Monday, 28 February 2011

Bittern II - The Revenge!


Technically not the second go, or even the third, but as this had gotten personal, what with all the tarty showing over the weekend, I had to have another go at the Riverside Valley Park Bitterns.

I was so determined to see at least one of the buggers that I even took the folding stool. Just slung it over my shoulder. This diabolical tactic worked a charm as I didn't even need it :D Got a brief view as soon as I arrived, then a very nice near-side-of-the-pool-then-in-flight not that long after. Result. 'Course the darned things then hid for nigh on 2 hours, but that gave the small crowd of [Assorted Famous Devon Birders] a chance to have a good natter... ;) It wasn't all talk and no Bitterns; there was a Green Sand bobbing around on the next pool up and a Water Rail scurried across the back of the Bittern Pool, giving maybe ten seconds of fast-moving excitement!

Feeling the need for some lunch, I wandered off, but couldn't resist a detour to Exminster to see if the Spoonbill there would actually wake up and do something for me. Ha ha... Waiting for assorted cars / dog walkers / etc. on the road gave me the chance to scan from my car on the way to the canal and I managed to pick the Spoonbill up, typically asleep, near the lagoon. Good good, thought I, and went to park very carefully between the concrete lines [[those clampers are very keen..]]. Getting up onto the tow path for a good look I was surprised [really shouldn't have been] to find it had buggered off - whether it flew or just wandered into a channel I do not know as I got not a sniff of it again.. Drat. I did see the White-fronts, SW of the lagoon, though could only count 7 [there was a bank, though]. A singing Skylark was nice, getting rained on was less nice, looking for and not seeing the Hen Harrier was pretty much expected..

Turning back the clock.... Friday I bashed the Patch mightily, but received no Wheatears. There was at least one Seal in the sea close by Thatcher Rock, though, which was somewhere I'd not seen them before. In the Garden, the female Blackcap put in another appearance. Saturday on the Otter saw a flock of about 40 Linnet over White Bridge and two, yes two Little Egrets [which definitely weren't Cattle Egrets], plus a Buzzard regretting getting close to the Rookery. Ouch. Sunday saw some hardcore birding by the Folks - watching Crossbills in hail! The Three Reservoirs are now pretty much overflowing and also boasted 2 GC Grebes [not a bird I associate with there] and 3 redhead Goosander, plus a Cormorant sat atop a conifer doing a creditable Pterodactyl impression and a ridiculously confiding Marsh Tit. :)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Blazing... er ... February?!?


After almost an entire night's sleep, I had Stuff To Do in Exeter today, and as I was feeling better, I decided to make a small detour on the way and see if the tarty Bittern at Riverside Valley Park would show itself. I got there to find [Famous Devon Birders], who cheerfully told me it had been standing around in the open for 2 hours but had just moved into the reeds.

Bastard.

On the positive side, a Chiffchaff singing away [and showing properly] was my first of the year [[Yes, really. I still haven't caught up with the one that overwintered on the Patch...]] and better still a Sand Martin flew about a bit. A February Sandie is almost as good as a tarty Bittern.

After my Stuff was Done, I went back and had another go. Only one Birder present this time, but he told me I'd just missed not only the Bittern on the morning pool, but also what was almost certainly a different bird on the other pool.

Double bastard.

A nice Reed Bunting wasn't much of a consolation, and after a lot of staring at the corner the Bittern had stalked into I eventually had to call it a day. Oh well, he says, trying to be philosophical about it all, I'm not chasing a Devon Yearlist [[yeah yeah..]] so it's only the chance to see a nice close Bittern in the sunshine... And there are worse birds to dip. Three times in a day.

Wheatears soon!
:)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Blech...


Still struck with the plague. Ye Gods and Little Fishies, will this ever go away? Bladdy viruses....

I am getting better. Very slowly. Tried the 'gentle wanders [well, as gentle as Tilbury Dog would allow..] with the Folks at the weekend' routine again. They didn't aggravate my lurgy as much as the week before, which is something. I've staggered about the nearer bits of the Patch as well - I even managed to count some grebes yesterday! Woohoo. 71 GC Grebes and a surprise 2 BN Grebes off Blackball, plus a Razorbill. More interest came in the form of a large [for here] flock of 23 Greenfinch, gathered pre-roost not far from where I tried and failed to find Waxwings all winter. If memory serves, the most I've seen in the Garden is 11, so 23 is a good number indeed.

