Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A quick thought [or two]


Gull-billed Terns... What are you going to do with them?


Oh, and that yellow-stained thing is still just as plastic as it was at Land's End!

That is all.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Sometimes sequels are better


We're doomed, I added last night.

Sometimes I hate being right......

Alltimes I hate dipping.

Oh well.

Got up far far far too early in't morning and gave Joe "It's a full and manly goatee" Ray a lift up to Topsham to see if the Gull-billed Terns were feeling co-operative. They weren't. We did see two utterly splendid adult summer plumaged Spotted Redshanks [only my second view in their full smart duds - and as the first was a black blob from Dawlish Warren many many years ago, definitely the best!]. Also two almost as splendid adult Med Gulls, which along with 9 Sarnies [1 juvenile] and 4 Common Terns gave the assembled hopefuls something to look at among the hundreds of post-breeding Black-heads.....

Always the next time, isn't there? Third time fortunate, and all that..................

Monday, 28 June 2010

Still after the dragons!


With at long last a change looming in the weather I took the opportunity to go after Southern Damselfly [apparently the most temperature-sensitive of the odonata - 'only flies in the hottest part of the day'] on the East Devon Commons. The proper dragonfly hunters had seen lots and lots in the past few weeks, but I only managed to find a couple. I did meet a LOT of horseflies [Biting Cleggs, to be more accurate] - it got pretty frantic trying to 'dissuade' them, especially when one went for my face... :( [[While horseflies are very persistent, if you keep brushing - ideally blowing - them off and move off briskly, you can usually get them to give up - I think they might be territorial to an extent]]

I did better with Golden-ringed Dragonflies - a surprise visit from a male to a pond [it got driven off by 2 Emperors!] and then crippling views of a female perched on some gorse. I took my Big Lens [having dug it out after the Stover 4-spot debacle] and tried some shots of her - she sat that still for that long!! And in about 6 months, when I finish the film, I'll find out if they're any good! Also got a couple of nice Emeralds - an Emerald Damselfly being picked on by 4-spots at Aylesbeare and a zoom-past [they're too quick for just a fly-past!] male Downy Emerald near Woodbury Castle. I know you get them at Bystock, but didn't realise they foraged so far! :)

Plenty of Emperors, 4-spots, Black-tails, Azures, Common Blues and Large Reds, and several Keeled and Common Darters, plus a couple of Broad-bodies.

Dartfords were plentiful - I met a birder down from Northampton who'd had a close encounter with a family group of 6 [he was delighted, the lucky person] and I saw a similar number [though not all at once, alas]. A Tripit was singing and still displaying, and all the usual suspects were present [though the Willow Warblers were holding off on the singing compared to the Chiffs].

Right then - time for bed, as its Gull-billed Tern II - the Revenge in the morning!

[We're doomed...]

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Jaws....


Another hot, sunny day... Lacking a boat to go try to put Swinhoe's Petrel on my Devon List [and yes, my Life List too!] I reckoned it was time for more Odonata hunting!

Inspired by the wonderful shots Karen Woolley got of Scarce Chaser at Brucklands Ponds, and aided by reports of lots of them at Exminster [on a Birding Site That Shall Remain Nameless But Is All We Have Until Joe Gets His Behind In Gear] I went looking for them this morning. The temperature was [at least according to my li'l car's thermometer] pretty much the same as Thursday, but the difference between blazing sunshine with a moderate breeze and calmer, cloudier humidity was marked - much more activity!

The usual horde of Common Blue and Azure Damselflies were interspersed with a few Red-eyed and Blue-tailed - the latter including a very pretty immature female with a pinkish-red thorax [that'll be form rufescens - just starting to mature from the initial pink {he says, reading his book ;) }]. Emperors were very much in evidence - patrolling the canal, the fields, and pretty much anywhere they liked [they being the 500 pound gorilla of the Odonata world :) ]. The wind [which was a bit stronger than I'd like for dragons, but welcome in keeping the heat and horseflies down!] let them glide quite a bit, in turn helping me to get some very nice flight views. One showed an incredible piece of acrobatics to take a bluebottle that was flying across it above it's head! They're big insects, and seeing the sudden burst of agility was surprising - made me realise how most of their 'goes' at other insects weren't even slightly serious....

