Friday, 30 August 2013


Are you one of a growing number of birders who like to tell the whole world about every single piece of crap you see, every single time you leave the f***ing house?
Are your finger muscles getting a bit sore, typing up the same old bird names, day after day, after day, after f***ing day?
If so, it could be that you are suffering from Repetitive Shit Strain, also known as Dross Fever.
This new keyboard has been developed to help you. Different formats are available and can be tailored to your specific 'special needs', whether you're, for example, on a Sussex headland, at a nature reserve or seawatching in Ireland etc etc.

Now, to aid with your insatiable need to produce endless meaningless lists, all your crap sightings can be typed up with a single click.
Alternatively, just keep it all in your notebook.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I got it wrong...but I wasn't alone.

"It's a Sykes's, it's a Sykes's. You can tell easily by the bill. It's definitely a Sykes's"
it wasn't.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A Sussex tick...but which one?

Slough to Climping at mach2 for a possible Sykes's Warbler this afternoon. Loads of photos and discussion on other sites and forums as to what it was, either a Sykes's or a Booted. Once it's sorted I'm happy either way as I've seen neither of them before. I'd like to think, based on what I saw that it was a Sykes's, but I could well be wrong, and probably am.

                             A couple of pics of the bird kindly given to me by Mick Davis.

Just as interesting and much more fun was meeting up with a whole load of some of my favourite Sussex birders. Had a really good laugh with some old faces that I've not seen for a while, as well as some of those that I see all the time.

Christopher Glanfield
Christopher Glanfield
Christopher Glanfield
Christopher Glanfield

Matt, Jake and Stu

John King, John Dodd and Dave Snellor

The mighty Mick Davis

Mick, George Kinnard and Daniel Booker
All in all a very enjoyable afternoon in brilliant company.
Was slightly saddened to notice that Justin Timberlake has really let himself go.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

More Gos Stuff

Further to yesterday's post re: unseasonal Goshawk behavior, Dick Forsman was kind enough to get back to me this morning. He said that in Finland, he has from time to time witnessed the same behaviour as I saw yesterday. Usually it's juveniles that he has seen, but on occasions, adults have been involved in exactly the same way that I observed. Like myself, Dick doesn't have any real reasons as to why they are doing this so late in the year, but agreed that it appeared to take the form of play, or practise for the future. I still don't know if this behaviour has been noted in the Autumn in England or not....has anyone looked?
What makes this interesting, certainly from a monitoring point of view, is that rather than Goshawks being 'visible' just in February and March during the accepted display period, a possible second 'bite of the cherry' may well present itself later in the year. I guess that a lot of people, myself included, pretty much stop looking for them once the breeding season is over, and apart from brief isolated views, take it for granted that the birds have gone back to doing their thing under the canopy. Time will tell if this post-breeding behaviour is the norm. All jolly interesting me at least.
Gonna pad out this posting with some breeding pics from 2010,which most folk wouldn't have seen. Three youngsters were fledged this year.
The 2010 nest was initially quite a small structure, so much so, that from the ride it looke no bigger than a Crow's nest. It was only by seeing it from the back, that it became a Gos nest. I very nearly missed finding this.

Very apparent in this and the next picture, is how the nest grows throughout the course of the nesting season. As the chicks grow, and the amount of dead meat being brought in increases, so the flies and other insects build up. It's believed that the pine branches have a degree of disinfectant/insecticidal qualities and so help to keep the nest relatively infestation free.

The three youngsters starting to wander around the nest tree.

Spend their days sunning themselves on nearby branches.......

but still go home to bed in the evenings!


