Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pigeons . . . don't you just love 'em . . .

. . . in a nice red wine gravy and under a thick pastry lid!

Looking across the fields this morning we seem to have attacted the three trillion Woodpigs which now rside in Britain. Grey lumps sat like statues across all the ploughed ground. Some fields you cant see the ground! They rise in thick noisy clouds darkening the skies. But do I hear the sound of of the farmers' guns? No. What a shame. Surely this is a species we could harvest without denting the population. It continues to increase rapidly in the UK probably due to a change in agricultural practices. So why don't we see it on sale in the supermarkets - fresh or pied? I'm no fussy - they just make good eating!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Reservoir cats

While no one could ever replace the greatly missed Tom McKinney's blog, Mr White and his Reservoir Cats blog goes some way! His recent posts cover how the Staines Brown Shrike was really mis-identified dog shite (Tom McKinney-like!, a call for a fatwa against the UK's list-master general and the Bobbins Bird Guide! Very funny!

Jax is here!

Jax moved in at the weekend! To follow our progress as first-time puppy-owners check out our Jax the Spanish Water Dog blog.

First frost

There was a good frost last night so it was out first thing to top up all the seed and nut feeders and stick the first lot of fatballs out for the winter. There were already plenty of birds around the garden but soon the feeders were crowded with finches and Tree Sparrows. Mid-morning I spied a female Brambling briefly below one of the feeders. Whilst searching the bushes I spied a flash of white rump. It disappeared but didn't seem right for Bramble or Goldfinch. I watched intently for a few minutes when another movement revealed a fem/imm Bullfinch! Only my second here with the previous one being in March 2003! Looks like the hard weather stirred things up a little. As well as the Bramblefinch and Bullfinch, there's been the first Yellowhammer of the winter in the garden, and there are clearly more Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Goldfinches plus at least five Linnets buzzing around.

Garden list hits 130!

Well, when you've got a garden list as large as ours it takes something special to make its way on to it!

I've seen Jack Snipe on the fen on a couple of occasions but never expected to add it to the house list. But on the morning of the 27 Nov I was having to spend early morning in the garden unblocking our drain to our cesspit. I'd already seen an adult Med Gull feeding in the ploughed field behind the house with BHGs, and a group of seven Whooper Swans had flown over (only my third record), but as I was packing things away I just caught sight of the neighbour's cat on the edge of the dyke behind the house when it leapt down in to the dyke. There was a brief pause then a bird flew out towards me. Even without bins it was obvious what it was. It flew a little way towards me then doubled back, flew along the dyke before dropping into a section of reeds. Wow! What a morning and what a house tick!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Meet Jax!

Well, Liz has finally ground me down and we're getting a dog! After a wee bit of delaying on my part, we got the garden fenced and gated (see here) and we began what turned out to be a short search for our pup.

Jax is a choccy-coloured Spanish Water Dog and above he's four weeks old when Liz and I went to meet him. Below, one of Carol's (the breeder) kids holding Jax up for a portrait shot at five weeks. How much he's grown in a week.

I'll no doubt stick some more picks up on here once we get him and he starts chewing the palce up! Here is what Jax will look like when he's full grown. Click here for a great site about these great dogs.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Autumn moths

Satellite, Farcet Fen, 29 October 09. Attracted to light, 15w actinic. Only my second record of this supposedly common species, and exactly three years to the day since the first.

Large Wainscot, Farcet Fen, 29 October 09. Attracted to light, 15w actinic.

Beaded Chestnut, Farcet Fen, 29 October 09. Attracted to light, 15w actinic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

iBirder - for virtually all your birding needs!

iBirder® is the new operating system from MacBirder.

Features for the modern virtual birder include -

MiBino® - your state-of-the-art virtual binocular - 6x to 60x magnification! See as far as you can see with your own eyes!

iScope® - zoom in on your subject - up to 20x to 2000x magnification! See further than you can see with your own eyes!

iD® - what's that bird? identification software for numpties - don't ever worry about separating a Chiffchaff from a Paddyfield Warbler ever again!

iSpy® - your childhood car journey game is back for those long-distance twitches - with a difference! Includes countdown to to the rare and SatNav software to ensure you only take three wrong turns wasting 15 minutes and arriving only five minutes after the bird was last seen! How's that for real!

triPod® - your all-in-one sound and support system. Forget pishing! Attract those birdies out of the bushes with stereo sound and give them something to perch on!

