Thursday, 27 August 2015

Thursday Morning visit

A lovely bright morning with lots of renewed butterfly activity including my first Small Copper of the year. On Ryders Mere there was still a Common Sandpiper and also a Cormorant while on Clayhanger Marsh there were three Reed Warbler, a very active Willow Tit, a newly moulted drake Gadwall and all three Hirundine including one Swallow and two Sand Martin. Lots of warbler active although most that I saw appeared to be young Chiffchaff. - Chaz

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Wednesday Update (courtesy of Gareth as usual).

Yes, the well-known insomniac Gareth Clements was walking the marsh again, today from 05.50 until 09.25 (he really has had a lie in, that's ten minutes later than normal)!

Today's birds include a Redstart in flight on the Mineral line (a lovely species that seems in danger of becoming one of our most regular passage migrants), a Common Sandpiper on the Mere along with two Shoveler and also two Siskin in flight overhead.

Gareth also had his first Meadow Pipit of the Autumn. Dave Glover and I had a Pipit last Thursday that was intriguing but It could not be called. It started off perched in a bush and then flew toward the pit mound and dropped onto the ground so behaviour didn't provide a clue. It was a very pale grey bird (suggestive of a juvenile) although I have to confess that I haven't really put in the effort to identify it. Truth to tell it was almost certainly a Meadow Pipit but at this time of year you cant safely assume that. The prominent perching behaviour when it was first seen was quite suggestive of Tree Pipit although the colour tone had more in common with Rock Pipit.

We were on the Mineral Line and the bird was perched on one of the bushes by the pit mound so it was just too far away to call. Unfortunately sometimes you just have to give up and let one slip through the net. - Chaz

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Whats going on here, has Gareth overslept?

An evening update from Gareth, surely that's Kev's shift! (Perhaps that means that Kev will be over at 05.40 tomorrow eh)?

Not unprecedented but quite unusual was Gareth's star bird tonight, an early returning female Wigeon. A good date for one of our winter-whistlers back from its holiday in Eastern Europe.

Gareth also had two Shoveler, at least two Kingfisher, three Willow Tit on the Mineral line and a juvenile Hobby hunting the migrating House Martins.

A pretty good evening visit all told, perhaps he will be having a few more lie-ins? - Chaz

The benefits of living close!

Photo (C) Wyre Forest Study Group
Well, young Gareth might not need much sleep but now and again, some of us can bird the Marsh without getting out of bed.

A minute or two after 05.00 this morning, the wonderful sound of a male Tawny Owl calling from the trees around the recreation ground. It managed to keep this up for about five minutes until it decided to try its luck elsewhere (I could tell that as the calls became more distant). If only he had waited...

05.10 Tawny Owl calling from the trees around the recreation ground - this time a female! The moral of the story is: If you want to press your suit with a charismatic hoot, then have a bit of patience or she'll give you the boot!

I am now hopeful of more encounters as once this starts it usually goes on for a few days. On one occasion I managed to even get flight views as a Tawny sailed past the bedroom window, so watch this space! - Chaz

Should going to the doctors make you irrationally angry?

Well I went today and it made me really angry, in fact, as I walked home I got even angrier hence the following diatribe that you are welcome to avoid if you are only interested in wildlife (this is a case of Chaz using his blog to let off steam)!

For about ten years I was on drugs to control my blood pressure. Two or three years ago there was an emergency situation where I had unexpectedly run out of medication and because of work commitments could not get in to my surgery at Holland Park so I needed my wife to pick up a prescription. This was arranged by phone and the following day my wife made a special journey to pick up the precription. It was not there.

A senior receptionist had over-ruled the young lady that I had spoken to and informed my wife that I could not have the medication until I had come in to see the doctor. I phoned and explained that I had run out and that this was not possible at that time but the receptionist I dealt with was to say the least unsympathetic and not at all supportive, so after a terse discussion I politely told her what she could do with the medication and have not used it since.

Ok I know, not recommended, but I was angry (an unusual condition for me, grumpy - Yes, Angry - very rarely) and I tend not to be too rational in that situation.

As you may be aware I had some medical treatment in hospital a few weeks ago and the nurses there were genuinely concerned about my Blood Pressure readings, so after a fortnight of bullying from my eldest son and my wife I conceded defeat and attended at Holland Park Surgery this morning.

Two young ladies were behind the reception desk but those of us checking in for our appointments were diverted to a touch-screen apparatus in order to register our arrival. I will put my hand up and say that it was entirely my fault that I hadn't got my glasses with me, you see, I was going to see my doctor and they tend to be big enough to see without needing glasses, but that aside, I was unable to immediately identify which part of the screen I was expected to touch, I subsequently cocked-up the process and a nice young lady behind the counter had to register me in.

