Monday, 31 May 2010

Post Involving Orchids


Sunday.
Sunshine and the bank holiday hordes... Went for an amble about the East Devon commons with the folks. Undoubted highlight was a family of Dartfords! Wonderful to see them, especially as they were close and gave prolonged views - moving past along a line of gorse, adults staying up high to keep an eye on us. Wow. :D Less spectacular, but still special were some very confiding Linnets [ok, confiding for Linnets] with a very snazzy male treating us to some singing.

As well as a good selection of birds, my first Emperor Dragonfly of the year, some pretty orchids [white or pink with little purple spots], and almost an Adder [a couple with mastiffs coming the other way saw it, but it'd scarpered by the time we got there :( ]. Raptors were limited to a Hobby and assorted Buzzards [including one doing a creditable Kestrel hover] - there was one bigger thing soaring near the coast with two Buzzards, but too far off even through the Li'l Scope... We were also stalked by one of those yellow butterflies - just one, almost everywhere we went!

Today.
More family fun - this time also with icklest sister and a day on the north east side of t'Moor. Definitely a Cuckoo day - a Lifer for the Sister [not that she is even slightly a birder, mind] and a really good one as we came across a grey morph female sat in a little Hawthorn, under siege from two pairs of angry Mipits! We were only about 50 feet away [albeit across the Teign] when we noticed her, and got great views - especially when she finally made a break for it. :D One of four Cuckoos for the day, with another Hobby on the way there, and a surprise juvenile Mistle Thrush [took me a while to work out what the 'big funny-looking thrush-y thing' was - it kept hiding behind rushes] the bird highlights.

No phantom kites today, but amusing anecdote is of what is evidently a very experienced Song Thrush - as well as a whole range of bird song mimicry and a brief attack of mobile phone, it also has 'begging baby Buzzard'.... Deary me.


And yes, I'm still grinning about those Puffins! :D

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Bank Holiday Weekend = Wind and Rain =

Seawatch!!!!!!

Up at aaaarrrgh... o'clock this morning for the first time in seemingly forever [and boy did I feel it - I'm definitely out of practice.... ] and over to Berry Head to see what the sea would bring me [say that one fives times fast!]

But first.

Yesterday I got myself another 'Birds Out the Window During Lunch at My Course' tick - Geeb! Stonking great [unsurprisingly] adult - out terrorizing the cute ickle fluffy baby Herring Gulls no doubt!

Right, back to the fun!

Despite getting up later than I should for this time of year, I still managed to start watching at a creditable 0650 [What does the 'o' stand for? "Ohhh, I need more coffee......"]. I admit to feeling a little surprise at finding a couple of intrepid watchers already there, even more so that one wasn't MD [he arrived a bit later]. The nice front we'd been promised had evidently decided to have a lie-in, and so the birds were late getting started too. Still, while it wasn't quite what you'd expect from the weather and the date, there were some very nice little birds indeed.

I'm talking Puffins, of course. :) As you may have guessed by now, I'm a fan. I got a treat today - 18 Puffins came past south in 6 hours and I got on 16 of them. :D A couple even settled, one at bin range for a whole 8 minutes [yes, I timed it] - which was utterly gorgeous through the Big Scope. Manxies did pretty well; 440 past south [outnumbered only by the resident Guilles] - and again some nice close flypasts, also a couple of brief settles and some feeding.

Other than that, however... Total of 20 Common Scoter, 5 small waders [Dunlin or Sanderling], a Whimbrel, a half dozen Razorbill, and a moderate passage of Kittiwake all passed south, plus a few Swift in/off in gaps after the front had passed. No Stormies, not a sniff of a Skua, and no Balearics. The Harbour Porpoises put in an appearance, and the local Fulmars and not so local Gannets put on some aerobatics.

It was good, don't get me wrong - despite some long spells of nothing [even the Guilles dried up at some points] I would happily do it again for those wonderful Puffins. It has been said that seawatching is often just that, but this is only a problem if you don't find watching the waves [and passing ships, yachts, and floating bags of rubbish {yes really}] interesting and even relaxing. I do. The getting up unnaturally early and the sustained concentration does take it out of you [as soon as I post this I'm crashing] but it also gives a very deep feeling of inner peace [and the universal birder's elation if you're lucky enough to get something like an adult Longtail, of course!].

