common birds. A Chaffinch was singing, and although I pished and squeaked till my eyeballs popped, all I did was bring that Chaffinch closer. Greenfinches, Linnets, Balckbirds, Sedgies etc, but one day I will have my Arctic Warbler here. But not today.

Muchalls was a laugh, with families of tits in the tall trees and mature gardens. This village really does look like the donkey's for rare Phylloscs. It's a bit posh though. When the big one does turn up the instructions on the info services will be 'Please respect the wishes of local residents by parking sensibly, not encroaching on private land, smartening yourself up a bit and voting Conservative.' Glad the Scops Owl didn't turn up here! Have a look at Muchalls...

If you walk through Muchalls, with the curtains twitching on either side and little poodles sniffing your legs, you come to Bridges of Muchalls, rather nice rock formations with a shattered shore where Black Guillemots are rumoured to breed, not that I have EVER seen them! There was a flock of 200 Common Eiders here, mostly moulting males - it must itch like Hell, CA., pop. 4, cos they would not stop scratching their bits. Saw some baby Herring Gulls stretching their wings, and a pair of olde-fashioned cliff-nesting House Martins - just like the old days before houses.
Moulting Eiders.

Smallest possible Herring Gulls

Cliff-nesting House Martins under these overhangs.

Male House Sparrow surveys his World


Yasser said...

nice photos

Mike Pennington said...

Hi Martin,

You know how your pet hate is local names for birds (whereas I just love Bonxies and Tysties) ... well, being a teacher mine is rogue apostrophes (or should that be apostrophe's) especially in Scops Owl. There was no-one called Scop. Apparently it's some Latin or Greek for ears or summat like (disappointingly meanders to a close just when it looked as though you were going to be educated ...).

Martin said...

Good call. I have amended my Scops's's's's''s!