Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A mixed day. 29.8.2011.

A fine day but with a cool edge to the westerly wind, but thankfully , despite threatening clouds, no rain developed.

Called in to see a friend who works at the RSPB Titchwell Reserve and then commenced to gradually go around the reserve. I watched a Water Vole for ages as it fed immediately within the outer edge of a reed bed.....not something I see that often nowadays given the drastic reduction in its population. As I made my way down the path to the coast I caught a glimpse of a Muntjac making its way across the adjacent marsh in a series of leaps. Suddenly all hell let loose as a Curlew rose in its path, my feeling being that the animal had almost landed on the hapless bird, which took some time to circle around ,uttering its alarm call all the while.

Birds were much as before with perhaps wader numbers altering around. I managed to get a photograph of a Little Stint which conveniently landed nearby and was the first I'd seen this year.

A seawatch showed very few birds on the move, but a Great crested Grebe and a couple of Eider were off shore and then, somewhat surprisingly, a female Long-tailed Duck. A very early bird to return for winter , which I learned later has been around for about ten days already. At that point I learned that the Wryneck seen at Wells yesterday was still around so I made my way westwards. And so it was, present in a few bushes on the edge of the playing fields near the harbout. A very active and showy bird which showed all its plumage details off to good effect. At one point it sat in a nearby bush eyeing up the birdwatchers present before moving out into the open !

As the afternoon was pressing on I went through to the Cley reserve and called in at the reserve's cafe. A little later, and whilst browsing through the books on sale, I found myself standing next to Mike Peacock (RSPB Warden Oronsay) the next island to the north of Islay. Small world, but with the surprising twist that I'd not seen him for about four years despite being a "neighbour".

A seawatch on the rising tide saw a few Gannets on the move , Sandwich and Common Terns around generally and 13 Arctic Skua and a single Great Skua moving east before I called it a day at 1830 hours. Certainly one of contrasts and surprises!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A day at Titchwell. 28.8.2011

Given it was the Bank Holiday I decided to forgo the potential traffic and crowds and simply spend the whole day at Titchwell. The woods near the Centre had a couple of Chiffchaff, both singing intermittently, and a male Blackcap seemed to be associated with a mixed flock of Blue and Long-tailed Tits, but otherwise it was fairly quiet.

The real bonanza was on the fresh-water marsh with waders and duck in profusion. Curlew sandpiper, Little Stint, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin galore, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher all fed with determination, occasionally spooked by a returning female Marsh Harrier. Odd Herring Gull and many B,H,G loafed on one of the islands along with Mallard and Shoveler. As ever numbers of Grey lag Geese were present and restlessly moving around the site.

A long period seawatching produced very little other than a few Gannets, but I suspect conditions would have been much better a bit later on the rising tide. Mid afternoon the wind began to rise until a F5/6 blustery westerly was sweeping everywhere. Not the conditions to bring in drift migrants!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Moving operating base! 27.8.2011

Following yesterday's deluge the morning was clear and bright , although rain clouds appeared and threatened all day. As intended I moved southwards to Norfolk, not terribly logical in some ways but linked to the availability of accommodation. The journey went well and I was there way before lunchtime to be met by sunny conditions.

I'd headed for Cley so that I could make my way back to Hunstanton, where I'm staying. The first bonus was a juvenile Red=backed Shrike at Walsey Hills showing extremely well and obviously hungry with its level of alertness and frequent feeding forays. A Marsh Harrier circled high above and headed off east and a Hobby flashed through eastwards too. Not a bad start.

On to the Centre to call in and see a friend ( Patrick ) and then spent virtually the rest of the day looking at the various scrapes. Eight Spoonbills slept throughout the whole period and, by contrast, a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope fed incessantly with its energy output never seeming to diminish. Waders were present in profusion with Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Little Stint, Knot, and Black-tailed Godwit all giving good views with an accompaniment of the calls of Sandwich Tern feeding off the nearby coast. Across the site numbers of Grey lag Geese fed along with Teal, Mallard, Shelduck and Wigeon. I never did get round all the hides but the forthcoming week awaits.

Stopping off at various points on my way westwards produced nothing extraordinary but I was delighted to see a covey of 12 Grey Partridge nearby to where I am staying. Nice end to the day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rather a wet experience. 26.8.2011

Before leaving for Norfolk tomorrow ( Saturday ) I'd promised myself a visit to Flamborough and Bempton on Yorkshire's east coast. The day commenced with rain and, sadly, got steadily worse.

