Monday, 2 May 2016

It's All in the Game - Nat King Cole

This Post is simply a prelude of the Mini Bird Race 
undertaken on May Day which seems to have expanded
from a tiny Acorn into something of a Monster.
My interest in BIRDS has spanned 7 decades (and quite frankly I'll be glad when I get fed up with them - ho, flippin' ho) with the first documented record being that of Manx Shearwater in West Bay, Dorset viewed from the 'mighty'
Ocean Salvage Tug 'Confiance' 
at 18:30 on 29/05/1975.
(a water colour by Falmouth Lifeboatman Tony Warren 1983)
As an aside, over the years, and intermittently,  there was the privileged distinction of serving on her as
Able Seaman, Boatswain, Chief Officer (Mate) and Master.
Prior to that and to my chagrin, during the late 50's and very early 60's the focus was more on stealing their eggs and shooting the hapless creatures, but it was the Royal Navy that diverted me from such barbaric practices for a full 10 years during which time the interest lay dormant. It was only a casual conversation with my old shipmate Paul (Andy) Knapp, onboard the same vessel, about our respective boyhoods that rekindled the flame. Some time later, with Confiance dry-docked in Portsmouth and with plenty of time on our hands and me in charge, it was considered my duty to 'order' Andy to accompany me to the none-to-distant Farlington Marshes for a spell of Bird Watching. There, we met the Warden who introduced us to both Jack Snipe and Long-eared Owl which was also the first time we ever kept a Day List. Over many subsequent years it became almost traditional to spend New Years Day with another dear friend, Hugo Wood-Homer, undertaking a similar but now far more intense and dedicated day 'twitching! Who knows how many years that continued?? but during each of them we would suggest trying the same thing on May Day, when a whole different variety of birds might be recorded, but we never did. These Posts, regardless of how many, are dedicated to
(hoping to see you both again some time)
There are few rules associated with such an event save to say the welfare of the Bird must be paramount, and each species should be positively identified either by sight or sound, you are only fooling yourself! In my humble opinion, the latter stems from what might be refer to as the Quail Effect, which is, if one of these secretive, threatened and infrequently seen tiny birds is calling away like billy-o in the middle of a corn field do we all 'really' need to dash in and flush it just for a 'tick' in the log?? Other terminology banded about days before the race begins, which in turn we have all fallen foul of, always raise a wry smile for me. "Pinning it down" (what like a Moth on a plasterzote sheet?), getting a particular species "staked out" (knowing full well it's still going to be there on your return??) and RECONNAISSANCE (reci for short) which has been my sole intent over the passed week in preparation for Sunday.
It was also decided to forgo the usual series of photographs and images to save time, but the equipment was still carried and the theory lasted little more than a micro-second. With more than 300 images/footage to edit, the reason is probably clear as to why we are not going to press today. Further to that, the intention was to make the report as short as possible but on such a successful day, when attempting to better the current record of 56, 'stuff that', you are in for the FULL BIFTA no matter how many Posts it takes - so best get to it! 
Just to keep the appetite whetted, here are this mornings finding
on a damp, drizzly, overcast and windy day.
 The nest of a

Found, and pointed out by Janet directly above the first trap
and not noticed by myself during construction.
Within were both
(probably best distinguished, in simple terms, by the size of the 'white wedge' 
on the inner trailing edge of the fore-wing.)
and this tiny BEETLE yet to be identified.
United States
United Kingdom
United Arab Emirates
9 - GREAT to see UAE back in the fold!