Monday, September 23

The Scarce Crow

And so it begins.

The Watchmen start their moves. The re-education of the old a'birderers has begun. I am to be visited. Cart-Track and Slack High water WEBBS are the subjects upon which I will receive reconstructive criticism.

Oh it is not right that we meekly fall into line with this- we must cherish our freedoms. To be able to walk in the countryside, enjoying the sights and sounds without having to be citizen a'birdering at all times. Just so simply be as one with nature, to be a modern day Thoreau in the woods (the Norse God of thundery rain). An a' birderer must be able to be just an a'birderer should he wish, why he can even be a CocK from time to time should the fancy take;- and, when the time is right, a citizen scientist of course.

But we must not be made to enter indentured servitude when it comes to matters of the countryside. We of the old school are the endangered species now.

Dean Cliff, as a fellow naturalist I will take you into my confidence. Do you remember young Thorndyke's stories of a handsome and heroic country priest forced to smuggle his bird sightings made upon the fictitious bird-filled marshes near Dingeyness? The Reverend Doctor Christopher Syndrome, that was his name. How that Priest flaunted the authorities so, avoiding all attempts to have him record any of his sightings with the men of Her Majesty's Customs, Excise, Revenue and Preventative Service(!) How he never allowed judge or jury near any of his rarities(!) And do you recall how he travelled about from rare to rare, disguised as 'The Scarce Crow'?

Well, I have heard that some City merchants, pawnbrokers and seabird -ringers have been protesting in anonymity against the recent bursting of the North Seas Bubble by wearing face masks of Guido Fawkes to avoid any vendettas. 
I think we a'birderers need to be able to protest as well.  So I think we may just well be seeing the Scarce Crow in this Parish before too long. Yes, I think it is high time that Doctor Syndrome rides again(!).

Of course, if you do not agree, then please do forget I ever mentioned it.

And might I still borrow your pony next week?


Sunday, September 22

An offer you cannot refuse

An invitation to citizen scientist The Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch
from MiniCon The Ministry of Conservation 
concerning the State of Empire Watchlist:


Doctor Manhatten (pictured above, for purposes of identification) requests the pleasure of your company for an informal chat on many matters ornithological, but in particular concerning your lack of entries upon Cart-Track to date. The good Doctor is well qualified in all matters relating to this vital aspect of citizen science and looks forward to being able to put you on the straight and narrow.

He also hopes you might have your figures for the first counts of the High Slack Water WEBB season for Much Ticking Duck Pond available for him to peruse by then.

He further requests you lay on both a Yellow-browed Warbly-leaf-gleaner and a Doctor Peter Pallas's Warbly-leaf-gleaner in the village churchyard for the duration of his visit as these are two glaring omissions from your county list, and have surely been overlooked by you. Please extract your digit, do your citizen scientisty homework on said species, especially on call, and locate both just in advance of his arrival.

Be aware the meeting can happen at any time during working hours that week;- this is so as not to inconvenience you greatly, and avoid any excuses. Dr. Manhatten is thoughtful of your needs, and looks forward to seeing you then.

If you have any questions on his impending visit, please contact MiniCon, Room 101 and ask for Mr Knuckles.

Saturday, September 21

'Boom' and he was gone.

Boom(??) Oh I will never understand that phrase, Dean Cliff. I regret I have to inform you that Audrey has run away to join a travelling Freakshow. He had become obsessed with it, since seeing a performance at Ravenspurn, and had been forever calling out the words of the Showman since getting back home here;-

"A Grotfinch(?)
A Grotfinch is a new bird for you(?)
Then, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Boys and Girls,
A'birderers of all mental ages,
what do we say when we see a new bird?"


"Yes, that's right(!)
And what do we do when we see a new bird?"


"Yes(!) That's right(!) All together now(!)"


Well, not only could Audrey cross his arms, he could cross his legs as well, which had impressed the Showman mightily. And he saw a place for Audrey in his act, the offer of which clouded Audrey's impressionable young mind greatly.

At first Audrey said no, but the Showman has written daily since. Of late he had also asked Audrey if could do anything else, and when our young impressionable priest mentioned he could form a perfect 'B' by inserting his cranium up his own posterior, the Showman simply made him an offer he couldn't refuse. ("All the seagull species he could dream of or dream up", I understand.)

