birds

Learn about birds with Computer Jones

As there is a lot of serious ornithological discussion on this journal at the moment, I thought I might ruin it with this clip from Look Around You:

Hergé's adventures of keithlard

Well I went to the Brent reservoir on Saturday for bird noticing fun and photergraphy (as the more eagle eyed readers of this journal will be aware). I hope you do not actually have eagle eyes as that would be a little disquieting, plus it really annoys eagles. It is a hard job being an eagle and they cannot answer back, like the Queen, so next time have a little consideration.

On Sunday I went on my very first Lardax ride, if you do not know it is a special type of bike ride I have invented where you do not really know where you are going when you start off, plus it does not matter how long you take. So as it happened I went to the Lea Valley Navigation where there is a super park all along the canal and lots of people going for bike rides. It is next to the big reservoirs there eg the King George V and William Girling which are completely vast but you cannot get near them, which is a shame as there is apparently lots of intresting birds.

It is understandable that they do not want people messing about there as it supplies a million people’s drinking water in London, but I think you can get a special birdwatching permit to visit them. I might do that, although I do not know what kind of tough interrogation you have to to go through to get the permit. “Do you like birds?” “Yes.” “Are you a terrorist fanatically dedicated to poisoning London’s water supplies?” “No honest.” “Very well off you go then.”

Anyway it was a wizzo day out on the canal and I did see a number of mallards, coots, moorhens, swans and ducks. Also I saw a sleek dark diving bird which I realised straight away was a lifer (that is just a bird you have not seen before). It was quite shy and kept diving every time I pedalled up to it to have a closer look, but later on it took off and flew all around with its mate. It was about goose sized and all black except for white cheeks and throat, with a long pointed bill like a grebe. So I think after consulting my reference books (lookitup boy lookitup lookitup) it is a Great Cormorant. Or if anyone knows better please tell me.

I guess it was over 20 miles there and back which is a good ride, I was not too tired but my bottom was telling me in no uncertain terms that it had had enough when I got back. It was a lovely day of spring sunshine though and it was great being out on the bike. I worked up a big appetite even though I had a packet of Fizzy Fish to sustain me, and in the evening Jane and her neighbour and his girlfriend and me went to the Dignity and then to the Balti for a refreshing curry.

So that is all the adventures I will tell about for now. More news tomorrow!

Swanderful

Things that happened

Well I decided I have been spending too much time in front of the computer doing electronick things, so I went out today in the sunshine and had a very cheerful day. I bikled down to the reservoir again (where I got the super pictures of swans ekcetera before) and did lots more photergraphy. So there will be pictures later. I saw our friend the pochard again, and even got some long-lens surveillance shots of the shy and retiring great crested grebe.

I took the opportunity to try out the super camera backpack I bought from my friend Mike. It has a regular backpack area, but also a separate watertight compartmint with foam padding and dividers for your camera and lenses and all the little rings, filters, batteries, flashcards, wotsits, doodads, and gewgaws that photographers seem to insist on carrying around. It is specially meant for people who like cycling and also like photography, and like cycling on their cycle to places where they can take photographs. And have a back. It is almost like they know me (or my friend Mike).

Anyway it is a magic backpack as although it looks a regular size on the outside, it is massive inside and has got room for a DSLR, 18-55mm lens, 30mm lens, 70-200mm lens, monopod, macro set, 2 litre bottles of finest wheat beer, a baking potato, a bag of ready-made salad, 2 packets of mini poppadoms, a cheesy roll, warm gloves, emergency Google “I’m feeling lucky” T-shirt, a packet of Penn State pretzels, and David Guterson’s Snow Falling On Cedars. So that is jolly good as by chance that is exactly the things that I needed to carry in it today.

It was a lovely evening down by the water and I spent hours admiring the birds dipping and cavorting, incarnadined by the dying rays of vermilion sun (good writing). There was swans and coots and mallards and the aforementioned pochard and grebe and tufted ducks and moorhens and herring gulls and Canada geese and crows and blackbirds. So it does not get any better than that really.

A blackbird yesterday