For I change, todayI *wasn't* enjoying the beautiful sparkling healthy spa water of Bath. In Avon. I was in sunny/rainy/hot/cold 4-seasons-in-20-minutes Newtonhill, where only the chilly north-east breeze and the depauperate (is that the word?) (is that any word?) bird life remained a constant. And yet, it could have been so different. I'm not talking about a train ticket to Bath and a bottle of beautiful sparkling healthy spa water (amoebic dysentry free with every purchase). Mmmmmm amoebae. I'm talking about missing a potential garden tick. As St Vitus was raising me from my coffin first thing, and the wreckage of Saturday was disappearing down my corpse chute (whoops, I mean Tube of Innocence (c) Mr Burns), our neighbour rang to tell Diane there was a Common Pheasant (potential garden tick) in our front garden. I had a look out the window, but couldn't see anything, so of course decided that she was probably just drunk (Hi Liz!) and let it go. Frustrating. I went out birding, and came back 3 hours later to hear wondrous tales that the rest of my family, even the one whose brain has been addled by computer geekiness and Playstations, had had marvellous views of the Pheasant feeding along our back fence.
Usual stuff around the village - European Greenfinches singing and displaying (and eating my Pheasant food in the back garden), White-throated Dipper in position at last year's nest site. Two yellow-billed male Common Eiders with 5 green-billed ones, and some girls, offshore. Auks-a-go-go, with 150 Razorbills and Guillemots off the cliffs, another 100+ on the cliffs, and a constant back-n-forth of aukitude offshore. Also a single Red-throated Diver just off Fraggle Rock, where a single pair of Great Cormorants are in residence. Couple of pairs of Rock Pipits along the cliff tops, but last week's littoralis has gone, which just goes to show that there is some migration going on under the radar.
I walked the coastal fields, looking for a bit more migration - i.e. thinking a Northern Wheatear might pop up. Nae wheatears, but a single Northern Lapwing up from what, if it wasn't so pollluted with dogs, would be a good nest field.
Aha. Under the viaduct at Water Valley, my first kill, eerrr... I mean find... of the year. This whopping male Short-tailed Vole. Phew, what a beast. If only he hadn't entered my sphere of death.
Live fast, die young, leave a comedy corpse.
observations for passage of the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) in southern kyzylkumy in spring 2006
O.V.Mitropolskiy, M.G.Mitropolskiy, V.A.Soldatov
On water body Ayak-Agitma with escaping water, situated in Ayak-Agitma hollow (Southern Kyzylkumy), in spring 2006 observations for the passage of the Slender-billed Curlew were continued, discovered here in spring 2005 (Mitropolskiy et al., 2005; 2006).
The short-term observations were conducted in the period 30 April – 4 May, when quite cold, windy weather was established.
The passage of the Slender-billed Curlew was begun 1 May, when three records with 1, 3 and 3 birds (in the same day 9 Curlews (N. аrquata) were registered too). In subsequent days the following number of the Slender-billed Curlew was registered:
2 May – 8 records with 85 birds, by groups in 1 – 47 specimens;
3 May – 4 records with 54 birds, by groups in 5 – 26 specimens;
4 May – 2 records with 25 birds, 2 and 23 specimens.
5 May in morning we have left Ayak-Agitma. Totally during 1 – 4 May 170 birds were recorded and at the same time 32 Curlews.
The Slender-billed Curlews are well distinguishing from Curlews by smaller sizes and bill and especially by voice in flight. Both species often occur in joint groups during feeding and on clayish saline soils on the banks of lake and on shallow waters. Large flock under observation consisted of 47 birds in evening (at 19 o’clock) has landed in saline soils, and in morning on the next day (at 8 o’clock) has flown away, even without approaching water.
All flocks of the Slender-billed Curlews under observation have arrived to Ayak-Agitma from southern directions, and started almost strictly in the northern direction. We think, that the next point of stop-over for this species should be vast shallow waters on saline soils of Minbulak depression (hollow) in Central Kyzylkumy that are situated at 300 km N of Ayak-Agitma and they are practically unstudied in ornithological aspect.