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Monday, 19 March 2018

Welcome to... The Vernal Equinox

Well I'm just over an hour ahead of things as its still technically Monday night but in about an hour and a bit, it will be the 20th of March and the official Vernal Equinox 2018. That means that even old traditionalists like Graham Weston have to accept that its now spring.

There is an assumption that the equinox always falls on the 21st but it can actually be as early as the 20th and as late as the 22nd! Anyway, this year its the 20th and after that we start to get a fraction more daytime than nighttime until the summer solstice.

Sad to have missed our rare sea duck today but I was doing the Marsh tomorrow anyway so it just means that I am ahead of myself about that too!
Photo Yvonne Moore
Just a little aside for the serious birders out there, Yvonne Moore and I have been exchanging a lot of e-mails recently about (as I have said before) Reed Buntings. My knowledge of this species was not significant although encounters with odd specimens over the years had given me reason to acquire a bit of deeper insight (I knew for example that northern and southern sub-species were best identified by bill size) but I conceded my ignorance to Yvonne and bemoaned the fact that there were no serious scientific papers on the species worthy of consideration.

Having said this to Yvonne (who I know is far more computer adept than I) was obviously a proverbial 'red rag to a bull' as within a day she had identified an excellent scientific paper on the species which I have attached for anyone interested here: 

The actual title falls of the tongue, being; "Phenotypic Divergence among West European Populations of Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus: The Effects of Migratory and Foraging Behaviours". See, its scientists playing the 'join my club if you want to understand' card - if they called it 'everything you need to know about why Reed Buntings look different and why they go where they go' a lot more people would probably have read it!

Anyway - respect to the Yvonster, a well found article that requires a couple of reads to get the feel of but which is worth the effort.

That'll do for now - have a grand equinox everyone - Chaz

Bird of the Year (So Far)!

Photo Copyright RSPB
Well done Ray Fellows who visited in abysmal conditions today and was rewarded with views of a site rarity, a male Common Scoter, only the second ever site record. Unfortunately this was either a bird that had been present all day and was well rested or a short stayer as despite being on site half an hour from Ray's call I could not locate it and this was confirmed by Ray himself who had decided to do another circuit only to find that the bird had departed.

The marsh was frozen and I could only find five Teal although Ray had connected with at least two Chiffchaff along the mineral line.

The Mere had significant numbers of mobile wildfowl making accurate counts difficult, so these are the best I could do:

Ryders Mere

Greylag Goose (4) - Cormorant (1) - Wigeon (30) - Shoveler (10) - Goosander (7) - Teal (3) and our  two Oystercatcher.

Top Man Ray, persistence pays off mate! - Chaz

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Know how he feels?

Reed Bunting in today's snow - Photo: Yvonne Moore
Thanks to Yvonne Moore who has been regularly updating me with photos of the Reed Buntings which are visiting her garden (Above) someone with a good excuse for cold feet I would say!

Needless to say - I am doing my usual 'Nothing at all' in this weather but I seem to finally be winning the odd round on points with the Virus and its only just taken a week or so! Mrs Chaz is still poorly though, it seems that the virus effects different people in different ways.

Anyway, I am determined both to reconnect with Swimming and with the Marsh and Mere this week. Until then stay warm, take it steady on the road and remember the clocks go forward an hour next Sunday (and just to cheer you up, on the Monday you will be exactly a quarter of the way to Christmas) - YAY!

Have a good week all - Chaz

Saturday, 17 March 2018

‘Céad Míle Fáilte’

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes!

“Walls for the wind,
And a roof for the rain,
And drinks beside the fire -
Laughter to cheer you
And those you love near you,
And all that your heart may desire!”

- Irish Blessing

Happy St Paddy's day to any of you of Irish Descent (Yep including my grumpy old mate Mr Holian).

On such a day as this I even relent about discussing how snakes never even got to Ireland in the first place, (for the same reason that there are no Woodpeckers or Small Leaved Lime trees - Tillia cordata). I'm confident that St Paddy was such a good bloke that had there been any kinds of serpentine goings on, he would have been the chap I would have called to sort it all out anyway.

'Pints of the black stuff all around' (lets face it, it would be more welcome than the white stuff that will be harassing us for most of this weekend)!

Have a good one all and stay warm! - Chaz 


Friday, 16 March 2018

Hooray - I aint alone!

Only Wendy Hanby (with very hard working wellies) has been in touch to commiserate with me about the awful Tui Add but someone called Stephen (sorry Stephen, don't know which of the Stephens you are) suggested I look at a sight about awful advertisements called 'Adturds' and it warmed my heart (check:

This in turn led me to a range of sites with comments from people who's passion for the total obliteration of every copy of that advertisement matched and even exceeded mine-own. Including an on line petition at

I'm so thankful! I was frightened that I might be turning into a grumpy, anti-social and opinionated old person (that would never do)! - Chaz

Where is the competition ?

Ray Fellows does it again, our first Summer Migrant was found by the top man yesterday, unsurprisingly a singing Chiffchaff. I am slowly on the mend and hope to get over and start paying visits after the mini ice age that is supposed to be arriving this weekend - C

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A long overdue rant!

Please tell me I am not totally alone? Does anyone else despise the TUI advert as much as I do. I actually walked into a TUI shop with no other purpose but to tell them how irritating and annoying this pathetic singer (who cant make eye-contact with the camera) and her entourage of fat calved camp dancers really were.

The response was, "Oh people love that advert" - really?

The stuff of nightmares - Photo Copyright TUI
TUI - we get the message, you have dropped the UK Thompson branding and embraced the pan European identity presumably in an attempt to engage with young people.

Fine, I am one old person who will never fly Tui mainly because of the annoyance that they have caused me, but I resent having to record programmes sponsored by Tui so that I can fast forward through this irritating ageist crap.

Someone please tell me I am not alone in this genuine anger? - Chaz