Friday, March 18, 2011

Brambling And Barm Cake

A busy couple of hours in Will’s Garstang garden gave us a catch of over 50 birds again, fifty-one in fact. 41 new birds were: 33 Siskin, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Great Tit, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Wren and 1 Brambling. Recaptures: 6 Siskin with 1 each of Tree Sparrow, Nuthatch, Great Tit and Wren – an interesting and worthwhile selection of species.

As normal the Siskins arrived early and noisily from the nearby roost, perhaps 125 individuals this morning, coming for a feed on the plentiful Niger. The 33 new ones trapped lifted our total of Siskin in the garden to 258 birds ringed this year, and we are fairly sure there are more to come, for a week or so at least. After our success here with Bramblings in December and January, the single juvenile male today was the first caught here since 16th February, and whilst there have been low numbers about, including 3 or 4 today, the one we caught may well be the last until autumn.




So while the Siskins kept us busy, huge entertainment ensued for Will and Peter when the male Great-spotted Woodpecker gouged lumps from my finger and drew blood as I took a portrait of it; whoever said ringing birds was for softies? The recaptured Nuthatch was a male, probably the one that may stay to breed in the garden.

Great-spotted Woodpecker

Great-spotted Woodpecker



Peter joined us today and enjoyed his encounter with lots of Siskins but found time to share in a compulsory Ringer’s Breakfast - bacon butties with tomato or HP.

Barm Cakes

For whatever reason, probably entirely accidental by mistakenly clicking incorrect buttons on their computers, this blog has a number of readers from the US who struggle somewhat with the strange colonial terminology occasionally found herein. So for their benefit I can translate the previous references to bacon butties as – “bacon sandwiches with ketchup or brown sauce”. The bread in question is often a barm cake as seen in the photograph.

“Barm cake is an unusual term with a surprising amount of meanings. In England, it is a term for a bread roll similar to a hamburger bun, often filled with French fries, sausage or more usually, crispy fried bacon. Barm cake has also come to use in slang, to refer to a stupid or idiotic person, as in “I’m such a barm cake when it comes to maths.” The slang use of barm cake is of uncertain origin, but likely is a reference to the blandness of the British roll. The simple plainness of barm cakes may relate to other British slang terms for stupidity, such as simpleton. In any case, this term is an excellent piece of obscure slang for those who enjoy insulting others in a way they likely will not understand”


By 10am the scene quietened a little as the feasting Siskins moved on, so the breakfasting ringers packed their gear into the car boot for another day. "Don't you mean 'trunk'? you barm cake!”

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