26 Jun 2016

26 June 16 - European Bins & Scopes To Be Banned

Following the tumultuous vote in the British Union For Ornithology (BUFO) referendum on the question "Do you wish to Remain to be allowed to use European Optics" or "Leave the European Optics alone", then there have been traumatic times for British Birders in the last few days.

With the vote unexpectedly going in favour of the Leave campaign, then there have been major drops on the FTSE & sterling. The Leave team had campaigned to stop Birders from being able to buy expensive European optics. As a result, shares in camera and optics companies have plummeted on the news of their victory. Similar big drops in the share prices of banks have occurred as Birders will no longer be asking for loans to buy expensive optics.

The Outers, who had no plan for the future, have reacted to the news of their victory with joy, but panic (as they never expected to win). When asked for his thoughts & his favourite optics, the leader of the Leave campaign, John Boriston said "Cripes. So we won, crikey. Old JoBo's favourite optics have always been my eyes. I've always been a keen birdwatcher & I'm especially keen on those two-legged Birds". At that point, he saw a good looking Bird go past & cut the interview short to cycle after her.

Another Leave supporter quietly admitted "I only voted Leave, so I could moan for the next few years, everything was the fault of the Remain camp. What have I done?".

Another more candid comment came from an unnamed Birder who said "I could never afford the prices of a pair of Leica or Swarovski bins on my benefits. Therefore, it was natural I voted Leave. Why should other Birders have what I can't afford? If the Remain camp were serious, then they should have increased my benefits, not cut them".

Many Birders woken up shocked & stunned, at the Leave news on Friday morning. A Birder who didn't want to be named, told our reporter "The problem is the referendum was opened up to the wrong people. The decision should have been left to the experts, namely Birders. We care passionately about our optics. By opening the referendum up to the families of Birders, then you allowed my wife a vote as well. She was swayed by the Outer's promise, that if I wasn't spending the money we should have being saving to allow our children to go to university, then she could have a new kitchen. Where the logic in that?". He the added "Please don't publish my name as I can't afford a divorce at the moment, especially as I still have to pay off my now worthless telescope for the next two years. I only told my wife about the initial deposit, not the monthly repayments. She hasn't spotted my new camera body either".

Perhaps the strongest opposition have come from the Next Generation Birders (NGB) community of Birders, who are all under 25. One prominent NGB Birder said "I will be permanently in debt for many years to come. My bank refused me a huge expensive loan to buy my European optics. My only option was to go to university & spend much of my student loan to buy a top of the range Swarovski bins & telescope. Now I have to study for the next two years & I don't know where the money for that will come from".

As the pound crashed following the news of the Leave vote & the expected ban on European optics, then traders rushed to put their money into the traditional safe havens of gold & silver. But market watchers were surprised that the price of scrap brass doubled in the first hours after the result was announced. Initially this confused market analysts, until news started filtering out that the only British telescopes ever made were a long forgotten range of brass draw tube telescopes. It is thought they will be the only ones allowed in the future.

This has led to long retired Birdwatchers searching their lofts for their old brass draw tube & up to now, worthless telescopes. Back in the 60s & 70s, keen seawatchers could be seen huddled stretched out on cold beaches using long brass draw tube telescopes looking out to sea. Photos are rare of these telescopes, but check out this photo of one in use at the first British Forster's Tern twitch.

In the 80s, the first of the new generation telescopes appeared and Birders suddenly realised you didn't need to lie down on a cold sloping beach & balance a five foot long brass telescope on your feet. Instead you could see more using a modern shorter, light-weight, telescope balanced on a tripod. The European telescope manufacturers flooded the UK market & Birders quickly dumped their useless telescopes, putting the UK telescope companies out of business.

NGB Birders have complained, the result of the referendum is the fault of the Birding Old Timers (BOT). It's alright for the BOTs, they still have their old optics. We can't afford to buy these antique telscopes, whereas they still have them. It's bad enough that the BOTs all have big lists, whereas we still have to race off all the time to slowly try to close the huge gaps in our lists. But now they have the only optics that are likely to be legal to use in the future. They won't even complain that the quality of the optics is poor, as they will assume it their failing eyesight anyway & just book up for another eye test. It's so unfair.

1 Jun 2016

1 June 16 - June Started Early

June started early with an 03:00 departure to allow us to drive on the dirt track back roads near to our chalet, about twenty kilometres SE of Kuusamo. We were hoping to find a Hazelhen on these quiet back roads, but unfortunately, we were not that lucky.
We found this great view over the lake next to the accommodation as we crossed a nearby bridge
Looking South from the same bridge
Nearby we found three male Smew on a lake which apparently breed in small numbers in the area.
Smew: Male. They were surprisingly jumpy considering they were at the back of the lake. But they gave a brief & much closer flight view as they circled on the lake
Whooper Swan: Nearby were two Whooper Swans
We also saw a few Mountain Hares. Closer to Oulu, we had seen a number of Brown Hares, but all the Hares we saw in the Kuusamo were Mountain Hares: we were far enough North for Mountain Hares to be found at low level (Kuusamo is about 260m above sea level). The adults all seemed a bit too keen to get off the road as they saw us, even when we stopped at a reasonable distance. So perhaps the suffer from being hunted at some times of the year.
Mountain Hare: Great to see this superb Mammal. Sadly, I only seen a few in the UK & none have been really close. They are still a heavily persecuted Hare wherever there are Grouse shooting interests in the UK
Mountain Hare: The black ears with the white edges, white bellies & white legs were great to see
Mountain Hare: Eventually, I saw this youngster disappear off the road & then freeze not too far in. Like the pale eye ring
We spent some hours birding in one of the Gosney's hillside sites, but it was surprising at how quiet the forests were: apart from the ever present mozzies. Frustratingly, we flushed a Hazelhen as we were walking up the main path on the hillside, but it didn't fly until after I had walked past it & the first I knew was of a shout behind me: I never saw it.
Reindeer: Youngster. Getting desperate for another Mammal to add to this post. They weren't very common. On one occasion, we saw a couple in an office car park just feeding on vegetation. An early morning youngster
Reindeer: We saw a few each day in the Kuusamo area, including this roadside party
Reindeer: Male
In the afternoon, we tried a lake on the edge of Kuusamo. The highlight of the visit was a distant breeding plumage Red-necked Grebe.
Red-necked Grebe: Nice to see it in summer plumage rather than the winter plumage I normally see at Studland. Unfortunately, it was well beyond realistic photographic range & all I could end up with was a record shot from the SX60 on a ridiculous 130x magnification, with a delayed timing to try reducing vibration on this high magnification
The mid afternoon rain set in again & make it even harder to find Bird activity. So we decided to try a layby site to the North of the Ruka ski centre, where we had a chance of seeing Siberian Jay. We ended up putting food into the empty feeders & sat it the car, hoping that some Siberian Jays would appear. At least, we managed to stay dry & catch up on some food & drinks, but no sign of the hoped for World Tick. Finally, it stopped raining & there was a chance to walk one of the hillside paths. By now it was early evening & as the Bird activity seemed to drop off in the evening, we were not surprised we didn't see that much. Time to call it a day, head back to the chalet for an early night. We had a 01:45 alarm call to get some breakfast, before heading off to Kuusamo to meet our guide for the Kuusamo guided tour the following morning.
Whooper Swan: Party of a twenty strong flock on the way back to the chalet