Setting such conditions aside I decided to go direct to Flamborough and , hopefully, see the Greenish Warbler reported from Old Fall Wood. Well, it was raining as I got there, and raining far worse when I left three hours later, and it hadn't stopped raining in between.! I heard the bird twice, but never saw it, so ,all in all it was a complete failure of a day. The sum total of birds seen was Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Robin, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Kestrel, Linnet and Meadow Pipit......not a good outcome when linked to an absolute drenching!! Driving conditions back to base were absolutely horrendous and it was a relief to get to the end of the journey. Are we due for a Bank Holiday I ask myself? Incidentally, I'm unsure of what WiFi access I may have access to next week , so bear with me.

East coast again! 25.8.2011.

Looking at the weather, taking into account what had occurred elsewhere along the east coast of Britain, I judged that the rain overnight and early morning might have resulted in night passage migrants being grounded and so I went to Spurn again. I was wrong, as little of note was in evidence, although a Pied Flycatcher turned up around lunchtime. Compared to other places, Yorkshire has missed out in some respects as far as good passerines are concerned, but that's birding. A few Black Terns moving southwards over the sea were nice, but little else. Again, waders were worth looking at with Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit showing birds in partial summer plumage with, again, Grey Plover being seen in full resplendent breeding dress. By contrast all Sanderling I saw were in winter plumage!

Mid afternoon saw me move northwards to Hornsea to hopefully witness something I've never had the privilege of witnessing, the presence of massed numbers of Little Gulls on the Mere.This is something which only happens in late summer/early autumn, but numbers have reached a mind boggling 500 on occasions. Filling in the time before the "reputed hour" I managed to find the reported two Black-necked Grebe, and also four Red-crested Pochard and then settled in for the evening arrival. Little did I know that the site where the car park is situated closed at tea time, is gated off, so I had to leave a little prematurely. However, the guy in charge was extremely helpful and explained the best site from which they can be seen and counted. He also put me on to a resting out place that they use regardless of their feeding movements in the evening. And so I had brilliant views of seven juvenile birds and three adults on one of the yachting piers within the "marina part" of the Mere. Small beer compared to the 300/400 birds which can descend on the area in the evenings on some occasions, moving , presumably, from the areas offshore where they feed during the day. Their arrival can take place any time from 1600 to 2000 hours, all of which is somewhat unpredictable. After hanging on for a while, it seemed this day fell into the latter category, and so I left unrewarded with a desired phenomenon still a future diary entry.

Spurn Point. 24. 8.2011.

From around 1958 I spent an inordinate amount of time at Spurn. It was the location of my first "independent" holiday away from my family and I can still remember the shock horror of my parents when I announced I was going there one Christmas and New Year. The insensitivity of teenagers! Whilst I've been back on many occasions , today was a relaxed solo pilgrimage, full of nostalgia, and never designed to be anything less. I was enthralled throughout the whole day, which I spent alone, perhaps on occasions in the remembered company of long past friends, some of whom can no longer benefit from such indulgences.

A good walk up to the Canal Zone, down past the Tank Blocks, up the remnants of Big Hedge to the coast and back to the Blue Bell took all morning. There was little of especial note , but I enjoyed it all. Waders abounded, especially some Grey Plover in full summer plumage and a whole selection of other wading bird species. A couple of Yellow Wagtail on the scrape were nice to see, but little moved over the sea. The latter figures large in my memories, not just for "big" days of passage, but because the coastal profile has changed so much in my lifetime as a result of its activities with around 100m. of this coast, at least, being eroded away since the 1960's, scary stuff!!

A walk along Beacon Lane northwards yielded virtually nothing except a series of repetitious expectations of old as the odd Whitethroat or Blue Tit moved within the bushes. The warm weather was not only a welcome tonic ( almost tropical to me! ) but was good for a variety of butterfly species encountered along the sheltered double line of hawthorns. In retrospect, I'm pleased I didn't see anything special as I don't think the sheer deep, inner joy of reliving so much of value would have been the same had it been overtaken by the transient presence of some notable migrant. It was my selfish day and I enjoyed it to the full.

Hornsea Mere. 23.8.2011.