Back to the weekend wanders; Yarner on Saturday had a very showy male Siskin on a niger feeder and an annoyingly slippery female Brambling with some Chaffinches. Also yet another Roe Deer [[Tilly smelled it but didn't see it, I saw it but didn't smell it.. ;) ]]. Misty Mamhead on Sunday provided a couple of nice surprises; first a group of 54 Fieldfare flying over NE, then 2 Crossbill! I don't often see them around Haldon - having heard those two fly past a few minutes earlier, getting eyes on them when they came back was quite satisfying. Sunday night also gave me yet another nice surprise... More audiomig! :) Lying awake between bouts of trying to hold my lungs in, I heard the calls of a couple of waders flying over. Not a call I was familiar with; though they sounded a bit Greenshanky they weren't, if you get what I mean. I dragged myself out of bed and fired up BWPi, eventually finding them in the sound file 'Other calls' of Common Sandpiper. Patch Tick. :D

Right then, now for something completely different. Flint! Instead of trolling up to Chew to dip Kumlien's Gull [as I would have done if I was better] I went to Kents Cavern today. Been meaning to for a while now, as they have an exhibition on [called 'Cutting Edge' - who thinks up these things?] about stone tools throughout the ages, which looked interesting, especially as it was free! [[Hey, still unemployed here...]] Today was a particularly good day to go [despite it being half term and thus kid infested..] as they had a professional flint knapper in to do demonstrations of the art. The exhibition itself was a bit small and something of a sideshow on the way to the loos, but the knapper was great! Very nice chap called Karl Lee, able to give a talk that kept small children attentive while simultaneously knapping a handaxe out of a lump of flint that goes 'ding!' [Good flint goes 'ding!', just one of the many interesting things I learned].

Kents Cavern is his favourite place to give a demonstration, as while it's quite dark and the ceiling goes DRIP, it's also the only cave he can knap in [due to the concrete floor in the entrance chamber preventing his waste flint from contaminating the archaeology]. So you get the sounds last heard several thousand years ago echoing off the limestone... It was fascinating, so much so that I stayed around to see three demonstrations [two hand axes and an array of microliths]. I'd taken along the assortment of flint I've picked up over the last 20-odd years and he not only had a look at all of it [mostly strike-offs], but on seeing the best one [a Mesolithic microlith] he made one to match. :D It really was a pleasure to watch him, a guy clearly doing his dream job and with no small amount of skill. Eventually I tore myself away, though not before failing to resist buying an example of his work, a lovely ovate hand axe in Norfolk flint, which now sits next to my small and more accurately-labelled collection.

EDIT: Today [Wednesday, I think] I definitely feel better, but no birding yet as I have Things To Do [[as well as jobs to apply for and not get - that has been on-going*...]]. Oh well...

[[* As the saying goes; "If you can walk, you can work. If you can sit, you can apply for work!"]]

PYL: 90

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Updated


Apologies for the lack of posting, but due to illness there's been a lack of birding to post about. I'm still not right, but I figured I'd get something out.

Harkening back to Saturday; when I was only coughing periodically, and thought a nice stroll in the sunshine would be beneficial. As the folks wanted to go to Aylesbeare, due to not having been there for ages, I thought this sounded good. A Certain Shrike may have been a factor, too. With a Certain Little Black Dog along, it was footpaths only [[We're one of the very few who pay attention to 'No dogs, especially not running around off the lead' signs..]] but handily the Great Grey had been hanging around the bit ringed by footpaths, so I had a teeny bit of hope. It was nice and sunny, though not super bird-y, with a few Tits and Goldcrests in the trees being pretty much it. When we got to the House With The Fancy Conifers and I said that the Shrike had been seen on the trees to the right, within 30 seconds it flew in from ahead and landed on a Holly to our right. I love it when a bird's read the script! :D

It sat there for a couple of minutes, wagging it's tail in the breeze and looking cute with the light behind it [Shrikes are cute, at least from a distance. Not so much if you're a lizard and they're up close and personal, though...]. As we moved on around the perimeter we saw the Shrike again, this time with the light behind us and it sitting much closer on an electricity wire. Very nice. A most obliging bird, this one. The whole time we were there it had a small party of followers traipsing around the common after it - members changed fairly frequently, with fewer huge cameras than you'd expect but always 4 or 5 of them. We kept eyes open for conveniently passing Hen Harriers, but no joy. Nor did we see a single Dartford. I will be going back [sans LBD] later in the spring for a proper look - I'm hoping there are still some to find...