A couple of Hairy Dragonflies were keeping low and mobile by the canal bank - staying on the opposite side to the local Emperor, and I don't blame them. Eventually found my first Scarce Chaser thanks to an Emperor - he was cruising down a little channel when he feinted to the bank and put up another dragonfly - male Scarce! The Scarce made himself, er... scarce [sorry] but knowing the sort of channel they liked, I was able to find a few more. Only half a dozen, and none posing for me [maybe I should go over to Brucklands...?] - I think they were perching out of the wind - and as the best channel for them had limited views, with the closest areas held by irascible Four-spots, I only got flight views when they patrolled [or fled from Big Scary Emperors].

Have to say that dragonflies were totally upstaged, though! Stood by a footbridge over a nice-looking channel, I was thinking about how clear the water was, and wondering if I might glimpse a dragonfly larva, when I noticed a funny-looking bit of weed, floating just under the surface... Very funny-looking - and it had fins! Only a Pike!!!!!! A young one, about 15cm long, very carefully stalking ickle fishes, I watched it in grinning fascination for nigh on 10 minutes before it finally drifted out of sight. Wow........

All the usual birds you'd expect were present [and singing] - highlight being a 1s Med Gull heading over towards the Exe at midday.

Actually, it wasn't. Yes, in rareness terms it was definitely the 'best bird', but in enjoyment a super-showy Reed Warbler, singing his little head off in a willow tree was definitely the star!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Return to the Dragons' Lair


Thursday, being cloudy and humid, seemed less good a prospect for my summer dragonfly hunting. However, temperatures over 20 degrees and the forecast's promise of some afternoon sun led me back to Stover for a go at Downy Emerald.

That I'd bumped into a Ranger shortly after seeing the Grass Snake on Tuesday, and gotten some gen on where to find them, also had a bearing I admit! :)

Didn't get much sun [about 30 seconds at a time cloud gaps], but some fleeting glimpses of fast-moving Downy Emerald Dragonflies did eventually come my way - they're about the size of 4-spots, but very different animals! They were thin dark streaks, with the occasional flash of incredible metallic green when they passed through the fleeting patches of sunlight. Worth standing around for 40 odd minutes, I think! :D Less fast-moving, but much more surprising, was an early female Southern Hawker - prospecting around the edge of the same pool. Not that I knew that at the time; 'big hawker - closer to an Emperor than a Hairy - lots of green on it'. Given the location and time it had to be either Common or Southern, but I had to check Brooks and Lewington to be sure which.

Also saw a few Blue-tailed Damselfly down a couple of the side ways, but unsurprisngly the lack of sunshine and 3 degrees cooler temperatures made for reduced activity. [Though the 4-spots and Black-tails did their best to keep the dogfights going around the larger pools] Only 9 species [only 9... It's a good spot!] No second Grass Snake for me - though I was walking softly and hoping mightily - but there was an utterly adorable ickle baby Toadling, sat on a log by the hide... Awwww.......

To make matters even more sickeningly cute... The House Sparrows fledged while I was out.

Ahem.

Today at my course there was heat and frustration, interspersed with the local Herring Gulls sallying forth to beat up an unlucky Buzzard! That's 18 species there now - not bad at all!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

LIFER!!!!!!!


Down to less than 5 feet away, just cruising past me, utterly unconcerned by my presence - I admit I did a silly dance afterwards I was so delighted!

That's the full set, too [at last].

Oh, you want to know what it was??

Only a frickin' Grass Snake!

What? Its a big thing for me - at last I've seen all the British reptile species* - and this was such a good view; swimming past, then under the boardwalk I was stood on, then out the other side and only going when it felt the clumping footfalls of a couple coming along the main drag a good 50 feet away...

[[*Yes, in a very unconventional order I know, with Grass Snake last, but what can I say? They're funny things, reptiles!]]

Back to the start. Tuesday was a hot sunny and [supposedly] calm day - ideal for me to get out and do some serious Odonata-hunting. A term-time weekday also meant the number one site was.. well, as available as it gets. I speak of Stover CP - in some circles known as 'Newton Dogs' due to the numbers of chavs and their pets on the circular lakeside walk... Also home to some very confiding wildlife - like GC Grebes that will come Mallard-close in winter [doing a Hooded Merganser and hunting the fish that come for the ducks' bread].

