Sunday, November 19, 2006

Swine and pigs and hogs

I was at the Young Farmers' Annual Ball and Piss-up on Friday night, and there I met a rosy-cheeked big-bosomed farmer, predictably called Molly, who invited me over to her place Sunday morning to see her pigs. I was rather taken, to be honest, so naturally I scooted round there at 5 am (fashionably late) today. To my disappointment it turned out she really did want me to see her pigs. Or more accurately, find them. They were out in the woods - had been since the acorns fell - and now she wanted them back. So I called up my swineherd, Matty. He really didn't want to come because apparently his wife was giving birth or something, but I threatened him with the sack and homelessness (nothing like the Scottish feudal system with its tied houses for keeping the working classes in line) and he was round in 20 minutes. We had a bit of a natter about the best way to make applejack, then got to work. Didn't get home til after noon. I was hoping for better luck at the Young Conservatives wine-tasting tonight (just got in) but to be honest it was the same crowd, each with a bigger set of false teeth. And Molly? Well 'she' turned out to be a man. I guess the beard should have been a clue, but love IS blind. Or maybe it's just me. That would in fact explain why I saw so few birds today. Actually I haven't seen many birds at all this week. The reason is we bought a Playstation... and it's fantastic. Have been playing Star Wars Lego all week. In fact this is me...

... I can't believe that I've wasted my life reading books, watching telly, going birding etc., when really I should have been defeating the evil empire of whatever. This is my problem really. I haven't actually seen the films. Not the new three anyway, so I'm not sure who I'm meant to be saving and who I should be slaying. But things seem to work out OK.

I was out today though, round Newtonhill against the odds. Hard work. I had to fight for every Blue Tit. There was a bit of movement going on, with some Skylarks and Meadow Pipits going over, and a Eurasian Siskin. There's a flock of Rock Pipits building up in the fields in from the beach - 12 today - built up to over 50 last winter. An Atlantic Puffin offshore was a bit unusual for winter, also 2 Northern Gannets going north. A Great Black-backed Gull turned up and the Puffin scarpered. Stood on the clifftops in an eastely breeze coming straight from Denmark, it occurred to me that it was unnecessarily chilly. In fact it was bloody freezing. I was really regretting my choice of vest, shorts and sandals for today's excursion. Trouble is Diane has washed my army coat and it doesn't feel like home any more. It smells pleasantly of washing powder.

So, I'm off to kill some Lego dude with a red and black stripy face. TTFN and remember kids...

Take heed, take care and TAKE BACK THE BIRDS!

7 comments:

John said...

Every time I see a reference to Blue Tit or Great Tit it makes me snicker. Don't know how you can discuss British birds without contant puns & giggling. Here in prudish America we resolved the tit problem long ago by calling all our tits (snicker snicker) chickadees - except Siberian Tit, that one somehow snuck through, maybe because it's a tit (snicker) few birders ever see - By the way, I read the article you linked about Little Auks. Became concerned when it said they were invading. Did some research into this threat, which must be a minor one, because they are just seabirds. But apparently everyone in Britain has misidentified this species. What you have been erroneously calling Little Auks are actually Dovekies. There -just wanted to straighten y'all out on that point.

Harry said...

No, one of the birds erroneously called a Little Auk proved to be something even more exciting than a Dovekie (what does that name MEAN, btw?)....
H

Martin said...

The New Naturalist book was called 'British Titmice' because 'British Tits' was too likely to inflame the passions of repressed public schoolboy birders. That's true, that is.

Dovekie. I think we've won that one... my 'Birds of the World: Recommended English Names' (IOC, 2006) has it as Little Auk. Dovekie means 'little dove' and is derived from the Greenland hunting slang 'Dov-kei' meaning 'breakfast'

Blanche no e said...

LUKE, I AM your second cousin's mother's daddy......in drag.

Menzie said...

Your lightsaber isn't as good as mine...

John said...

Actually I prefer the name "Little Auk," but it isn't of much use this side of The Pond - most birders here know the bird only as Dovekie, and introducing a new name would be sort of aukward.

I may need some advice (no, not about bad puns). My wife and I enjoy reading your other blog, in fact you've added PPC to our vocabulary. As it turns out, we are soon to be parents. And it's worse than that - we just found out that we are expecting twins. So my situation may parallel yours soon enough. Is there birding after parenthood? I've already gathered that my planned trip to look for Bare-necked Umbrellabird this spring has been scrapped indefinitely - my wife unreasonably thinks I should be present when the babies are born. I see from your blog that you are still able to do some birding, albeit close to home, so maybe things aren't as dire as they appear. Or are they? Actually I'm looking forward to parenthood... maybe they'll turn out to be birding prodigies (or not). If you have any ideas on how to turn toddlers into serious twitchers please let me know -

Martin said...

So my situation may parallel yours soon enough. Is there birding after parenthood?

I can only quote my good friend who wishes ot remain anonymous, but we shall call him 'Chris', because that's his name. 'the first one slows you down. The second one stops you dead'.

Kind-of true. You may of course get two little angels that your wife can look after perfectly well while you jet off to Arizona for a rare hummer. Back in World A, your life is OVER :-) Live with it.