Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Shortly to be renamed 'Pretty Insects'

I know it says birds in the title, but they don't come out well on phone cameras.

Not a tick this time, but I'm fairly sure it's the first picture of a Red Admiral on patch at Tower Bridge. Looks like a bit of sunshine is doing some good. Very nice to see.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Homecoming. Sort of.

I'm working back in Aldgate, and that means once again I have the north bank Tower Bridge patch. Once I had time to get over the initial British terror of that big fiery orb in the sky I went and took my first 'proper' walk round since starting the new job.

On the one hand this was a massive success. Visiting somewhere you used to list and starting from scratch is a really motivational way to track your progress as a birdwatcher. When I figure out the pages nonsense I'll start up a separate patch list on the blog, but I picked up more in one wander round St' Katherine's dock than I got in the first month of watching Tower Bridge when I started here three or four years ago.

On the other hand, nothing I saw was new to the patch, so I'll likely hit the ceiling a lot quicker this time round. Back to processing flocks of Black Headed Gulls looking for Meds before too long then.

I say nothing was new. None of the BIRDS were new. This was new:

My dragonfly book hasn't made the journey to the new flat yet so ID is pending, but this is my first Tower Bridge dragonfly. If I tell you that this picture was taken with the macro mode on my phone camera, you'll get an idea of just how obliging he was.

This was also new, if an extremely retro sort of way. I have no idea why it's there, but I like boats without engines and it's rather cool.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Three peaks, two birds, one pint

This weekend myself, p4rus and a few non-birdy types did a stupid thing. We attempted to climb three large mountains in 24 hours. Having done it now, I can confirm the stupidity of this action, and recommend you do not attempt it yourselves unless you are a) sadistic or b) clinically insane. I did it because I was c) ignorant, and you no longer have that excuse.

Still, there are silver linings to every cloud. We flew up on the Thursday evening and stayed in a basic but functional hotel, where there was a stunning view across a large body of water just a few minutes walk away. With p4rus's help I picked up Eider for the year list (which I'm totally not keeping) and Black Guillemot for the life list. And as if that wasn't good enough, here's the sunset.

The minibus ride on the way to Ben Nevis bagged another lifer when I saw a couple of Hooded Crow hopping about on the verges. Irritatingly p4rus managed to see a Golden Eagle and to ID an Osprey that I'd already passed off as a gull, so those two don't count for me. Still, I've now seen an Osprey silhouette and an Osprey eyeball on separate occasions. Soon I'll have all the pieces.

The three peaks part of the trip was tough. My credibility as a rugged mountain explorer type was also damaged by the strict condition imposed by one of my sponsors, to be enacted upon summiting each mountain. Can you guess what it was?

We finished up with Snowdon early Saturday afternoon and headed back to Manchester Picadilly, where there was time for a single celebratory and farewell beer before we all got on the same train to sit in our entirely separate reserved seats.

Looking back on it from the position of one who is aching like a bastard but never has to do it again, it was a worthwhile experience which pushed me to my very limits blah blah blah. Coming down a never-ending Scafell Pike on a pitch dark, wet, windy, freezing Friday night/Saturday morning it was shit and I hated mountains. I can't say either of those feelings is wrong, only that they are relevant to the place in time which they occupy. If I was to go back, I'd take three days and enjoy each one properly.

Still, lots of money raised for a good cause and two life birds. On this occasion at least the ends justify the means.