Snipe, Barrow Gurney

The tanks here are really too deep to attract waders, apart from regular common sandpipers. So, I got a surprise when a bird zigzagged away from my approach along one of the ditches round the site. Obviously I didn’t get a good look at it but the behaviour was all snipe and it helped me by calling once as it flew – that raspy little note.

This was the middle of March on an evening visit: I was killing time before a Bristol Writers Group session at one of our more far-flung locations. We get about! The rest of my stroll around the upper tanks produced not much else, bar a flock of fieldfares readying themselves for migration.

The weekend after found me chasing more king tides down the New Cut. High pressure restricted flooding to a dull minimum and the only plus was the patch’s first raven – long overdue. Yesterday’s stroll on a much lower tide was also quiet. Hopes that spring migrants might use the Cut as a navigation route were unfounded although the word does seem to be that our summer birds aren’t exactly flocking in. I haven’t seen one yet.

I sketch this over a quaffable pint of Arbor Ales’ Motueka in the Christmas Steps (nee Three Sugar Loaves). Opposite, pigeons are busy fluttering on a window ledge. Some decent soul is putting out food – such a refresher from a world intent on wiping out wild creatures.

The Ice Age

It’s fascinating to see resistance to an idea well beyond the stage when evidence for it is overwhelming. Especially with hindsight when other explanations now seem so outlandish. It’s also interesting to note the factions clinging to these weird hypotheses – the establishment, those who benefit from the status quo, those whose own standing depends on old ideas.

Thus it was with the new-fangled theory that Continue reading

Chaffinch, New Cut

New Cut, Bristol
King Tide, New Cut, Bristol

I know! A year of working my new patch in Bristol has only just unearthed this common species. Or not so common for the inner city? Yesterday morning a pair flew over the water near the Create Centre and onto my local list.

More amazement followed on the Floating Harbour opposite the SS Gurt Biggun. I caught a glimpse of a moorhen, which would have been unusual enough for that stretch, but it didn’t look quite right. Only closer views confirmed that the bird was in fact Continue reading

Waking the Giant, Bill McGuire

This is an author, whose Apocalypse: A Natural History of Global Disasters has lately prompted me with a path for resurrecting Flight of the Ark (working title now Scorpio Bound because some blighter has meanwhile nicked its former name). I had posited a northern hemisphere, at least, tipping back into an ice age because the Gulf Stream cut out. The intervening ten years have rendered this most unlikely.

However, one little appreciated by-product of global warming is an increase in Continue reading

EEC at Alviso, 2001

Hot on the heels of two additions to my Santa Clara county list, two more by May 16th: “After the excitement of the glossy ibis (number 197) yesterday, it was back to business as usual at the Environmental Education Center this lunchtime. Well, not quite as usual. The ibis may have been species #109 for me in the Alviso area but pied-billed grebe checked in today at #110. How could I have missed that in all my visits?

“One of the white-faced ibises (which were Continue reading