Now I have been working with the general public for thirty years, and in recent years I have actually been involved in teaching people without computer experience how to use the DWP Job-search software and I have seen people with hands that were shaking and had several people in their fifties in tears (genuinely) because they were so afraid of having to deal with technology.

As I sat waiting to go in I could not help thinking how pointless and counter productive such an interface was and how unsuitable for  Health Service premises where there is already a proportion of the population who are reluctant to visit unless absolutely necessary. I am moderately competent with computers and I cocked it up, so how will seventy and eighty year old's feel about going to the doctors if they are aware that they will have to deal with this before they can even see their doctor?

During my interview I made a point of mentioning these concerns to my doctor who expressed the opinion that a reluctance to use technology was not a satisfactory reason for not using it and that we had to move forward with it as there were a proportion of patients who wanted this type of interface.

Lets look at that shall we?

How did she know that a proportion of patients want this type of interface? Was there a consultation (if there was I was excluded)? I know from my experience in the careers service when the possibility of doing consultations through video conferencing was explored that (regardless of age) given the choice most people would prefer to deal with a person rather than a piece of technology.

Even if there was a proportion of the patients who desired to have this interface, what about the proportion who don't? Logically the majority of patients who are comfortable with technology are most likely to be the younger cohort. But hang on, don't we keep getting told that we are an ageing population (isnt that why they keep moving the pension age further away)? So in that situation why should the choices of a minority be given precedence anyway?

My doctor also told me that if I chose not to use the interface, the receptionist would register my arrival for me.

If that is the case, then what is the purpose of the interface? Why is valuable NHS funding being wasted on technology to support what then becomes an unccesary duplication of the arrival registration process? Call me a skeptic if you wish but the more I thought about this the angrier I became and the more I felt that there was a strong aroma of male cattle excrement developing around this whole situation.

Lets look at alternative justification for the interface. Perhaps the expendature could be off-set against the savings that would eventually be made when everyone was happy to use this technology and a member of staff could be made redundant. Even if you accept the principle that such an action would be a good thing (needless to say, I don't), does anyone really believe that the books would then  balance? This technology has a finite life expectancy, there will be software upgrades and necessary maintenance to be taken into account and what about power failures? That smell of male cattle seems to get stronger the more I think about it.

Some of you will remember that old story about the Emperor's New Suit.

That story seems to be so apposite to the current infatuation with technology being used, 'just for the sake of it'. Its not just about the (questionable) increase in efficiency that such a system provides, its about the comfort of ALL users of a service, thats what inclusion is about. I am positive that somewhere in the staff training of the NHS Inclusion must at least get a mention, but if it is only going to be paid lip-service then at least dont take a contrary stance and establish practices and philosophies that promote exclusion.

For students of the Black Country, The town moto of Willenhall says it all:

"Salus populi suprema lex' -  Let the welfare of the people be the highest law.

We are rapidly becoming a two-tier society when it comes to technology and the issues that arise from silly and apparently inoffensive stratagies such as the imposition of this type of interface actually demonstrate how insidious this process is becoming.

Frustration does not get close to how I feel about this, I feel like a voice in the wilderness! Can't anyone else see that the Emperor is naked? - Chaz

Monday, 24 August 2015

Gareth sleepwalking again!

Yes, Gareth Clements was over the Marsh at 05.40 keeping the Bats company. Between then and 09.30 he managed to see a few birds.

There has apparently been an overnight fall of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, several Reed Warbler active around the site, a juvenile Redstart was seen along with twelve blackcap. A Garden Warbler was on the mineral line along with three Willow Tit and several Whitethroat going through. Also a good passage of 58 Swallow was seen, along with a flock of 36 Siskin which hopefully bodes well for this species during the winter?

Eighteen Tufted Duck on the Mere, along with the first male Pochard for the season. The Greylag was keeping company with the Canada flock again. Two Cormorant flew over, ten Great Crested and seven Little Grebe were seen and a Common Sandpiper was present. There are now nine Teal on the Marsh, with the Kingfisher also being seen.

Star birds were one Yellow Wagtail over the Marsh and another two on the farmland.

Thanks Gareth, as I said in my text - now get some sleep! - Chaz

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Big Blue Live

What an interesting programme - but was it spoiled for anyone else by the way that Steve (The bloke on-board the 'Fulmar') carelessly held his binoculars in one hand without using the safety straps. At one point he was holding them over the sea for goodness sakes!

That is a pair of Swarovski E.L.'s - they would cost you about £2000 to replace yet that chimp could have dropped them on the deck and damaged them or lost them at sea any number of times.

I get seriously pissed-off at people who don't treat optical equipment with respect! - Chaz