So, the Reverend Prattlechat has packed his bags, and gone. I fear it will not end well for the boy.

Perhaps though my dear Dean Cliff I could ask you not send me further assistance for the while? I can reassure you I am not planning any sabbaticals at present, and it would be nice to enjoy some quiet for a while. No loud 'booms' for certain.


Thursday, September 19

The big girl's blouse with the dragon bird tattoo

No, no and thrice no young Audrey, I care not how 'cool' they looked on some a'birderers you met at Ravenspurn, you are not allowed a tattoo. I quote directly from Leviticus 19:28;-

"Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks upon you."

So, no 'tramp stamp', 'Vic pic', or 'altar image' can ever be condoned by the Lord. Even if you have thought of copying some strange idea of using them as a way of raising the profiles of certain just causes. To suggest covering yourself in inky images, made up from field notes of rejected Listershire rarities, in an effort to have yourself submitted to the local committee for reassessment and subsequent acceptance, is simply not clever at all. (And whomever told you "Y Ddraig Goch" means Scarlet Rosefinch is having you on.)

No 'tramp Stamp', 'Vic pic', or 'Altar Image' can be condoned- ever.

Here is what I will let you do, to get it out of your system. You may wear some temporary children's prints. I have found a small pack on the shelves of the local L'il-Dudes-R-Us-eless, which has a fair representation of a Rosefinch within, for you to try. Place that temporary version upon yourself, preferably somewhere just below your cassocks, and see if you can put up with it peeping back at you when you disrobe. I think you will be crying out in surprise each time you chance upon it. The others in the pack? Well, they can be put under a gaiter, beneath your chasuble, wherever, so long as they are completely out of sight to all parishoners. And, before you ask, no, you may not turn up for duties in a niqab. And bandanas are completely unacceptable at all times.

Black Lark, Scarlet Rosefinch, American Goldfinch

Wednesday, September 18

Greasy bandana is the word. Two actually.

No Audrey, I will not give any publicity to the "Swinhoe's song" you have found on Ye-Tube. I will not 'big it up' in my sermon. In fact what I will do is advise all against ever googlie-searching it out. It is the ramblings of a man possessed. In fact, I know of no a'birder who has lasted more than fourteen seconds of viewing to date.

Also, rather more disturbingly, I have now viewed the Ye-tube clip backwards, and found there to be another song hidden beneath. Based, again, on a catchy tune from the same children's popular musical dancing show, the lyrics have also been altered to bring about a completely different meaning, together with an awful subliminal message, inserted right at the end.

Stay away, Audrey. And pray for the souls of any who stumble upon it.


Guess mine is not the first list broken,
my ticks are not the first reviewed,

I'm not the first to know,
there's no getting one over you.

I know I'm just a fool who's willing
to sit around and wait on your views,

So hey Lee you must see,
there's no way else for me... to get news,

I'm hopeless Lee, devoted to you.

But now there's nowhere to hide,

since I pushed your snipe aside,
I'm out of my head;-
I'm hopeless Lee, devoted to yo-ooo-oo-u.
I'm hopeless Lee, devoted to yoooooooooooooooo-uu.
I'm hopeless Lee, I'm devoted to-oo-oo you.

My head is saying "fool, forget him",
my heart is saying "don't let go",
hold on to the end,
that's what I intend... to do-ooo,

I'm hopeless Lee, devoted to you.
And now there's nowhere to hide,
since I pushed your snipe aside,
I'm not right in the head;-

I'm hopeless Lee, devoted to yo-oo-oo-u,
Fazakerley devoted to yooooooooo-ooooooo-ooooooo-uu,
I'm hopeless Lee, I'm devoted to you-ooooooooooo- (gasp) oooooo- oooooooo- ooooooooo- ooooooo- ooooooo.


(Tee-shirt not available in Oireland)

No pish in our time


fps have invaded all lands held in trust in Bedbridgehamptonshire(!)
It's War(!!)
We may have to reschedule this weekend's harvest festival(!!!)