A nice afternoon, preceded by a busy morning of meetings, saw me travel over to Hornsea on the east coast of Yorkshire. My first duty was to take on the challenge of a "Whopper" breakfast at a local cafe, £5 worth of absolute value that saw me sustained for the rest of the day , all washed down with a pot of scalding hot tea!!

Hornsea Mere is vast, remains in private ownership although it used to be an RSPB reserve, under a form of licence, in past years. Its wintering duck populations are legendary, as are its rarities, and it's worth a visit at any time of year. I simply parked and took in the various sights on offer from duck and geese, to a variety of hirundines and a fly over Whimbrel. Nice relaxing birding at its best. Unfortunately the weather turned foul coinciding with a very convenient seawatching spot I'd found a bit further south down the coast. Nonetheless I had good views of feeding and passage Sandwich Terns off shore, a few Common Terns and odd Little Gulls. This episode proved to be the end of activities as the poor weather persisted and caused a premature "return to base". Ah well, a good day.

Blacktoft Sands Nature Reserve. 22.8.2011

After getting through some personal business I spent the whole day at the RSPB Blacktoft Sands Reserve on the south bank of the Humber. I'd transferred up to East Yorkshire on the Sunday evening and was now within striking distance of a few important sites in that part of the County.

Blacktoft is the largest intertidal reedbed in England and has saline lagoons too, which are quite a rare habitat in Europe. Plastered with different designations it demands extremely careful management which has ensured its key species have prospered over the years. Last year 12 pairs of Marsh Harrier nested there and produced 27 young. This year 12 pairs have been present and the outcome of their breeding efforts are eagerly awaited. Other species like Bearded Tit, Bittern, Avocet and up to eight warbler species can breed on the reserve. Other claims to fame include a list in excess of 300 moth species, 75 species of fly, the rare Marsh Sow -thistle and Harvest Mice, Water Voles and water Shrews. A great site!

At this time of year waders are flooding through in numbers and that was my main reason for visiting. Seven hides ensure you can work your way through the feeding birds in comfort. I wasn't disappointed as Redshank and Spotted Redshank fed side by side, Greenshank and Green Sandpipiers appeared tucked away on every pool and a couple of Wood Sandpiper were present for comparison with their near relatives. A couple of Water Rail probed furtively within the very edge of a reedbed showing off their striped flanks, a bonus arising from this time of year when water levels recede a little. Additional members of this wader extravaganza ranged from Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Lapwing and lots of Ruff. Duck were here too with Mallard, Teal and Shoveler present , although as yet their usual plumages were still obscured by them being in eclipse. As I left several Tree Sparrows were present in the feeding area along with a selection of other passerines adding another pleasant dimension to a worthwhile visit.

British Birdwatching Fair

This year's Birdfair was held over the weekend of 19th-20th August at the usual venue at Rutland Water. It gets bigger every year and I defy anyone to do it justice nowadays in a single day's visit. For me, an equally enjoyable experience was being able to stay with friends, David and Amanda, near past familiar territory at Sandy. Present too were Steve and Sarah so the whole visit was a laugh from end to end! I even got to witness the winding up of the Abbotsley church clock which is done on a daily rotation basis by the community, as is checking on Michael Palin's Mother-in-law, a delightful lady in her nineties!! Good times.

I helped on a couple of stalls and thoroughly enjoyed the full three days. Meeting friends aplenty, foreign contacts from yesteryear , browsing endless stalls offering travel details to exotic places and trying desperately hard to be disciplined when looking at the many bookstalls present! Thankfully the weather was kind and no persistent rain or torrential downpours saw fit to turn the site into a quagmire. With seven large marquees to visit, the Art Marquee and all the networking I never managed to get to one lecture, for which I noticed there was at least two marquees this year!

For me it was an occasion of reflection, as I haven't been for about five years, but came away full of resolve to ensure I never miss in future. A necessary social topping up essential to placing focus on the rest of the year's birding activities.

Enter the Green Warrior. 18th August,2011.

Now I'll not bore you with the whole saga but my departure from Islay for a couple of weeks or so had been riven with some uncertainty and regret. Circumstances then conspired to persuade me that my thinking was right and I went ahead and changed my car!! Routine, easy you might think.....well yes, but it had been a faithful steed for around eight years and I was tremendously attached to it. We had been up mountain tracks, through bogs, very bad snowy conditions and the like, which always generates respect for a vehicle that successfully gets you there. But it was beginning to age and things were never going to be the same as the inevitable signs of such began to emerge. Above all else it was a 4X4!

