Friday, April 13, 2007

Thursday 12th April

Taking the car for its MOT and Service in Stonehaven, grrrr.... but brought my bins with me for a look at the beach. Could be an expensive birding trip. Could be a boring one too, from the first look at the sea, with about 50 Herring Gulls on the water, 30 Common Eiders. And a Mallard. Ooh, and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. But that was it. In the distance, a Bottle-nosed Dolphin broke cover, but seeing it was in danger of getting me interested in something, it went away again. Toddle round to the harbour, a bigger flock of 200 Herring Gulls, with a few Black-legged Kittiwakes and Northern Fulmars feasting on raw sewage offshore. 50 Common Scoters flew south in a flock, and also a Red-breasted Merganser here. Then a bit of action as a House Martin flew over, going north along the coast. Traditionally, I get Sand Martin (Bank Swallow) and Barn Swallow before House Martin, but not this year. Still, I’m not proud and I have no dignity, so I’ll take this one. A Peregrine Falcon over the harbour too.

Later (£350 later, to be precise) (and bitter) I was back in Newtonhill and the wind turning to the south, bit of a harr. Off out again. Blimey, I should have put a coat on. All the usual birds out and about, but no migrants. With the harr moving offshore though, there were things moving about. The cliffs were chocka with seabirds – Common Guillemots packing out the ledges, Razorbills packing out the crevices, and Black-legged Kittiwakes plastered to the shelves. Lots of auks just off the rocks too, including 17 Atlantic Puffins. Long lines of Common Guillemots, flocks of 50+, mostly going south, about 1000/h, and a smaller number going north. And some Razorbills doing courtship flights in pairs. Bootiful. 3 Common Shelducks flew south – this was actually.... AK-tchly... not guaranteed for my patch-year list, so... so... so... what? In the words of the Anti-Nowhere League ‘so what so what you boring little [word that not even the McKinney would post]’. It was 7pm and time to head home: I really should have put a coat on. That reminds me, does anyone remember when Viz tried to introduce a new swear word into the English language, that they could print on the front cover without the censors at WH Smith knowing what it meant and taking it off the shelves? The word in question was ‘fitbin’ (‘interj. the rudest word in the English language, so rude that its meaning has been encased in 500 tonnes of concrete and dumped in the Irish Sea’). As I recall, from my imperfect knowledge of popular culture, it totally failed to catch on, and perhaps became a milestone in Viz’s decline. Unlike early era Viz(!), with that tall vicar (Paul Whicker?) who taught me my favourite swearword ‘******bb**’.

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