I'm burbling.

More than usual, that is.

Night, folks.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Skywatching

So, Thursday and it's still hot and sunny. "Woohoo!" say most people. In between my diligent efforts to find gainful employment for fair recompense [stop laughing, I'm sure it's possible.....] I have been mostly directing my gaze upwards.

This is due to all the wandering raptors of a scarce and indeed rare nature that have been wafting through the heavens over the south west recently. And indeed continue to do so today, judging by the reports. [The irony, such as it is, will become clear]

As I'm not most people, and tend not to do well in hot and humid conditions, I've mostly been finding places to sit and staying put in the hope that something comes by. As a tactic its pretty sound - over the years I've seen many many birds using this tried and tested means - but it is dependent on the damn things showing up...

Various sites on Dartmoor, the Haldon ridge, and indeed my own hill have yielded a notable lack of Kites. Buzzards, yes, lots of those, the odd Hobby, plenty of Herring Gulls, Ravens too, and a Sprawk even. This is not to say it's been eventless - I've had a few probable Kites, but the ever-present haze has robbed me of certainty on them, and as today has shown me, I think certainty is definitely needed!

How so? Well, I saw a Buzzard today, from the old viewpoint on Haldon. Not unexpected - one of at least 5 - but this Buzzard was an interesting one. It had, by moult or Corvid attack lost its inner tail feathers, and was in the process of re-growing them. This gave it not the swallow-tail effect you'd expect, but a full-on Red Kite fork. It was also moulting its inner primaries, this combined with its very white 'palms' gave it the appearance of Red Kite inner primaries. It had a quite evenly dark body and paler head, plus a tendency to show a very Kite-like wing shape. Seen from below at height in the current hazy conditions it would look close enough to fool most people - if it hadn't been so close I freely admit it would most likely have fooled me. Seen well its brown, not red, but up high? Watch out!

Earlier in the week I had a surprise encounter with a female Cuckoo - a brown morph flew very low over me near Vitifer - I got to hear that Little Grebe style trill up close and very loud! Having spent a couple of hours watching distant dark blobs turn into Buzzards, I was glad of the action! :)

Saving the best frustration for last - after the fun forktailed Buzzard, a falcon sp. spent 6 minutes meandering past south. That's all I can say. If it had just dropped below the horizon and banked over I could have said a name, but it didn't. Then, less than 5 minutes later, a Hobby came by and did just that. Rats, double rats, and indeed wasps.

Oh well. If at first you don't succeed...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Less moaning

Technically Monday as I write this, due to a 'minor' failure in the cable, but what the what....

This morning, after an unnaturally early start, I went off over to cornwall in the company of Joe "It's a full and manly beard" Ray*, to try to see the Squacco Heron that decided to make a teeny little fishing pond it's new home. In a radical change from accepted practice, it not only was there, but showed very well, right from the get-go.

I have to say I was a little shocked.

Gorgeous bird, really, another of those 'pictures don't do it justice' jobs. Very cool; it just hung around in the trees on this little island in this fishing pond in Par, pretty much unbothered by the dozen or so birders watching appreciatively. This is the sort of twitch I like - its there. It stays there. It's pretty. Result.

And there was a Muscovy Duck, too.

:D

Kudos to the boss of Snowlands Fisheries, for not only putting up with a heron eating his stock, but also the assorted ne'er do wells who turned up to look at it.

Speaking of.... [kidding] Bun and Karen, of Backwater fame, arrived just after us. When not watching the Heron or extracting mice from Joe, they mentioned something about twitching orchids, so I think they might have been out in the sun too long.... [[How do you twitch a plant? Its there. It stays there. It doesn't overshoot or abmigrate or wander.. There isn't an RPA to page you, or an Orchid 400 Club to tell you which ones count.... Ok, ok, you get the joke ;) ]]

As Joe had to get to work [[shavers aren't cheap, you know]], I was back in time for lunch, and decided a nice stroll to a good viewpoint in the afternoon might net me one of the seemingly hundreds of Kites knocking about the south west. If you want a panorama, go to t' Moor - I picked the south end of Hamel Down. It was rather hazy, though. Ok, it was very hazy, and the one "Ooh, that's not a Buzzard!" I saw was too far off to eliminate Marsh Harrier, never mind decide which Kite... Rats.

