Monday, 22 May 2017

The Sun Is Shining

The birds are singing, there's songs goi- Wait, wrong one.


Right then, after yet more distractions [still ongoing but maybepossiblyhopefullysoontoberesolved...], Sunday saw a determined effort to get out and see some birds.

With Golden Oriorioles and Woodchats seeming to have done bunks, I figured to do the proper thing for the time of year and catch up with some favourite arrivals.. So it was I toddled up onto t'Moor and spent much of the day ambling about Vitifer and Challacombe.


There were Cuckoos, oh yes, and there were Whinchats, in numbers most pleasing to the heart [unless you're a Mipit, I suppose..]. Reed Bunts, Wheatears, Spot Flies, Siskins, Redpoll [I know those two aren't migrants, but they are so very pretty], Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, and a Garden Warbler singing its little heart out oh yes.

Not just birds, either;


There were also lots of birders about, including the odd familiar face. Speaking of familiar, lets get the pics going with this character;

"I migrate when I want to, got it?"

Not as rare as a Woody*, true, but a shrike is a shrike.

Also grey, long-tailed and mobile...

Far off

Up close and personal

Showing off
[Horribly blurred, don't expand]

Those last two were the benefit of sitting and waiting [and yes, getting {almost} very lucky].

The Whinchats were numerous and glorious, but also very hard to photograph, as they either turned their little heads away or blurred themselves [definitely them, not my shaking hands..]

Not quite sharp

Nice crisp..back

Again, leave as thumbnail..

Just look at the Gorse instead

The psychic head turn

Ok I'll stop with the Whinchats. I know five awful pictures is a bit much [[stop saying "one is a bit much!"...]], but they're just so lovely.

There were other birds too slow to dodge my lens, and yes, here they come;

Reed Bunt gets in on the fun

Ditto the Lesser Redpoll**

But the Spotted Flycatcher didn't get the memo

Stopped clocks and all that...

Again, I was just sitting about minding my own, [having some lunch - nothing like sarnies to attract birds' attention!] and this little thing practically flies up to me and holds the pose while I scramble for my camera. I only got one shot, but it was enough.

Meadow Pipit, I thank you.

It was hard to tear myself away, but the real life demands, and what can you do?
[[I think there's this lottery thing for that...?]]

Be Seeing You..

[[*It's one of those quirks of birding that I've seen more Isabelline Shrikes** than Woodchats]]
[[**Yeah, yeah...]]

Thursday, 18 May 2017

'Work Not All Bad'

Life continues to prevent Birding, mostly, so we shall shift focus;

Lunch break on Tuesday [grotty weather] saw a shock series of sightings!
First two low Swallows [not unusual], then 2 Swifts a bit higher, then a frickin' Hobby! All going north.

The Hobby was the third I've had from work in seven summers, now. I wonder how many someone who could spend all day staring up would get?

Of interest, Wednesday [grottier weather, even] saw nothing at lunch, but 7 Swallows were feeding at canopy height by an Oak on the way out.

Today saw better weather and nothing above, beyond the inevitable Herrings, Woodpigs, and corvids...

I suppose you'd better have a piccie, so here's One From The Archive;

This Time Last Year..

Once Were Giants.

Be Seeing You..

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Madness Of Definition

Not just a daft pun on the last post's title, but we'll get to that in a bit.

Yesterday was not supposed to be an out chasing tweety birds day. I did get about the Patch with optics, but that was purely in the course of Doing Important Things. Anyway, I saw nowt fancier than more Swallows.

Then I get in for a late look at the computermabob [just in case, you understand..] and lo and behold, Grandmaster Lakin has scored at the Warren.
What will you do?

We could get to definitions, here [yes, we're talking birds, 'species', and all that stuff...] but I'll once more hold off.

Anyway, I'd never seen an Eastern Subalpine Warbler before, and no flavour at all in Spring Singing mode.. So, I put aside something I really shouldn't have and over I toddled.

To cut things short, there were a fair few still there. Fortunately, this included the bird. Unfortunately, the bird was being a right git and hiding in a Great Big Very Dense Tree.. This one;


Looking for the bird was an exercise in patience, persistence, and sheer blind luck.

"It is in there, really.."

Yes, I wondered what you're thinking, too.

Anyways, I could only give it a couple of hours, due to having to get up at aaaaarrrgghh o'clock this morning, and in that time I got 4 decent looks*. The first time I was busy deciding that yes, it definitely was an eastern, and the rest I was distracted getting everybody else to where I was, and so I do not have anything even vaguely as good as you will find elsewhere. [Apparently, I was 'the fourth from last' and it showed really well right after I'd had to leg it...]

