Sunday, April 08, 2007

Grahzny bratchnies

Problem with this holiday, celebrating the birth of the Easter Bunny, is that you never know if it's going to be a wee bit early for good birding. A March Easter is a waste, whereas a late April Easter is eyes down for ticks and fly-bys. Whoever decides when Easter is going to be (I don't know how they decide it, but apparently the Pope or similar pays someone to decode a formula) really needs to get it sorted. Why can't it just be 3rd weekend in April each year, and then we know to keep the diary free and our bins clean. Now Mayday is a good example - keep it simple, keep it birdy. To my mind it demonstrates that the socialist proletariat are the top birders whereas the church and bourgeoisie are a bunch of dudes. In fact, I'm pretty certain that 'petit bourgeois' translates as 'low-lister'. I think I read about it somewhere, probably in the glossary of Clockwork Orange. Hey, now I understand why Lenin was in such a rush to push through the Revolution in 1917. October was getting on, and if he left it too late they wouldn't get their autumn holiday in migration season.

So, my droogs, O my brothers, an early April Easter full of all sorts of ambivalence. But at least it was a nice day. A pair of Grey Wagtails on the Elsick burn, with the male in full song, and a White-throated Dipper here too. Everything was in full song today. I couldn't hear myself think again, but this time in a good way. Among the Robins, Dunnocks, Winter Wrens etc... a Bullfinch was a patch year tick.
Off the seacliffs, there were 60 Razorbills and 40 Common Guillemots. The Razorbills are more obviously paired up, swimming around in twos even within the flock, with lots of mutual preening and bills clicking against each other etc. The Guillemots on the other hand, are more singletons and mixed, but there is some sort of group display going on where several of them at one time will face towards the cliffs and point their bills more-or-less up to the breeding ledges at 30 degree angle. Bit of behavioural study there. Also 80 Black-legged Kittiwakes on the water. Offshore, a couple of European Shags on the water, and in 30 minutes, 5 Red-throated Divers went north, with one fishing on the water, so that passage has begun. Also 2 Common Scoters north, three Eurasian Teals north, a Little Gull south (good! this is pushing the patch year list on).

Back through Newtonhill, a Peregrine Falcon over...more of which in a minute, but also several Peacock butterflies onthe wing. Blah di blah greenfinches etc... then up to Cran Hill, where the Peregrine was stooping at the pigeons. Two people out in the garden at the big house, one of whom may have been the owner of the pigeons, was calling the Peregrine a bastard(!) and pointed to a bird heading off into the distance saying it was lost now. I was urging the Peregrine on... but looking up, eye was caught by another raptor heading through overhead at speed. High up but King Ell - NORTHERN GOSHAWK! This makes NO sense. Not a visibly migratory species... should be incubating by now. What is this one up to? My first patch tick of the year. Perplexing, but they all count.

Round Cran Hill, where you can tell it's spring because there are Common Linnets crawling out of the woodwork. Not sure where they've been hiding, but they're back - everywhere today, 40+. But mostly, Eurasian Skylarks. For those of you not fortunate to live within the breeding range of Skylarks, take a listen to this (below) from today. Bird in the stubble 10 m away, takes off, climbs to 50 m above my head, then comes back into the stubble. Nothing I can do about the wind (crappy RememBird microphone), but everything I can do about it being good to be alive.

Click here to watch 'Skylark-NE-Scotland-April-2007'

Amen and all that cal.


Tom McKinney said...

A Leninist revolutionary joke for you:

- Why do anarchists only drink herbal tea?
- Because all proper-tea is theft.

Smash the state!

Smilodon said...

I opened up the link in multiple windows and so had a field full of larks singing in my home.

Harry said...

Hi Tommo,
Was that one of Comrade Alexei's jokes from when he was a proper Communist?

Martin said...

I opened up the link in multiple windows and so had a field full of larks singing in my home.

Sweet. Welcome to my World.