This weeks Thunder Picks is a little bit different because your intrepid correspondent has sought some respite from reporting in the metaphorical white heat of Londons House Music Front Line (ED: lol!) and is sunning himself in the actual heat of the Costa Brava. We thought you all need some respite from all the mid-90s house youtubes and soundcloud clips of L.I.E.S. records, so we asked one of Thunders good friends, Darren Rock aka Rocky aka half of X-Press 2, to take a few minutes off being one of the nicest men in house music to indulge another one of his passions twitching.
Yes, when Rocky isnt jetting around the world DJing, starring in the Channel 4s legendary A Short Film About Chilling or spending the whole of his live Top Of The Pops performance lying in a bunk bed being lazy (geddit?), there is nothing he likes more than ramble through the English countryside, taking in the beauty of Mother Natures handiwork as he goes. So this weeks Thunder Picks are Rockys Top 5 Passerines. (Miles)
And for those of you thinking Eh?, heres an explanation I definitely didnt just Google. The Passerines, or perching birds, is the biggest order of birds - over half of the world's bird species are passerines. The group includes flycatchers, birds of paradise, crows and all the familiar garden birds of Britain. Passerine birds have three forward pointing toes and one backwards pointing one.
Not strictly a British bird as they don't breed here, more a Scandinavian sort. They tend to travel over here if their population gets too big for their breeding grounds. They'll spread over on to the east coast of Scotland and downwards between October and March. A stunning looking bird, a little smaller than a starling with a thin black mask around the eye and the body a very pale, dusky orangey pink colour with a crest on the head, a yellow tip to the tail with darker red and black patches on the wings. I've never seen one but would dearly love to. On my bird bucket list.
A large finch, although not the largest in my chart (see 4.) As the name implies, the main defining feature of the crossbill is it's bill, which crosses at the tips. The males and females differ slightly in colour, with the males a brick red orange with darker grey/black wing and tail tips. The females are greeny brown. There are breeding areas in the Highlands, north Norfolk, the Forest of Dean and the New Forest.
A beautiful little bird about the size of a robin. Usually spotted flicking it's wings on top of a low bush on open moor or heath. Giving his chip chip chip call. Sounding like 2 stones knocking together. Stonechat geddit? Lovely pale underside with a reddish orange breast, a black cap over his head and a mottled brown back. The female is similar but lacking in the black cap. Don't confuse her with a female Whinchat.
As referred to at 2, our largest UK finch. A real bruiser of a passerine with a short, thick beak for getting into seeds. Not a million miles away from the waxwing in colouring, brick reds, browns and greys with black and white flashes on the wing tips and tail. Found mainly in western England and the home counties.
5 Bearded Tit (AKA The Bearded Reedling)
No, not the sort that you find hanging round the DJ booth at a Thunder party, but another beauty. Somewhat misnamed though as it's more a moustache than a beard, but moustachioed tit just doesn't have the same ring to it. In my opinion, the best looking of the tit family by a country mile. a pale orangey brown with pale underparts, the males have a pale grey head with that distinctive moustache. The females are somewhat duller in colour, resembling a sparrow that's had a tail transplant. They are vulnerable to harsh winters and are pretty rare in the UK. Breeding population is down to around 5-600 pairs according to the RSPB.
You can catch Rocky DJing at Portobello House in Ladbroke Grove on Sunday for Carnival afters. And next week, X-Press 2 play the Zoo Project Festival at Castle Donnigton and then on the 27th September theyre playing at Pacha in Ibiza. Their collaboration with Honey Dijon and Leo Zero is out now, a new remix for Robert Owens coming soon as well, will a bunch of new tracks before Autumn. You might even find him hanging out with the bearded tits in the booth at Thunder on 6th September too
Check xpress2 on them there facebook.
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