One week after fledging, but still next to the nest and quite approachable if you don't make eye contact. As soon as they are confident enough to wander away from the nest tree, they lose this approachability instantly and forever.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Gostastic afternoon

Went to have a look to see if I could see any juv honey Buzzards this afternoon. No sign of any HB's but witnessed some very curious and unseasonal goshawk behaviour. At midday I picked up a Gos stooping towards what I thought might be a HB coming towards me head on. As the attacking bird got close, the second bird rolled onto its back exposing its talons....another Gos. These two actually talon grappled for a split second before separating. As they did so, another two came into my view. For the next twenty seven minutes I watched four Goshawks, stooping at one another, talon grappling and even roller coasting briefly. If these birds had been juveniles or even a pair with two juvs, I wouldn't think too much of it, BUT  although fairly distant, I could clearly see through the scope that all four birds were in adult type plumage. So...what the hell were they doing in late August, acting as though its late March? Ive been lucky enough to spend many hundreds of hours watching Goshawks in Sussex, and I have never witnessed this behaviour at this time of year, nor can I find any reference to it anywhere. My own best guess would be that they were 2cy/sub adult birds, practising for next year. Surely, they don't just go straight into full roller-coasting mode the first spring they feel sexy? It would make sense that youngish birds put in some form of practise, wouldn't it? I've written to Dick Forsman to see if its behaviour he's familiar with. Does anyone else have any suggestions? I'd like to know if its something that others have witnessed, and would be grateful for theories. My email is The more I think I know about Goshawks, the more questions arise. I guess that's what it's all about.
Oh yeah, if anyone wants to give me a really good mega bucks HD video camera for nothing, I'd be ever so grateful...ha ha.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

another rubbish week

I know patch or garden ticks are of no interest to anyone other than the person whose patch or garden it is, but I was pretty chuffed to add this beautiful Painted Lady to my crappy little Crawley garden butterfly list this week. Christ, I really need to get out more...


My two year old grandson, Charlie.
Knows the difference between Owl, Duck and Pigeon,
thus making him far too qualified to ever sit on the Sussex Ornithological Society Records Committee.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Brown Hairstreak

Found my first Brown Hairstreak of the year today, a beautiful, scale-perfect male. Even managed to entice it on my hand and take a blurry pic. A nice finger tick.

The last of the Sussex butterflies to emerge, and in my opinion, the best. Gorgeous!!!

Monday, 29 July 2013

boring weekend silly pictures stupid comments

Drove through Balcombe on Sunday having forgotten that it's become a centre of media attention due to fracking taking place there, and so, naturally Rent-A-Tramp have moved in to 'protest' at something or other and take a shit on the verges. Once past the large number of Police officers who are forced to be present, when they'd probably much rather be anywhere else, there would appear to be the usual selection of  hippy/hobo blokes who all look the bloody same...unwashed dreadlocks and dirty clothes, possibly called Moonbase Alpha, Swamp Pig, Tunnel Twat etc,  along with several heavily tattooed women called Derek, who decided to become lesbians when they realised they were too effing ugly to ever get a boyfriend. At least that's how it appeared to me, as I drove past quite quickly with the windows wound up. Its a shame for local people anywhere, that any realistic chance of having a protest listened to is pretty much ruined by the protestors themselves. Same thing wherever these workshy gits turn up, with their apparent aversion to soap, shoes made out of driftwood and birch bark underpants....

Found the most beautiful pair of walking stick handles...but unfortunately they were still alive and ran off.

And when you do get lucky, it's a flippin' doe...Doh!
 Though even if it was a buck, Fallow antlers make ridiculous walking sticks,
but are brilliant as ornate coat hooks. I think it's why god invented them.
Deer that is, not walking sticks. It's pretty much common knowledge that wooden coat hooks and walking sticks were invented by Jesus as part of his carpentry apprenticeship.

Haven't a clue.
Looked like a Haribo
Tasted like shit!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

garden butterflies

it always gets a bit more exciting once the Buddleia
starts to bloom.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


Currently a huge invasion of rare Crossbills into Western Europe and a decent influx arriving up and down the east coast of Britain. Surely one of the most important and significant things for a Records Commitees to consider when assessing submissions. Depending on where you live of course....!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Friday 19th July