It was indeed hot and sunny - though an intermittently fresh SW wind made things a little more comfortable - my car's thermometer read 29 degrees.... Ouch. There were [according to the very neat table in the Shiny New Hide] 16 species of dragon- and damselfly about, and in a little over 4 hours I am happy to say I saw 13. In order of ID [as an Azure posed early on, but the Common Blues were being naughty]
::Deep breath:: Beautiful Demoiselle, Azure Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly, Hairy Dragonfly, Broad-bodied Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer, Keeled Skimmer, Four-spotted Chaser, Small Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Emperor Dragonfly, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Red-eyed Damselfly.

Unfortunately, Downy Emerald Dragonfly was one that eluded me - which is a pity as they're purdy and hard to catch up with - but I'll be back!

The heat meant all the Odonata were supercharged - zooming about at warp speed and hardly sitting still for more than 10 seconds - giving a spectacular time but making pinning trickier IDs very difficult! I think you'd need a very fancy digital camera to have any chance of getting decent photos in weather like this - my ME Super tried its best, but having a macro lens on didn't really help - a 4-spot isn't going to let you get in range, even if you're sat still waiting for it! I might have another go at the damsels though..

I'm really enjoying getting to grips with this, subtleties of abdominal markings and such, its like and yet unlike birding. Very variable too - the 4-spots were everywhere, guarding even the smallest pool against all-comers, while the Golden-ringed took an hour and a half of wandering through the backways, following streams. The two 'blues' were also prolific, but getting a good enough look to see if they had a tennis racket or a U was tricky - not least as they often settled too close for my bins, and a step back flushed them... Red-eyed, as the 'easiest' blue, duly proved elusive until the last pool I checked - and I was watching it sitting there when I noticed the Grass Snake!

All in all a very good use of a far too hot and sunny day. :D

Monday, 21 June 2010

And the Sun did smile upon me...


Firstly.... Yesterday being Fathers' Day, there was the family picnic up on't Moor. The sun blazed down with all it's nuclear fury, and even Tilly the Terrible was subdued by its power [for about 30 seconds at a time, anyway....] - its tough being a Black Dog, even with a handy overhang to hide under. There were lots of Wheatears about, including two age groups of juveniles, but though I kept a diligent watch out for Large Soaring Black and White Things I was not blessed [having been in line of sight of where it was seen last weekend but evidently not at the right time, I'm feeling a bit gripped...].

It was a nice day, sat about enjoying being up there. Dad was happy, and Icklest Sister had made Blueberry Muffins [she has inherited my Dad's ability to effortlessly bake wonders]. There were a LOT of people about [as you'd expect] but fortunately most did the standard grockle routine [ie. not more than 30 feet from the car], so having yomped up to GST we were fairly unbothered and had a nice view too.

Today... Ah, today... :D

I watch the sun rise on the Solstices. I used to do it from a stone circle on't Moor, until I realised that as it was going to rain every single time, I might as well save myself an hour's sleep and a lot of petrol and go to the Nose instead. If I was going to get sideways rain, I might as well get in a seawatch after sunrise - sunrise by the time and that change in the texture of the light on the water, that is.... This worked particularly well up to 2008, with some nice birds passing. :) Last year it was calm and sunny, but a frustrating band of cloud on the horizon hid the sun from me.. This year, today, for the first time EVER I actually saw the Solstice Sun break the horizon and clear it. Words quite seriously cannot express the joy I'm still feeling.

There was, as you'd expect, very little going on in seawatching terms - in the 1.5 hours I gave it 10 Manxies passed south. 72 Gannets, 5 whole Fulmar and 4 actual Kittiwake [wow! I hear you say]. 4 Common Scoter went south, then 25 minutes later came back north. A single Razorbill went by.... No Puffins, no skuas, no Balearics even. The colony is doing well - a good 250 on the ledges, including young - and the Rockits and Whitethroats on the Nose are also getting on busily.

Hmm, I don't approve of all this sunny weather, you know. The Moor is very very dry - it really needs some rain - and I'm not much better! All this sunshine is bad I tell ya! Bad! Won't do you any good at all, oh no... ;)

Sunday, 20 June 2010

NEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Guess what I saw today?

Only a frickin' SEAFIRE!!!!!!!

