Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Whilst DEFRA had been prepared to attribute the recent confirmed outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu at a duck farm in East Yorkshire to ‘a wild bird origin’, UKIP took things a step further this morning when they blamed a recently arrived Wigeon from Russia for the disease’s arrival in Britain.
“It’s perfectly clear to us that this dirty Russian immigrant has come here hoping to tap into our country’s over-generous welfare system!” sputtered Enid Felcher, a staunch and swivel-eyed UKIP party member from Chatham.
“It’s a sign of how the Tories have broken Britain – and not content with that, they’ve imposed sanctions on Russia, god only knows why, and that’s driving these desperate Wigeon to try to claim asylum in our warm, cosy duck farms.
“And once they’re there, they start taking the jobs from good, honest, British-born domestic ducks. When they’re not stealing the position of delicious Chinese restaurant starter, they’re signing on and drawing benefits... and now they’re bringing their weird contagious respiratory diseases with them. The filthy, greedy and above all, foreign bastards!”
Vladimir Putin, a Wigeon originally from a small wetland near St Petersburg, said, “This is just Nigel Farage and his deranged cohorts trying to start a new cold war. And speaking of colds, I may be running a high temperature and generally feeling like shit, but I’ve not got bird flu.
“It’s just a bit of a sniffle”.
Monday, 17 November 2014
Birds I Really Don’t Get Unless I’m Desperate & Easily Satisfied (BIRDGUID&ES) promises to provide an accurate news service devoted entirely to the sort of dodgy rubbish that, in a more discerning past, birders wouldn’t have bothered to get out of bed for.
Practically anything will be newsworthy – be it a Common Bulbul sporting an aviculturist’s ring, a half-blind and lame Blue Rock Thrush, or a pet Snowy Sheathbill wandering a dock and wondering where all the on-board scraps have gone.
“This is precisely what I’ve been waiting for!” exclaimed a clearly delighted Tom Logan. “Up until now nobody has taken my desire to augment my list with plastic crap seriously.
“You’d get the occasional report of a dodgy House Finch or Red-fronted Serin, but by and large the existing bird services haven’t catered for the truly desperate lister. You only have to look at the vitriol poured out on any Birdforum thread devoted to an escaped bird. That’s where you’ll see the utter contempt that most people have for blokes like me who don’t have functional adult relationships with anyone but other like-minded arseholes.
“Well, now we have a news provider that’s taking seriously our need to validate ourselves by adorning our lists with as many species as possible!”
Arthur Balsam, a birder who saw the Mugimaki Flycatcher at Stone Creek on 17th November 1991, remains indifferent. “Everyone who saw the Mugimaki at the time knew it was the real deal, and the subsequent decision by the British Ornithologists Union Records Committee to label it as an escape was laughable. Lest we forget, this is the same committee that latterly opened the door to Hooded Merganser, for fuck’s sake.
“It’s a sign of the times that people are getting excited about reports on the news services of escaped bulbuls.
“Ship-assisted my hairy arse”.
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
“It’s partly because, once you’ve seen all the bright resident stuff like Blue Tits and Green Woodpeckers, you’re left with vagrant birds to provide variety,” said Arthur Balsam, a birdwatcher from Faversham. “And, let’s be brutally honest, they’re invariably dull as fuck to look at, for all they’re numerically rare in Britain.
“Look at the news these past few days. American Coot in Co.Kerry? Dull as fuck. And as for the putative eastern lagopodum subspecies of House Martin, I’d tell you that’s dull as fuck too but you wouldn’t be able to hear me over the sound of a massive barrel being desperately scraped. What the merry hell is the birding world coming to? When did it all get so tedious?
“We used to take the piss when Lee Evans banged on about some obscure subspecies deserving to be taken as seriously as the nominate full species. Now Martin Garner's at it, it's a different matter entirely. Which is odd".
The issue of tricky subspecies continues to exercise birders, with many uneasy about ticking any mooted species that can only be safely identified with a DNA sample, a sonogram, or a generous slice of wishful thinking in the field. For many, it smacks of desperation.
“Time was when I used to look at the Birding Frontiers website for cutting edge identification tips. Now it’s all possible split this and potential first subspecies for the Western Palearctic that,” added a disgruntled Mr Balsam.
“I bet Martin Garner would really, secretly, like to break the news of a nice, incontrovertible, properly rare species.
“Narcissus Flycatcher, for example. That’d be a good one”.
Monday, 10 November 2014
District judge Peter Veits warned Britain’s rural aristocracy that they need to take responsibility for their employees’ actions, but fell short of imposing a custodial sentence on Lambert, instead convicting him to a 10 week jail term suspended for one year. While many felt this was unduly lenient given the gravity of Lambert’s crime – he was found guilty of poisoning 10 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk – higher powers were alerted to his misdemeanours, and are imposing a far sterner sanction.
“He’s not going to get any presents from Father Christmas this year,” said Buddy, a spokeself from Lapland. “Santa doesn’t bring presents to naughty boys and girls, and Allen’s been a very naughty boy indeed this year.
“Santa’s not cross with him. He’s just very, very disappointed. And he hopes Allen will be better behaved next year
Whilst many bird-lovers were initially dismayed by the perceived leniency of the sentence, they have been mollified by the stern response from Santa Claus. Tom Logan, a birder from Norwich, said “This is more like it. Ideally, I’d have liked to have seen him sent down for at least six months, if not longer. But at least this way he won’t be finding any shiny new pots of Carbofuran in his stocking on Christmas morning, and that’s going to hurt him deeply, I’m sure”.
