In spite of the autumn migration bringing all manner of new birds to the country (as detailed in mind-numbing depth last time), September has, so far, been the worst month for new sightings since records began way back in January 2014.
So, I’m going to introduce a new feature inspired by the upcoming ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ exhibition at the National History Museum. It is designed to showcase just how ‘special’ a photographer I am and pay a small homage to a favourite televisual treat from my past (and, perhaps, your past too…)
Oh, and I’ll always find something to write about – It’s one of life’s inevitables… Sorry about that!
Whilst volunteering at RSPB Pulborough Brooks at the weekend, I did think I might have seen a Raven – which would have been an additional for the 2014 list. Through the fog that often greets the start of the day in that part of the world, I could see that the bird in question looked significantly bigger than its far more common relative, the Carrion Crow. I took a couple of rubbish photos – as is usually the case when I wield my camera at anything – but felt confident I could blame the prevailing weather conditions on their poor quality. My intention was to get home, consult my bird books and definitively identify the bird one way or the other.
I guess I could have asked anyone at the reserve for their opinion, but I felt a bit embarrassed that my inability to identify a relatively common bird whilst wearing a uniform and name badge might bring the good name of the RSPB into disrepute. Besides, most people seem to want to talk about their holidays or the weather anyway – which is great, as I’m far more comfortable with ‘Isn’t it foggy?’ than ‘Is that a Raven over there?’
When I got home, I pored over a number of books and, shamefully, still couldn’t work out what the large, black crow-like bird was. I tried to convince myself it was a Raven and bird number 178 for the year, but couldn’t be sure.
After a good half an hour of squinting at my crappy photos and leafing through the corvid sections of numerous avian textbooks (How cool do I sound?) I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t come to a conclusion. I was stumped.
In desperation, I joined a bird identification group on Facebook and posted my pictures with a simple plea for help. Within moments, a number of people had, in no uncertain terms, told me that it was definitely a Carrion Crow. Apparently, you KNOW if you’ve seen a Raven and, also, if you think it’s a Raven it’s probably not a Raven.
Um… I’m glad that’s all cleared up!
So, as it stands, my only new bird sighting in September, so far, has been a Whinchat – a small perching bird that is a summer visitor to the UK. If you’re in the right place for Whinchats (usually open grassland), they are usually quite easy to see, as they tend to perch atop low bushes before dropping to the floor to nab an insect. As it’s my only new sighting of the month, I’ll treat you to a series of photos taken at Elmley Marshes on the Isle of Sheppey and Papercourt Meadows in Send…
Do you remember a few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was really struggling with the tendency of the bird-watching world to abbreviate and how this has sometimes left me a bit clueless in conversation? I imagine this is done to (i) Get more words out into a conflab in a shorter period of time, and (ii) to exclude me – Logically, they can be the only reasons!
Since then, I’ve been trying to gen up on my ornithological abridgements… By this, I of course, mean trying to think of some I consider to be moderately amusing. It has been difficult, but I can now announce my winner…
The Whinchat was bird number one-hundred and seventy-eight for the year and reaching two-hundred is still a possibility – providing I see a few more than one bird a month before 2014 is out (Obviously!) Click here for the list
Here’s what’s been spied in the section of the blog where birds are not allowed: –
Well, there you go – Not much happening and I still managed to get near to the customary one-thousand words. I would apologise for this, but I think I’ve already said enough…