:D

Armed Forces Day at the Famous Babbacombe Fair [now greatly upgraded thanks to actual sponsorship] saw The Downs packed with all manner of stuff, from the sublime [the Owl people were there. They had a Great Grey. It was goorgeous....] to the ridiculous [the dodgy Sinatra-a-like, and the hilarious 'celebrity commentator' - oh deary me...]. From the spectacular viewpoint, we were treated to flypasts - or more accurately an aerobatics contest, as none of the vintage aircraft's pilots could resist pulling at least a few loops and rolls - and, after a display of the Torbay Lifeboat's capabilities, an extended action between the local pirates and special forces.

Yes, you read that right. Various cadets in RIBs, parascenders, an RAF scout plane from the 50s, and a Yak-52 [again I kid ye not] fought over three Brixham Trawler-style yachts [the sailed kind - used to take disadvantaged kids to sea] . The pirates and special forces had real assault rifles [with blank ammo] while the parascenders and the Yak had fake bombs [with real HE charges in the water - you could feel the blast on the cliff tops more than 250' away and the columns of spray reached the mast tops]. They had lots of fun.

Oh, but that Seafire... I've seen Spitfires before, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight a few times [including once when I was on Dartmoor - I think they'd taken off at Exeter airport and were going to the cornish county show], but never so close and for so long - you can't beat a nice cliff top for an airshow!

In other, more bird-related news, the Blue Tits have fledged young, and the Swift colony is still doing pretty well; I counted 42 plus at least one House Martin feeding over the rooftops this evening.

Friday, 18 June 2010

.........Ping........


This being the sound of a pin dropping, it's been so quiet here.

Metaphorically, anyway!

Aurally its been a racket, with an increasingly noisy nestbox full of ickle baby Sparrows outside my window, and a fledgling Blackbird that's taken to starting up yarking at 5am.....

Since last I posted, both Dunnocks and Greenfinches have successfully fledged young, also another brood of nearby Sparrows. Meanwhile, the Blue Tits [and 'our' Sparrows] must be due to go any day now. A mass of young Sparrows and Great Tits have taken to moving around together - always amusing to see just how many will fly out of even very teeny bushes. :)


Sunday, 13 June 2010

What to do on a Sunny Sunday?


Go for a stroll beside the Teign with the folks!

Having inflicted a couple of long posts on your poor suffering eyes, I'll keep this one short. Ish.

There were singing Wood Warblers, which was great - though the Wrens did their best to drown them out, norty li'l things that they are. One of the Wood Warblers was performing the 'alternate song' that is described in the Bird Guide but that I've not heard before. I admit I know this not because I know so much about Wood Warblers, but because I went "What ----- is that?!?" [Norty words self-censored] and made sure to get eyes on it, took notes [as it was a very drab-looking Woodie, so best to be careful], then got home and checked the books. Something new learned, and definitely not a waste of notebook space - you hear something odd and see it isn't a Great Tit or Chaffinch, its always best to check carefully!

There were too many people about for Dippers, but all the other species you'd expect were present and a notable performance was put on by both Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles [about 90% the latter]. Those damselflies are utterly gorgeous in sunlight over water....

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Effort and Reward

Friday started off innocuously enough - overcast, not too hot, nice breeze... I check the computermabob and see nowt going on, and decide to be good and get some exercise by giving the patch the bashing of it's life. Three and a half hours of bashing later, the sun has come out and it's swelteringly humid with it. Ouch.

I covered a lot of ground, including bits I don't usually bother with where there are rich old people who stare at you. I smile at them. :D You may have noticed I've not mentioned birds yet. This is for good reason, as I saw bugger all 'special' or even 'noteworthy'. Best I can say is a half dozen Gannets flying about over the sea [not even fishing] and several broods of recently fledged Blue Tits [I dare any of you not to go "Awww....." at ickle baby Blue Tits!].

With a warm evening of light winds forecast, I'm intending to go look for some Nightjars, and while I wait for it to get a bit darker, I get back online and discover what everyone else has been doing.... Within a half hour I'm up at Exminster, but of the Falcon there is no sign [or of any other birders, for that matter]. I did meet a Fox, who seemed rather brassed off to see me ["Haven't you all gone yet? Don't you know what time it is?" etc...], so that was two of us vexed.

Then, the wind turned out to be less light than I expected - Nightjars there were, churring away nicely, but they kept low and didn't display, so only a few brief glimpses were had. I'll be back.