I did, however, get two little bits of it in my attempts [which weren't helped by not being able to see what I was shooting when I was shooting...]. Yes, you get inflicted upon;

Top of picture, just right of centre..
Top of head and eye, turned towards camera

Just below centre of picture, in [behind] fork in branches
Side of neck/throat showing moustache!

Yes, they really are that bad.

There was some discussion about whether it was an Eastern or a Moltoni's [ok, from one source, and quickly put paid to by the bird itself :) ], which made me even more determined to go on about this pet peeve of mine once more. But as I type, I wonder.. 'What is the point'?

All I shall do is wonder why there are now two full flavours of Subalpine Warbler, plus various shades, when we can differentiate by plumage, call, breeding range and so on, yet these matter less than statistical quirks of DNA..?

In other news, the good thing about being at work in daylight was the chance to look out the canteen window and actually see.. Well, usually not much.  Today there was a Swift. :)

Be Seeing You..

[[*You could see the bird. See it was the bird. Through bins. For multiple seconds.]]

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Definition Of Madness

Is probably not far off that of seawatching.

Life has had the odd curveball for me in the last couple of days, but I was again at the Nose first thing today, this time I found myself almost running down, drawn by an urgent need to get set up.

This proved most prescient, as within two minutes I was on a skua! A very distant skua indeed, but bloomin' unmistakable!  :D  Oh the tail on it....

After that glorious start, I allowed myself some hope. there were Gannets moving in almost numbers, and while I wasn't raining, it had been and seemed like it could again...?

Not so much.

Two hours later, as the sun came blazing out and nothing moved, I said 'Enough'.

Not that it was dead, there had been Manxies - more than 50! - and two wonderful splendid brilliant Great Northern Divers in Full Summer Regalia - one sat on the sea for a bit! - and there had been two of these;


Not even a Patch yeartick, but I got it! A low-flying bird and I got it! [maybe one day I'll get something good, you never know...???]

Now, you may be wondering, having maybe seen what went past BH, if something small and Black is coming.. The answer is no. The only terns to pass, and there were a few, were Sarnies. Indeed, all this year, the only terns I've seen have been Sarnies! [I'm starting to wonder if there are any others...]

A Whimbrel added some vocal variety, and another random in/off again had me double-taking.. female type Blackstart  [?!?!?]. Right in past me, maybe 20' to my right, too. There were Common and Black-headed Gulls, and a few Common Scoter [ 15 went north even further out than the LT and 6 came south close in - I almost got them!]. Fulmars all seemed to be the locals, but there was a definite southerly movement of Kittiwakes [quite possibly foraging from up the coast]

I leave you with some local colour!

Vocal Colour!

Mallards of Hope Cove

This afternoon, after the sun got bored and wandered off, I counted 14 Swallows moving through north past my windows.

Be Seeing You..

Eyes Down

I post about the past.

Both senses.

So, it was by pure chance that I learned of not only an archaeological dig below Trendlebeare Down, but that they were having an open day that very day that I was there. [How about that? Jammy or what?] My intentions were focused on Yarner and tweety birds therein, but I wasn't going to turn up the chance to look down for a bit! :)

So, after having lots of fun under the trees,




No, not getting tired of them any time soon..  ;)

Anyways, I headed down to the confluence of Bovey and Becka to see what they'd been up to.

The answer was Vinnicombe Farmstead; a brave attempt at settling the valley floor, though not a hugely long-lived one. What you saw at the dig were some walls, with a doorway and a couple of hearths, plus trays of assorted finds. Great if you're into that sort of thing, rocks and rubbish if you're not.

Time for pictures;

The back wall, from the outside

The stable/stall, with a store space to the right, house to the left

Hearth in the right side room

Hearth in the left hand room - the kitchen

Bread oven set [round] set in the side of kitchen hearth
- hearth on upper right, oven wall upper left

The building is rectangular, with a central door opening to a pink-plastered central corridor separating two white-plastered rooms. The rooms each had a hearth* and glazed windows, the right being a 'bedroom' and the left a 'kitchen', with a bread oven set into the side of the hearth. Attached to the east side [right as you look at it] were two more rooms - these without stone front walls [presumably closed with wood or possibly wicker]. The nearest and largest is thought to be a stable or stall [it being that sort of size], the outer a storage area [you'd just fit in a small cart and a plough, say]. The back of the building has a built up revetment to presumably give protection when the rivers got frisky - the floor level, shown by the door lintel amongst other things, was set up.

The finds included some nice dating pottery, lots of broken pipes [ooh arr], nice bits of glass, and even some flint tools. These include a Mesolithic microlith, found under the front door lintel [maybe for luck? It seems unlikely to be random 'end up there' especially as it's in good condition]. The flints might have been washed there, but the Bovey/Becka aren't the mellowest of streams when they flood, and it seems unlikely that flints would be in decent shape after being moved by them.

