Sunday, 10 December 2017

Purple Patch

Still here, still on my feet [more or less], though the plague is still hanging on - hopefully this is at last changing - but I'm stuck in chafing at what might have been, with winter storms blasting past and me in no state to be off doing what should be done; seawatching!!

[What?!? I'm not insane. Winter seawatching is the best thing to do on windy days, and far healthier than futilely searching for passerines, or standing in the full force trying to count huddled waders or waterfowl while your scope shakes as in a 7.5 and you get handpothermia...
You wouldn't get a decent count, let alone a decent view anyway.
Contrast with a properly-sited seawatcher, well-wrapped and out of the blast, with warm drink to hand, and a nice view of hopefully something interesting and even northern flying past.
See? Like I said. Not insane.]

Anyways, Saturday started very well as far as birds went, with a flypast Little Owl on the way home from work! Get In.  :D  Not had one in the work area for.. oh, it is multiple years now.

After that I just had to do more, and so I made time from an unavoidable trip into Towne* to nip over to the Harbour to have a look at what the calm seas would show.

Lots of little yachtses....

I got nothing more spectacular than a Cormorant.

At least, on the sea.

On shore, the Real Living Coasts had at least 6 Sandpipers Purple, and as many Turnstones;

Sleeping Beauty

Think it's siesta time?

"I am awake, actually. I am merely not talking to you."

There was some activity

"Got any sarnies?"

But more from the Turnstones

"I'm big-feathered, ok?"


"Ok, where did you leave your phone??"
"I'm sure it was on this bit.."

Dragging the gaze away from littoral cuteness [stop it], I couldn't help myself but zap at least one decortication;

Very festive

Getting back inland, I once again encountered that little warbler, but despite having the camera in hand, I was unable to get more on the fast-moving, hide-against-the-light artist than this;

Drat. Again.

I'm sure it's in there somewhere.. Oh well, if at first you don't succeed

Other birds had more manners [or ego];

"Oi! Monkey! Fill up the feeders!"

[I don't know what the problem was, there was still plenty, AND they haven't even touched the fancy fat balls yet!]

In other news,
The more observant among you may be wondering where the Yarner thing is. Well, I lent my Mushrooms book out without having written down the IDs of what I photo'd [oops], so until I get it back, I'm holding fire. ::shrugs::

Yes, I could just add in names afterwards, but I've played that game already.

Be Seeing You..

[[*Nope, no dipping Parrot Crossbills for this little black duck...]]

Monday, 4 December 2017

Still Here

Just about.

A lovely attack of the plague has taken me out somewhat, but before that happened, I not only gave the Patch a long overdue - and shockingly productive - bashing, but I also took an amble about Yarner with the Folks and this Little Black Dog that always follows us around*

Still no Patch Hawfinches, much to my vexation, nor anything of that SEO here [only a yeartick, I know, but still, now I've got a 'decent' camera.. ], but the various tit bands were all checked, and.. well, wait and see.

All of the best stuff was at the Nose [what's new] though Blackcaps are well spread out, and Redwing were moving through the whole area in small groups. On the odd occasion, slow ones didn't take off fast enough

No, I said wing, not breast!
This showoff, now very good at feeder-perching

Right then;

Not just Redwing, with a flock of 15 Fieldfare over the Nose, and also a lot of presumably migrant Blackbirds and Song Thrushes - 17 and 3 on the slopes. Not the easiest to get pictures of, but that didn't stop me;

Dark billed

"No really, I'm a Veery!"
"Yeah, right...."

Smaller and closer, but if anything even harder to get a lock on to were the-censored


Small active passerines.

Again, that didn't stop me;

Any 'crest is a good 'crest

"Just lean back a bit.... Got it!"


So cute

Then, there was that call. I tracked it and fired at anything moving in the right spot.. What happened?



Looking at you, looking at me

I'm on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

Yes! It may not be in proper focus, but you cannot deny that one, can you?

For sake of balance, here's something much 'orriblier;

Gulls on the Lead Stone


There were auks on the Ore Stone too - about 145 - but I'll spare you the horror.

But not all the horror, as after getting that Redwing at Tessier, I was approached by a filthy beggar

Always scrounging

"Got any sarnies?"

You know, situations like that make me think thoughts that probably ought not to be put online...   ::Sigh::

Oh come on, you all know where I stand on Grey Squirrels [there's a Blackadder the Third quote around here somewhere]. It'd be environmentally friendly foraging - same with Canada Geese!


Yeah, ok. I'm stopping now.

Yarner will come along with pretty pictures of things in proper focus [so fungi, then..] at some point in the near future, but right now I have to

Be Seeing You..

[[*From a distance in front, usually... ;) ]]

Monday, 27 November 2017

Another Post??

I am unfortunately suffering some technical problems, so Backward Birding may go on surprise hiatus at any time for an unknown period.

Due to this, and as I have access right now, here is a brief bit about Sunday.

Sunday saw a surprise Clan Meet upcountry. There were a few birds about, despite the crowds, but none felt like posing, and no Hawfinches were seen, heard, or even suspected.

It didn't rain on us and we all had a good time, despite some attacks by walking trees..

There was some scenery to look at and here are some pictures thereof for you;

The Bridge

Proper engineering, that.

These are actually ramparts..

