Sunday, June 01, 2008

I think it was George Orwell who said...

... something like - if you ever want to annoy a Scotsman, refer to him as being 'Scotch'. It won't be obvious why I said that just now, but I had an alternative start to my post that I withdrew in the end on the basis that someone might be offended. And as you know I go out of my way never to offend anyone. However, if I'd left it in, that first bit would have been mildly amusing.

Postscript to the Marsh Warbler... there I was, Friday morning at work, feeling smug and, if it's not too wet a word, 'elated'. Hee hee. Sorry, seems like I'm going to do in-jokes today for people who will never read them. Dear Reader, you must never let me go out on Friday nights again. I had, of course, 'found' a Marsh Warbler, and had put it on BirdGuides on the bus to work. What BirdGuides was doing on the bus to work I will never know. So was sat there this morning and in came an email *ping* from the Aberdeen rare birds group saying 'Marsh Warbler at Newtonhill'. I hadn't mailed the group, on account of never being quite sure what the address is and never quite getting round to writing it down, but it's not unusual for Aberdeenshite records to get lifted from BirdGuides and put onto the list. Opened it up to bask in the glory, but the mail was Marsh Warbler at Newtonhill on the evening of 29th, a full twelve hours before I saw the bird, and in a different place, further down the burn. All very perplexing, but it turns out that there is another Newtonhill birder I didn't know about (Hi Matt!!). My joy at finding out there's a bit of back-up was tempered a little by having Marsh Warbler snatched out of the sticky grasp of my 'found' list. Actually by UK250 rules I think it would still count as 'found'. Anyway, that's the story.

Today's birding: the Marsh Warbler was gone :-O but I was still supremely confident of bumping into a Red-backed Shrike if I covered enough coast on foot. I'm a very naive man! You can tell it's June cos there was a bitter north wind. Not a whole lot to see except the pile of Common Starling families making some sort of racket. Usual stuff. I looked offshore, where 3 Manx Shearwaters and a Red-throated Diver going north reminded me that it will soon be seawatching time again. Just... got... to... survive... June. So cold... so cold. And then 3 errr... ducks going north and well, they're Goosanders (Common Mergansers). wtf? I mean WTF? Weird. A trickle of Northern Gannets going north, a Sandwich Tern and 4 Common Terns going south. Blimey, maybe it's seawatch time already! Disappointly no shrikes in the allotments, so went across the coastal fields, fully expecting to find one impaling Siberian Hamsters on a rusty piece of barbed wire. I was so near and yet do far.... I got the rusty barbed wire on the list easily. And wow! Thistles. What sort of mentality makes the national dress a kilt-and-no-knickers in a country where the thistles are a metre tall? I felt a small prick, matron. Anyway, as far as Muchalls, no shrikes, no nothing.

But a garden tick in the evening. Dinnae fash - nothing special - a female Common Whitethroat. A juvenile European Robin was having a bath in the cereal bowl we use for feeding the hedgehogs, when the Whitethroat popped out of the dogwood and tried unsuccessfully to muscle in on the communal bathing. That makes Common Whitethroat exactly half as common as Yellow-browed in out garden.

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