All in all a very nice little site, and well worth the merry slog climb back up the hill.

Be Seeing You..

[[*Not usual, especially in a little place like this.]]

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Got On With It!

The shift in the weather - from clear skies and easterlies to light winds, mist, and maybe even thunderystorms - had me shun sleep this morning in favour of getting rained on at the Nose.

I had hopes of grounded late migrants, and maybe even low-flying Black Terns, oh yes I did.

Things didn't quite work out like that.

There were an unusual number of Chiffs about the Top Dell, including an interestingly green and pale one and an incredibly brown one. Something also gave a weird "see-it!" call  [???]. Unfortunately, the wind was still a fresh ESE and so the driven in gunk and rain was keeping much stuff [assuming it was there, of course] down.

The local Whitethroats were not to be stopped, though, and even kept up song flights. There were 5 singing males [ah, remember when it was 15? Thank you TCCT...] and a couple of lurking females. One decided to pose a bit;

"If I hold my wings like this..."

"..and make my tail look really dark-"

You still don't look like a Spectacled, mate.

A different spectacle also posed;

"I'm top of the heap, me"

Doing his best to keep the Foxes fed..

The sea naturally called, but it was frickin' dead. [All the good things were tarting about for The Artist at BH, it seems.. :( ]

Typical view

Gannets, gulls, Guilles....

The day was saved, though, by some late migrant action, as a pulse in the weather brought some birds in/off! Mostly Swallows [and none even vaguely Red of Rump..], but a couple of finches came in too. So that was all good. :)

Bladdy skuas.....

Be Seeing You..

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Get On With It

As they chorus in MP

Things and Stuff keep getting in the way of proper blog maintenance - I do apologise. There is still a short boring post about shallow holes in the ground to come. It's mostly written but nowhere near polished, though, so you're still a way off, I'm afraid [or maybe you should be..? ;) ]

Right, the weekend and so on.

So what happened again?


Oh yeah. After I spent most of Saturday staring at a largely empty sea [I was watching the pilot boat vs car carriers.. oh yes], and after Sunday's Plan got postponed a day, I took to doing the backup. Firstly I amused myself in my kitchen doing some baking - I find it dreadfully calming, making baked goods, and people do seem to appreciate them - and seeing a couple of Swallows going past my window :), then I toddled up to Bowling Green for the evening tide.

Bowling Green in the afternoon sun
[note thin pillars, rspb zumerzet!]

 I had hopes of things like Spoonbills or maybe even flying raptors of a Red or brown and white variety, but these were dashed. It also seemed my [much more realistic] hopes of Ruff, Spring, Male, Assorted would be, too.

But with far too much patience, three eventually showed. Never close, but looking lovely lit up by low sunlight ;

Spot the Ruffs

Spot the Ruff

 Also a scattering of waders and ducks - with Pintail and Shoveler, Barwits [gorgeous s/pl some of them], Greenshank, and Knot of some note. Warblers, both migrant and resident, were about, too, though not a hope of pictures of them! [Dratses]

Spot the Odd One Out

The gulls were a bit better, but nothing nice [you know, like a Franklin's..] really. Yes, Med's are prettier [and with a far less grating voice], but still..

Monday afternoon saw me take such advantage as I could of my lovely work hours to go looking for Bluebells with the Folks. The LBD was along, too, but she wasn't interested in Bluebells [they taste 'orrible, even to a dog], the various smells were far more to her liking, though, as were the rations when we stopped for coffee [that baking had almost forethought, you see].

The lower flowers were starting to go over, and had been hailed on, but up high, the later-bloomers were pretty intact. Here you go;

Down in the woods

Up in the woods

There were other flowers blooming, too. The trio were just about going [that's Bluebell, Campion, and Primrose in bloom together]. There were also these;

Incredibly Common Orchid

Tiny Pretty Flower

I have no idea what this is. I do know my blimmin' camera didn't lock on to the flower, despite showing the focus box on it.. Grr.

Slightly Less Tiny Flower

No idea what this is, either.

Yeah, so, it was a very nice afternoon in the sunshine. No low- or high-flying raptors that weren't Buzzards, again, but never mind. I had hopes of Wood Warblers, but these were dashed. A Redstart sang at one point, but he evaded us easily. Many butterflies on the wing, including a non-orange skipper sp. seen by Mum, and a frit sp. [probably a Pearl-border sp.], plus lots of Blues [mostly Holly] and single Brimstone and Orange-tip.

That'll do!

Be Seeing You..