Saturday, March 31

Quoting from the Old Testament

My Dearest Weasel,

Although I had informed you I would be purchasing 'Most fullest notes on the birds of Kent' by Messrs Balston, Shepherd, Bartlett, Methuselah and Podge, I now understand publication dates to be much further removed than before.

There has been a change in editorial direction, following a command from the Nestfinder General that the surveying period shall be extended until every species on their recorded list has been observed in every recording furlong in their county. This will then save on the costs of producing individual maps; they will have the Monks of Wardene Pointe produce one illumated map instead, showing the whole of their land in the most vivid red. The Natural Historical Booke Shoppe now informs me the tome is to be re-entitled "Most fullest and completest notes on all the birds of all of Kent (1600 to forever and ever Amen)". A new editor, a fellow by the name of Edwin Drood, has been appointed. Let us hope he can one day finish this book.

I have instead now invested in their previous Avifauna, "Fowle, semi-Fowle, and hemi-demi-semi-Fowle of that part of Pangea known as Cantus; from the 5th day of Creation until the reign of our most gracious majesty Queen Elifabeth", by Blackadder, Baldrick and Podge, which is actually much more of an interesting historical document than I at first imagined; I was unaware that both Microraptor zhaoianus and Anchiornis huxleyi once roamed the Northern Marshes in such numbers! I am now taken to daydream that they may yet still be found in that sleepy hollow known as the Northernwards Hillock, should a watcher ever venture forth in the field there.

You must visit my parlour to enjoy the volume at some time (I cannot lend it to you as I fear the weight of the tome would damage your frame) and then perhaps we could enjoy a little of the countryside as now the spring is upon us we must perambulate more- I am sure we could collect some wonderful migrants for Bristow at the same time.

Your humble servant,

Tuesday, March 27

By the rivers of Babbleon

My dear Weasel,
An intriguing thing. An old theologian from my youth has apparently reappeared on the Northern Marshes. After seemingly taking himself off to the wilderness for many years, the wild preacher known as ‘Konan the Baptist’ has started sermonising to any and all watchers he chances upon once again.
Known for his strict adherence to the Book of Cramp, the Baptist has started once more on that Father, Son and Holy Ghost of birdwatching, the Redpolls, and through his usual fashion of mammoth quotes, silenced all discussion betwixt the laity on what appears in one’s garden. (I understand he has coined a new collective noun for them-  a lump of redpoll.)
Not content with that, he has also issued forth to the South Saxons on the sins of claiming flocks of migrant Ravens, for again, the Book of Cramp denies such motion within its pages.
To read the Baptist’s words after such a long break is wonderment enough, but there is also talk of him actually being seen on his old haunts along the banks of the Holy River Medway. Even though of late he had taken more to bookshelves than binoculars, I feel we may soon hear rumours of miraculous visions from the north.

Your humble servant,
Bandwell Ringmore Fumblefinch

Saturday, March 24

The Nestfinder General's adjutant rides out


More news from the Northern Marshes. The Nestfinder General's assistant, Adjutant Inclement, has now posted a notice to the boards:

Is there anyone in the Maidenstone area who hath visited the Motte and Bailey in the past four years? This furlong (ye olde TQ75S), whilst boasting assorted fowle hath no breeding records for Maggie, Black Crow, Daw, Kaffinch, Kentish Goldfinch and Galleybird and a few other species common to the area. Blasphemy! Confirm here and now that none of these species exist, or recant and sign your names against such records in the Nestfinder's Annals!

Inclement clearly intends no mercy- he has posted this on the very same boards that have linkeages to one young master Pieman's regular sightings pages for the Motte(!) Pieman is listed on the board as a subscribed fellow of the Northern Marshes, yet receives thinly veiled public rebuke on their boards for not falling in behind the Nestfinder General. If one takes the time to read his sightings Pieman carries out much good work there, helping clearing the motte of drowned witches, setting a formal fowle feeding station for the local villagers to entertain children too young to be subjected to seeing suppressors on the ducking stool, and that he also arranges perambulations for the locals to view the wildlife.

breeding pair of mallard (top right) at Maidenstone Motte- proof for the Nestfinder General

Anyone reading the pages will see if such a goodly soul such as Pieman can be either so rudely overlooked, or attacked under such a thin veil of concealment by right hand man of the General, then the General'sSociety will suffer.

I truly hope if Inclement has reason to write on such matters in future he will do so more privately, or at least avoid harsh phrases and exclamation marks! He is lucky people like myself are charitable enough to only highlight these poor manners in private writings to friends such as yourself dear Weasel, though I am tempted to think he might learn from having a mirror held to his actions.

I will pray for all those poor souls on the Northern Marshes.


Tuesday, March 20

Say NAY to Estuary Hot Air Balloon embarcation/disembarcation campaign

A Notice on behalf of the Much Tickham Whiggamore Party, Listershire:

Party supporters are being requested to register their dismay at the news of a Tory committee being set up to investigate the possibility of a balloon park upon our neighbouring Northern Marshes. First felt to be worthy of consideration by brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier who undoubtedly have some as yet unrevealed financial interest in the scheme. they put their foreign ideas forward to Local Mayor Boris Dick Whittington, showing the planned large field space, bereft of all hedgerows, enclosures and undulations has been designed at great cost by the eminent French architects Philbert Delorme and Pierre Lescot who are giving no quarter for the locals or for the nature of the area. It will, if given ascent, cover much of the marshes between Grayne Foreshore mosquito sanctuary and All Hallows wagonners' park, filling in at least two borrowdykes and a not inconsiderable drain.

A new two horse track will be put in between the field and the proud City of Rochesternotmedway. Not only will there be extra building by the field, with plans for pie shoppes, overseas vestments stores, trinket trading posts, brothels and gin dens (of which this area already has plenty at the nearby Chalkpitstinkwater), but heavy industry will also move in with yet more opportunities to dig mud for bricks.

