Archives for the month of: January, 2013

It’s all kicking off now.

I ecstatically found geese on my patch. I’ve never seen a goose stay still on Oak Road before, with my 2 previous sightings being fly-over canada geese, but the flooded sports fields held 50+ canadas, 2 greylags and 2 mute swans which wheren’t the usual pair from the pond (I know because I checked). A couple more weeks of this and I may even get a couple of waders showing up or a fancy duck. And the icing on the cake is that the water and mud is putting off a lot of dog walkers, the bane of my patch and very existence.

James, without internet, as been informing me of his patch updates from the ye olde telephone and has bagged himself the first herp for the year (a toad under some wood) and has reached double figures for molluscs alone.

We also have two new members in the form of Africa Gomez and Richard Comont. Africa has blazed a mighty and impressive trail with spiders and pond snails but Richard joined and immediately took current lead with 79 species of plant alone.

Current tallies can be seen here

And if anyone has any interest in joining then just click on the patch league tab on the top of the page for more information. There will be badges dammit. BADGES.

 

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As most nature blogs seem to be doing it, and I’m always one to bow down to the slightest whiff of peer pressure, I thought it would be best for me to list my favourite wildlife events from the last year. Truth be told I can barely remember most of it through the haze of opium dens and glue sniffing but I’ll do my up most.

5. Adders at Allerthorpe

I have been to Allerthorpe at least 1000000 times. Every damn time I looked for adders. The stories led me to believe they would be so numerous they would be dangling from trees and playing badminton while one took my coat and led round the reserve informing of the rich history of the area. This was a lie. It was a lie probably started by the Daily Mail (this has now completed my daily quota of satire). I was beginning to believe that adders had never been at Allerthorpe, or that if Allerthorpe was a real place. Maybe I was going to Awerthorpe and someone was changing the signs. Then I saw some pictures of the adders. And more pictures. Then the internet was full of pictures of the adders at Allerthorpe. I decided one last voyage was required. I spent 3 hours wandering around heathland, being mocked by the omnipresent woodlark. “SHUT UP WOODLARK” I shouted at nothing. Eventually I went down along a path which sounded like where people had been seeing them. I waited a glimmer of sunlight. Then I saw one basking, like a reptilian strumpet working on its tan. I hollered in delight and fired my blunderbuss in the air. The little blighter let me take some intimate pictures before slithering into the undergrowth. I may have touched it has it slinked away because I’m a badass and chicks dig that sort of thing.  

4. Red Rumped Swallow

It was raining but we decided a quick trip to Far Ings to have a cheeky peek at a red rumped swallow might be worth a bewettening. Didn’t take long to locate it and everything was lovely. It regularly flew past us on an abandoned lane several times. It might be the opium talking but I think it took some malteasers from my open palm.

3. Spurn Fall

I’d been waiting for something like this since I started looking at birds. Spurn is a tease essentially. It’s globally recognised as one of the best places to be for autumn migration, but can often have nothing worth lifting your head up for. I don’t mean in terms of twitchy birds either. I mean anything moving or alive. This october proved why it’s often regarded as ‘quite fun’. There was quite simply a lot of birds. Knackered fieldfares and redwings filled every available space. If we had trodden on a few I’d imagine some passersby would just laugh heartedly and proclaim ‘No worries, plenty more where they came from” before throwing a lit match at a brambling. Subsequent trips in the wake allowed us views of great grey shrike, redstarts and a church covered in black redstarts (the most pious of the chats).

2. Chambers Farm Wood and butterflyapocalyptica

James convinced that spending a day looking for butterflies would be nice. I agreed but probably muttered to myself about how they weren’t reptiles or dragonflies so should die in a heap. To Lincolnshire we popped with high expectations. Well I think we had high expectations which were met for a change. Purple hairstreak was found within minutes. Essex skipper was a thing that happened. White admiral took the biscuit for sexiest thing in a wood (I’m imagine the shape of that particular biscuit and its glorious but rude). The endless supply of migrant hawkers (30+ in the sky at once) was chuffing fun as well.  We even popped at another site and found grayling, also known as the cryptic bastard, and a fox skull. If I remember correctly it was our highest ever count for butterfly species in one day, topping at roughly 2 billion species.  