So, a day of effort without much reward. I'm not complaining - you put the hours in and sometimes you get something Wow! back, but mostly you just put the hours in. Its not without merit, certainly not without fun.
Ahem. I'm going off on a tangent again.

Today I had arranged an arrangement with Joe "It's a full and manly goatee" Ray - if he got positive news on the Red-foot, I'd give him a lift over so we could see it. Morning was pushing towards afternoon before I got the call and he dragged his backside out of bed [well, he is a teenager... ;) ]. Exminster was blazing hot [26 degrees, no less] and as we made our way along the railway path we soon discovered that the bird was feeling elusive...

Fortunately that changed rapidly - a falcon hawking insects more or less above the lagoon proved to be the Red-footed Falcon, and we proceeded to enjoy more than an hour of it first up high, then down low, then up high again! :) The desert-level heat haze made a watercolour of it when it perched on posts, hawthorns, and sticks next to hawthorns - proper focus only possible when clouds obscured the sun - but some of the flight views, especially when it gave us a pretty close low level flypast, were excellent.

Its a truly lovely bird - a real pleasure to watch and very educational too; especially when hawking up high with a Hobby or two for company. The flight silhouette and action are quite Kestrel and Hobby-ish [first two things it was thought to be when we picked it up before the sun caught that creamy orange crown] - but it pulled some very impressive aerobatics of a sharpness I've never seen a Hobby manage. Looking back to the Haldon falcon sp.? Yeah, I think it probably was one... Back to Her Ladyship; This is a bird which looks radically different in different light situations; against bright sky its dark with the pale cap sticking out especially when the bird is head-on; flying low its colouring reminds you of of all things a male Marsh Harrier; perched [at least to me] its coloured a bit like a Lammergeier. From the brown sheen to its grey upperparts I reckon its a 2cy - though a nice close un-hazed view of it perched would help to be sure.

Ok, enough burbling on about cute ickle falcons and how adorably they munch dragonflies....


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Has hat, will walk in the rain


Today, according to the all-seeing all-knowing weatherbods at the Beeb, it was supposed to be pretty much pissing down everywhere. Especially south wales. Last night I was quite annoyed by this - Dartfords are quite unlikely to be seen in torrential rain, and as Marmora's are very Dartford-like, it seemed I'd have to wait [due to commitments] until after at least one clear night with brisk northerly winds before I'd get a shot [and you could see where that was headed...].

Why the turn around in my thinking about going for it? Well, turns out it isn't outside my Strictly Enforced Twitching Radius after all - allowing for idiotic drivers, ******* SPECS, almost crashing in shock at the SSC toll [being used to the Tamar one], and accidentally taking a one-way turning into a poultry factory... [don't ask] it is more like 2.5 than 3.5 hours.

Yup, I know because I did it today - and what a peachy little bird the Marmora's is! :D Also, the Beeb once again were talking out their arses - it was sunny. Blue frelling skies, light winds, 22 degrees... There were only 15 birders on site [with a reasonable rotation] and thus parking at 'the' car park was possible [if your suspension survived the potholes...]. Enough eyes to keep track of the [very very mobile] bird, but not so many as to get in the way - ideal! If you go to Karen Woolley's blog, you will see a twitch photo - see the group on the left [on the other side of the road from the car park]? It perched there. It had a feather. I think it was showing it off; "Look what I found!"

What really surprised me was how much like home it is around there - Blorenge is pretty much Cosdon Beacon with a road over it [and a telly station instead of a cairn at the summit] and the narrow twisty steep lanes are so familiar I started to wonder if I'd gotten really lost...? The rolling green woods and fields of gwent and monmouthshire are like a [slightly toned down] copy of north Devon - again as you can see from Cosdon. It's not a perfect copy, of course; the mining's a lot more recent, and the sheep are utterly stupid. The sheep? Devon sheep, while not being the smartest creatures in the world [[nomination for Understatement of the Year]] learn as lambs that running out in front of cars is a Bad Idea, they know it is safe to stand or even lie down at the road side. These welsh sheep, however, made a habit of trying to get themselves hit...

