Tuesday, 21 January 2020

An NQS Tradition Revisited

Yesterday I took my van over to Seaton for a bit of mending and its annual MOT test. This morning I returned to collect it. I was accompanied by bins, scope, camera and a hefty sum of money. Not all of us made it home...

To take my mind off the pain I spent a very long lunch break in Holyford Woods, looking for a Yellow-browed Warbler which had been found there yesterday. I suppose this could be called twitching. And I suppose what happened next could be called dipping. But it was good to bump into Phil, Clive and Richard and enjoy a good natter. Phil and Richard saw the YBW briefly before I turned up, while Clive unwisely picked those few vital seconds of performance to carefully grill the wrong bird. And that Goldcrest (and one or two of its mates) were with us almost constantly thereafter. A fine consolation bird was a Marsh Tit, the first I've seen for absolutely ages.

Of course, a visit to Seaton wouldn't be complete without some gull worship, but I couldn't pick out anything exciting amongst the modest collection on the estuary. With a sigh of resignation I reached for the ignition key and simultaneously flicked a final glance towards the river...

Wait! What is that distant white shape out there on the mud? Could it be...? My bins confirmed it, and moments later the P900 was in my hands and fired up for action...

And there it is! Dead centre, just as my eye first saw it. The Axe Estuary just keeps on giving...

Maybe a word of explanation here...

In the first year of the original NQS I wrote about a visit to Axe Cliff, the farmland E of the harbour, adjacent to the local golf course. Birding that farmland meant the occasional encounter with errant golf balls. On 23rd August, 2008 I found one plugged in the field next to the 14th green. I photographed it in situ, prised it out, took it home and looked it up on the internet. The advertising blurb made me laugh out loud, and a little NQS tradition was born. Here is a snip from that post...

Axe Cliff Gets a Visit (23 August, 2008)

A particular bonus of birding near the golf course is that I occasionally get to add to my Golf Ball List. I got a tick this morning. Here it is:

The amazing Srixon AD333

I used to play golf years ago and have never heard of this species (or genus, even) so it was a very, very tiny bit like discovering a First for Britain. Ok, that's a lie, but when I was able to research the literature imagine how thrilled I was to learn that the Srixon AD333 is....
  • 'The Ultimate 2-piece ball for golfers. The AD333 utilises a brand new revolutionary "Rabalon" blended elastomer cover which is exclusive to Srixon. It provides greater ball speed and initial velocity off the tee while providing soft feel and spin on all shots from tee to green.
  • The AD333 is powered by Srixon's proprietary super-soft Energetic Gradient Growth core which is firmer on the outside and gets progressively softer towards the centre. It delivers the optimal launch conditions - high launch angle with low spin.'
I can see it now.....

Our golfing hero strides confidently to the 14th tee. A pretty easy 166 yard par 3, stroke index 14. No sweat. He proudly whips out his ball with an exaggerated flourish, the dimpled gem glinting in the low morning sun. The desired effect is achieved - his colleagues gasp in awe: an AD333!! One of them leans over and whispers to the other two:

"Penetrating high trajectory for longer carry and roll.

Higher launch angle and lower spin for greater distance.

Superb soft feel on all shots from tee to green."

A hole-in-one is inevitable, it seems. However, they are hugely chuffed to see our hero execute a mighty hook. The naughty little AD333 follows a penetratingly high trajectory (with a lower spin) and it's true - there is a 'superb soft feel on all shots from tee to...field of oats'. With a rustle and a thud AD333 plugs nicely, lying low to await my chance discovery.

I suppose this particular ball was a bit faulty or something - surely the rest of them do what it says on the tin?


I haven't been to Axe Cliff in years, but spotting that golf ball in the Axe mud brought it all back and before I could stop myself I was falling out of the van, leaping six feet down onto the shore and flapping out over the mud for my prize...

P900 photo from the van. 2000mm zoom and I've got it ID'd to genus and species
Maxfli Noodle Long & Soft. And a #1 no less! Habitat context shot.

Back home I was straight onto the internet...
  • Satiny Soft Core
  • Super-fast and low spinning off the driver for greater distance
  • Slick and quick Surlyn cover makes this ball jump off the club
  • Special Design dimple pattern for high long-carrying trajectory
  • Feather Soft Landings
The usual nonsense. There are only so many ways to convince the owner of an appalling swing that the answer to his prayer lies in this little white thing and its 408 special dimples...

"Yes, sir. I realise that golf balls generally tend to spray off your club face at random, vicious angles and swerve unerringly into the deepest rough, but this one is different. The Maxfli Noodle Long & Soft is going to 'jump off the club' in a 'high, long-carrying trajectory' and enjoy a 'feather soft landing' in the river."

"Sweet. I'll take a dozen."


  1. Well you've certainly found a novel way of enlightening a bad day's bird watching - no simply going home cursing about your bad luck for you!

    1. Ha ha! I try not to Derek. Don't always succeed though...

  2. Gav, those golf ball posts were right up there for sheer entertainment value. The one which had your version of advertising spiel was a classic - The Pinnacle Gold FX...

    1. Thanks Ric. I suppose a golf ball is a golf ball is a golf ball. It must be very difficult to promote your golf ball as something special and different without sounding ludicrously over the top.