Monday, April 02, 2007


Ill-met by moonlight, illegal combatants. Welcome to another instalment of your detention without trial. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, i.e. here and now.

Sunday morning, 1st April... after my Spongebob-esque breakfast of peanut-plant, tomato sauce and onion sundae, I headed out into... well hell... a pleasant sunny morning in Newtonhill. By jingo... thermals, and a commotion among the gulls soaring over the village revealed a Peregrine in among them, high up. As I was watching, 2 Common Buzzards circled in, calling, and then a third, which they appeared to gently hustle off to the north at lower level. But before it had gone, another 4th Buzzard flew in from the south and circled for a few minutes with the ‘resident’ two, before heading back to the south. Not sure what that was all about. And as the pain in my arms became unbearable, a Sparrowhawk came through as well, also circling high, so I had to cripple myself some more, in case it did something interesting, which it didn’t. And then a Common Kestrel hunting. Raptor frenzy.

Down at the Mill Garden, hey, an ASDA trolley dumped in the burn. Impressive – our nearest ASDA is 2 km away in Portlethen – has someone really pushed it all the way here just to dump it – motivated to provide a new perch for the Dippers? Blue Tits, Great Tits, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Wren, Dunnock, Robin etc. 2 Yellowhammers in the gorse.

Down to the cliffs. A Grey Seal had caught a fish and was being circled by 8 Herring Gulls looking for scraps. Off the breeding cliffs, there were 80 Razorbills and 40 Common Guillemots on the water, and an Atlantic Puffin, with 40 Black-legged Kittiwakes and 15 Common Eiders. A few Razorbills up on the cliffs too, checking out the niches. And more of the same further offshore, full of life with Northern Gannets, auks and Fulmars back and forth, a real ‘summer sea’. Apart from the adult winter Red-throated Diver, but counterbalanced by my first Manx Shearwater of the year. And three Bottle-nosed Dolphins splashed northwards, close inshore. Beautiful plumage.

As I said (op cit) it was nice and sunny, and with some butterflies out – several Small Tortoiseshells and a Green-veined White, mostly among the celandine. But an even more reliable sign of spring... the post-winter reappearance of Semi-naked Man, who spends his summers walking round the local countryside in his trainers and shorts. Strangely compulsive viewing. To put it in context, this is rural Aberdeen in a cold spring; I was in two t-shirts, my fleece and army coat, and was still feeling the chill. He was carrying a vest in case it got cold! Semi-naked Man – we salute you!

Monday Morning, 2nd April. After a comedy breakfast of big bananas and Cadbury’s Flakes eaten in suggestive manner, I got out for a couple of hours before Lizzie went to see the Bratz (don’t ask) concert at AECC. Wow. It got colder with the wind swung round to the NW. But there were a couple of Skylarks singing over the fields, that weren’t doing it yesterday. And a lot of Meadow Pipits flying about, for no adequately explored reason. High tide down at the beach, with 16 Ruddy Turnstones. Turnstones look thick. Sorry Turnstones, but you do. ‘Stones... seaweed; turn them over!’ ‘Mmmmm.... corpses.’ ‘Doh!’.

I rattled along to the sea cliffs. 150 Razorbills on the sea, and two shagging on a low shelf just onshore. They’re keen. Mind, she was a particularly attractive Razorbill, with a naughty pout and a sultry ‘come hither’ look in her dark exotic eyes. 45 Common Guillemots, 9 Atlantic Puffins, 60 Kittiwakes, 13 Northern Fulmars. Then I went home, stopping only to make extensive and very boring notes on a Grey Wagtail. If you confess that you hate Freedom and have been actively conspiring to undermine western society by distributing communist literature advocating popular revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, I WON’T post them here. Your choice.

Tomorrow, we’re off on holiday. If I can find some internet that isn’t too expensive, then you’ll get the gory details. A teaser... it had better bloody well involve the Scottish subspecies of Crested Tit.

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