Sunday, 30 September 2012

Chasing Migrants


Is largely an exercise in futility, as they can fly far faster than you can...

This weekend I did best [and this is of course a relative term] when I stayed put and let them go past. First up was Hope's Nose [you were expecting Spurn? ;) ], where a large number of Chiffs knocking about catching flies got my hopes up. Ho ho ho. I did find a Nuthatch, which is a really good bird for the Nose, and nearby [though not actually in Nose bounds] my first on-Patch GSW of the year! Really odd, that - Greens everywhere.

Anyway, I was thwarted in my hopes of finding something rare and sexy, and the other notable sighting was a Fox!

I then, after some pondering, said Sod It and went up on't Moor. The South West side - after a quick look about Foggintor Quarry for Wheatears [nowt there but a Common Hawker] I followed the tramway out to a nice viewpoint where I could see over the Walkham valley and out to a large chunk of SW Devon and into Cornwall. There I plonked down and waited to see if any Honey Buzzards or the like felt like passing. Ha ha ha.

28 Swallows went past west [one in touching distance] in an hour, as did assorted finches - Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin etc. No big numbers. There were a LOT of Mipits about, and they seemed to be on the move, though in a slow casual hopping from one feeding spot to another manner. One party had a juv. Yellow Wag with them - I'm not sure it knew what it was doing there, though there were cattle aplenty about, so maybe it did. I spent a fair amount of time going through said Mipits - I am a masochist, it's true - being very interested by the variation among them. They're almost as bad as Dunlin and large gulls...

The usual moorland birds [so that'll be Crows] were about, as were increasing numbers of bods in the sunshine. I eventually found a couple of Wheatears - one of which was one of those autumn jobs. You know, with the pale colouring and stand-out alula, broad tail bar and very upright stance. It was not anything other than Northern, I must stress. Just one of those birds that aren't in the books - lot of that going around, isn't there? Also of interest, the first Golden Plovers of the autumn, though they flew along the other side of the hill so I only heard them - not a big group, by the sounds of it.

Today, a slight case of miscommunication, a change of plans, and... well, various other factors led me to rock up at Prawle far later than if I'd meant to go there from the get-go. It was very windy, but more than that shall have to wait, as again I'm out of time. I love Days.


Oh, ok I'll tell you one thing I saw;
The 'Grande Napoli'.

One of those floating breeze blocks car carriers, in a lovely scheme of off-white and yellow, with Grimaldi Lines on the side. Too far out to see if it actually was Monaco registered...


Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Missing Week


Between two very different seawatches was, of course, mostly spent working. Blech.

There were also two trips up on t'Moor with the Folks - something that hasn't happened much this year, what with weather, birds and the huge amount of livestock up there [due to the weather being so good for the grass].

The day after Prawle, we went for quite a meander around the moorland Teign. Starting at Scorhill we took in Shovel Down, nearly Watern Tor, Fernworthy, and almost Kestor Rock. The many deviations [our path resembled a squished trefoil] were due to the large herds of cattle, with calves, which seemed to have been placed carefully to frustrate us. We'd decided that Little Black Dogs and cattle [always with sheep in attendance, naturally] were not conducive to a nice vaguely peaceful walk. Yes, they usually just get up and stare at her, but it only takes one silly one and we didn't want to have to worry about it.

We did get a very different walk, covering some new ground, we found a new picnic site where we were treated to flyby hirundines at grass-skimming level - more House Martins than Swallows - and saw 4 Common Hawkers and a Golden-ringed Dragonfly. Unusually all 5 dragons were quite showy, which made a pleasant change. A couple of Wheatears were still knocking about the walls, too. :)

The day before Berry Head, we took and afternoon stroll around the Vitifer, Sousson's, Challacombe, Headland Warren loop. Again a big herd of annoyingly placed cattle [this time in the field between Challacombe and Golden Dagger] caused a detour, but we did get to wander along a nice lane. No Wheatears this time, and just the one Common Hawker. We did, however, meet some surprise cattle in deep bracken up near Headland - Highlands! With very pointy horns and everything.. They were also very unbothered by Little Black Dogs barking at sheep, for which we were duly thankful. It was another nice walk, no huge drama or excitement, and we had a nicely relaxed coffee at Hidden Tor.

In between those walks, I got down to Town and counted 5 Turnstone but no Purple Sands on Haldon Pier in bright sunshine on Friday and on the Saturday morning I tried the Nose for migrants. No Magnolia Warblers, Lancies, Ortolans, or even Yellow-brows for me; the best I could find was a Garden Warbler among the Blackcaps, and that mostly sulked and swore at me... Plenty of Chiffs were in, and parties of Mipits were moving overhead, but the only Willow Warbler I could find wasn't even there [it was in a garden on IMD]. A lone Wheatear at Sandy Point was some consolation, looking very cute indeed.