1. Grebe vs. Gull

My favourite moment of 2012 was brief but wonderful. I found my way to north cave, hoping for early spring delights along with a pair of black necked grebes which had decided to stick around for a bit. I found them and they were lovely and all that usual stuff. Then a greater black backed gull tried to eat one of them. It didn’t succeed but my gosh it was fun. I really like how GBBG’s have a genuine hatred of anything pure and wholesome and happily feast on the souls of the innocent. “Shine on you crazy diamond” I quietly muttered to myself.

Other good things included duke of burgundy and swallowtail, some mucky twitchy birds, a dead muntjac, golden pheasant, alpine newt and a load of things I’ve almost certainly forgotten.

So lets end on the disappointments. It was supposed to be a year of reptiles, but the weather largely put a stop to that with a planned Dorset trip being called off due to high chances of being made dead. Norfolk trip was also ended early due to the weathers. Scotland was oddly disappointing despite seeing plenty of lovely things, but a lot of plans were changed last-minute and not really replaced with well thought out alternatives. Plus we slept in the Eye of Sauron.

As I’m sure you were all on the edge of the seat for the first post of 2013 and its inevitable patch league-iness, I better not tease you any longer. How are things shaping in the first few days? Well the dramatic answer is…. PREDICTABLY.

I’ve hit the patch twice, and have managed a hedonistic 44 species so far (29 birds, 2 mammals, 5 flowering plants, 5 invertebrates, 2 fungi and 1 moss). The highlight so far has been a surprise visit from lesser redpoll and siskin. Also gave identifying some woodlice a go and I managed not to be sick on myself with stress. The same can’t be said for earthworms or glass snails.

James hasn’t provided any figures yet but I know he’s managed to snafu kingfisher and grey seal (got by cheekily throwing a seawatching spot onto his patch). I’ll imagine he’ll have a species of ghost or something insane soon.

I’ve heard nothing from Jess or Stacey yet but I’m imagining they too busy sifting through obscure guides to thrips from the 18th century and organising their spreadsheets.

“BUT ROBERT AND JAMES, I DON’T KNOW HOW TO IDENTIFy THINGS BUT I WANT TO JOIN THE FUN, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE?” I hear you screaming your bedroom/toilet/fridge. Using free online keys and guides is the answer. So here are some that should be helpful.

Slugs

Snails

Lesser Boatmen

Earthworms

Moths

Galls

Leaf miners

Bugs

Bit of everything

If any one knows any more then I’d love to know about them. Mosses or lichens would particularly lovely.

The next post should be a round up of 2012 or a review of BBC’s Africa series, which ever strikes my fancy.

 

Ahoy there!

I was sat at home, minding my own buisiness, when suddenly, somehow, I became aware that Robert had updated the blog. Call it intuition perhaps, or a latent psychic ability. Or that the fact that he text me and told me. Anyway, I have so far managed a grand total of one visit to my patch for a couple of hours on the 1st. I can confirm that so far Robert is indeed romping merrily ahead. So far I have seen 33 birds from the patch (personal highlights being Kingfisher, Oystercatcher, Wigeon and the first ever Lapwing I’ve seen there. Unfortunately, the pair of Water Rails and the Grey Wagtail that had been very reliable in the run up to Christmas seemed to have moved on – as is life, I suppose). Additionally, I have seen 3 mammals (Grey Squirrel, Human and Grey Seal), 1 mollusc (Great Pond Snail) and 1 plant (Hart’s Tongue Fern) – giving me a grand total so far of 38 species. Not far behind Robert, really, and considering I haven’t even started with plants and inverts yet I think I can soon make up the difference. Unfortunately I won’t be back on patch until the 8th, so still plenty of time for all the other leaguers to thrash me into last place.