A very smart Hobby did make a much closer flypast, and Swifts and Swallows were constantly about. 'Hunt the Skylark' and 'Spot the Cuckoo' were games to be played - though the easterly wind made the latter pretty much impossible... While I may not have had a Kite, it was a relaxing and more importantly cool way to pass the [far far far too hot - 24 frickin' degrees at Par!] afternoon.


*[[He not only found a Black Kite on Saturday, but got ridiculously good views - he deserves everything he gets! ;p ]]

Additional; Forgot to mention that the first fledglings of the year [not counting Woodpigs] arrived on Saturday - House Sparrows up the road got off at least 7. :D

Friday, 21 May 2010

More moaning


Sorry to start off with this, but better out the way....

I really hate this weather!!! Hot, humid, and yucky!

:(

Its the humidity I really hate, warm evenings aren't bad at all - especially with Swifts screaming past the window..


Right then.

After that whole 'post a day' thing, time for some consolidation instead! So;

Tuesday. Plans to have another go at the funny gull were shelved with news of a summer plumaged male Ruff at Dawlish Warren the evening before. Plus terns. Unsurprisingly the Ruff was gone, and the terns were hanging around as far away as they could possibly get.... There were about 20. They were terns. That's it. 2 Sarnies came for a fish later on, but no others. Good points were nice showy Whitethroats, a big flock of Sanderling [about 80] and Dunlin and Ringos right right in front of the hide. :)
The tide fell away and the terns stayed distant, so I decided to head over to an unspecified site in the Haldon area to see if the Turtle Doves felt more obliging, and in a radical turn up for the books, they were. Not that obliging, but 3's not a bad number, is it? Even if they were mostly flying away... A different site normally good for Little Owl proved less productive, and with that I called it a day.

Wednesday. Things to do...

Thursday. Back to Hope's Nose on the off chance. Hot, humid, dead calm. With the aid of the Big Scope, a 'circa 250' Guillemots on and around the Ore Stone. No sign of any funny larids. Great big american ship with a bridge on the back in the bay! Went on to Berry Head for a long lunch watching the colony there. This is an old habit of mine, sadly neglected recently. Things keep changing at Berry - they've been cleaning up the South Fort, put in a shiny new bridge and stuff, and of course there's the new visitor centre/utterly pretentious 'cafe' and the hide. I didn't use it - its not in the right place to see all the ledges, the tiddly windows are a pain with a scope, and there's all the dudes wandering in and asking what "the black and white ones" are [go there and you'll see why this is so funny].
::Deep breath:: I have a bench. Its nice, there's a good view, its out of the way of the packs of ravening dogs, there's a Whitethroat territory down the cliff... A 'circa 1250' Guilles around and about, with at least one Razorbill on the sea, plus 18 Kittiwake and 7 Fulmar nests, a couple of very distant divers [looked GND], with 7 late Common Scoters past east, and the resident Harbour Porpoises showing up well on the flat sea. What was probably a third summer Yellow-legged Gull, sat on a distant rock next to an adult Herring Gull, proved an interesting distraction from scanning the ledges for Razorbills [didn't find any there, though]. It was a good time to watch the colony - calm and warm, but just enough wind to ward off the smell... ;)
The contrast between me on my bench, with the bushes and the sounds of Whitethroat song and Kittiwake and Guille racket, and the full car park's worth of assorted tourists, dog and kid walkers wandering around the main drag - well, that's summer Devon in a nutshell, isn't it?

Today. Added Swift to the 'Birds Out the Window during lunch at My Course' list. Suffered in the heat and humidity. Was rather gripped by the Tystie picking the one day I can't get there to pop up at the Warren. I really like them, especially in s/pl. Oh well. I'm not yearlisting, so I won't be chasing it. Nope. Definitely not. Too bladdy hot to be running around there anyway...

Monday, 17 May 2010

Oh not again....


Having been busy doing stuff and resolutely not looking out the window [much] it was time today to give the patch a good bash!

First up, I gotta mention how warm its got; looks like the weather's finally noticed the date..! Its like a switch has been thrown somewhere.

I'm stopping talking about the weather now.

