Friday, 18 June 2021


The trouble with June is too much thinking time. Sure, there is the brief hope of a late-spring rarity early on, but that soon evaporates in the hot, harsh glare of reality. And then the thinking starts...

Take the last NQS post for example. Once you start thinking too much about our hobby's obsession with rarity, before you know it the scalpel is out and a dissection in progress. And then suddenly there's all the bits spread out in front of you, looking ridiculous, and a blog post. While I was at it, listing got some attention too. Thank goodness I restrained myself from getting stuck into that as well. Instead, I would simply encourage any reader who finds themselves at a loose end and in need of a bit of light entertainment to think seriously about the British List. Reflect upon the weighty matter of its administration, the reverance in which it is held, and the raging debates provoked by a controversial category assignment to some duck or other.

What I discover - when foolishly allowing my mind to muck about with these sacred cows - is that I seem to be hopelessly out of step with the majority of my fellow birders. Thankfully I don't really care about that, and hope the resulting NQS posts make for an interesting/amusing read sometimes. I certainly enjoy writing them!

Anyway, nocmig. The first week of June was okay, with some nice late waders. The last ten nights though... Six have been totally blank, and the others relieved only by Barn Owl, Mallard, Moorhen and (yay!) Coot. My resolve is being tested.

I bought this book just recently...

Obviously a book for June

It really is superb, and I can see it getting a lot of use. For example, yesterday I was casting a proud, paternal eye over our 14-month old wildlife hedge when I spotted a small creepy-crawly which appeared to be carrying an even smaller one, and not in a nice way either...

The small one was still wriggling a bit.

The scenario reminded me of photos I've seen of robberflies, but this thing looked too skinny I thought. So I posted it on Twitter, and simultaneously reached for my new 'Brock'. At roughly the same time that Brock had narrowed it down to 'Robberfly - Dioctria sp', the generous Sean Foote (@TheDetermin8or) had responded to my query on Twitter: 'A Robberfly (maybe Dioctria baumhaueri) with what looks like a small Sawfly, Gavin.' Excellent. Another tiny, tiny bit of knowledge to tuck away.

This morning I read my blogging pal Steve Gale's latest post, in which he visits a heaving Shoreham in Sussex to see Starry Clover, a plant tick. Steve's evident discomfort with the sea of humanity got me thinking (again) about the twitching thing. Most years around this time (ie, June) I find myself looking at other creatures a bit, and even plants. I am too old and too lazy to learn a heap of new stuff, and to be frank, lack the desire, but I do like to see things I'm not aware of seeing before. Butterflies, moths to an extent, other insects, orchids and sometimes other plants - any or all of these might catch my eye and make me dig out the camera. But I get all the jollies I need from just stumbling across them unexpectedly. The plant, butterfly, moth and other insect lists that I do not keep are short, and mainly consist of gaps, but I feel no urge to visit a place that such-and-such can be found in order to see it so I can tick it. Yet there are countless sites not too far away where I would be guaranteed butterfy and orchid ticks aplenty. I just am not interested. Again I suspect I am out of step with the majority of my fellow wildlife enthusiasts. Ah well...

So yesterday evening I pottered down to Cogden for a stroll along the beach. I've been a few times lately to check out the Starling flock which gathers to roost. As expected, huge lack of pinkness. But as I loitered on the beach I noticed a Swift approaching from the east, and then another. A stuttering pulse of about 20 Swifts headed NW into the wind, some coming in off the sea. By the time I left at 21:25 that 20 had increased in fits and starts to 86, and goodness knows how many I missed. It was...well...not exciting exactly, but unexpected and a pleasure to see...

Big, looming sky; small Swift.

If, like me, you find yourself thinking too much about stuff like the above, just pack it in. I'm sure it's not healthy!


  1. "I think, therefore I am!" Gav, an opinion, based upon experience, is a result of intellect and not just behaving like a sheep and following the masses. The previous post was a gem, this one is just as thought provoking - keep 'em coming - Dyl

    1. Thanks Dyl. It's very encouraging to receive comments like yours. I can't help an occasional poke at the accepted norms of our hobby, and while I don't intend them to be spiteful or mean, I do wonder how they might come across. Thanks again Dyl. I fully intend to keep 'em coming! 😉

  2. Last year Gav, I happened across a female Wasp Spider. I never even knew they existed, but wow! Really impressive.

    1. Envious! Still waiting to find one of those Ric.