The 300 Club

I don’t think this exists in the same way as the UK400 Club, but I’m unlikely ever to join the latter so I’ll have to invent the former. In any case on Saturday a green-winged teal at Slimbridge was my 300th British species, just as I’d predicted weeks back on 299.

Having tried for what’s presumably the same individual already this year, I had an uncanny feeling as I approached the Zeiss Hide that I would crack it. Sure enough, many scopes were trained on one spot as I entered and a little enquiry soon put me on to one bird with the very obvious vertical rather than horizontal flank stripe. The teal stayed asleep all the time so there was no opportunity to see if it really did lack a border to its green eye-patch – not that I considered it (I’ve only just looked it up!)

So this year has seen a push of five new species to get me to that 300. Needless to say the year list also hit 201 and then moved on to 202 with just one Bewick’s swan on the Rushy Pen.

The day after, a jack snipe at Upton Warren was number 203. It made my job easy by bobbing diminutively next to a couple of common snipe for only my third sighting ever. That’s a bit remarkable, the more so because all three have been at Upton.

But even by then the day had been notable for my first record of nuthatch at the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust reserve. Seventeen years have elapsed without a single sighting and then three appeared round the back of the Moors Pool. This is not due to an oversight: Uncle Dave is meticulous about his recording and he’s not registered the species since 1989.

To cap it all, a couple of ravens were an Upton first for both of us. What a reward for a session that wasn’t cold, but rendered thus by sheer dampness. Or was it age that robbed my fingers of all feeling after half an hour or so?

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  • 200 Up

    Forest of Dean

    Forest of Dean, Parkend

    That’s now my tally for 2014, so only five more will beat my previous best. Even so, I’m running a paltry 130-somethingth on the Bubo chart. Some folk must have a lot of time and money.

    White-fronted geese at Slimbridge on Saturday were 199 for the year. They were easy to spot from the Holden Tower as usual, as were flocks of greylags. I scanned through those several times on the way back to the Rushy Pen before finally landing more…

    Recent Avon Sightings

    The year list moved just once in mid-October during what was otherwise a month-long stall. But in the best way with a great skua: I’ve not seen this magnificent species in the five years since Porthgwarra. I left it late: the question on my first free Saturday was whether the bird would continue its week-long residence at Chew Valley Lake.

    The answer was yes and the first comment as I entered Stratford Hide was: “It’s over towards Bernard King.” The two guys already in there knew what I’d come for. Sat out on the lake, a brown-plumaged shape was clearly my bird: more…

    Screwing Civilization IV

    After massaging values in this game’s XML files to simulate some sort of collapse between 2000 and 2016, the most notable effect was on my workers. More by conquest than anything else, I had many and it was getting harder to find productive stuff for them to do. Since they now cost upkeep, I started disbanding those that couldn’t pay their way. Doesn’t that have echoes of austerity? Of course in the real world they’d spend most of their time merely maintaining the vast infrastructure of empire.

    I continued to rack up values mentioned in previous posts. Every eight years was beginning to look like more…

    Cornwall

    Newquay, Cornwall

    Fistral Bay, Newquay, Cornwall

    The rains have returned. After the driest September on record an October wind howled and a deluge beat down last Sunday night in Newquay. September had also reverted to the 13-month pattern of being a couple of degrees above the latter part of last century (itself warmer than the preceding century). Business as usual will be back – floods, recriminations, promises, backsliding – and all the while a blackout on the GW phrase.

    A breezy morning walk round Newquay’s golf course worked off my cooked breakfast. In a bizarre temporal dislocation, more…

    Pectoral Sandpiper, Northwick Warth

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    I should be pretty familiar with it but had the devil’s job picking it out of a crowd of dunlin and the odd curlew sand. I was looking for the neat bib with V-point but should have concentrated on size and structure. Another giveaway, not noticed before on a juvenile (as this was), is more…

    Civilization IV Collapse

    I applied my tinkering with the XML files on a game where Elizabeth I had built a commanding lead in terms of score by 2000. I always play at warlord difficulty: any lower is too easy; beyond is simply that – beyond me. She was in the middle of a second war against the Incans; the first had wrested many cities from them. The French too, on another border had lost territory to the English – hurrah!

    Lest you think I was spoiling for a fight in this game, believe this: I’d set up to conquer by culture. My bloody neighbours were the quarrelsome lot, which rather confirms my suspicion that more…

    Red-backed Shrike, Sand Point

    How good is a three-day weekend? On Sunday a report of purple heron at Westhay Moor drove me back from a foray to Portland and the Dorset coast. I was getting greedy after logging yellow-browed warbler for the year and adding black guillemot to my English list. A rather subdued redstart had also been my latest sighting for the species by quite some margin. So a blank for the heron shouldn’t have been a surprise and it wasn’t.

    What was a surprise was a bird pinging over my head. Bearded tit, I thought, but wasn’t sure if they’d spread that far through the Somerset Levels. A few minutes later several more of these little electric sounds emanated from nearby reeds. I went to log the species on my county list and… more…

    White-winged Tern, Chew

    Portbury Wharf

    Portbury Wharf View

    Another Friday evening dash from work to Chew Valley Lake to catch a bird that might move on any time. This one was on its way from Southern Russia to East Africa, so a little off course but not so far that I haven’t seen the species twice before. The first was at East Chevington in Northumberland in 2003; the second, Dun’s Dish, near Brechin, in 2005.

    That long ago, I can’t recall if either bird was easy to spot but this year’s, although distant from Herriotts Bridge, more…