On the road bright and early this morning to go and conduct another vigil in a Sussex field trying to find out what the hell the Honey Buzzards are playing at this year. In a spot where we've regularly had at least five, and possibly seven summering birds for the last few years, this year is looking rubbish. There would appear to be just one pair this year, and I personally have yet to see the male, although Andrew and Ian saw him two weeks ago. We had a nice close view of the female for about five minutes, last Saturday, and that was it...not much to show for six hours of looking, but that is quite often the norm. This morning I again had the female for about a minute at 08.55 and that was it. So still no real idea of what's going on.
          A flock of twenty or so Wood Pigeons bursting out of a wood drew my attention and I watched a juv female Goshawk powering through them, but not making any attempt to grab one. I watched a young male do the same thing last week. It climbed to a great height and then stooped, just like a Peregrine, straight through a group of four or five Pigeons, again without making a grab for any of them. It looked as if they were practising or even playing. Whereas this is a lovely idea, I guess the truth is slightly more sobering, in that as they've probably not developed their ambushing skills to any great extent, they are hungry and getting desperate to kill. Starvation is always a very real risk to young raptors, and probably accounts for a lot of the mortality rate in their first year.
         All in all not a bad morning watching, but the best was a female Purple Emperor flying round, investigating a big Sallow behind me between 11.00 and 11.30. The first I 've seen here.

1 Honey Buzzard fem.
1 Goshawk  juv. fem.
4 Common Buzzard
2 Red Kite
1 Hobby
1 Kestrel
6 Crossbills    being away from my local patch, they coulda been Common, coulda been Parrot, who the f**k knows?
1 Purple Emperor fem.

This is the first list I've done on a blog, should I write 'ex.' after each one?
Does anyone know what 'ex' bloody means?

75% of the Long-winged Maggot Muncher watch group last Saturday.
Six hours, 30 degree heat, no shade, one five minute view.
You can see from Ian's face that the excitement was all too much!
       I think he was just bored at this point.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Goshawks 2013

A peculiar and disappointing year this this year. It started well with displaying over the nestwood in March. Actually had five in the air together one morning, the three intruders being seen off very quickly by the resident pair. I couldn't find a new nest this year, and it looked like the nest from 2011 was going to be used. It had been added to in size and there were a few feathers around the top...both good signs.
During an early season visit both birds were flying around the wood and calling to one another, which again was a positive sign. Slightly disturbing was the discovery in some trees near the nest, of the most bizarre thing I've ever found. It was like something out of the Blair Witch Project. Someone had cut turfs and made a bed, with a pine bower over the top, and laid out the bones of a deer into the vague shape of a human skeleton... very weird to say the least! 
Possibly some twatty forester's idea of a joke, or part of a satanic ritual. I'm not really bothered which, but why next to my nest? Of all the places weirdos can do stuff, they always do it near where I want to be. I found a Nightjar day roost on Ashdown a few years ago. I took a couple of pics and returned the next day to take more. When I got there I found a massive fat girl tossing off an old man, right where the bloody Nightjar had been. Anyway........long story short. a subsequent visit to the Gos nest later on in the season to count the chicks, was fruitless. They'd not used the nest. Whether they were disturbed by nearby tree felling or by Satanists, I don't know. It's not all doom and gloom though, as a week or so ago I had an evening walk and heard one juvenile calling, though I couldn't see it. So they nested somewhere thereabouts and raised at least one youngster, making at least thirteen fledged in the last five years. A second pair a couple of miles or so away have also fledged at least two youngsters, a male and a female. Looking good for next year so far.


Hmm...where to start, how to start?
The world and his brother seem to be doing this , so I thought I'd do one too. Just gotta find something to post about now. I don't want to do what a lot of folk are doing, namely listing every single thing they see, every time they leave the house. Endless lists of Whitethroats, Buzzards, semi-tame bloody Grey Partridges etc etc...Jeez! Nor do I want to post 50 pictures of  the same common bird without any explanation as to why. So what am I going to post? No real ideas yet to be honest. Some Goshawk stuff now and again I suppose, coz that's what I do for a few weeks of the year, rares and scarcities of any flora and fauna, some pictures of mates and other local birding characters I bump into, and stuff that interests me, and hopefully others too. Postings are likely to be sporadic as I don't do anything that exciting very often, but let's give it a go.