Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm not quite as lazy as my absence from this site would imply. Or infer? imply I think. I imply. You infer. Honest truth, I was in hospital with a septic toe. A bad Common Shrew. Came right for me. Latched onto my boot. I tried to shoot it, but just clipped my toe. The shrew scampered off. Next morning my big toes was the size of a tennis ball, without a word of a lie. The doctors thought they would have to amputate, but after an implausible series of comedy japes and witty one-liners, here I am.

If I'd been out birding last weekend, I would have seen bugger all, but photographed some bags of dogcrap hanging decoratively from the bushes along the Muchalls track. I would have intended to upload them but decided against it at the last minute on account of having impeccable taste and high principles.

If I'd been out this morning instead of chasing under-dressed nurses in a benny hill-style conga, complete with music, round the infirmary, I would have noted that it was still pretty chilly (snow flurries - come on!) and there were no migrant about, even though I spent an hour on Cran Hill looking for Northern Wheatears and fly-by Sand Martins.

I would have seen a Peregrine Falcon making several hunting flights over the village, after the pigeons, and noted that the La Cucaracca Yellowhammer was still singing by the viaduct. I would have observed the White-throated Dippers hanging around the old nest site at the Mill, and a sick-looking Eurasian Greenfinch in the willows at the cliff sides. There was a dodgy looking House Sparrow in the garden during the week, and I wonder if there's a wee touch of bird plague on the loose.

Offshore, a Northern Gannet, a few Black-legged Kittiwakes and some Northern Fulmars, would have all been warming up for the off. And these two Eurasian Teals on the water.

The Guillemots and Razorbills would have been hanging around off the breeding cliffs.

And, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I would have turned this magnificent European Shag into a very disappointing shag.
Anyway, my septic toe is better, the Common Shrew in question has died of food poisoning (my foot), and I have an amusing story about a bicycle pump that will have to wait until the censorship laws are changed in Oregon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Third Blood!

Bananarama!!! This Wood Mouse was coming right for me too.

A Eurasian Woodcock flewacrossthe road in front of us in the middle of Aberdeen on Wednesday morning, then another as I drove home on Thursday evening, also in Aberdeen. Woodcocks on move in Aberdeen, shock.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Second blood

This one was coming right for me too. Unsuccessfully phone-cam'd on my way to the bus stop. A Short-tailed Vole.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Delicious and dangerous animals

I dragged my sore inflamed foot, in an enterprising palette of colours from black thru blue to vermillion, round the patch. I was making noises like 'ooh' and 'eek' and 'oocha!' all the way round. Strangely this only seemed to make my foot worse. Why did no one warn me???

I'm not kidding, there was a Yellowhammer singing La Cucaracca in the gorse by the railway viaduct. Thanks to Remembird, I got a recording, but Putfile is apparently down (or at least not uploading my stuff) and I dunno where else to host it. But if putfile comes back, i'll put it up (matron). Here's a sonogram though - you can get the jist

and as a matter of public record, THIS was the Yellowhammer in question.

There was a Common Buzzard over Cran Hill, and 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawks in a wide circling display flight, the female following 400 m behind the male, with some slow flapping. It's that time of year. A Rock Pipit was singing at the Beach, and Eurasian Skylarks were in the swing of things too. Went round Cran Hill hoping to bump into Northern Wheatears, but nothing doing there yet. IN fact, although the weather's quirte nice and the Dunnocks are chuntering away nicely, it's still a bit dull, frankly. Even offshore - a few Razorbills and Guillemots, a single Black-legged Kittiwake and a Common Scoter.

But joy! I got my first kill of the year. Thanks to my trusty high performance rifle, I took down this Common Shrew. I had no choice, it was coming straight for me.

This (below) appeared on BirdChat or similar during the week. I'm anticipating that all right-minded people would find it mildly amusing. Strangely, there appears to be some sort of moral minority out there who found it tasteless and inappropriate. Frankly, if you were offended by this, you need to be offended.

NTSB report on Flight 1549

By Alex Hardway, Butterfield Post, 12 Febuary 2009 at 2:30

US Airways violated Federal migratory bird regulations by hunting geese with an A320 Airbus jetliner, claim anonymous government sources. The pilot of flight 1549, Air Force veteran and avid hunter Chesley B. Sullenberger, tried combining both of his interests by bagging a brace of geese over the wetlands near New York's LaGuardia airport after takeoff, on his way to Charlotte, North Carolina.

The imported European $77 million A320 airliner is not certified for either waterfowl or upland bird hunting, so it was not surprising that the aircraft malfunctioned. When he realized that both New York and New Jersey State Game and Fish enforcement officers would soon be approaching, Captain Sullenberger unsuccessfully attempted to hide the plane in the Hudson River. The crew and 150 passengers were chilled and shaken but unhurt. Most were simply grateful to avoid spending the weekend in Charlotte, NC.

National Transportation Safety Board inspectors rushed to the scene, and reportedly found no Duck Stamps on the downed aircraft's fuselage. Captain Sullenberger has not been charged but is being held incommunicado at an undisclosed location. PETA is urging the government to prosecute the pilot for double honkercide and poaching, and the animal rights group is expected to file a civil suit on behalf of the flock. The two victims were undocumented aliens, according to sources close to the investigation, Canada Geese who had over-stayed their visas. Their goose gang scandalized their quiet Queens community by squatting in local cemeteries and golf courses, parking on the grass, cooking strange-smelling food and throwing wild parties late into the night. Neighbors say police dogs were called out on several occasions. Such incidents have triggered a wave of anti-Canada Goose sentiment, but at his time revenge or hate crime motives are not suspected in the US Airways bird bashings.

Forensic examination of the avian corpses continues, and technicians are analyzing the two cadavers under heat with chestnuts, prunes, and Armagnac. NTSB inspectors have contributed a supply of testing fluid, a 2005 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling from Alsace. We will update this story as entrees details become available.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I'm terribly behind.

I reallyshould pull my finger out. But then the polder would flood. Today, while dragging my sorry crippled arse between Foresterhill and Old Aberdeen, I bumped into 16 Bohemian Waxwings in their favourite trees next to Hilton Campus. And here's some Ruddy Turnstones I photo'd on the beach at Newtonhill last weekend, and didn't get round to writing about.