Didn't cover all that I did last time [got distracted] - but at least one of the Garden Warblers is still on territory, and while the Lesser has [unsurprisingly] gone, standard Whitethroats are well represented. Lots of pretty flowers and butterflies - including the first Blues of the year, both at the Nose and in my garden! :) I took the Li'l Scope on the sheeny new tripod [wow its light] - better than the shoulderpod for Guillemot-counting, but more mag is definitely needed. Its a very odd thing - seeing all the sea with one scope field...

About 150 is the best I could do with 20x, with a similar number of Herrings knocking about. Now to the distraction, and the reason for the title - I did it again. I found a funny gull.

I know, I know; "Oh [NORTY WORDS REMOVED] not this nonsense again!!" What can I say?

I'm not sure if I should get into full descriptions or not - oh what the hell, you can always skip the next paragraph! A second winter - second summer type large gull. Seen on the flat rocks from the low cliff top, only walking about - no flight views. It preened a little, stood, pulled chunks of weed from shallow water [I have no idea why - maybe for the fun of it?] and didn't even stretch its wings!

Touch bigger than the Herrings, very long yellowish pink legs, long straight 4-coloured bill [yellow with white tip, black smudge extending down gape line plus red at gonys] low sloping forehead, small eyes - didn't get colour for certain. Light streaking on crown and boa of smudges, belly white with bulge behind legs, high goose-like breast. Mantle and scaps and I think lesser coverts grey, median and greater coverts very bleached and worn but some dark ones stood out clearly. Tertials dark centres with white thumbnails, primaries long, dark and pointed, with no mirrors. Fairly broad tail band - though no good look got, so it may have been broken or even partial.

All in all, it looked pretty good for a 3cy Caspian. Except for one rather large detail; That grey saddle was not the shade or two darker than the Herrings that I'd expect - it was closer to midpoint between the Herrings and a Geeb..... I have to say at this point that the light was odd, but it just seemed a bit too dark. We're talking getting towards a graellsii LBB kind of grey here. I know that barabensis Caspians are that sort of grey, but you just don't get them this far west, and besides, they're supposed to be smaller and more round-headed. So, could a graellsii show all these characteristics? Straight Yellow-legged must be a possibility, but it seemed a bit dark for that, too, so... What?

Oh well, at least I know it wasn't a Herring.

And one day... One day, I will find a proper definite Caspian Gull with no questions, no 'but's, nothing but cachinnans!*



Right before I tick Sus scrofa volans.....


[[*If someone else wants to find one for me, that's good too! ;) ]]

Saturday, 15 May 2010

And Again...

All this blogging, I don't know....

;)

Went for another toddle out the back of Cockington today. Scadson's Wood was somewhere we went to a lot when I were a tacker, but I've not been there for aaaaages. Like since before young master Ray was a twinkle in the postman's eye [I'm kidding..... it was the window cleaner ;) ]. It's not a big wood, though it is a LNR, but it is absolutely gorgeous right now! The steep slopes are carpeted with Bluebells and wild Garlic, ferns and Celandines, Campion and those pretty white ones [I've mentioned the whole 'botany's not really my thing', haven't I?]. Also some Foxglove-coloured orchids of some kind. Plenty of all the birds you'd expect - with a star turn by a Willow Warbler that seemed to think it was a Dipper! Hopping about on the stones in the stream bed, building up a billfull of insects, with only the odd sally up to the lower branches of the waterside trees... Very strange, but fun to watch!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Yet another post....


No new species for the 'Birds Out the Window while I'm having Lunch at My Course' list, but a surprise Garden Tick last night! Audiomig strikes again with a group of Oystercatcher over low at about 12:40am - and they were loud! At least 4, probably more as the buggers woke me up so I'll have missed a few...

They join Snipe, Golden Plover, and Redshank [plus Greenshank at my old job] - not a bad selection of nocturnal wader passage.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Blogging in daylight [whatever next...!]

Today has mostly been spent wrangling several [yes, you read right, several] job applications. The sunshine that seemed to once again contradict the weatherbods [who'd predicted plenty of cloud and lots of showers] tempted me out for a little birding this morning though!

I went to a location I probably shouldn't name [so I won't, even though I have very little doubt anyone reading this knows exactly where I mean] where I saw adorable little baby Lapwings [and went "Awww...."], 8 flavours of warbler [can you guess which?], a couple of immature Hobbies, and lots of Swifts and Hirundines. I also got very thoroughly rained on, with only my silly hat for protection! [[I'm sure there's a weatherbod cackling about that]] As said silly hat is very waterproof, I only got damp about the edges [I don't just wear it to look like an idiot...], and was dried out by the time I got back.