 There is a special plea for field ornithologists and collectors to visit the area to provide evidence for the enquiry. Unfortunately their local society has set out a policy of 'keep quiet lads and we may yet see the centre of suppression in this county greened over and we will no longer have to worry about what is missed'. The true residents need your expertise.

Whiggamores who wish to give strength to the campaign through physical endeavour are asked to join a peaceful protest camp set up nearby. Whilst conditions are extremely unsanitary, with all sorts of diseases rife and where under normal circumstances no-one would even stay their unwanted dog there, your support will speak loudly. The camp has been named 'Chatham', simply just ask for directions when nearing the proposed balloon field.

Hopes are high that this protest will be as effective as the Eastsex peasants' revolt last year, when a crowd led by William 'Wat' Bragge brought down a Balloon at Standstill, and put it to the pitchfork, though of course, the hope is that this new victory will come through much more genteel persuasion (bring your own pitchfork).

courtesy of the Chavsford Gazette

Thursday, March 15

Sins of the feathers

The Nestfinder General proclaimed no breeding at the Ferry..

Weasel, forgive me for such urgency in this missive, but you should know the Nestfinder General of the Northern Marshes is back once more. We must keep council! He has pinned his latest Papal Bull to the Grove Greene doors:

“If anyone has evidence,
as opposed to rumour and hearsay,
of Red Kites breeding in Kent,
I would be very glad to hear about it!
So far, the 'official' position is that the RBBP
(Religious Bretheren of the Bound Pullus)
hath no records of breeding in Kent.
I should be delighted to be proved wrong!”

How he should indeed! How he challenges followers to speak out for their salvation! Gone are the days of polite requests to join his flock. No, now it is Hellfire and Damnation on the Marshes should you dare to not provide the General with all information.
I understand this outburst followed on from two of his parishioners recently writing on sightings of Red Kites, in which they dared to make neither passing comment to any breeding activity nor to any mention of nests. Perhaps the General felt this to be an sure indication they knew more.
So, once more it is decreed that unless evidence is passed immediately to, and only to, the Nestfinder General, any ‘rumour’ or ‘heresay’ of a nest will be dismissed as idle gossip of the Devil’s tongue, and that any who dare to hold their noise will be decried as a no more than a carbuncle on the backside of birdwatching for eternity. Only the Nestfinder General can truly confirm such a find! Any birdwatcher who does not fall into line with the decrees of the Nestfinder General will find themselves cast from his tribe.
How he spits. He boils. He festers. If truth be known, I fear he knows full well that there is indeed a nest on the marshes, that there has been for years and that those he deems unbelievers are working together to keep him from it. Do you remember my old gravedigger, dearly departed Dumpton? Well, truth be told he could have shown you and I the nest if he had wanted, but good Christian Suppressor that he was, he kept quiet (and rightly so or else I would have a parent bird prepared by Bristow and in a case above the fire!).
No, dear Weasel, as long as the Nestfinder General rants in this way, I fear he will receive nothing from many in the parish. Long may good men hold strong against such attack. So for now, until the General retires, whatever you do Weasel, make mention to no man of what lays behind the three fallen smokestacks!

Sunday, March 11

Sexual preferences among birdwatchers

My Dear Weasel,

I am shocked to discover that Listershire's latest Annual County Record of Avian Observations has been edited by.. a woman. One Joanne Waxenchatterer. Has the world gone mad?

I was disheartened to find the Record now contains such wimminly whimsy as 'knitting bedspreads for Bottle Tom-tits', 'new parlour songs upon the fluttering of tiny garden birds', 'outdoor clothing for ankles' and 'New Avian Science; the link between levels of the condition known as Asperger's disorder and the number of listes deemed to be useless that are zealously kept by menfolk'.

Waxenchatterer has even had the temerity to discontinue that most useful of annual articles, namely young Bristow's 'Important purchases by famous Listershire Collections', even though she herself is illustrated therein with my churchyard's most famous robin from this past year!

I hope that this madness is but temporary and that Mr George Elliott is able to return to his old post, and soon.

Yours in unbecoming ire,

Sunday, March 4

A pre-publication offer from the Natural Historical Booke Shoppe..

My Dear Weasel,

I am very excited to hear that our friends on the Northern Marshes have now set a final year for collation of records for their new avifauna. It will be entitled 'Most fullest notes on the birds of Kent' by Messrs Balston, Shepherd, Bartlett, Methuselah and Podge, and will cover the period 1600 to the Rapture.

My, oh my!! I have not looked forward to anything as much since 'Preserving skins for taxidermic purposes fromwithin the Mediterranean Region'.

This does leave me with a query as to whether to subscribe now at a reduced cost for the seventy-eight volumes, or wait to see if I have been carried up, in which case I may receive a free copy. But I cannot wait I fear! At a guinea a volume it will be money well spent. I hear rumours they have even now just finished mapping the wintering ponds of the swallow within the county, which should prove most fascinating. But it has been so long in the planning! Back into the last century I recall. Indeed, it seems so long ago that the last avifauna was published, it is almost as if they are waiting for those previously involved to cast off their mortal coils before attempting to improve upon their efforts.

Young Bristow is working on the maps, and I have enclosed a copy of one he has kindly supplied me, for (in blue) Melanocoryypha sibirica and (in red) Melanocorypha yeltoniensis, both species he suspects might well be procured from the church grounds before none too soon and wants me to keep an eye for; he informs me underweight indivduals unable to undertake spring migration are often to be found frozen underneath graveyard yew trees. I shall look every day this week!

Your humble servant,
Bandwell Ringmore Fumblefinch (Rev'd)