Friday, 27 January 2017

A Right Farrago

So far the year has not panned out quite as I would have liked. A virus offensive which began towards the end of 2016 has not yet let up. Although I've felt okay-ish for a couple of weeks now, I can sense it lurking in the background, waiting for a weak moment. I have that feeling of not quite firing on all cylinders. A day's work is leaving me pretty knackered, so I simply do not dare get back on the bike in case the exertion lays me open to another bout of lurgy. I have never been a sickly person and am not used to being ill, but I can honestly say I have never felt so fragile.

Yep, my bike plans have gone to the wall. So much for getting 2017 off to a flying (and uphill) two-wheeled start. My winter goals included building a new 'best' bike from scratch, but I've not been able to summon the enthusiasm even to get started on it. The frame and a box of bits lie neglected in the garage.

The pressing need to earn some money has meant that days of decent weather must be devoted to work, not fishing. My last outing with the rods was therefore January 9th.

Reviewing the above I must confess this post lacks the usual NQS joie de vivre. So let's see what we can do to remedy the situation...

As recommended by Steve Gale I have been reading Home Country by Richard Mabey. Very enjoyable. Also, a little challenging. Quite early on I came across a word I didn't know: numinous. Against my better judgement I ignored it and moved on. Shortly, another: prelapsarian. By now I was slightly annoyed, and metaphorically reached for the dictionary by googling them both. I also wrote them on my bookmark because I had a sneaking suspicion that they would soon be joined by more evidence of my ignorance, and I wanted to see just how big a list it was going to be. With at least a quarter of the book still to read I have so far added the following: farrago, larding, bosky, hibernaculum and tump. I thought I knew what a hibernaculum was, and one or two of the others suggested their own meaning by context, but I wanted to be thorough. Incidentally, if you enter 'tump' into Google it surprisingly assumes you have made a typo. Very odd. Anyway, my vocabulary is now somewhat bigger, bolstered by seven words that I am sure will see frequent use.

Well then, to continue with this farrago of a blog post...

I've been toying with a sketchy idea for a future NQS missive. Not far from here is a local patch that is absolutely on fire. The list of birds seen by its one observer since late August last year is incredible. It is approximately a kilometre from the coast and has produced Greenish WarblerHawfinch, Great White Egret, Yellow-browed Warblers, Sibe Chiffs, Pied Flycatchers, Firecrests, a possible Icterine Warbler, good numbers of Brambling, gangs of up to 30+ Redpolls, and flocks of four and 16 Waxwings. In the context of SW Dorset this is simply amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I wondered about making it the subject of a blog post, perhaps entitled 'The Hotspot Phenomenon'. At the moment my thoughts on this topic are not fully crystallised; I'll wait and see how things progress this year. It's a shame that the site is private, and therefore out of reach to other local birders.

Over the years I'm sure many of us have experienced the odd occasion where an otherwise unassuming block of habbo seems to attract an inordinately vast legion of quality birds, often to just a lone observer. Is it just the geographical position of the site? A unique conjunction of habitat types and migration flyways? Something else entirely?

Finally, gulls. Whenever I am in the Seaton area I try and check the Axe estuary, even if superficially. So far nothing of note. Not many gulls at all really. Still, it only takes one. And while I'm waiting, there is Twitter, where other deviants occasionally share gull pics. Like this one from Somerset birder Chris Gladman, of an interesting lump at the Wimbleball Lake roost...



  1. That's a long list of possibles. I wouldn't bother until there's proof of something definitive, as a handful of Redpoll and 20 Waxwings isn't something I'd normally travel very far for.

    1. Only the Icterine was qualified 'possible', nothing else. Forgive my ambiguous syntax. I shall edit that sentence accordingly.

    2. Hah! Anyway, where's your cynicism got to? Isn't that list a bit too good? Single observer? I'm searching for a word here, can't quite place it. Starts with 'S' maybe?

    3. My cynicism was on its feet and shouting months ago, but is now quietly hiding behind barely-detectable irony.

  2. Get well soon Gav.
    As you know, I went back to a particular local patch based on the apparent sightings of another; unknown to me, birder. The species contained within were surprising especially as they were the result of very few outings.
    Five years, and around 150 outings later, I wonder about some of those finds.
    Still, at least it got me on track. And I do appear to have the entire place to myself.