Right then, back to work!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Sixth Dip.....


Didn't happen.

Wooooooooooooooooooohooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahem.

Ignoring blatantly plastic finches [never mind the colour, look at those feathers - the moult's out of cycle!] I instead twitched a proper bird today. I've been past Walmsley Sanctuary before, but this time I stopped there, and had 3 1/2 hours of Lesser Yellowlegs [with 'hiding behind the vegetation' breaks] as a wonderful reward.

I am pleased.

I am very pleased.

:D

Ok, ok, enough sillyness. As it was reported first thing from Burniere Point, I went there first - it of course had moved by then, [so had the Spoonbill] but at least 34 Whimbrel, some veeeery close, gave me something to look at. After playing Frogger with the bridge traffic I had a look at the sanctuary proper - very nice it is too, like someone took Exminster and squished all the good bits together [then added proper actual hides HINT HINT]. I was fortunate enough to meet Friendly Natives with shiny keys, and thus got to appreciate the Fabulous Tower Hide [[RSPB are you reading this?? ;) ]]. This was a Very Good Thing, as the Yellowlegs [plus all the other waders - 2+ Wood Sand, a Common Sand, 3 Dunlin, an LRP, 2 Ringos, 2 Lapwing and 24 Blackwit] were right at the back! Definitely scope range, but the Big Scope did it's duty [I love 75x.... :) ]

Wonderful bird, the Lesserlegs - like a phalarope on stilts! It could also scurry like a Dunlin - amazing on those legs - which it did with its neck held straight at a 45 degree angle! [[I'm using too many ! again, aren't I?]] Interestingly, the dark primaries really stood out - not just protruding well beyond the tail, but against the white underside and spangled coverts. The legs, though wonderfully egg yolk yellow, didn't always stand out - in shade or hidden by vegetation [or when it waded belly-deep].

I spent a lot of time watching it [ok, quite a bit of time watching it, and quite a bit of time waiting for it to come out from behind that patch of swords...] my watch said 3 and a half hours but it didn't feel like it. Mark of a great bird. I feel better.

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Good Kind of Dipping

I said if the House Finch of Dubious Origins* was still here today I'd think about it.

I thought about it, and what I thought was "Sod it"

Instead I went up on to t'Moor and had a wander along one of the many wooded river valleys there to be found. Overcast and feeling very un-May like, there were still three flavours of flying fly-munchers to be seen - Swallow, Swift and House Martin. The leaves were opening, and while a lack of sunshine prevented the full effect, it was still most easy on the eyes. An upstream toddle was a careful mix of watching the river, the low foliage, the high foliage, and the sky, all the while trying not to trip over the assorted rocks, roots, and worryingly deep holes that, liberally scattered, made the path 'interesting'.

Willow Warblers outnumbered Chiffchaffs, and enjoying the sight of both Marsh and Long-tailed Tits busily gathering billfulls of insects at close range was one to lighten any mood. It being a weekend day when it wasn't tipping it down, I knew Dipper was always going to be tricky, and so it was not entirely unexpected that I reached the point of turning back without seeing one. Birding being birding, within a hundred yards back downstream, a lovely Dipper flew up, and struck poses [well, sort of - it stayed still long enough to get my Li'l Scope on it] on a rock level with me :D It too had a billfull of assorted insects, and then added a few more before continuing on its way. Brilliant!

Heading away from the river, both Green and GS Woodpeckers were vocal, and a Green gave a flyover. A tall ash by an open area briefly held a very active Spotted Flycatcher - flycatching within the spread of the tree's branches and generally not stopping for more than 3 seconds. Two separate groups of Siskin were singing and doing display flights - one group accompanied by the eclectic combined sounds of 2 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, a Robin, 2 Wrens and a Dunnock! [At some points it merged quite prettily, but mostly it was just loud...] A Blackcap sang near the SpotFly, but refused to show itself, and a Redstart gave a stereotypical view [a very quick flash of it's departing backside!]. Notable flyovers included 3 Ravens in a loose line, a drake Goosander, and a Stock Dove.