This always presented me with some guilt given the environmental disclosures attached to such vehicles. So I thought hard! With diesel at £1.53 per litre on Islay, compared to much less on the mainland, and a halter of environmental guilt around my neck I decided to do the decent thing! I am now the proud owner of a 1.4 TDI Ford Fiesta whose carbon emissions are very low and whose Road Fund Licence costs £30 per year , as opposed to £269!! I've just done 301 miles on half a tank of diesel and have willingly joined the ranks of the Green Warriors!! In fact , I shall turn the complete hypocrite and condemn all those with Chelsea tractors, unless they really need one, which some do. I'm pleased with the change, although worried about coping with the abysmal road conditions on Islay at present, matched equally by the abysmal track record ( forgive the pun ) of the Local Authority, Argyll and Bute, in dealing with them. On the last disclosure, the distilleries on Islay contributed £145 million per annum in "tax" generated from whisky to the Exchequer, and yet little of this bonanza finds its way back to the island! There'll be places I can no longer get to, and odd things I never do again I suppose, and there'll be cleaning and polishing obligations, something you can get away with with a 4x4 unless you live in urbansville. So, raise the flag and take succour from the fact the air is cleaner and a blow has been smitten against climate change. Oh , and it's saved me a few pounds as well!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A question of what lies ahead?

2011 hasn't been the best of years in some respects when it comes to enjoying the smooth progression of life!!! The last week or so has epitomised this with , in addition to frustrating problems associated with my PC, I've also ( again, I know ) had problems with the car. So, time to face up to reality.

Later today I shall be on the ferry to the mainland with the express intention of sorting out car problems!! Bear with me as entries on this Blog might be a little intermittent, but the situation can only improve. Beyond that I have "plans" that, if everything works out , will provide more than enough raw material for the Blog and lead to a resumption of being able to make daily entries. Watch this space!

Moths are dull.....don't you believe it!! Part two.

Following on from the piece I put out on the 20th July, this final invitation to "getting involved with moths" dwells on the enjoyment that can be derived from being involved in recording the various species. It's a natural step after becoming absorbed by moths and learning about them to then begin recording what you find. Given moth recording has not been as popular as, say , bird recording over the years there remains much to be done.

Submitting records of what you find, and where, is important as there are still many places where year round records of the likely species to be encountered are missing. Coupled with this are the records of migrant moths from the Continent and, more recently, evidence of some species colonising, or re-colonising, parts of the UK as the effects of climate change appear to arise.

At the end of 2010 a landmark publication emerged, the " Provisional Atlas of the UK's Larger Moths ". This was the result of years of recording and resulted in the first up to date maps in 30 years for 868 macro-moth species ( the maps for the Geometridae {over 300 species } were the first ever to be published ). See Butterfly Conservation's web site for how you can get your copy!

The records had been lodged in the database associated with the National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS ) and the maps were produced from the 11.3 million records which were held within it. The NMRS was one of the initiatives within the Moths Count project run by Butterfly Conservation and the production of the Atlas after only four years was a remarkable milestone. The project will continue and the NMRS database extended still further over ensuing years ( hence the Atlas being described as "Provisional"). Since its publication a further 700,000 records have already been received giving an indication of the emerging interest in the subject and the hard work too of many, many volunteer recorders.

A further component of the Moths Count Project was to improve and extend the "presence" of Moth Recorders in each of the Vice Counties in the UK, which resulted in 34 new individuals being recruited to fill the gaps. The role of these individuals is to act as a focal point in a given area and for them to be the recipient of records generated locally, to encourage people further , promote the NMRS and so on.

The maps themselves will fill a variety of purposes. They provide a current indication of where individual species can be found, i.e. their national distribution. The requisite map for the Small Ranunculus shows it to be widely distributed but, within the dots where presence has been determined, there are gaps indicating the species has not yet been recorded. It may be absent, of course, or simply, as yet , evaded the efforts of those involved in recording in that area. Such "white areas" on a map can, in effect, act as an indication of where future recording efforts might be targeted.

