Sunday, 19 June 2011

Jamboree bag

When I was a child, way before the sweet shops sold 'fun-size' this, 'jumbo' that, and the marketing men decided that 'our' confectionery needed to be rebranded to keep in line with the north American market (Snickers were Marathons and Starbursts were Opal Fruits), our choice of loose sweets in glass jars was enlivened by Jamboree Bags. These bags were made of cheap paper and coloured in muted reds, blues and greens. You couldn't see what was inside them, so every purchase was as much a risk as a surprise. A good bag might contain a sherbert dip, a giant toffee and a strip of caps (ask your parents if you don't know what caps are). A poor bag would have Parma Violets, a plastic whistle that didn't work and a sheet of paper with a few jokes printed on it. This post is my version of a virtual jamboree bag - a place to sweep up all the loose ends and package it neatly to then dispose of it to your good selves...

Pan listing.

Total now stands at 2795. My week at Sandwich Bay added 49 species with a few awaiting verification. The picture above is of a beetle that looks distinctive enough, but I cannot find anything to match it with. Can you help? The biggest gains were with moths (20, including two macros, Grass Rivulet and Lead-coloured Pug) and flora (12, including Whorl-grass, Long-bracted Sedge and Narrow-leaved Ragwort). Insect highlight was Dune Tiger Beetle, mainly because it is spectacular and easy to identify.

Other blogs
Has Gavin Haig really deleted the marvellous 'Not Quite Scilly'? I've tried to get on the site but Blogger tells me it no longer exists. I do hope that's incorrect. I am belatedly adding three more blogs to my list of worthies, all are from Surrey birders. The first is from Pete Alfrey, who you may have heard of as he is one of the pioneering birders who put the Azores on the map as the Western Palearctic hot spot for yankee vagrants. He also has a wide-ranging interest in the development of Beddington Sewage Farm and the general area. Secondly is the laid-back camera-work of Roger Brown, who puts together entertaining videos from time to time demonstrating the gems on offer at Beddington. he is also one of the few birders I know who is aware of the musical genius of Lemon Jelly. Last, but not least, Neil Randon, who has the unenviable reputation as a dipper of birds. He is a fellow paid up member of the graphic designer club.

General guff
When I went to Sandwich Bay, I took loads of reference books with me. I thought that I would spend hours poring over mosses and lichens to bump the pan list up. As it happens, I did none of that. Even though I was free to do what I wanted for as long as I wanted to, I found that my time spent birding, botanising and looking for moths, butterflies and dragonflies kept me more than occupied. I was also aware that I needed to concentrate fully on trying to sort out the grasses, rushes and sedges that I found. The upshot is that I have come to the conclusion that I cannot possibly 'do' everything - time spent on beetles, flies, lichen, mosses etc is time spent away from my main, core interests. So, although I will maintain a pan-list, and although I will still try and identify 'other' living things, I will not spend too long doing so.

A couple of recommendations for you, not natural history books per se, but books that someone with an interest in the the welfare of our planet and what it is made from would find valuable reading. First up is 'Here on Earth' by Tim Flannery. Also 'Periodic Tales' by Hugh Aldersey-Williams.


  1. I'm not a beetle expert but is it a click beetle of some sort?

  2. I searched a bit more. Closest photo-id online I can find is Agrypnus murinus - probably way off but worth a shot!

  3. The click beetle is indeed Agrypnus murinus. A pretty coastal species although I have found them in the Thetford Forest!

  4. Thanks Mel and Josh, I'm grateful for the input. I've book-marked the elateridae website for future use!

  5. Hi Steve. Yes, I'm afraid NQS has bowed out after 3 years. I couldn't face another 'goodbye' post, so have quietly vanished without trace. The blog's contents are tucked away on my pc for posterity, so I can dip into it like an old diary when the fancy takes. I've been rather touched to receive several enquiries as to my well-being (one or two from unexpected sources) so please allow me to use this comment box to reassure concerned readers that medical intervention has actually been unneccessary so far! I am fine, but currently sans blog. A heady sense of freedom afflicts me though....

    My grateful thanks to you for unfailingly kind comments, and all the very best in your pan-listing endeavours. And don't forget your giant buttons if you should be passing Seaton any time soon!

    Jamboree bags eh? I remember the toffees and parma violets, but did they really have caps in them sometimes too? Little explosives in the sweet shop! Amazing.

  6. Hi Gavin, a sad day indeed as NQS was one of my favourite blogs, but I do understand the need to rid ones self from being chained to such a beast. Thanks for the posts over the past few years, it has done much to entertain me! As for those Giant Buttons, I have certainly NOT forgotten them...