In the Garden, the arrival of the female Blackcap ignited a short but very sharp 3-way war as the truce between the two males ended - one of the males now holds the garden against anything he can. [The other is still in the area, but no further sign of the female once the dust settled]. Yesterday he was very mean to a poor innocent male Great Tit, chasing it with no mercy from all of the feeders [currently these are a fat cylinder in a bush, the fat block in the top of another bush, a roofed tray of mealworms and cheese and a pole with 3 feeders - fat balls, sunflower seeds and sunflower hearts] which was very antisocial of him. This psychotic little bird has even seen off a Blackbird, and only weight of numbers keeps the Sparrows, Chaffinches and Greenfinches safe. Speaking of, it's interesting to see that there's still a good 14 Chaffinches coming to the seed on the shed roof [and now into the Garden too] - I'd been expecting them to move back away now that it's warmed up. Evidently a good food source is worth more than what they'd get out in the countryside, even with all the cats...

Finally, for the first time in a week I dragged myself down to the harbour and saw... 30 Herrings, a Geeb, a Moorhen and 2 Shags. Wa-hey.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Booiiiinnggg!!!!!!


Apologies for the title, but I can't help the feeling that Spring has sprung. It's the Daffydowndillies, you see. Plus sunshine. I've been defying The Cough to stagger about the Patch these last two days, with the biggest news probably being that I now know there to be at least 13 Blackcaps therein, and today I noticed Daffs for the first time this year. My Mum, upon being told this, said she'd seen the first ones in January [so much for my observational skills there, then..] but I also saw a Celandine, which she hadn't. :) [[Oh yes, it's the big things we talk about in my family...]]. I've kept on at the Firecrest, but despite something approaching actual sunshine it's still being elusive, so I can only conclude that it's spending most of its time in the garden of Somebody Very Rich [and who can blame it] with only rare trips to where it can be seen and heard. Oh well - not like it's an overwintering Blackburnian Warbler, is it? ;)

With some rain past and the sun sort of shining I also tried for Grey Wag at the Historic Grey Wag Place, but had no joy. There's always Town Centre in the middle of August though! [[Mad, mad I tell you...]] I did meet [Devon Birder] who was bravely on his way down to the Nose to see if the SnoBunt was still there. A less cough-y and more dedicated Patch Birder would have already known, of course, but this week that's not me. [[The shame...]] I hope he found it, as it's a hard climb back when you dip.

Hopefully my chest will clear up soon, or I may have to start wittering on about nonsense again....

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Price of All That Fun


Appears to be the bit of a cough I've picked up. Lovely.. Oh well.

When not hacking, clutching my chest like a heart-attack victim, or writing self-pitying drivel, I've seen a couple of noteworthy things. Blackcaps, to be precise. Female Blackcaps, to be more precise. One in the garden meant that for about 4 seconds of mid-air combat there were 3 Blackcaps! Woo. I'm not counting her as a separate bird, as there was a female about 100' down the road a few weeks back. What is number 11 for my Patch this winter is one in the Ilsham Valley, which chacked at me today from a bush in a rich person's garden. I don't normally hear wintering Blackcaps making much noise, so I stayed put and watched her swear at me until she got bored, lowered her little brown crest and pretended she wasn't bovvered by me at all...

I have also failed to re-find the Firecrest but did find a pair of Fulmars at [Classified Location] - not super exciting to most, you can find a fair few of them around, [and seawatching at Berry Head is performed to their accompaniment] but good for my Patch. :D Spring is definitely in the air, with the Sparrows nest-building and Great Tits prospecting for anywhere they can fight the Sparrows out of... Also Violets and Primroses are starting to flower [the latter being very late this year - yes, really - as we usually see the first ones in late December] and I'm expecting the first Daffs within days. [[Not counting variegated garden varieties here {which flower year-round}, only proper ones]] [[Devon isn't Glorious for nothing]]

Now, I'm wondering if I should keep it short or start going on about Seawatching as I've been threatening? The second most acquired taste in birding [beaten only by gull-bashing], what is it that makes allegedly sane people [well, as sane as birders get] tool up in waterproofs and lug their optics plus daftly patterned bumbleshoots and a folding chair of some description to a desolate headland, to stare at the raging sea for maybe 10 hours while tiny birds whizz past at ranges measured in hundreds of metres at best? ::Deep breath:: You will get cold, you will get wet, you might get pneumonia....

Ahem. Maybe that tack's been sailed a few too many times already? How about we go over Monday's fun in different detail?

