Sunday, July 06, 2008

July my ar*e

This morning, and this time it was Peter and his sweaty jammies that wandered through into our bed, spurring me to get out and go sit in the fresh air on the clifftops for 2 hours, 05:30 - 07:30. Piles of Atlantic Puffins going back and forth, with the other auks, Black-legged Kittiwakes swarming, and a few Northern Fulmars, but quite possibly all local breeders.

Not quite so local were 370 Northern Gannets north,171 south and a reasonable (for here) 41 Manx Shearwaters north. The light was perfect, i.e. dull crap weather, and there was no chance of a Balearic slipping through unnoticed. But let's face it, it was getting a bit dull - 8 Arctic Terns N, 4 Common Terns, 2 Sandwich Terns south, 3 Red-throated Divers (Loons) north, a single Great Skua north and then bam! A single Pomarine Skua going south, a shiny pale bird with that's the way I wanna rock n' roll. Good way to get the first of the year too, really obvious, reminds you what they fly like etc. Zooim and it's gone, and you're left wondering if thart just really happened.

A single Common Redshank went north, and then just as I was giving up, an Arctic Skua north at distance.

The walk round the patch was interesting if you're into that sort of thing (i.e. looking a shabby breeding adults) but I think we both undeerstand that you don't want to know the details and I want to go to bed, AND I didn't find any dead mammals, so let's leave it there. Here's a photo of Stephen Menzie's poster that he had to present for his assessment. It's very nice, but don't ask him about figure 2 - he'll go on about Lactobacillus or something like it's obvious he hasn'teven read it.
Warning, sweary... children and Birdwatching Magazine readers are warned. I've made it smaller so you don't have to see rude word.

Finally, it finally happened. We published the Herring Gull taxonomy paper. For me it represents the end of 8 years work. I can't say if it's any good, but it had better be...

If you don't subscribe to British Birds, this would be a good time to do it. And tuck in. Here are some genuine quotes on the paper from Birdforum...

Taken a glance at BB article, and must admit that I was a little disappointed. I was hoping it was going to propose further splitting.

I hesitate to display my ignorance, but there was so much about genetics (mtDNA etc), that it felt more like reading a medical paper than an article about birds.

The last word on the subject is far from said!

I think the article in British Birds was excellent and a must read for anyone with an interest in large gulls. While i agree it is at times "heavy going" surely there was no other way the authors could approach a subject matter like this. It provides a sound basis for more discussion and research into Herring Gull/Lesser Black Backed Taxonomy. As others have said much more needs to be done but it does provide a good "snapshot" of where we currently are. I applaud everyone concerned.

Even if gulls aren't 'your thing' then a paper under the joint authorship of Messers Collinson, Parkin, Knox, Sangster & Svensson must attract both respect and attention. Being no taxonomist I can't comment on the content and confess I'll probably have to read it several times to fully understand it.

Ooh, and another thing before I go. How can July be so bloody freezing!!!???? ffs!!!! We had mist and cloud and northerly breeze all day, though apparently it was nice and sunny in Stonehaven. Well f*** off Stonehaven! And that's McKinney-level swearing!

1 comment:

Stephen Menzie said...

Wow, I really wish my presentation was actually as interesting as that! The most exciting thing I learned was that casei is Latin for 'cheese'... At least people didn't come up to us at the end of the 6 weeks and tell us they were a little disappointed; they were hoping we were going to make up a load of results to make things fit with what they wanted. Tehehe. Should have just lumped them all into 2, European Gull and the other lot.