Monday, November 13, 2006

Country Diary

Sunday Morning.

There was a westerly gale overnight, but the morning was pretty calm and in fact quite a nice day. So nothing for it, but to spoil my fun with a walk round newtonhill looking for birds. Face it Martin, the autumn is OVER - no Blackcaps, no Chiffchaffs, not even a Goldcrest today!
As I was throwing stones into the bushes at the Mill, hoping to flush all those Dusky Warblers, there was a Peregrine attacking a flock of 15 pigeons over Cran Hill. Really serious getting-my-breakfast-type going-for, very fast, on flickery half-folded wings. The pigeons were scattering round and round in confusion, and for a couple of minutes the Peregrine would pile through them, miss, come out the other side, turn round and smash through them again. Very exciting, except it didn't get any closer to a kill than knocking a couple of wing feathers out of one bird. When the pigeons split up and went in separate directions, the Peregrine gave up and relaxed its wings, flew over my head into Newtonhill. See... that's how few migrants there are now; I'm forced to write about this sort of stuff. My blog has become a country diary / natural gleanings. Next stop... The Guardian. And after that, the ignominy of Birdwatching magazine. While this was happening, a Common Buzzard flew through, going west (more hookbill vermin!), and I heard the calls of the wild wild geese, returning from their Arctic breeding grounds as they have done for so many millenia (I'm good at this!).

After this, I met up with my cousin, Lord Bufton of Tufton, for whisky and eggs, and we went out stalking deers. There was a Roe Deer on the opposite (south) side of the Elsick Burn, bouncing through the bracken. I quickly changed out of my hunting pink back into my stinking army coat, and sat down to watch it as it approached within 5 m without seeing me. It jumped into the burn and started heading downstream. With my high powered Communist resistance rifle, I could have shot it, but pity, I say pity, stayed my hand. I admired its beauty as it headed away to eat the roses in someone's garden. They are beautiful animals, but VERMIN, of course, and they all have to die. As Lord B says, they eat your crops and destroy your land. And he should know, because unlike you townies, us cuntry folk understand the ways of the errr.... countryside.

A White-throated Dipper (vermin - they drink your streams and crap on your washing) was on the rocks just up from the shore, and 12 Common Eider just out (parasites - they come to our country and spread disease). I tried a seawatch, but there was nothing happening. I think I was the only active birder in the country on Sunday who didn't see a Pacific alcid of some sort. What about that eh? Do you think it's not a coincidence that the Murrelet came in with Little Auks, and that it had come over the top? Anyway, I didn't see any murrelets, nor their considerably rarer cousin, the Little Auk (vermin - eat your plankton and laugh at your pint). There were a few Guillemots and Razorbills going back and forth, a Red-throated Diver south and a Long-tailed Duck north.

Cran Hill blah blah blah... Eurasian Curlews, Northern Rufous-backed Linnet-finches, Sky Larks, hybrid Hooded x Carrion Crows. Brown Hare. Myself and Buffie, we killed and ate them all, and drank heartily. I saw some dolphins close inshore, and ran pell mell across the stubble field to the clifftops for a better view, sending 20+ Rock Pipits scattering all directions (vermin). They didn't mind, they thought it was sweet. At least that's what they kept saying. The dolphins were two Bottle-nosed, going north close in. I got them both with a right and a left (you townies might think this is cruel, but remember they're WILD ANIMALS and they ENJOY the thrill of the hunt. And they eat all the fish. AND don't even get me started on Grey Seals, of which two offshore also).

When I got home I told Diane about the mammals I'd seen, and Lizzie asked me what a mammal was. So I said they were furry animals like hares and cats and errr... dolphins. But dolphins aren't furry, she pointed out. And Diane threw Kangaroos into the conversation for me. NEVER, repeat NEVER start an explanation you can't finish. I guess that's my top tip for the day. Ker-CHOW!

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