Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tystie. Very Tystie.

Still at the mercy of the rest of the family for trips out and they have gone beyond the point where indulging Dad is a selfless act of loyalty: now they have taken to extorting expensive treats in return. So yesterday's deal was, I get to stand in the cold for half an hour looking for birds in Portland Harbour, they get to sit in the warm car followed by lunch at the reassuringly expensive 'Taste' cafĂ© at Ferrybridge. And very tasty it was too.
This may look like a bug going splat on a windscreen but it is in fact a first winter Black Guillemot. The red bits, rather than bug blood squishing out of its butt on impact, are in fact the trailing legs of the bird coming in to land.
While the boys only had eyes for strawberry milkshakes, my target for the trip was a Black Guillemot, or Tystie, as they call them in Shetland where they are pretty common. Not common in Dorset at all though - this was my first in fact, having failed to see a different bird of the same species which hung around in the same spot last winter, despite several attempts. This year was a bit easier with the bird showing almost immediately, diving around a group of coloured buoys, with a Black-throated Diver for company.
An even worse photo of a Black-throated Diver

Holding the camera is still far from comfortable since clavicle-gate, but I'd pretty much written off the rest of 2013 birdwise anyway so this was a bit of a bonus. And what with the foul weather I have all but succumbed to the temptations of a sedentary life on the sofa, stuffing potato-based snacks until I feel sick with guilt.

Speaking of guilt, as if vegetating on the couch eating unhealthy food and watching repeats and reality shows wasn't enough, along come the NSPCC seasonal ads. As one of life's natural cynics, who takes a dim view of most of humanity and its impact on the rest of the planet, Christmas is the one time of year when I get to pretend, just for a few days, that I can see the good in humankind and that everything is going to be fine, rest-of-the-world-wise. Then along comes the NSPCC to remind us of the true horror of existence, and the awful fact that life is, for many younger members of our species, cheap, nasty, brutish and short, and that quite a lot of people who ought to be looking after them are actually scum. Phew, for a minute there I was in danger of having a Merry Christmas. Hopefully it won't stop the rest of you having one. That's me wishing you all a 'Merry Christmas' by the way. What, too jolly?

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