Others are less convinced. “Fuck that shit”, said the Easter Bunny. “This bitch gets nothing from me anytime soon. Years without an Easter egg...
"He should have thought about that when he poisoned those birds”.
Friday, 7 November 2014
As it stands, any birder who wants to get a ringing licence needs to undergo a scientifically rigorous training program of carrying an established ringer’s bag and pliers, untangling their mentor’s nets when they get snagged in a bush, learning some feather tracts and ringing as many birds as humanly possible. This is how it has been for decades – and now it is felt in many quarters that the process needs to adapt to the modern era.
Mike Hunt, a birder and compulsive shagger from Cardiff, said “The BTO really needs to move with the times, and recognise what birders have known for years – that ringing is, for many, just a way to reinvigorate their birding when it’s getting a bit stale and the lifers are becoming thin on the ground. I like to think of it as being like having an affair or three when your long-term relationship’s got a little samey...
“Once you start ringing, it’s like starting afresh all over again. Every single species is a new ‘ringing tick’ for you. Better still, you actually have to physically catch and hold the bird. It satisfies that deep primal hunting instinct in all of us. Your listing itch is well and truly scratched, and better yet, you can hide it beneath the veneer that ringing is ‘adding to science’.
“If it’s done as part of a focused research project, or at a constant effort and strategically located migration watchpoint like Portland or Fair Isle, that’s probably true.
“But if it’s a case of, to pick a wholly fictitious example entirely at random, you being out birding one late autumn day and finding something obvious like a male Siberian Rubythroat, calling your mates, sticking up a net, catching it and slapping a ring on it... well, that’s not science is it? That’s just adding to your ringing list. It’s all about you, and has fuck all to do with science or the bird’s welfare.
“So, seeing as the BTO appears to let that sort of thing go on unchallenged despite it contravening their ringing guidelines, they might as well just call open season and automatically issue C permits on receipt of a stamped addressed envelope and a £10 donation from anyone who fancies fondling vagrant birds and adding to their ringing lists.
“Sorry, I meant to say ‘adding to science’. Silly me”.
Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Arthur Balsam, spokesman for newly formed You Forgot the Purdeys, commented “At first, we didn’t think it was even worth bothering to respond to You Forgot the Birds. But once we’d had a gander at their website, double-checked that we weren’t looking at the spookily similar Songbird Survival pages, and stopped laughing at their numerous groundless and scientifically-flawed assertions, we realised that perhaps some sort of response was in order.
“So we’re providing a forum for birders and the general public alike, for anyone who isn’t credulous and hard of thinking, for anyone who thinks that You Forgot the Birds celebrity spokesman Ian Botham should have stuck to cricket commentary and left the ecology to actual ecologists, and for anyone who’s taken more than a cursory glance at You Forgot the Birds’ website and laughed so much they did a little wee in their pants.
“You’re all welcome to join us. In particular we’d welcome any former international cricketers called Ian who don’t happen to run a commercial shoot from their home in North Yorkshire and hence don’t have a spectacular conflict of interest when hinting that raptor control would benefit pretty little songbirds like Chaffinchs whilst, coincidentally, also being precisely what most grouse and pheasant shoots appear to think is for the best”.
In 2007 former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell observed, “There are many skeletons dangling in Botham's cupboard, ranging from stories of drug-taking to general thuggery, and if he keeps peddling his lies, there's every chance more of these stories will emerge".
Arthur Balsam concluded, “Mr Chappell would be a fine figurehead for our campaign. I bet, for example, his Twitter feed has never featured a photo of a penis, nor that he’s had to explain said dick away by claiming his Twitter account had been hacked...
“Perhaps someone would like to post a photo of some testicles on the You Forgot the Birds Twitter feed?
Monday, 3 November 2014
The young keepers all had satellite tags attached to them earlier this year by GWCT staff operating in the uplands of northern England. At the time of writing, only three of the nine keepers tagged are known to still be alive – of the remaining six keepers, two are known to have died of natural causes (believed in both cases to be overindulgence in Farmers Weekly, the Shooting Times, and NFU press releases). But of the remaining four keepers, there is no sign.
“Their disappearance is mysterious, to say the least,” remarked Arthur Balsam, spokesman for GWCT, “and at worst, is deeply suspicious. Had some natural mishap befallen them, their satellite tags should have continued to transmit the location of their remains.
“But they’ve gone completely off the radar. It’s almost as if someone has shot them and stuffed the satellite tag down a fox earth where, were it to be found, it would absolve the guilty party of all blame, and implicate the fox instead”.
The gamekeepers’ disappearance is particularly worrying for one species in particular, the highly endangered Hen Harrier, a species that to all intents and purposes stands on the brink of extinction as an English breeding bird.
“We’re really worried,” said Tom Logan, a Hen Harrier from the Pennines. “Without a viable population of gamekeepers, who will protect us from all the threats we face? From the rapacious foxes, those wicked badgers, and not to mention all those mysterious shotgun wielding louts who seem to delight in randomly shooting us?
“Thank goodness for the efforts of those committed custodians of biodiversity, the gamekeepers, is all I can say. I just hope these young missing keepers are okay after all.
“We’d like to hope that, against all the odds, they return to the moors to breed with one another again next year”.