I checked a couple of sites both on the way out and back - more out of good practice than any real expectation - and there were duly no Mandarin on offer. Still, cracking views of a Dipper made it a very worthwhile trip. :)

On the home front - I was awoken [not that] early this morning by a corvid cacophony outside my window! At least 12 Carrion Crows and 5 Magpies were stacked up in an ivy-clad tree [not a very big one, either] out the back and making a right old fuss about something. Throwing clothes and shoes on, I grabbed my bins and went to investigate; my suspicions were confirmed by a glimpse of camouflaged feathers in the depths of the tree - Tawny Owl! The wind had picked up quite a bit overnight, and I guess it allowed a lucky corvid to notice the hapless owl through the swaying leaves. After about 10 minutes' abuse, the Tawny abandoned tree and flew off towards the woods - unfortunately I was stood on the other side at the time and so missed it's departure....

[[*This is the polite way of saying it's got 'Made in Taiwan' stamped on it's arse ;) ]]

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Local Birding for Local People

I'm typing this with my nose held up by tape....

Kidding. ;)

Weather seemed more like November than May, and following that line, I tried a wander around the backways of Cockington.

Nope, no twitching 'singing male yankee sparrow on a convenient weekend' number 2 for me... I dunno, yeah it seems a bit 'off', and I do have very real fiscal issues [this unemployed thing really isn't as much fun as it sounds], but normally an actual present yank passerine would get me scurrying [I've got to catch up with one sometime!]. I might go have a look tomorrow [though it doesn't seem promising - no access to this garden, and a possibly very large crowd hanging about in the road waiting for a glimpse?] IF its still there, of course! Maybe the cumulative effect of all this dipping is getting to me?

Anyways. There are a surprising number of paths around the fields, copses and orchards of the Cockington area [between Torquay and Marldon]. It's a place I've been going to since I was old enough to walk, and over the years parts have changed quite a bit [and parts are just the same - the juxtaposition can be a little unnerving]. The village - thatched cottages and blacksmiths and horse-drawn cart rides and all - and the hall [with ever-expanding 'arty bit' out the back] are the the bits most people see, but the network of foot and riding paths cross an area that extends as far as Occombe Farm. If you want to go that far. [[People keep telling me about Occombe Farm and this hide that's there....]]

Its classic rolling farmland, proper Devonshire Red soil too, with a wealth of plants [[I'm not a botanist - "pretty flowers in many colours" is all you're getting!]]. They've been working on a lot of the hedges, and I think in a year or two it could be very promising indeed. Pity they can't be bothered to tend the borders in the gardens, or the frickin' apple trees! Some of them are vanishing under brambles - trees, buried under brambles because our beloved TCCT would rather pay 'artists' than actually look after the landscape...

On a rather dreary, windy and showery day, there were still some nice birds - ok, an interesting assortment of partially albinistic Carrion Crows might not seem that good, but I thought a 'White-winged Black Crow' was amusing.... On a slightly more serious note, I got my best view of a Garden Warbler so far this year [[is it me, or has it been a particularly good year for them?]]. Skylark was another nice bird to see [in song flight :) ], as was the odd Swallow and a Jay sat on a 'No Parking' sign :D Cockington's a nice place for a stroll, and there are some great views to be had at both short and long range. Not thrilling, and very little chance of a rarity [[I'm waiting for That Stork to show up there now! ;) ]] but if you can avoid the grockles and the mud, its an interesting diversion.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Doom and Gloom


..... But on the positive side I added another species to my 'Birds Out the Window at my Course' list - Meadow Pipit [flyover]. That's 13 now - not bad for a lunch break's worth of gazing at some roof space, a couple of trees, a bit of tangly ivy-covered bank, and a big Budlea! The Grey Wagtail was back today - evidently not so lost as branching out to new habitat??? Not what you'd expect of a Grey Wag - the only watercourse nearby is the Fleet, and that's slightly underground....

In Garden news... Everything's busy being spring-like. Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Chaf and Green finches, Spadgers, Dunnocks, Robins, Wrens, Blackbirds, Herring Gulls, Carrion Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies, Collared Doves, Woodpigs...::Deep Breath::...Feral Pigs, Pied Wags, Starlings, Swifts, Chiffchaffs... Have I left anybody out? No sign of Song Thrush for some time now, and no House Martins [though they might just be being elusive].

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Very Quick Update

About that LBB.....