All for only £1999.00 - cheaper than the real thing!

To order your copy call toll-free 08 456 78 28 20 - NOW!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lesvos 17 - 24 September 2009

Lesser Grey Shrike, nr Kalloni Saltpans, September 2009 © Steve Dudley

I'm just back from another week on Lesvos. See here for my trip report.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

MacApple's MiLife for the busy woman


- the new operating system for the busy woman

With the continued problems being experienced by Windows Husband users, MacApple have launched a new operating system for the busy woman - OS XXX MiLife09®.

MiLife has all you expect from MacApple – iDrive, iChat, iShop, iLike, iCantFind, iMLate, iMlost, MiTime, etc. Improved social programmes inc. iDate, iBreezer, iTalkToo and HiLife.

MacApple also offers a whole range of Man4Life programmes for MiLife users operating in a virus-free environment (no ManFlu) and on a more secure and stable operating system for you and your loves ones.

MiBoyfriend® inc. Man4Life versions of iDate, iShop and iWash plug-ins. Compatible with all ages (no home or child functions)

MiBoyfriend4Home® - (for your live-in lover) as MiBoyfriend but also inc. iClean and iLaundry plug-ins. Compatible with all ages (no child functions)

MiHusband Lite® inc. HouseHusband® with full iClean and iLaundry plug-ins. Compatible with husbands 18-30yrs, 1-2 bedroom homes (no child function).

MiHusband Professional® inc. Husband@Home® for the home-working professional husband with full MiKiddi, MiMum, MiPets, iClean and iLaundry plug-ins. Compatible with work@home husbands 24yrs+, operating up to 4 kids, 3+ bedroom homes.

MiHusband Professional Day’n’Nite® The full monty! As MiHusband Professional but with more plug-ins than you know what do with (all Ann Summers approved), improved speed and overall system performance – day and night!

WiFey - all MiHusband® programmes come with full WiFey controls and filters so you can set your own sports, drinking, gaming, TV and bedroom levels.


Keep your man up-to-date — without having to call home or you fussing! MobileMan is a service that automatically pushes your man around over the air. So your man is always up-to

-date, wherever he is! You also get an elegant Gallery for sharing your photos of your man with friends and family and iDisk for storing and sharing important documents online. And you can access and manage your man with a suite of web applications at

Additional Man4Life software for MiLife

MiBedroom – improved WiFey compatible bedroom control

DoesItHimself – for all your home improvements

Coming soon!

MultiTask4Men – you won’t believe the difference!

NB - we recommend you avoid the following games -

Touchy Feeley

Incredible Sulk

MiPhone Man4Life apps

For the MacApple MiPhone there are of course lots of Man4Life APPS for running your husband both on the move and remotely, including -

iSpy– a GPS app to see where he shouldn’t be

MiTaxi – the personal runaround app for you and the kids

Sexting – SMS-based private app

Where2Wii – GPS app detailing all town centre public conveniences

MiMan – the remote alerting app that senses when you’re your man is about to play away and brings him home safe and sound

iShopToo – improved shopping functions for your man

MacApple – the Garden of Eden of the computing world!

Windows Men programmes faulter

Dear Windows Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend to Husband and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance -- particularly in the chocolates, flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend.

In addition, Husband uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance and Personal Attention and then installed undesirable programs such as Rugby, Football, Sailing Computer Games and Continuous TV.

Conversation no longer runs, and Housecleaning simply crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed, Desperate Windows user


Dear Desperate Windows user

First keep in mind, Boyfriend is an Entertainment Package, while Husband is supposed to be an Operating System.

Please enter the command: 'http: I Thought You Loved Me.html' and try to download Tears. Don't forget to install the Guilt update. If that application works as designed, Husband should then automatically run the applications Jewellery,Flowers, Chocolates.

But remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband to default to Grumpy Silence, Garden Shed or Beer. Beer is a very bad program that will download the Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources).

Also, do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband.

In summary, Husband is a great system, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. It also tends to work better running one task at a time.

You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Food and Hot Lingerie.

Good Luck!

