Tuesday, May 27

Sun Dogs, and Englishmen go out in the mid-May glum

It seems the Marshmen, as well as bemoaning a lack of rare birds, have been crying out at a lack of commoners.

I wondered if I should bang a drum to my flock about this, but I do know that I have done so on many, many occasions, so I will, in this diary entry, just jot notes on a new way to place factualities of such matters before those unable to apply common sensibilities to the situation.

For my argument I shall take the Turtled Dove. Telegraphic communication of the first county record this spring came through in mid-April, but then such a dearth of subsequent sightings caused many too many to wail for the condition of their year-lists, continuing on loudly until this last week or so when a small wave of Turtleds hit the county. Indeed, these wailings had been so loud some pronounced the species extinct before it had arrived.

To illustrate the matter I would ask you, dear reader, to compare the time of the dove here in Blighty by way of a graph line in your head, shaped much like the incomplete rise of the sun over ice-y Arctic climes, a half-circle. In the past, the dove's time here was like that sun shape in the time of late summer, climbing over the horizon just to the diameter;- a large enough arc for all to enjoy. Nowadays, with a crashing population, their sun rises as if it were late autumn, nowhere near so high, being a pokey arc of very poor size just above the horizon;- a'birderers do indeed struggle to see them now.

But with the Sun we must remember that there are the 'Sun Dogs'- or, more science-factually speaking, parhelia, being ice crystals that shine out as two obvious patches of light some distance to the left and to the right of the sun itself.

What makes up the Sun Dogs in this a-birdering analogy is clear; the Sun Dog to the left, first early arrival date, the Dog to the right, final late departure date. Things we a-birders love to claim.

Now, in the past, when numbers rose higher, many saw their own early Sun Dog and noted it down. And the lack of telecommunications meant such a-birderers had to wait upon a Caxton printing from their county society to compare arrival dates. They never got so upset with their lot, they knew not what the next village claimed. They simply awaited the main arrival.

But now, when in these times that arc of doves is barely revealed to us? What happens now? Well, there is still usually an early flash of a Sun Dog, seen by just one or two observerers county-wide. However, our new-found ability to share information instantly by the interwebbelogge box, combined with our lust to list makes us blind to the true scale of showing and so our wailings begin. No matter that we should be recognise a Sun Dog when we see it, even if but a poor size of its former self, and know it the precursor to the main (small) rise at the appointed time. No, we simply blinker ourselves to fact and whinge on that we have not had one yet. We make ourselves unhappy with our lot.

It is but yet another failing of listing games. I understand that Tukogbanifek 'Cart-track' can demonstrate a better revealing of true arrival timings, but like many, I have perhaps found it easier just to wail about my own predicament in years past. I have not really bothered to look.

I will have to look more closely over the next few days. We have a meeting of the Listershire Ornithological Society due later this week where a Cart-track Watchman will be in attendance and where I have been asked to argue a case as to why the historic presentational style of our County Annual Reporte, with emphasis on first dates, should remain unaffected by such modern witchcraftery.

I must sit and muse more on all merits, and will detail all to the Society (and here) in but a few short days.


From Geoffroi Chancer's 'Avifowle Lifterfhirenfif', 1355;-
the first recorded 'Funne Dogge graphhe'.

It is said to depict (left) Martin Luther van Droffrecord-
"a common a'twitcherer & claimant firft date, Aprille 19th, Fewerfide Countree Parke".

(centre) John Wybuildatcliffe-
"furveyor to the King & mapper of the cenfuf of neftf of Lifterfhire, 1355".

(right) Thomas Aquaticus-
"handler of the Queen'f trappe, claimant laft date, Feptember 18th (one in the ovenn)".


  1. Rev, have you mused yet and what were your coclusions

  2. Forgive me young Master Morris, you may have read I have been away in deepest darkest Biru? There I have been able to muse most long, longer than I spent in thought for my initial presentation on the matter to the now defunct Society.

    My problem was that I found myself a tad cut off from polite society in such deepest darkest conditions, and even if I had had access to a feathr'y quill and parchyment to write thereon, I lacked both blubber and an oil lantern to write by (did I mention I was both deep and dark at the time?).

    So, I have to rely on memory, and a small joggette I made, where I have both drawn strange lined patterns and wrote upon my spare undercrackers using soil from those deep dark parts;- "Derek von Daniken- Nazca Ordinary Fowle Survey Mappes of the Gods".

    But I fear I have to construct my thought process again to comprehend it fully. To aid this I will be recreating my conditions by shutting myself away in the coal cellar (which is both deep and dark) from Tuesday hence, and I hope I will then be able to expand upon the clue of the soiled cryptic triptych most soon.