Wednesday 30 April 2014

End of term reports

Four months in (or a full term) and here are the eagerly awaited end of term reports for 2014 SFYL competitors, comments gratefully provided by Leonard Godiva Rasputin Heavens, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the UK Finding Organisation, referred to occasionally as ‘The UFO Club’ by knowing wags and those who can’t be arsed to keep a self-found list.

Richard Bashford

Richard began 2014 with high hopes for the year; his arch-rival and self-finding nemesis Stephen Blain having acquired a pocket-sized person during the latter stages of 2013. Would he ever have a better opportunity to claim the no.1 spot? Unfortunately, Richard’s mind has wandered somewhat this term, namely to Thailand, Morocco, Yorkshire. One feels he will need more than one vagrant seaduck to make up his losses so far. C+

Stephen Blain

By his own exemplary standards, this has been a poor start to the year for Steve. He may justify this by way of recent family additions, but he must appreciate that personal lives must be left at home, or at least upon entry through the self-finding door. Fiercely proud, he will not give up his crown without a fight, but by way of mitigation, is getting his excuses in early. C+

Matthew Burgess

Following his habitual slow start, it has been an excellent second part of the first term for Matthew and he has handed in some excellent fieldwork. Popular with his fellow adversaries, many harbour fears that he will have his eyes turned in the coming months, namely to a moth trap situated in an Upper Caldecote garden. B+

Andrew Grimsey

Andrew has spent the latter part of this term occupying the naughty step, with persistent rumours of psychological harassment towards other competitors tainting his excellent results. There is a suggestion that Andrew is operating within his comfort zone, but there is no doubting the quality of his work. Must grow out of his Machiavelli hero-worship. B+

Roger Hicks

Roger is another who knows his subject area (Henlow and environs) intimately and has unearthed some excellent finds, but he must realise that he is allowed to find birds outside of TL13. Perhaps he needs to buy my book ‘Finding Birds in Bedfordshire’, signed copies available from LGRH Publications for the discounted price of £149.99 + £35.16 postage and packaging. BiHH

John Lynch

The class ‘quiet man’, John has produced some excellent finds so far this year, but has found the ‘easier’ work more taxing. Some commentators believe that he has missed several key birds this year, due to receiving persistent text messages about mixed–singing Chiffchaffs, hybrid aythya ducks and Common Gulls at Marston Vale Country Park. If he can avoid these unwanted distractions, John could have an excellent year and be a serious contender. B+

Darren Oakley-Martin

No-one is more surprised to be top of the class than Darren, but he must understand that texting kisses to his teacher will not be tolerated. There is also a suggestion that his score has been achieved with an element of subterfuge and by copying the previous years’ work of his fellow competitors. May succumb to perennial seasonal adjusted disorder or habit of disappearing up his own arse for prolonged periods. B

Martin Palmer

Martin started the year in the manner of a startled hare, but has been rather lax of late and has been quietly reprimanded by fellow competitors for keeping his work close to his chest. As a result, I have marked him down for this infelicitous secrecy. There is also a suggestion that his recent self-finding form is directly correlated with the sympathy he feels for the erstwhile manager of his pet football team. Until he hands in his work, judgement is suspended.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Chat set

Add tonight's Whinchat to my Stonechat seen at Thurleigh Airfield earlier in the year and I've got the set.


Sunday 27 April 2014

Turtle Power

Another decent 'selfy' in the bag. I didn't even see a Turtle Dove in 2013 and at Broom they're becoming very rare indeed. Unfortunately, like others this one just carried on through. Breeding TD at Broom is now a distant memory............................

No Curlews at Thurleigh shocker!

Just three of these. Never mind eh....

Saturday 26 April 2014

Thursday 24 April 2014

The curious case of the pot and the kettle

In a staggering display of pomp, Portuguese reverse-psychology master, José Mourinho, has again expressed his opinions over the latest controversy to court this year's self-finding competition.

Above: Mourinho makes it known where he believes this year's competition will be won and lost

Last night, 'a source close to both parties' revealed that 3rd placed Mr A Grimsey - aged 41 3/4 of Luton, Bedfordshire - had texted the surprise leader, Darren Oakley-Martin, with news of a White-fronted Goose that may or may not have landed at Derek White's Eggs Pits, thereby scuppering any chance of the latter self-finding it the following morning.