By the same token, some of the maps show a very restricted distribution for certain species given, in turn , the restricted availability of the specialised habitat upon which they rely. Such maps and records are important in guiding conservation efforts aimed at protecting these very specific sites that continue to hold unique examples of our biodiversity. Eventually, of course, the maps can be used in a comparative context where an historical analysis is applied aimed at establishing where the range of a species has retracted or, indeed, enjoyed some expansion. Loss of habitat will inevitably be linked to the former, but the colonisation of specific niches by "new" species will not just indicate the timing and extent of their spread but perhaps introduce new conservation priorities dependent on their status and the availability of their chosen "home".

So, obviously many challenges lie ahead. The more people become involved, the quicker we will more fully understand a whole variety of questions raised in the past and be better equipped to address the inevitable conservation tasks which develop within our dynamic world. It is something which can take you to far flung places, or become an increasingly absorbing feature of your local environment. It is a fascinating hobby and gives a lot of pleasure so....take the plunge!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

First "sign in " with Grey lag Geese.

It didn't start off that way, but a young Grey lag Goose walking along the road above the house, which leads across a section of grass moor, suggested I perhaps ought to check on the overall situation as far as emerging numbers were concerned. The young bird flew off strongly incidentally, goodness knows what the story was behind that situation!!

So I visited a variety of areas in NW Islay and counted the Grey lag Geese on show. As yet they don't seem to have joined up together and formed the composite flocks which have been a feature of years previously. Having said that , birds are mobile and parties flying across Loch Indaal, southwards down Loch Gruinart and across the wide vicinity of Loch Gorm proved that to be the case. Totals in the Loch Gorm/Gruinart area were in accord with recent observations and, otherwise, all over, parties appeared to be very much hefted to their usual area be that at Ellister, Claddach or around Loch Gorm. Strangely enough, at least today, none appeared to be utilising the saltmarsh flats at Bridgend.

The most interesting observations otherwise were a Greenshank heard at Loch Gruinart and a couple of immature Wigeon on a lens of water on the otherwise rather lushly vegetated pools at the RSPB Gruinart Reserve.

A reasonable day spoiled! 6.8.2011.

Calm conditions early morning persuaded me to have a walk out locally first , and then go seawatching, leaving later in the day to develop its own plan. The sea was almost calm, a sullen band of grey extending to a misty horizon. All intentions worked well, with eventual activity taking in most of Loch Indaal too. Sitting at the head of Loch Indaal in the early afternoon it was obvious a big storm was coming in with "blot out" visibility from the south. No sooner had I decided to return home than a pretty vicious cyclonic storm opened up with large rain droplets and volumes of water pouring down. Headlights on and caution reigned through some quickly developing floods on the main road. Horrendous..........and a few miles further on , it was dry!! Ah well!

Both pairs of Swallows in the barn now have flying young, so the vicinity of the house is a permanent maelstrom of activity! First thing over 40 Meadow Pipits were on the telephone wires to the house, which suggests they've had a good season. warbler movement has suddenly stepped up with several Willow Warbler and Whitethroat noted.

Seawatching was rewarding, but not exceptional, with numbers of Gannet and Manx Shearwater in evidence, a few 10's of Kittiwake but little else in numbers. Both Arctic and Great Skuas went through, as did a party of Dunlin, two Whimbrel and a Red-throated Diver. Most revealing was the absence of local terns who must have cleared out after breeding. Oh, and embarrassingly folks, I had a single Basking Shark offshore of the new spot I was trying out. It would happen , wouldn't it!!

A gradual progression northwards along Loch Indaal saw very little of note in the Outer Loch other than a juv Red-throated Diver. Further in moulting Red-breasted Mergansers again showed numbers lower than in previous years , which appears to be an ongoing trend. A good selection of waders was present with several parties of adult Dunlin present, ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and a single , almost pristine , Sanderling in full summer plumage. A handful of Arctic Tern, several young Black-headed Gulls ( for once ) , a couple of Sand Martin and several Pied Wagtails feeding around a pool completed the picture before the rains came!!

On the way back, on higher ground and in the lee of "the storm", a brief view of a Wheatear showed a large, very bright, robust bird that immediately brought a reaction of " Greenland", but such would seem to be very early?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Basking Sharks not much in evidence!