Windows Tech Support

Friday, August 14, 2009

More garden moths

Nothing outrageous this last week, but some goodies none-the-less including Dark Sword-grass, Small Waved Umber and Dark Spinach.

Coxcomb Prominent, Farcet Fen, 01 August 09. Attracted to light, 160w MVB. The first for the garden and the first to be caught in my 5km square since 1989.

Dark Spinach, Farcet Fen, 13 Aug 09, Attracted to light, 160w MVB. The first since 2005.

Dark Sword-grass, Farcet Fen, 09 Aug 09, Attracted to light, 160w MVB. This migrant is now caught most years.

Gold Spot, Farcet Fen, 11 Aug 09, Attracted to light, 160w MVB. A new species for the garden and my 5km square.

Small Dusty Wave, Farcet Fen, 13 Aug 09, Attracted to light, 160w MVB. Doing well blending in with the render on the rear wall of the house.

Small Waved Umber, Farcet Fen, 11 Aug 09, Attracted to light, 160w MVB. Only my second record.

Straw Underwing, Farcet Fen, 06 Aug 09, Attracted to light, 160w MVB.
Photos © Steve Dudley / Panasonic Lumix FZ-30

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Garden moths and crickets

I've been running the traps as often as possible. here's a few of the goodies from the last week.

Sallow Kitten, Farcet Fen, 29 July 09, attracted to light (160w MVB).

Round-winged Muslin, Farcet Fen, 25 July 09, attracted to light (160w MVB). A worn individual. Only the second caught here.

The Olive, Farcet Fen, 29 July 09, attracted to light (160w MVB).

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Farcet Fen, 29 July 09, attracted to light (160w MVB).

Iron Prominent, Farcet Fen, 3 Aug 09, attracted to light (15w Actinic).

Roesel's Bush Cricket, Farcet Fen, 8 Aug 09. On the back door! 

Friday, July 24, 2009

Birdwatchingwatching - a snore bore of a book

I read a few reviews of this book, no ravers, but I stilled requested it for my birthday. What a waste of a present! I got about a third of the way through and gave up! It was that dull.

Like many, I read books in bed. So no problems falling asleep with this one! If Alex Horne is a comedien I won't be bothering to go and see him live. I recall a couple of titters, but nothing more. Nope, I didn't get it. I didn't find it interesting. I didn't find it at all funny. I didn't understand why he couldn't refer to his dad as his dad instead of some pretentious made-up name of Duncton - is that meant to be funny?

Oh, and he's one of those non-Scouse, glory-chasing footie fans who follow the red half of the 'calm down, calm down' city of squeaky voices. Nuff sed!

Recent moths

Its been a good summer so far. No stunning migrants, but a good number of moths most catches and a few garden firsts.

Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, Farcet Fen, a new species for me, the garden and my square! Attracted to light (160w MVB), 22 July 2009.

Chinese Character, Farcet Fen, ttracted to light (160w MVB), 22 July 2009.

Double Lobed, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 13 July 2009.

Least Carpet, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 22 July 2009.

Small China-mark, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 22 July 2009.

Swallow-tailed Moth, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 13 July 2009.

Toadflax Pug, Farcet Fen, attracted to light (160w MVB), 19 July 2009.

Copper Underwing, Peterborough, entered building during day, 16 July 2009.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

New garden moth

After two weeks away and missing all this great mothing weather, I was itching to get the traps out when I returned home. First up was the 160w MVB which brought me a 50+ species, 400+ individual insect catch, followed on Saturday night with the 15w actinic which produced the expected much lower numbers, but did manage a first for the garden - The Miller.

The Miller, Farcet Fen, 5 July 09. Attracted to light (15w actinic). New for the garden.

Birds Wing, Farcet Fen, 4 July 09. Attracted to light (160w MVB).

Pale Prominent, Farcet Fen, 4 July 09. Attracted to light (160w MVB).

White Satin Moth, Farcet Fen, 5 July 09. Attracted to light (15w actinic).

Yellow-tail, Farcet Fen, 5 July 09. Attracted to light (15w actinic).

Buff-tip, Farcet Fen, 4 July 09. Attracted to light (160w MVB).

A couple of days in the Highlands

After leading my group around Shetland & Orkney, it was great to spend a couple of days with Liz in the Highlands. Strath Connon and Strath Dearn were out chosen places. Great weather, great landscapes, great wildlife inc. butterflies, Azure Hawker, Northern Emerald, Golden-ringed Draongfly, etc, etc.