Remember the colour-ringed 2cy Lesser Black-backed Gull at Bowling Green the other day? I've looked it up, and apparently its part of an Icelandic program. I've emailed the chap running it, and hopefully he'll get back to me with some info [probably not much - "Yes, we ringed it at the nest last year and it flew to England".... ;) ]

That's it - no birding done today [yet].


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

This post is not about twitching.

But before I get to it, on Monday I was walking through that very field the Hoodie was photo'd flouncing about in today. It wasn't there, though.

Ahem.

So, on Sunday I had a toddle around the Three Reservoirs with the folks and the horrible dog [I have to say, while Tilly did not exactly cover herself with glory, she was better behaved than the Jack Russell which attacked her, and the Golden Retriever which went into the water to chase the ducks....]. I'd forgotten how good it is there - some very nice bits of habbo tucked away down the side bits where the dog walkers and joggers don't often go. While there were no rarities, the slightly scarcer kind of woodland passerines were present and showing nicely and some even sat still long enough for me to get my little scope [on its first ever tripod-mounted outing!] on them.

After being good yesterday, I decided to try cheering myself up by heading to a couple of my favourite [and very well-trodden this year!] bits of t'Moor. Weather decided to be good with a sunny morning to get things going, cloud to cool the hottest part of the day, before more sun to round things off. A Stoat running across the road in front of me was a good start, and then I got a surprise. Big looking raptor lifts up from near the roadside just past Grimspound - holy shit its got a golden head!! Plumage says sub-adult Golden Eagle and I skid to a stop, hit the hazards and am out with the bins [this is why I keep them in the front when driving]. It picks up height and arcs away from me - head shining in the sun, white bits in its patchwork plumage picked out...and its a [ANCIENT DEVONIAN SWEAR-WORDS DELETED] Buzzard. I kid ye not, there is a Buzzard knocking around Dartmoor that's marked like an immature Goldie - everything else is understandable, but how the pink frilly knickers did it get the head colour??!??!?!?

Moving on... I stopped at the Warren House and headed down into Vitifer, round the bend to Challacombe and back via a slightly scenic route. Now there are lots and lots of Whinchats, which is lovely - Whinchats are cracking little birds. :D Redstarts were showing and singing [eventually] but the Spotted Fly previously reported proved rather less visible. Pity that - they don't sing much or look fancy, but they're such characterful birds that I like them more than Pieds. A couple of hours trying various tactics having proved fruitless I was heading back up the Vitifer valley, when I got a reward of sorts in the form of a Gropper flushed out of long grass beside the path. It zipped into cover with great alacrity and duly failed to reappear or even reel at me. One day I hope to meet one of these showy 'reel out in the open' Groppers that other birders keep photographing.

Deciding that Spotflies were worth chasing, I dropped into Yarner on the way back. No luck there, though Wood Warbler and Pied Fly both showed well, and Blackcap and Garden Warbler made me work while singing well! The otherwise usual suspects present included a very smart Long-tailed Tit and an inevitably adorable Treeecreeeper. Work continues apace - the new wooden bridge over the pond ford has gone - and so has the ford! Now all concreted over, I have to say I'm disappointed - it was great for washing your boots off! A new fence is going up - presumably to stop people from falling in the pond [oh the joys of H & S], but the pond itself is now more like a few channels and lots of dried bits.

Finally.... I keep meeting the Dynamic Trio [including the World's Best Behaved Birding Dog]. Rumps on Monday, Vitifer today [several other times in the past]. Its got me wondering - can't be a co-incidence, so who's stalking who? ;)


Monday, 3 May 2010

...................................


That's five in a row now.

I hate Mondays.


Sunday, 2 May 2010

Whistlin' in the rain

There's this thing about the rain. It makes me whistle, when I walk in it. Only in town, mind. It cheers me up for some reason.

Random sharing over.

Had stuff to do in Iscara today, but couldn't resist a quick look at Bowling Green on the way. Lots of Whimbrel about, and still the sunny side of 400 Blackwits. I counted 7 Barwits among them, and there was a single Lapwing [hopefully not a failed breeder]. Heard a report of a Little Gull hanging about the estuary, but I didn't see it myself. Most interesting bird was a 2cy Lesser Black-backed Gull with a colour ring - left leg, white 'YL39' on blue, right leg a metal ring. It'll be interesting to see where it's come from!