Getting up too early is part of it, as often the best passage is soon after it gets light. Feet up, I have my walking boots [with thickest socks] waterproof trousers over winter lined trousers, waterproof over t-shirt over longsleeve [thin layers for better insulation] and winter Silly Hat with another in the rucksack to add if needed [[A spare hat is Your Friend]]. Waterproof gloves are standard, with the mitts in reserve case it gets too cold. Rucksack has folding stool, tripod, scope, flask, something to eat, plus assorted odds and ends including two clickers [I bought a second last year, now I think I need a third...]. Bins round the neck and Ginormous Bumbleshoot as walking stick. Getting down is always the worst bit - Hope's Nose is limestone, which when smooth and wet is very much like ice. Only harder. Plus mud, loose rocks, and a gusty gale to blow you off-balance. To get to the seawatching place, you either climb down a vertical face or make a traverse over enough of a drop to spoil your day or circle around and jump over said drop. It's all fun.

Once there and sat down the fun can properly begin. This is where the leveling tripod is so shiny I have to rave about it - just being able to brace the tripod where I want it and level without touching a leg in a few seconds is such luxury... Ahem. This is the point of the exercise, of course, being there and seeing the birds. Such birds they are, too. I don't care what the neon-toothed salesbods say, HD 3D and all that jazz do not in any way compare to real life. Have you ever seen a shearwater fly? Any kind, doesn't matter, they're all a privilege to watch. Have you seen Gannets fishing? Documentaries may have cameras in the water, but it's not the same. Or seen a skua, so full of threat and sheer bad-assery [Watch a skua chase some poor tern or Kittiwake, or a Bonxie scragging Geebs and Gannets - I've seen one grab a Gannet by the wing and throw it into the sea. Look up their sizes and you'll get a hint of how impressive that is. {Don't mess with Bonxies!}]. Tiny bat-like Stormies, trains of auks like high-speed wind up toys, ducks and divers and grebes, the Kittiwakes; proper sea gulls and always so smartly-dressed. Birds you just don't usually see, that live way out and come ashore only at night, sometimes on the other side of the world. Not to forget the sea itself, of course. Or the cetaceans under it, or the vessels on it - will a trawler come by, trailing a line of gulls and who knows what else?

But it's an acquired taste. Sitting there in lashing rain, with no visibility, having your brolly torn from your grasp and triumphantly thrown into the sea by the capricious wind, straining to get onto tiny fleeting birds that spend more time hidden behind waves than in view - it can be distilled frustration. [Especially when large shears are involved. Or Leach's Petrels.] It can also be a huge rush - sat in the eye of the storm as these incredible ocean wanderers go by. The sheer joy I get from the way a Sooty Shear or Sabine's Gull flies goes far beyond that which can be conveyed by words, or even the grin I'm wearing at the memory of them...

You don't have to have a storm, though. You can seawatch at any time, after all. It's not going away. A sunny summer's day might not seem productive, but the thing is you never know. Calm seas can still produce cetaceans, Sunfish and Basking Sharks. Or other things - one time at Prawle with an almost flat calm and bright sun, what comes by but a Stormie! Go figure. And summer evenings mean foraging parties of Manxies. What else? Almost anything could turn up*; Hoopoes, a very lost frigatebird or Pacific alcid? A nearctic vagrant in/off? Stranger things...



[[My lawyers have, er, 'asked' me to point out that it may take many years of watching to see anything other than Herring Gulls and the odd Shag - yes, that's right, if you put in the time you too could see a Fulmar! ;) ]]

Monday, 7 February 2011

200 In Style


200 posts! My word what a lot of nonsense I've written....

Having resisted the urge to mutter last night, I instead got me to bed and then dragged up this morning and headed down to the Nose. Wind blowing a hoolie? Check. Sideways rain? Check. Ore Stone barely in sight? Check. No birds able to hang on to the Lead Stone? Check. Nearly got blown into the crevasse making the traverse to the seawatching position? Check... All good signs. ;)

Auk passage was.. brisk. From 0850 to 0950 I counted 1447 [I'd spent a while just going "Woah..". And not seeing the Snow Bunting, of course] with 441 Kittiwake and 202 Gannet. The auk total [mostly Razorbills] is not entirely accurate, as the bastards were coming through at 4 ranges, which included 'edge of visibility' and 'almost overhead', so quite a few will have got past me. It was impressive. [Devon Birder] joined me part way through my count, and he found the SnoBunt, so any attempt at a full count of passage was abandoned to see the little darling.. [Aww] I took another hour count after the front had passed [1135-1235] and got 231 auks, 41 Kitts and no Gannets [as they were all too busy fishing].