Right, get back to the point! So, yes, quite a lot like Devon it was up there. Explained in part, perhaps, by the fact that a lot of the rocks there are Devonian [overlain to the southwest by the Carboniferous Coal Measures of the Famous Welsh Valleys, look you]. Also by the similar climate [a local birder and I had an interesting conversation as we realised just how similar our weather is]. Not quite the same, of course - quite a few more sharper straighter slopes [due to glaciation]. As the formula goes Landscape = Geology - Weathering [+/- Human Activity]

Wanting to get past Bristol before rush hour, and not yearlisting, I decided to round things off on the Levels. Ok, I would have gone to Chew to see the Fudge [as its been tarting around Herriot's] but there was an accident and the road I wanted got closed. As I got to the Wicker Man junction, I met some rain. Well, I met a white wall.... Ouch. It turned off [as heavy rain often does - I won't bore you with the reasons] about a mile west of Ashcott, and I was hopeful Shapwick would be dry, but nope. Thus the title. Good point being the quietness - apart from almost being squished by the wardens' Landy [on the path to Noah's Hide!] and meeting a cycling couple, it was dead quiet. Well, rain and birdsong [and baby Cormorant yarking] aside!

Sitting in a hide in the rain - one of the finer things in this birding life. Its only the tertiary function of a hide [primary is to let you see the birds without disturbing them, secondary is to let you sit down and rest your elbows while doing so] but oh so satisfying. Noah's Hide is a mini tower hide, placed so that the prevailing wind and rain can blow through it. Being alone in there is a privilege rarely granted - usually, year-round its busy, often packed [understandable as it's but 2 windows wide] - and I duly appreciated my fortune.

The rain fell, the hundred or so Mutes did swanny things, the Cormorants and their pterodactyls [sorry, chicks] kept up their activity, a few LBBs flew about.. Then a score or so of Swifts arrived and despite the still-falling rain made the most of the insects. A Reed Warbler patrolled a circuit down close to the hide, pausing every few metres to shake the rain from its wings. A Cetti's managed to get into the tree next to the hide, deliver his blast of a song, and fly off without even showing a movement to me. Further away, a Sedge Warbler intermittently sang. Well off to the left, a pair of Pintail [Failed breeders? Residents?] upended. Quiet [for a place with nigh on 300 birds in sight and sound] and very very enjoyable.

Eventually the rain did stop, and the sun came out. A Bittern flew by, another boomed. An Otter terrorised the fish by Noah's Hide... I'm sure it flicked its tail at me :D Dragging myself away, a Garden Warbler seemed to have suffered from the wet, as it showed with Robin-like boldness - singing in plain view no more than 10 feet up by the pathside. I was so surprised I actually asked it what it thought it was doing - it looked at me, sang some more to show it wasn't bovvered, before moving on. Then, to round things off nicely, a 3cy male Marsh Harrier was hunting over Meare Heath - lit by the lowering sun in front of the still cloud-shaded Mendips.

A good day, despite the mozzies that stowed away in my car at Ashcott Corner and made the trip home far more eventful than I would have liked....

Monday, 7 June 2010

Weekend Wonders

So, this weekend I've been being all local and non-twitchy.

I was intending to rhapsodise about a particular part of my patch, maybe bore you to different tears maybe even entertain you. [Inspiration would be beyond my sphere of expectation] However, I have remembered that [due to the joys of rescheduling] I have to get up for more Course-type fun [no seawatching for me, oh no] and so can't take the hour or three one of those posts invariably takes to write. Why not just start earlier? Well, that's just a silly idea.... I mean, all manner of implications of intelligence there - planning and preparation, insight even....

Ahem.

Short version - been staying local. Saw a Bullfinch today! This is a rare bird on my patch, and always pleasant :) Earlier, the local Herrings were all up having a go at an unfortunate raptor - it was low over the rooftops and it looked interesting, but was too low for a prolonged view and got away before I could scope it. Oh well, story of the year.

Course tomorrow - hoping for a Robin! [Course List is up to a very respectable 17 :D ] Tuesday will I think be very dependent on the weather.....

Friday, 4 June 2010

Being Boring


Today I did not blow off my Course to go burning off for 3 or more hours up to wales in search of a monochrome Dartford. Wasn't I good?

I did succeed in adding two species to my 'Birds Out the Window at my Course' list - Chaffinch and a shock Jay! Yes, you read right, a Jay amid the cliffs of limestone and concrete. Not even on my Garden list, is Jay [they're up the hill, but don't come down - though middle of town is fine, it seems! I'll have to keep my eyes peeled, they must have some very hungry chicks is all I can say..]