Mourinho commented ''as I understand, Grimsey has never texted Oakley-Martin before. I do not even know how he got his number.'' He continued, ''this was a clear attempt to destabilise his competitor. If I had ever played mind games like this, I would have been bloody well fined. Or something. Very clever...blatant, but clever...he must have read my autobiography.''

''I would never, ever admit to committing an act of deliberate and calculated psychological manipulation.'' he untruthed.

''This is a bit like an owl telling a sparrow it has a big head.'' he somewhat bewilderingly concluded, clumsily using a birding idiom.


Tuesday 22 April 2014

Little Gull Surprise

I called in to Grovebury early evening today hoping I might  have a chance with an Arctic Tern. Searching back and forth through the distant Common Terns there was no sign of an Arctic amongst them. I then picked out a lone Little Gull (a site first for me) sat on the water. After a few minutes the Gull flew up on its own and began circling and gaining height until it was barely visible, it then left towards the north east. A fabulous bird.

The 'Green' Hundred Up

Sir Chris Hoy- pretty good on a bike. But can't find birds for toffee.

After a tiring week of early starts on my iron horse, this morning yielded a few goodies. Having missed all of the decent waders at Broom and electing for the guilty, easy Ouzel tick at Pegsdon (sorry for my defection, Mr Stevens!). I finally stumbled into some birds. Today's Broom ticks were-

Great Black-backed Gull- very good away from the Bedford Pits.
Wheatear on Gyspy Lane West flood area- can be hit and miss in this part of the world.
Garden Warbler- just a matter of time.
Arctic Tern- Another early morning did the trick at GLE+ 3 more later in the day.

This brings up a satisfying pedal-powered ton and despite missing the waders so far, up on last year. I'm not going to win any medals- but enjoying the experience all the same.

Matt- Birding's answer to Sir Chris Hoy

Turtle Dove

So far this Spring, I am averaging eight hours and 10+ miles birding per day. Putting this into context, you boys spend about this amount of time working, looking after children/ grandchildren and/or placating other halves. However, despite these hours, I am finding - or not finding - scarce birds about as tricky as advanced calculus at the moment - time plus effort does not equal rares.

Firecrest, Tree Pipit, Ring Ouzel, Arctic Tern and today Turtle Dove are really very nice birds, but they are not exactly SFYL game-changers. So far, Steve's Bar-tailed Godwit and the Green-winged Teal that Richard will undoubtedly find at Meadow Lane or Radwell this week are the only birds that I think could fall into that category.

What someone needs is a Hoopoe, Serin, White-winged Black, Roseate or Little Tern, Montagu's Harrier, Savi's Warbler, Bluethroat or something of that or greater magnitude.

Being 'number one' means bugger all and is not synonymous with 'best' - just ask David Moyes, Sebastian Vettel or Enrique Iglesias or the myriad other shite that inhabits the number one spot in the record charts.



Wednesday 16 April 2014

'One good Tern'

(Actually the Common Terns were excellent as well). Very pleasing to bump in to a Black Tern after a brief visit to Grovebury this afternoon. Desperately trying to find a quiet resting spot, but constantly moved on by the gulls present. Particularly pleasing as I didn't manage to SF Black Tern last year.

Saturday 12 April 2014

What's happening?

Not much.  The wonderful migrants are appearing each day but lovely as they are, don't really help in the league table.  We've all added a warbler or two, a hirundine or two.

Nah, we need Redstarts, Garganeys, Sandwich Terns and decent passage waders to break away from our rivals.  The main change is the powerhouse of Mr Carbon - DOM has hot stepping his way into the lead over Mr Palmer's early winning streak.

Not much difference to the rest but its just about key Self finding time!

Let the passage begin...

Thursday 10 April 2014

Mediterranean Cruise

Stopped off at Grovebury on the way home today. I thought I'd give it an hour to see if the 2nd summer Med. that had arrived to roost a few times recently was going to put in an appearance. No sign of the Med., but Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail and Dunlin were pleasing additions to my SFL.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Tale of woe

I had a Rock Pipit this morning. Which was nice.

Problem is that having got home and looked at two different maps, it was about 50m into Cambridgeshire and I don't recall it flying into the 'right' county. Even if I look at the maps and squint and make my eyes go funny, it would still have been in Cambridgeshire.

I feel a complete and utter knob-biscuit, as they say in Amsterdam.

Know your county boundaries.