Lost phone

Apologies for a non-birding post…

Bloody hell – ten or so years of having a mobile and never once losing it, and now it’s finally happened. And like a complete numpty, I of course don’t have a written list of everyone’s names and numbers, so they’re lost with the SIM card.

So… anyone that knows me, please email me your numbers! Will have a new phone and the old number back fairly soon I hope.


Am not sure whether or not this blog title makes any sense at all unless you’re from the West Country too… but hopefully it will – it’s a topical birding reference, and following the rip-roaring success that was the Pheasant rodeo advert, it’s a gratuitous opportunity to revisit another commercial I enjoyed immensely.

Enough suspense building and ambiguity… onto the birds. Came home this evening to perfect calm, not a breath of wind, and the sea glassy calm. Great Northern Divers stood out a mile even at extreme distance on the water, and if I’d still needed any of the breeding auks for the house yearlist, tonight would have been the night to rack them up. Puffin, Razorbill, Guillemot, Black Guillemot… all easily seen in a matter of moments. Walked around the golf course for want of anywhere better to go in such pleasant but unpromising (for migrants) conditions.

Sure enough, from a bird perspective not much doing. One Swallow hawking along below the cliff edge; a mob of irate Arctic Terns divebombed Fly (the Not Very Good Sheepdog) as we passed the Taing; and small parties of Turnstones were hanging out on the fairways, with a couple of nice summer-plumaged Dunlins for good measure. Mammals were good – had excellent views of a fishing Otter, and a pod of Harbour Porpoise just offshore.

Got back home to cook dinner, and edged one closer to the magic 100 for the house yearlist from the comfort of the kitchen window, armed with beer – a Grey Heron flying north-east over my lower field. Joy.

And so to the gratuitous advert – featuring Pablo the comedy stuffed dog. Probably not meant to make you laugh as such, but it reduced me to helpless giggles every time. A non-prize for the first person who can work out the link…

Crying fowl

It was a day of two halves – and I only considered it anything less than perfect about an hour ago. Up until then – just peachy.

You’ll recognise the seeds of the woe when I begin by saying that I woke up this morning to find my mobile had died in the night, so naturally I plugged it in to charge… and went outside to make the most of a fine sunny day to finish planting the other 100 brassicas, various leftover tatties, and some spinach and parsnips for good measure. So far, so good life. The day got significantly better in the afternoon when the sound of Starlings having conniptions made me rush from the kale yard to see what was bothering them. I was expecting and hoping it would be the Sparrowhawk that’s been around the area for the past few days, and which I’ve seen from just about everywhere except the house. I was delighted to see instead an owl trailing a comet tail of pissed off and highly excited Starlings flying over my back field – my first Long-eared Owl for the house list.

The rest of the day was spent digging, weeding and watering. It was only when I went inside, noticed the now-charged phone, switched it on, and started to work through the texts that the day soured (but only slightly). A text from BM at midday alerting me to a Long-eared Owl in the plantation… (ha!) …and then one from him 10 minutes earlier to say there was a Canada Goose in the ditch below West House. Oh balls. Easily the rarer of the two in a local context, and I’d missed it. Needless to say, scanning immediately from the house revealed no goose, and a subsequent walk around didn’t turn it up either. Only a few Willow Warblers in the plantation, and an acro that was best left unidentified briefly by the trap, before spanging off to some rosa rugosa a field away, and then not to be found again.

Heyho. The owl was nice.

You are my haw

Devoted most of the day to hot vegetable action – planted yet more tatties, 60 assorted brassicas, and chicken-proofed the side of the new yard that’s most vulnerable to hen-infiltration. Went down the isle after lunch to get some stuff from the shop, half-heartedly birding along the way – not a lot to be seen, for all it’s been south-easterlies today. Best I could muster was a Spotted Flycatcher until… I found this lurking inside an open garage door. There was just long enough to squeeze off one photo of a Hawfinch in its natural habitat – feeding on bird seed underneath a stepladder. Seeing me, it displayed typical Hawfinch evasive behaviour – and scuttled underneath the parked car beside it. Shetland… it’s just non-stop nature in the raw up here.

Cheap Haw

Other than that, nothing much doing at all, though the rain that’s finally arrived with the southeasterlies may be good for tomorrow. These spent the day lurking just offshore, with at one point 3 Great Northern Divers further out in the bay.

090523 Eider 002

Devoted this evening to watching the Drench pheasant rodeo advert over and over again. I’m easily amused.

House listing

Worked from home today, but with a deadline to meet I couldn’t even spare myself half an hour at lunchtime to see what was occuring outside. Eventually got out mid evening to find JA already in the plantation, so headed home to start planting potatoes. Gave up as it was getting dark with over 150 in, and still not halfway. After them, the cabbages… If I can’t go to the birds, I need to make them come to me.

Evening wasn’t a complete write-off, as I flushed a Tree Pipit from the side of the driveway, and picked up a smart male Pied Flycatcher on a fence as I walked back from the plantation.  Simply a case of walking up to the house, into the garden, and scanning the fence… and there he was, another step closer to the elusive 100 target for the year. I haven’t sat down yet to do the “what might I reasonably still expect to see” sums – I think I’d rather be pleasantly surprised if the house can manage 100 in the space of a year.


Dropped into JLI’s for an enjoyable and beer-fuelled rundown on the day’s birding events this evening. It sounded like I didn’t miss much…

Apart from a Wryneck he found early on, it seemed that much the same birds as seen in the past 48 hours were being recycled around the isle, so having to go to work hadn’t cost me dearly. Got home after dark to throw together an unexpected but tasty fish supper and a enjoy a chilled out and relaxed evening. The calm before the storm… I have a lot of planting to be getting on with in the next few days. Wind still moderate from the south-east this evening, so maybe still a Red-backed Shrike or two in the offing tomorrow.

Any minute now…

… it’s all going to start happening. Surely. A noticeable increase in warblers yesterday evening and this morning, indicating either new arrivals or birds coming out of the woodwork now that the wind is easing off a little.

Moved the ponies yesterday evening, a considerable logistical undertaking as they’re pretty feral and so need to be chaperoned along the road from one field to the next. They’ve spent the past few weeks in the yard below Roadside knocking back the rosa rugosa and years and years worth of long dead grass. It’s looking splendid now they’re finished, with the roses considerably thinned, pathways forged through them, and the grass knocked right back to ground level and well-dunged. It’s certainly going to be easier to see birds in there now, and is proving attractive – there were a pair of female Bluethroats in there yesterday evening while I worked to remove the electric fence prior to the great pony drive.

Collected a couple of hundred assorted cabbage seedlings yesterday, so will need to get planting in earnest in coming days. Them and the several hundred potatoes I have chitting in the garage. All good preparation for the autumn. (Oh, and nice to eat too. But mainly migrant-bait!). Have earmarked another small plot next to the new kale yard that would be relatively easy to enclose and put some trees in as a windbreak and a further little bit of habitat improvement, but this brings home just how much I have to get done in the coming weeks. Never mention the new heligoland…