Tomorrow I am not going burning up 3 plus hours to wales. I've had a long think about it, and decided that while Marmora's Warbler is a lovely bird that I'd dearly like to see, there's just too much against it. Not only is it outside the twitch envelope, but the hot muggy weather, most likely a hundred-plus fellow twitchers, and roads packed with grockles coming off half term holidays mean it'd be a less than enjoyable twitch. I'm not at 100% either - I pinged my knee when I fell on my arse yesterday, [really, it was a classic; mud, water, legs and kit flying...] and the thought of holding it tense* for 7-odd hours doesn't appeal either.

[[*My knee! Shame on you. ;) ]]

Oh bugger. I just realised I forgot to text Joe back - if you're reading this mate, I am so sorry!
::Text break::

Ahem.

Ok, enough moaning and general pathetic-ness...

Well, it's better than being all vague and cryptic, isn't it?

No?

Ok, Plan C; try to write like proper intelligent interesting and funny bloggers.
Better read up the NotQuiteScilly archive.....

Sitting around in the sunshine


Today I presciently made sure I was far far away from any chance of hearing about little grey birds in wales...

Continuing my theme of vagueness... I went to a Tor that shall remain Nameless, where I had a very long lunch hearing but failing to see birds that shall remain unidentified. A very nice chap I met, who definitely should remain anonymous, found what he was looking for, though it took a while. I then went for a wander, fell on my arse in a manner that would likely have given anyone watching an embolism, and was just about to go home with a 'heard only', when bingo! Took more than 4 hours on site, but very worth it in the end - I even got flown over.

I also saw 3 flavours of falcon, one quite cripplingly well - I'd lugged the Big Scope up [my shoulder is still regretting that one] and managed to get on said falcon with said scope. At the ranges and aspects involved, I was getting Simon King - level views. Chuffed would be an understatement. :D Another 3 was Odonata - all Damselflies; Beautiful Demoiselle and White-legged skulking out of the wind in a lane, and Small Red skulking out of the wind up on t'Moor proper. A male Demoiselle posed for me and showed off why he deserved the 'Beautiful' prefix. Dragonflies are something I'm looking forward to getting more into this summer - now I have bins that have an actual close focus [my old ones, though I love them dearly, get to about 18'.....] and a good book [to show me how hard its going to be with most of the damselflies...].

It was an interesting day - blazing hot sunshine of August and blasting winds of January. I admit to cursing not going to Prawle as I yomped up to the tor, leaning into the wind as I was.. but it worked out quite nicely, so next time I'm going to be more relaxed and accepting about such things.

Ok, I'm going to try to be more relaxed!

Right, time to stop being all irritating and get to bed - its Course time tomorrow [nope, no Marmora's twitching for this little black duck... :( ]

P.S. I'm also going to try to be more interesting and less annoyingly vague in the future. [[You never know, might even happen..]]

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Bits I Forgot


Garden Update!
Blackbirds and Great Tits have fledged young [on Saturday and Sunday respectively].

That's it.

[[Yeah, really worth clicking on, wasn't it? ;) ]]

Oh, and the [LONG CHAIN OF EXPLETIVES DELETED] tabby and white cat missed a Woodpig by about 4 inches this afternoon. It was on a wall, too. Where's a python when you want one?

Edit:
Wednesday. Well, I am happy to be wrong - the [small but very appreciated] House Martin colony is still present, with at least 3 about today! :D
Also, while going through the freezer, I found a large tub of Rocombe Farm ice cream [ok, about half a large tub.. ;) ] that I'd forgotten I had! Yay!
I do not feel at all sick, by the way, just very happy. And no, I haven't eaten it all in one go. Did I mention it was double chocolate? [I remember I found it reduced at a famous farm supplies store and thought "4 litres for that much!?!"]

Hmm, now all I need to deal with all this 'ot weather is a few spanish G&T's... OR I could spend the money on petrol to go birding... Decisions, decisions......

[['spanish' G&T - take a highball glass, fill with big ice cubes, add 3/4 to 7/8 of the way up or so with good strong gin {Plymouth for preference, Navy Strength if you're reallllly hardcore}, add tonic to top off [good tonic is worth paying for, btw], plus slice of lemon to taste - if you're feeling fancy, put the lemon in with the ice. NB; do not even think about driving for at least two days after trying this...]]