I have recently finished reading the first book written by Gavin Maxwell, in 1952, " Harpoon at a Venture". It relates to his ill-fated attempts to set up a sharkfishing enterprise in the late 1940's based on Soay, off the southern coast of the Isle of Skye, Scotland. These endeavours came to an end in 1949, but his connection with the Highlands and its wildlife remained long after, out of which his association with Otters began and culminated in the seminal work, "Ring of Bright Water" that sold 2 million copies in the 1960's and 70's.

This is not a review of the book, whose contents relating to the killing and processing of Basking Sharks I found particularly unappealing at times. Such content must necessarily now be viewed from a perspective sixty years on and the fact that, following such times, attitudes to wildlife have since changed dramatically, not least because of the efforts of Maxwell himself in later years. Within the book there is much that can be judged extremely useful if comparisons are made to current times and the status of Basking Sharks.

When first I came to Islay in the late 1990's sightings of Basking Sharks were extremely rare. Last year (2010) was perhaps the best in recent yeras and similar experiences arose from places like Tiree and Coll too. Local feedback suggests they were seen reguarly a few decades ago, particularly off SW Islay. Whether their population then declined in the final few decades of the last millenium, or that they were simply elsewhere, who knows, but certainly 2010 saw their regular appearance around Islay and Jura and the sightings being commented on by many. Now, 2011 appears to be a somewhat fallow year again. Various people have commented on the absence of records from previously favoured haunts, so we are left with a bit of a mystery. Doubtless someone will pop up now and announce they saw individuals on particular dates but, generally speaking, I think it can be taken as being a quiet year!

Acknowledgement must be given to the photographer, R.Pickering , and to Morvern Summers ( Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust ) for permission to use this image.

Up to around 2008 only single specimens were recorded locally, but then instances of two , and even three together, were reported. In 2010 up to six were seen together and more reports than ever arose. Maxwell mentions a shoal of 80+ and relates how such might roam over many miles of sea. Of interest are his comments relating to the seasons of occurrence and regularity. They never started seeking them out until the last week in April and ended their catching season in mid-September, both dates close to the limits of occurrences arising here.

That this huge leviathan of the oceans has brought enjoyment to many is in no doubt. That they will ever again be viewed as a pest by virtue of their breaking through herring nets is also in doubt given new sensitivities directed towards wildlife and the relative demise of herring stocks too!! That Maxwell saw commercial and economic opportunities in their slaughter is without question. That he also debated with himself the question of pain associated with such activities is provided in an exposition of what pain can encompass, is revealing of the man who later became a leading conservationist.

All in all a fascinating read and a book raising many of the self same questions that we often pose about the species today. On this basis I would urge that you access the web site of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust ( ) to glean up to date information about this species and its presence in Scottish waters. Various trips offshore are now arranged in west Scotland to allow sightings of a variety of marine wildlife and an endless array of excellent photographs are available on many cetacean species and other animals on the website.. May I again express my thanks to Morvern Summers ( HWDT ) for the assistance given and urge everyone who might have records of Basking Sharks and cetaceans to submit them via the website ( but look at it anyway!!).

Finally, may I offer my thanks to Ian Turner ( Librarian, Islay ) who initially brought my attention to the book , provided comment on occurrences in past years and who has been responsible for the reportage of many of the records from SW Islay, often from the close vantage point of his own fishing boat!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Announcement !!!!

I've just had a run of bad days as far as computer facilities are concerned. OK, it happens to all of us , but perhaps not to the extent that you consider replacing all your hardware!! But, persistence, or a Yorkshireman's reticence towards monetary outlay ( a very solid trait ), suddenly saw all systems restored. Whilst I've tweaked, reloaded, amended systems and spent countless hours "investigating" the problem, the ultimate frustration is that, suddenly, the whole system came right. And I've no damned idea what was the cause in the first place.

So, not a lot of "field action" as a result but, hopefully, all that is now history. Over the last few days, including long nights, the most apparent aspect has been the obvious movement through of warblers locally. Sedge, Willow, Grasshopper and Common Whitethroat have all been encountered, plus Northern Wheatear, Whinchat and House Martin also obviously moving southwards. Autumn migration is clearly in action.

So, hopefully succeeding days will now proceed without interruption and various pieces I've drafted can now see the light of day. A question! In the mornings do you switch on your computer around the same time as your kettle, or is your cyber time more compartmentalised!! I'm utterly amazed at how much I've been fazed by the lack of availability of computer facilities, an admission I suspect many of us would admit to in this techno age!! Think about it!