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)".

Monday, May 12

Sea-swallow Shanty

Well dear diary, no sooner had the last month's journal of Tukogbanifek Birds been delivered than a new revolt against Watchmen oppression began.

In that issue chapter and verse on the spring migrations of Common and Arctic Terns were laid out before us, detailing that regular and routine mis-identification of Terns is down to too much reliance on just one feature- that absence or presence of a dark primary wedge.

Of course, this problem has actually been known for some time; one has only to look at the presence/absence of Arctics among Spring a'sightings from regular sites along the Capital river, it has always been as if they somehow possess the ability cloak themselves from detection at one site, then parade themselves at the next.

No matter. It was actually the edict that followed this which caused this latest Peasant's revolt;-

"It is decreed that a'birderers in sarfern Tukogbanifek work on the surmisation that, in circumstances normal, Common Terns are far more greater in number than Arctic Terns, by somewhere in the region of as low as five to the one, up to as many as one hundred and eighty to the one.."

So came the subversive claims. Never have so many vouchsafes of Arctic been made in the sarf and east as in these few weeks that have followed. Why, one site has claimed 2,900 in one day, meaning, if we follow the Watchmen's mathematics, up to 522,000 Common/Commonish Terns should have been scuttling past as well. I am sure the Watchmen will put this down to unfortunate timing, and that in reality no such plebbish backlash exists, but I also think we should all wait to see what they pronounce next, and how the unruly Sarf coast responds to that proclamation. Dear diary, I think they might well just see a trend developing then(!)

I am reminded of the marvellous old shanty penned by one Montgomery Python some years ago, for his comedic operetta 'The Meaning of Lifelists', a song which has never been more apt methinks, and of which I can still recall all words;-

Every Tern is Sacred

          There are Seawatchers in the world,
          There are Trappists.
          There are Patchers, back-gard’ners, and then
          There are those that follow Four hundred, but
          I've never been one of them.

          I'm a Lister, catholic,
          And have been since before I was born,
          And the one thing they say about listers is:
         They'll claim Terns three hours ‘fore dawn.

          You don't have to get every identity.
          Not each a specific species claim.
          You just have to claim one example a year. You're
          catholic without any duff claim, because-
          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is great.
          If a Tern is mis-i.d.’d,
          God gets quite irate.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is great.
          If a Tern is mis-i.d.’d,
          God gets quite irate.

          Let the patchers claim theirs
          O’er village green.
          God shall make them pay for
          Each wedge that went unseen.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is good.
          No claim can be out of place,
          For your neighbourhood.

          Sussu, Kentist, Hantsman,
          Claim theirs anywhere,
          But God loves those who treat their
          Tern claims with much more care.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is great.
          If a Tern is mis-i.d.’d,
          God gets quite irate.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is good.
          No claim can be out of place,
          For your neighbourhood.

          Every claim is useful.
          Every claim is fine.
          God needs everybody's.
          Thine and thine and thine!

          Let the Stringers claim theirs
          O'er reservoir, lake, and plain.
          Stats shall strike them down for
          Each tern sp. claimed in vain.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is good.
          No claim may be out of place,
          For your neighbourhood.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is great.
          If Common is strung Arctic,
          God gets quite iraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate!

Monday, May 5

Bird a'botherers get twelve months

To the hovel-owner,

An advertisal announcement;-
Tukogbanifek Broadcasting Company,
in conjunction with CocK (Camera osbcura club of Kent)
are proud to announce

Details of this year's 'Countrydefiled' Photographic competition

A Calendar of CocK

Our competition is open to all Cock members. It is not open to professionals, nor may you enter images used in any other competitive event. (Please note individual a’Blogs will be counted as competitive events, as all oft' include imagery of the very same bird taken on the very same day.)

You may enter up to four images, which must have been obtained within the county of the Northern Marshes. Please engrave your name and address on the front of the image, details of where taken and send to Calendar of Cock, CocK House, CocK Row, Cockshot by the 28th of this very month.

The winning image, as chosen by the followers of Countrydefiled, will receive a year's worth of whine from fellow CocK members.

The alternate winning image, as chosen by the Watchmen Judges, will receive twelve months of .EXF examination from fellow CocK members.

Full terms and conditions can be made available, though we know from past experience no 'togger ever bothers with rules;- however we wish to point out there are several changes of rules this year for you to ignore:

~ The Ornithological Watchmen have decreed this year, unlike all previous, will be the first year that photographers, and those with a genuine interest in ornithology, will actually have to follow all laws and Codes of Conduct.

~ To help resist any temptation to recklessly disturb a subject, TBC and CocK have decided that within all images a fowle (or a flock of fowles) may take up no more than seventeen pixellated dots by fourteen pixellated dots.

~ Further, the background image is now required to show a panorama of at least two statute miles in length, so that the judging panel might be assured no nest was in the vicinity of the ‘togger at the time of image capture.

~ Finally, there must also be submitted a 'selfie' image of the ‘togger obtaining the ‘tograph, to ensure no additional chicanery were used, such as the 'nipper' phonographic warbling lure.

Finally, please remember we cannot return original entries as our tears of laughter will have stained their gloss finishes quite badly.

The best of Blighty'd luck to all entrants(!)