Chief spectacle was sustained and large scale feeding to the north by at least 1200 assorted Herring and Black-backed Gulls, Kittiwakes and Gannets. All the fuss attracted a couple of skuas - an immature dark morph Pomarine* and a Bonxie - the Pom was particularly showy, coming in close to show us how to molest Kitts and lurk dangerously on the sea. :) It also attracted a trawler [ok, maybe their fish-finder sonar did the attracting..]. 3 Common Scoter, a couple of divers and a steady trickle of Fulmars passed south, while 3 female Eider hung around Hope Cove, periodically coming right in [were these the three ladies of the Berry blockhouse, or had they come down from Dawlish Warren like the immature male?]. 20 Oyks were roosting on the toe of the Nose when I arrived, but as the tide started to drop they flew off north.

[[*The amount of covert barring implied second or even third winter, but dark morphs show less barring than lights, and the tail shape aged it as a 1w - duly messed up by me at the time.... :( ]]

Sunshine, WNW winds, and the lack of passage and coffee sent me home [pausing to talk to assorted birders coming down for the Bunting]. Late afternoon I had a look off Blackball and counted 152 GC Grebes, with the trawler and ~1200 gulls, 70 Gannets [which helpfully sat together on the sea at one point for me to count] and 2 skuas [big and dark is all I could get at the range] in sight to the E. 'Twas a fun day indeed; not just a satisfying Patch Tick, but the pleasure of watching a showy Pom doing it's thing and a good passage of seabirds gong by without having to concentrate on counting them! [Oh what a slacker...]

PYL: 89

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Joy of Rain


Or not, as the case may be...

Certainly could do with some proper squally bits to maybe get some birds that aren't Razormots inshore? Rain's a funny thing, has this habit of not showing up when you want it, but when you'd quite like it to hold off, coming in and pissing all over you.

Now, the textbook says [[or would say, if there was one]] that sustained strong winds aren't actually that good for seawatching, as stuff is too busy being blown around to pass. However, there is another rule to be remembered; the 'What The Frell Else Is There To Do??' Rule. There's also the 'You Never Know What's Going By' Rule and the 'Really Good Things Frequently Ignore the Rules' Rule to think of. So I gave it 4 hours at Berry Head today, following the 2 1/2 hour [yes, the same 2 1/2 hours! ;) ] watch I tried yesterday at the Nose.

1305 auks in 2.5 hours versus 2017 in 4 hours [with 1033 in the first hour]. 296 Gannets vs 102. 209 Kittiwakes vs 127. Yeah, 102 Gannets in 4 frickin' hours. I've had much worse in the past [oh, so much worse] and I did get some lovely views of them battering the baitfish that have been so common off this part of the coast this winter so I'm not complaining [much]. 8 Common Scoter went past the Nose, but only a single male passed the Head today. There was also a Red-throated Diver. Yesterday a shearwater sp. - probably Manx - got my hopes up, but just as I lost it behind yet another tanker before it could be nailed, so a flood of fancy birds failed to materialise. Single graellsii LBBs on each day [adult and 3w], 58 GC Grebes on the sea in Hope Cove and 3 female Eider off the blockhouse provided some distraction and the Harbour Porps present on both days were worth the ticket price by themselves. The Berry Head pod were on particularly fine form today, showing right in close for the entire watch and matched only by the aerobatics [if not vocal performance] of the local Fulmars.

On Thursday I went for a proper wander up on't Moor, such as I haven't done for far too long. There's nothing like low cloud, wind, and the threat of cold sideways rain to get some privacy up there :D I went south from Princetown to Drizzlecombe - which I for once had to myself :D - and while the best bird I saw was a dark Buzzard [thoroughly enjoying being able to fly around without being pestered by corvids] it was pretty fun [well, apart from managing to get my hat blown into a puddle, but these things happen*] [[*Sounds very laid-back, that. Not how I felt then, oh the air went navy....]]. Drizzlecombe's an interesting place; the ancestors were very busy there and have left assorted cists, cairns, and three stone rows. Each row has an impressive terminal stone, one of which is the tallest in the south west. I can't remember offhand if it's 13 or 15 feet high, but it's well worth a look if you're ever wandering the upper Plym.

Wednesday was Patch-oriented, with the only interesting [if you like grebes] news being 18 GC Grebes off Blackball in the morning [actively fishing] and 80 there late afternoon [mostly sitting around]. Oh, there was a RT Diver in the morning, too.

