I spent today doing all the things I should have been doing yesterday, before, courtesy of Richard Mays and Dave Cox, the Razorbill stopped play. Early afternoon I was stocking up on lens cloths at Focus Optics when I received a call from Mark Baynes to tell me that he and Robert Warner-Pask had just found the corpse in Biggin Bay. It appears the life just ebbed out of it, for it looks in death much as it did on the final day of its life. Rigor having set in, it appears to have floated round the reservoir like a tragic rubber duck for some considerable time. Apparently Rob was adamant it was a dead parrot but Mark half-expected to find on closer inspection that it had not yet quite gorn orf to meet its maker. A fisherman reported that it floated past him from the west and who knows what people might have made of it had they seen it from the far side, a distance of getting on for 2 km.
It was unsurprisingly easy to feel the birds keel and I imagine it was underweight and probably starved to death. It also seems likely that it was beyond recovery when it arrived. Steve Haynes, the current county recorder, has tracked down two records dated pre 1904, both of which were ‘taken for preservation’ (The Birds of Warwickshire by CA.Norris refers to one at Harborne 25/07/1890 per John Judge). Both John and Mark posed the question ‘would anyone want the corpse?’. The old school natural historian in me felt that it should go to Warwick Museum so I called a friend at the ecology deptartment in the council and got a number for Jon Radley. Mark spoke to him and though he is a geologist he immediately got it and agreed that the museum should try to acquire the bird, though the remaining hurdle is for them to find the funds to pay for the taxidermy. Meanwhile poor old Mrs B has a Razorbill in the freezer.
Photo by Mark Baynes