Mmmh, limestone...

Plenty of these mixed in with the broadleaves
Gotta love a Hemlock

Very pretty

Fungi were infrequent

But interesting when found

Looking a bit like stand alone Oysters [contradiction in terms, there], and blending in with the mixed fallen leaves very well - doubtless why they were still there and undamaged - I'm pretty sure these are Clouded Funnel [also inedible, which would help].

Be Seeing You..

Moor Self-indulgent Reminiscing

Oh dear, it doesn't get better, does it?

With things to do and places to go, I was nonetheless determined to get at least some exercise and, inspired [or reminded..] by previous returns to long-past stomping grounds, I took myself up to some more. Most notably, a place where, back in the 80's [yes, them.], I had more fun than you could credit one heap of rocks that didn't even have their own hilltop or be officially called a tor, for. ::Deep breath::


Ah, back in the day.. Way before the sour-hearted vigilante[s] took it upon themselves, or even the thieving bar stewards got busy.. Back in the day, there were more than 20 letterboxes here. A small child could spend happy hours wandering very safe [for what they are] rocks looking for them while happy parents relaxed.

Fast-forward and I couldn't find one. I wasn't expecting to.

I did find some winter thrushes close by, and a couple even posed;


"Ok, here's a better pose, now will you please go away?"

From Bonehill, I naturally headed up along the ridge to Honeybags Tor, passing the odd rock along the way;


Balancing Monks strike again

I found a sheltered nook and plonked myself down to enjoy the view

Wait, what's that white stuff??

But the weather had noticed me, and the next shower wandered over to say "Ha ha!". This pattern would set in, eventually escalating into a full-on blizzard* later on.

Before then, I still saw the odd goodie in the sunshine;

Not fast enough

Poor Bowerman,
if he'd only zigged not zagged...

I moved on to a second site, which had quite a few more people wandering about, so excuse the scaling figures;

[That'd be Hound Tor, then]

The Village

Looking at That One

After lunch on a nice little bit of Greattor I know [out of the weather, ha ha to you too], another loop around was partly to avoid the crowds, but mostly to get up sun of the large roadside flock of Chaffinch plus Bramblings, which I'd passed on the way in. As I approached the line of roadside Beeches, I flushed no less than 4 Snipe from a wet bit - they each went a different way and I got no photos once again! Argh!

The Brambling - at least 4, probably more - proved just as irritating; not only were they mobile, among 40+ Chaffinch, plus 5 Bullfinch, and a few Blue and Great Tits, but also they were regularly flushed by passing cars, people, and blimmin Woodpigeons...

Then the snow arrived.

I retired to the little lane behind the car park, where I found 2 males buried up to their little blackish bonces in Beech leaves. I carefully stalked and set up a tricky shot [you have no idea how well Bramblings blend in to fallen Beech leaves, especially mixed wet and dry ones...] and then.. The car.

Here are the few shots I did get.

That's not a Brambling..

Not even a finch

"Why don't you just give up, eh?"

When I lined this up, a male was right in the middle...

The fruits of persistence

It was time to go off and do all those things that needed doing. And thaw my hands...

Be Seeing You..

[[*Admittedly, one that didn't settle, but still, sideways snow is sideways snow!]]

Saturday, 25 November 2017

A Walk Down Memory Path

[[I am getting there with my backlog, but still not quite up to real-time. In an effort to help matters, I've decided to stop sticking in 'as they happen' posts and go in chronological order. So today's fun up on t' Moor, with Bramblings^ and everything, will have to wait a bit. Sorry.]]
[[^Yes, I have photographic proof I know what a Brambling looks like, oh ye of little faith.  :P ]]

Right then;

Long long ago, when I were but a lad, my family often used to go up to Haldon. This was far before the days of the forest centre thing, when you didn't have to pay through the nose for the privilege of being there, you could amble the forest tracks looking up at Crossbills without fear of being run down by cycle or segway, and the viewpoint actually had a - panoramic! - view*

We used to wander down to what is now the Butterfly Trail and were rather pleased when a new pond [ok, technically it was a really thorough refurb] was put in, even though it was partly fenced-off. Hawfinches were allegedly sometimes to be found there in winter, but we never saw any.

A fair few years have passed since then, and the trees have grown [and/or been felled]. So, there were many feelings when I went back recently, chasing the Hawfinch irruption and it is perhaps unsurprising that I ended up going back for an amble with the Folks.

Love those pylons

This was an afternoon walk, nothing serious, though rations may well have been taken along, because why not :)

Pretty colours

Very pretty

More signs than sights of wildlife - a certain LBD found many interesting sniffs - and even dull-sensed humans knew deer were around;

[Plus LBD pawprint centre bottom]

The Hawfinches were feeling elusive in the windy conditions - heard once only - but a nice group of 10 Crossbills gave us a decent flyover. When we stopped for coffee and japflacks, a band of LTTs showed up, but were typically hard to hit;

How many Long-tails can you see?

The weather threatened but never delivered rain - though it did darken far too early for our liking. Fortunately, it is quite hard to get really lost there,

I know which way I'm looking


It was nice to be back, especially with all the Autumnal colour, and it won't be the last time.

Be Seeing You..

[[*There were even {whisper it} Honey Buzzards!!]]