Finally, I have a Lifer to report! Not a bird, but a ship. The Navy has [for now, at least] several minesweepers, but I'd never before yesterday seen one. She came south, outside the Ore Stone but inside the tankers - too much gunk in the air to make out her name, unfortunately. Today HMS Bulwark steamed into the Bay, shifted position a couple of times, then headed off up the coast towards a couple of auxiliaries that were lurking in the murk off Labrador. Oh, and three beam trawlers came into Brixham, one considerately washing her nets. They didn't bring any nice followers, even though one was the telly star 'Angel Emiel' herself! It's all go, I tell you.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Another Wild Goose Chase


A report of a 'probable Black Brant' off Preston on a Certain Devon Birding Site had me wandering down that way today. Not a Brent of any flavour to be found anywhere from the Harbour to the Pier, of course, but one has to try..

There was a very nice Red-necked Grebe off Hollicombe, at least 3 Black-necked Grebes, a couple of GC, the male Common Scoter, and the female Long-tailed Duck. Ah, the L-T Duck.... She'd evidently taken a whack to the noggin and come to thinking she was a porn star. So ridiculously close in off Preston Sands, and so unbothered by passing dog walkers that I was able to go right out to the water's edge [this being low tide] and get crippling views as she dived, sat, preened and flapped her wings at me, the hussy. ;) Close enough to fully ID without optics. Mad, mad I tell you... Two of the BN Grebes got in on the action and started swimming by in front of her 'Hey, look at us!'. All this in balmy sunshine.

Did I mention the Med Gull? Not last week's stunning adult, but a 3w [aged as such by tiniest traces of dark subterminally on primaries combined with otherwise adult features {esp. bill}]. This one was so white it almost looked like an Iceland Gull, I've never seen a w/pl Med with so little black on the head before; really pretty bird. Also at Preston, it came in from the outer rocks as the tide started to rise [I'd spent a while cooing over the Long-tail] and sat nicely with the BHGs. The adult intermedius LBB was at Torre Abbey on the way down [mantle a shade off GBB and easy to mistake for a skinny one - it's a big bird] and 24 Turnstones enlivened the trip up [much easier to count with less exposed rock to scan]. Again no sign of a Blackstart, though. This afternoon there were 168 GC Grebes off Blackball, plus 4 Razorbill, in pretty good conditions for viewing.

Yesterday I gave the Patch a good bash, noting 2-300 Guillemots around and on the Ore Stone [need the Bigs Scope to count them properly] and finally getting something on the Firecrest I've been playing les buggeres risibles with since last year! :D If you're feeling very lucky, or just very masochistic, you start at the small grove of pines just down the road from the gate to Hope's Nose. If it's not calling around there, follow the coast path loop to Thatcher Point and back to the road. If you've still not connected it's either on the cliffside where you can't get at it, or in the garden of someone with LOTS of money - where you can't get at it. Fun for all the family, I tell you. [[Or, you could just go to Broadsands, or Beer Cemetery, or Thurlestone, or...]]. Ahem. Silliness aside, I've had half a dozen or so 'Was that a Firecrest?' moments there since the cold snap, but at last enough [nice clear calls and a brief glimpse] to Patch yeartick the little git. Why is it only the ones on my Patch that are so naughty? Other Firecrests in Devon have been very nice, and two at Loe Pool a couple of years back were positively tarty...

{I would have been blogging this last night, btw, but a surprise piece of Civic Duty popped up and afterwards I was far too drained. [[Did you know every Council ward has a Community Partnership? Do you know what they do / can do? I didn't until very recently. I won't bore you with details, suffice to say they're worth looking at.]]}

I had been intending to go on about seawatching, in an attempt to get this blog back to it's 'a little less reporting and a bit more wibbling' original intent. So that's two more good intentions on the scrapheap. There is still time, of course, and there's always tomorrow [[and tomorrow and tomorrow and..]] [[Ahem.]]. One final thing - passing the Harbour this morning there were exactly 7 Herring Gulls. Weather and tide... Plenty around the outfalls at Torre Abbey and Livermead, plus Hollicombe, Preston, Corbyn's etc. Closest things to an interesting one were a 4w(?) Herring with almost entirely black bill, 'Slaty-backed' head streaking and only a few teeny brown marks on the tail away from full adult plumage [[Weird]] and a 2w Herring with what looked like GBB genes... a lanky scary headed gull!

PYL: 87