Strath Dearn

Juvenile Northern Wheatear, Strath Connon

Dark Green Fritiallry, Strath Connon

Golden-ringed Dragonfly burn, Strath Connon

Lady Poole of Loch Eye House

When you book into a B&B you never imagine that you'll be staying in the house of the aristocracy! Liz booked a couple of nights at Loch Eye House. I left it all to her. I saw the small photo in the Sawday's guide and read the blurb, but it didn't say much and I was focussed on preapring for my trip to Shetland and Orkney.

Loch Eye House

So, image my surprise when we arrive at Loch Eye House and are greeted by Lady Poole! And it doesn't end there. No, she announces she was so looking forward to our coming as she wanted to know if we were related! Errr? It turns out that Lady Poole was formerly Lucinda Dudley and has a full heraldic family tree in the downstairs loo going back to the 15th centuary and includes none other than Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester attendant to Queen Liz the first! Wow!

Well, there was no one on the family tree which I recognised (other than a few famous historical figures) so if we are related then it must be another branch. To her releif no doubt!

Our room with a view across the lawn and loch

Lucinda showed us our room - and what a view! - before inviting us to join her for a drink outside. We sipped wine (or in my case homemade elderflower cordial - made by the Lady of the house) and helped Lucionda shell fresh peas for our dinner before being joined by Michael Loch, friend of Lucinda's from up the road.

At first glance Lady Poole comes across as your typical aristo. Stiff, clipped voice, jaunty laugh, etc. But looks can be deceptive. No, Lucinda isn't one of those aristos that lets everyone run around after her. Definately not. OK, there was the odd mention of the great and the good during conversation (dear friend Michael Portillo for instance), her daily (who was holoday aso unable to help with us), her charity work for Marie Curie Cancer Research and we got to meet Ronnie her gardener-come-handyman) - but no, you definately got the impression that here was one plucky lady who turned her hand to most things. We caught her still recovering from a brain operation (!) but she still saw to our needs, cooked us a superb dinner and breakfasted with us each morning, up and down to make our toast, my boiled egg (done to perfection), making a new loaf of bread - she didn't stop! And her recounting of the day she was told about her brain condition would make a memorable comedy sketch! I now know where the likes of Messers Higson and Whitehouse get their inspiration from (e.g. Rowley Birkin QC).

The fabulous fabric-covered walls of the dining room

Lucinda knew the house and loch as a girl (she skated on the loch in winter) and when she marreid Lord Poole became Lady of the house and estate. But in these hard times, turning her hand to B&B was hope to save the house.

A homage to Lady Poole's beloved wee dog, Beetle

The house's grounds aren't bad either - Spotted Flycatcher, Woodcock, Buzzard. A memorable B&B indeed!

Lucinda was real fun to spend time with and partly blew away some of my pre-conceptions of aristos (only some!) and her wee dog, Beetle, was equally free-thinking and did as she pleased!

Shetland & Orkney, 21 - 30 June 09

Primula Scotica, Orkney, June 09 © Steve Dudley

I'm just back from an excellent trip leading a group around the northern isles. Birds, wildlife and Neolithic archaeology were all on the agenda, but the star of the show for me was finding Primula scotica in full flower. A carpet of them between the two main flowering periods. The best show I've ever seen!

For full report and lists see here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another new footman!

No, we dont have staff, but a new moth for the garden.

Four-dotted Footman. Caught at light (160w MVB).

When I put the MV out last night it was lovely and cloudy, warm and humid, but I was very disappointed when at midnight I popped out and found clear skies and dropping temps. Imagine my surprise when I pulled out a new moth for me and my garden in the form of a Four-dotted Footman - according to Barry Dickerson's uber Hunts stats spreadsheet, this is the first in my square since 1878!

© Steve Dudley / Panasonic Lumix FZ-30

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hawkmoths and Fan-foot

A good moth catch overnight with 180+ insects, the pick being -

One of my favourite moths, Eyed Hawkmoth, and only the third year I have caught them here (2004, 2007).

All pink moths are smart! Elephant Hawkmoth. The fourth consecutive year I've caught this species.

Fan-foot - not regular here by any means.