Monday, 2 August 2021

Bad for Blogging

Moping about at home, coughing all over the place and feeling rough, is very bad for blogging. The desire to sit down and type is simply not there. Gathering thoughts, and turning them into sentences and paragraphs is almost too much bother. So I'm not sure how this will turn out...

Last Monday's Melodious Warbler was such a win-win. First, in its own right as a sweet and jammy encounter; second, as something to quickly blog about so that 'The Spoiler of Fun' was off the front page. Rarely has a blog post given me such a headache. My usual aim with any NQS non-diary type piece is to offer a thought-provoking read. I don't deliberately set out to be controversial, but logic tells me I sometimes will be, simply because I feel so massively out of step with how the seeming majority of birders enjoy this hobby. But never have I so strongly had that 'Oops, hit a nerve there!' feeling than the few (three or four?) times I've written about low-carbon birding. Especially that last post.

As well as comments on the blog post itself, there was a lot more reaction on Twitter than I'm used to. It The problems with any online exchange are self-evident and many. One of them is the potentially indelible nature of what you say. Another is the amazing readiness of some to say the most outrageous things about - or even to - total strangers, stuff that would never get past the filter in real life. Plus the very real possibility that even the most carefully-worded output will be misinterpreted, with all the obvious frustrations of that. Neither Twitter nor this blog is really the place for a nuanced discussion, so I'm not going to say anything more about 'The Spoiler of Fun'.

My take on birding culture as it currently stands is pretty clear I guess, but I have no intention of removing it from the NQS agenda. Though I don't cycle to my birds, I do enjoy local birding. I also enjoy finding my own birds. I get almost all my jollies that way, and find it so fulfilling that I will happily promote it through this blog because there's at least a slim chance someone else might be inspired by what I write. And I make no secret of how I feel about the list-oriented, high-carbon birding so prevalent still. To me, the never-ending mobile conga of birders dancing obliviously from this rarity to that, to the next, ad infinitum, is incompatible with the times.

As I say, that's my take. My view. I'm not forcing it on anyone else, nor judging anyone else if they don't share it. If you disagree with me, fine. But if I express this view from time to time, it's easy enough to ignore me if you want.

Okay, I've deleted about four other paragraphs which managed to add not one jot of substance to what I wanted to say, so I'll leave it there.


A few nights back I switched on the nocmig recorder about half an hour earlier than usual. And for a very good reason...

Although we've had a reasonable number of Swifts over the garden through the summer, 'screaming parties' have been a rare thing, and I had never recorded one. This was the biggest I've seen this year - maybe 15 birds - and certainly the closest. What a sound! Such a treat to catch it on the recorder and see what the sonogram looks like. Here's a short section, stretched out a bit...

The short, vertical marks in the middle make up the little raspy sounds they make. Each is clearly a separate, individual note, at the rate of about 80 per second!

I saw a handful of Swifts pass over today, but they won't be around much longer...


  1. Only yesterday I commented on Steve's ND&B blog that I miss Swifts since moving north - and now I get to hear them!!! Fantastic, and incredible to think that each 'scream' is a long series of ultra-short notes, I hadn't really thought about it before. The hidden world revealed through the magic of spectrograms, marvellous - and thanks for sharing. Hope you feel bit more chipper soon, buddy!

    1. Thanks Seth. 😊👍

      Swifts mean summer, don't they?! About as much as any bird can. The screaming parties, the high flocks gorging on flying ant hatches, the stream of dashing silhouettes scything along the coastline. I would miss them too, and always do when they go...

      Although I only dabble in it, sound recording has supplied a constant parade of revelations, both minor and major. There are more ways to enjoy birds than I ever imagined.