Tuesday, September 17

Pish in our time

Oh so much happens at the moment I am sure I will have to make many entries in my journal in the coming days. I will keep notes brief- for me, that is(!)

Perhaps one of the most important happenings of the last week or so is the laudable attempt to stave off the Mincon by those brave fighting chaps of the Northern marshes.

On their own a'forum they have just had discourse on the name change for the members' gazette of the fps. For sure they are almost in another time zone if compared to other individuals and societies who have already debated this matter some time ago (and in fact seem blind to such debate), but they do it seems have one weapon perhaps not open to others;- one of their correspondents claims to actually know the fps Chief Executioner  Executive(!) This is from drinks and tiffin at the Regiment Mess. And, in knowing him there to be an all-round good egg who always gets his round in, letting him know that one or two officers from his old platoon aren't really that jolly about these changes will surely solve matters. (It seems what is most especially upsetting for some of the Royal East Kent Ornithological Regiment is the removal of bird charts from fps hide walls, meaning they might have to find room in their tuck hampers to carry their own field spotters' guide.)

Clearly they have hit upon something everyone else has plainly overlooked, or taken for granted;- that fps, in its haste, made these all changes on a whim, without carrying out any sort of market research, opinion gathering, game planning, formation of a Council of War... still, no more said if fps just change it all back now before they let all the plebs in, eh? For, although these retired fighting men are but few now (and some would say with regimental recruitment cutbacks a dying breed) their way in the field, which served so well for fifty years, is the only way to save our fowle in the dark years to come. Draw telescopes and opera glasses will always win the day.

Yes, fps regaining capitals as FPS and the restoration of fowle wordings to all publications will surely happen after this. I await the appearance of this brave chap with that important piece of paper. Oh I await these developments most eagerly.

Friday, September 13

Telegram for Mother Fumblefinch, telegram for Mother Fumblefinch


I think it best if I postpone my visit this weekend. Mistress Kirkwood has looked at her magic seaweed and there is a most unpleasant bout of wind due upon us all. I find such conditions always have to impact upon personal entertainments and appointments.

And oh how they affect my fowle(!) Many thousands of waifs and strays are blown off course by the gales and then lost at sea, sent to a watery grave. Many thousands more struggle to feed in the conditions and weaken, lessening their chances of completing their autumnal perambulations.

This should be a time to reflect and contemplate upon this multitude of sorrowful losses. Nature is so, so cruel;- I would wish for not one autumn gale of this magnitude, but then the Good Lord moves in mysterious ways. All this death and suffering serves some purpose, and if such circumstances deliver but one New World warbler to these shores for birderers to enjoy, then who am I to question the monstrous volumes of death to be wrought by the storms this weekend?

What's hit is history, what's missed is mystery, what's blown is fine gentleman's relish for needy birderers starved of a good bird. And I for one feel the need to join any such long queue of voyeurs seeking such personal satisfaction. So I shall join you after the weekend when the blow abates and my urge is spent.

I know this might upset you, what with it being your birthday and all but, dear Mama, I may well never have such a chance again. You would not deny your favourite son, surely? And you will of course have many more birthdays. In twelve months' time I promise I will spend all day with you to celebrate your 101st. (Weather permitting.)

Your loving son,

P.S. Can you get me one of these for Christmas? I thank you.

Thursday, September 12

Mobilising the Masses (other faith services are available)

Reverend Prattlechat,

I have discussed matters with Dean Cliff. Your a'birdering priviledges are being revoked forthwith. Surely you had realised coming back from the Ravenspurn Festivale and trying immediately to instigate their new rules and regulations regarding any and all a'birdering on church grounds would not be well received here? In less than three days you have upset nigh all of the Parish.

It is clear you have been brainwashed into supporting certain Watchlist policies whilst away. That you attended several Watchmen rallies at Ravenspurn is most clear from your following demands.

1) Your instruction we should obey the edicts of Dr Nick Manhatten and enter every perambulation into offical Carttrack records is denied. We have a choice. We decide if we wish to enter. Certainly my own Privy Lists will not be forthcoming. When I stroll to the privy, my mind is firmly elsewhere. I will not be starting a night-soil list.

