Saturday, 31 October 2009

The importance of not being an idiot - part deux

So you lose your charger. You find your charger. You charge the batteries of your very expensive camera. You go to Rainham Marshes 2 days later and take the camera with you, hoping for some hot .jpg action. What have you forgotten?

To put the fucking battery back in the camera of course, you silly sod.

Not impressed.

Trip report to follow once I work out how to get some poor quality Snipe video off my phone and onto my computer.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The importance of not being an idiot

Until about 5 minutes ago I thought I'd lost the charger for my Pentax battery, thus rendering a very expensive camera very useless. I have been persistent in this belief for about the last 2 weeks, and most peeved. The worst of it is that it has in fact been right under my nose the whole time, but every time I've looked at it my eyes have slid right off it, as though distracted by some kind of SEP field, and I've thought 'right that's the Kodak charger, where's the Pentax?'.

I just checked a drawer on the OTHER side of the room that I've looked through at least half a dozen times and found the Kodak charger in there. And apparently for 2 weeks I've not noticed that mysteriously there seems to be two of it.

So I can take pictures again, yay! And I was very kindly bought an ND filter for my birthday - pointless for bird photography, but should be fun to play with on the landscapes.

To celebrate, here are a couple from the archives, taken with the old Kodak on Ludshott Common in Hampshire in April 2007.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Houseplant update

No real bird related news. In the last week or two the only out-of-the-ordinary (i.e. not a Corvid, Black Headed/Lesser or Greater black backed gull, Pigeon or Starling) birds I've seen are a Wren and a couple of Robins. Winter both giveths and takeths away - if you can get out on a weekend the birds are fantastic, but there are no more birding walks before/after work because it's all gone dark.

So here are some pictures of my 2 houseplants, just to make my girlfriend jealous. You may remember that I was entrusted with a spider plant as an anniversary present some months back. That plant now, quite satisfyingly, outstrips the original by a long way and is a source of near inexhaustible bragging rights.

Spider Plant doing HUGE

It was joined shortly afterward by a friend, but the Umbrella tree experiment was a bit of a failure. It desperately needed repotting within a couple of weeks and got far too big for my desk, so it's been taken into protective custody downstairs with all the other monsters.

I still wanted a little desk plant, nothing too showy, so I took the missus along to B&Q to see what we could see. A quick look along the sale plants and we found a fairly unhappy looking Begonia. I took her word for it that it would recover perfectly given a bit of TLC and here is the result:

As you can see, my surfaces are covered in the clutter of the hopeless gadget-o-holic. And my desk faces South.

Apologies for the appalling image quality - the light bulb in my room is vastly underpowered.

I'm feeling quite green fingered these days. Will I get out next weekend and actually see some birds? I bloody well hope so.

I'll leave you with a question: Can juvenile Black Headed gulls have yellow bills/legs? Saw 2 gulls at the Tower of London today which were Black Headed in size and shape - they also had the browny juvenile plumage and the black dot behind the eye. The bill and legs though were bright yellow. As far as I'm aware Common Gulls don't have the black eye spot, and if there'd just been one of them I'd have shrugged it off as a probable BH mutation, but two of them standing next to eachother? I leave it to the wisdom of others.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Dungeness - 24/09/2009

Very late write-up, but better late than never.

My first day at Dungeness, and in fact my first day's birding on the South Coast proper. And I'll confess my sins and say straight out that twitching a couple of Glossy Ibises played no small part in my agreeing to drive Parus down there at 05:30 on a Thursday morning. Fortunately, they turned up.

First birds on leaving the car were a power line full of Linnets and a bush full of Meadow Pipits. Neither are rare exactly round these parts - you can pick them up over Rainham quite reliably each year - but I very rarely see flocks of either, and particularly not close enough to get a proper photograph (regular readers may have noticed the new banner). 10 minutes of Seawatching also got me a self-found Gannet, which was quite satisfying. My first 'proper' self found bird on a Seawatch and mainly due to my getting sick of the sight of them on the ferry to Jersey a few weekends ago. Black Redstart however seemed reluctant to put in an appearance. Along with Tree Sparrows, these were the big no-shows of the day.

We got plenty of Raptors - Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hobby, Buzzard from the car - and plenty of Willow Warblers - the bird obs was crawling with them. Parus netted himself a Black Tern for his self found list, which I leached off of him. We also had fun watching Woodpeckers (Green and Great Spot) from the car park opposite the reserve. Credit/blame for the pictures is split fairly evenly between myself and Parus - 2 photographers and one camera.

Highlights of my day were the never ending stream of Clouded Yellow butterflies (unfortunately none of them sat still long enough for a photo), my first ever Small Copper, an incredible 10/15 second view of a Kingfisher hovering in front of our hide on the reserve (shitshitshitgetthecamera, bugger) and of course my 2 life ticks, Whinchat and Glossy Ibis. Definitely a worthwhile trip for me, though I won't be going back until this rain stops.

A fantastic Small Copper

Another Chat down. Still some way to go though

A disappointing first view, but identifiable

Lots of photos for this one to make up for the general lack lately. Life takes over in occasional waves. Should be getting back to normal soon.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Birthday things

Too much real life, not enough quality time with our feathered friends lately. Anyway, it was my birthday yesterday and some bird related presents were inevitable. In order of relevance:

This book is a bit good, and is really the only guide out there that covers this particular field. I highly recommend.

A Guernsey Sweater which will come in extremely useful when I get to test the above book in the field. I can confirm that it is extremely warm, and extremely itchy. Currently having a go at breaking it in.

All finished off with a rather nice Bowmore Single Malt, which will be quite useful for warming the cockles and the drowning of sorrows when I return wet and cold from a day's seawatching having seen naff all.

At some point I might get round to writing up that Dungeness trip.

In other news, I have given up on trying to put together my own listing tool and have downloaded Jeff's Birding Database. It's better than anything I'd have come up with, and does the job nicely.