2) Your demand that we pay for your overseas missionary work, such as that undertaken by Dr Danae Manhatten, through selling off the church silver, is never to be spoken of again. That such work needs to be done in foreign lands is not in doubt, I myself have done some, but we have to first keep our own churchyards in good natural state. Those that can afford to travel on such expeditionary voyages, let them do this groundwork. Call it their privilege. So long as these overseas trips never become a holiday, eh?

3) Your edict that there be a call to compulsory viz-mig each and every morn from the church belltower, as advanced by Dr Keith Manhatten, is absurd, as is any use of our pew kneelers as skywatch pillows when prostrate and offering our prayers and opera glasses to the skies.

4) Your two-part edict that every house in the parish to have a shrine to the Legend that is Dr Martin Manhatten, reminding them to be the best a'birderer they can at all times, and that every hovel holds a copy of his Good Book (Expanding the Frontiers of Oceania) is idolatry, and will not be tolerated.

And no, you will certainly not be allowed to attend next week's European Volkerwanderung Rally in Nuremburg(!!) The very thought.

Audrey, you must understand that in this Parish we uphold the premise of 'free will'. A man may go a'birdering as he pleases. This is a right we must preserve. An example arrived in the post while you were away. The September issue of TUKOGBANI Birds arrived. In 'TB' this month were the Summary Judgements of the County Nestfinder Generals- the Scantily Breedering Birds Report. As a'feared, there they name and shame those they see as Rotten Boroughs;- those not providing all information as demanded. Two have been singled out for failing to provide information for two years a'running- Asbovia and The Shire of Gallaibh. What will happen? Will there be a scouring of the Shire? Will there be an attempt to civilise Asbovia? Minicon has yet to issue any decree on the matter, but I suspect these rogue counties will be made to fall into line by the next report.

And, yes, Minicon is behind it all; again this weekend, when perusing the interweb I found your Carttrack uses Minicon political boundaries for a'recordering and not always the areas long established by the County Societies;- search their reports for sites in the northernest of the Northern Marshes and they are presented as no longer a'birded by Men of Kent or Kentish Men, but as being of the People's Independent Collective of Mudway Unitary Authority. They have been made Unitarians(!)

We will hear no more Audrey. In these turbulent times, we must simply keep the faith;-

Keep calm and just watch the birds

Do nothing to disturb our old ways, there's a good chap. We must continue to be able to do as we wish, as it was in the past, as it is now. For ever, and ever ah, there's a Hoopoe on the lawn(!)

One, two, three, four, fi...
One, two, three, fo...
One, tw...
Oh bugger.
1,003. That'll do.

Thursday, September 5


Audrey, thank you for your written request for permission to visit the new migrational extravaganza bonanza spectaculanza Festivale at the sunken heathen village of  Ravenspurn this coming weekend.

However, I cannot agree, for the following reasons:

1) On the matter that you wish to participate in guide-led migration watches.
You had the chance to do just last month at Mrs Miggins' Tea and Sandwiche Shoppe for elderly and befuddled ornithologists Annual Great TUKOGBANI Bake-off, Drink-off and Pish Off jamboree. Now, that was local to us here, would have cost the Parish less, and of course the natives there do speak the Queen's English.

2) To participate in seawatchering.
No. Same reply.

3) To particpate in searching for migrants.

4) To seek out a'wader a'watchering on high tide roosts.

5) Photography workshops.

6) Optics demonstration.

7) Art exhibition.

8) To participate in beach a'combering.
Similarly self-same.

9) To participate in history walks.
Alike again.

10) To attend moth trap demonstrations.

11) To participate on plant and insect walks.
Duplication of (1). (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9) and (10).

12) To attend illustrated inspirational talks.
Equivalent to (11).

13) To attend a spit-roast.
Oh for goodness' sake(!) Everyone knows Mrs. Miggins' is famous for her spit-roasts!

14) To see birds.
There you have me.
A good point.
Well made.
Very well, Audrey, you may go, just this once- but do not come back talking in tongues(!)

Sea-a'watchering at this year's Bake Off produced:
One tumbleweed north.
Then south.
Then north again.