So, there you have it. Missing week un-missed.

Finally, a group of Linnets south over Town yesterday afternoon, also the resident Grey Wagtails [I still can't get over that - the Fleet is entirely underground!] being vocal.

I keep looking at all this stuff that's been arriving and wondering about what's getting past me. Bladdy Days.....






B/N: Hidden Tor is not on any map other than mine that I know of, also technically not a proper Tor. But then neither are several others and the whole 'official' nomenclature thing is daft and contradictory anyway. If you want to find it you already know the general area, but as I'm nice I'll give you a clue; you can see it from Rough Tor. ;)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Worth The Wait


I suppose I ought to start with the glorious five minutes [yes, five minutes; from 1517 and it was finally lost for the last time at 1522. It seemed like less...] at Berry Head yesterday...

Or rather the 8 1/2 hours I spent cowering next to the wall as the wind and waves did their best to remove me and then us. Phrasing is accurate as to my frank disbelief there was nobody there when I finally arrived. Yes, the wind was very strong and coming right in, yes, the waves were already sending white water over the blockhouse and making the approach... interesting, yes, the tide was coming in. But Berry Head is not a low edifice, and the seawatching spot is 2/3 of the way up, with the Wall giving maybe 25' on top of that.

Once I'd wedged my chair into something approaching a usable position on the steeply sloping grass it was pretty good. Being right by the wall, the wind carried most of the rain right over me, meaning only a couple of times did I need my brolly. Well, for the rain, anyway. It was actually very well sheltered there, and a huge contrast to the level main area and rocky sitting bit, which were subject to not only a wind that you'd need superhuman strength to hold a scope steady in, but incoming salt water that could likely knock you over backwards.

The sea was putting on one hell of a show, with a big swell driving at the rocks of Tor Bay and producing huge plumes of spray - the Ore Stone was topped by it more than once, and spray from the pink rock [between the seawatching spot and the blockhouse] obscured the land beyond routinely. The view out to sea also went away with annoying regularity - trying to get id on pesky small skuas at range was hard enough without the added interference! MD had arrived after about an hour and a half, and in the afternoon [Young Devon Birder] - briefly accompanied by Brave Parents - made it a trio. Only minutes before his arrival, we had been the beneficiaries of the sea's affections; a wave that must have gotten lost from The Perfect Storm put water high enough to not only get water over the wall, but drop it on top of us for several seconds. Imagine you're seawatching and then are suddenly under a seawater waterfall. No, we didn't have our brollies up...

Water was pouring down the wall for a couple of minutes as we poured it out from everywhere it could get into. While having to rinse off all your kit is annoying, I admit I found it exhilarating - that my silly hat saved me from getting water down my neck may be a contributing factor ;) But just think about how big that wave must have been; the seawatching spot is about 40m up, plus the wall at maybe another 7m, plus the extra height to be able to get all that water over the wall.. That's a big wave to send spray likely the full height of Berry Head.

Ok, enough about that.

So I'd battled my way in, messed about to get set and the first bird I saw was a Balearic. Right after that one went it's way - flying in a not very Balearic-like manner in the headwind - it was followed by two more.. I saw 80 shearwaters, and 74 of them were Balearic. Wowser! It must have been the Manxies' day off as only 4 went by. Four Manxies in more than 8 hours in September.. Ok. The other two were Sooty, btw :)
I had to wait more than an hour for my first skua, but eventually I got on 79 - Arctics and Bonxies with 2 Poms, the Long-tail and a very distant small skua which went out without ever showing more than its arse... Some of them came through very close - so close I'm sure we missed a lot. Likewise most of the Kittiwakes came by close and if there were any Little Gulls or Sabine's with them they got by under the radar.

There were very few terns passing and two Black Terns that tried spent a lot of time going backwards! Seawatching is forever unpredictable, and Random Bird Of The Day went to a female Pochard. Insane Bravery Award went to a lone Swallow, which headed out low overhead into the teeth of the gale.. On the clickers, Gannets scored 637, Kittiwakes 229, and Auks 110. The latter were at first mostly Guillemots, but later on more Razorbills made the overall mix about 50:50. Not clicked but tallied was a fair passage of Fulmars - 84 of them, including one very pale individual, easily the lightest Fulmar I've ever seen.

Early on a gathering of Gannets drew my attention to a patch of sea where despite the swell I got the briefest glimpse of a grey cetacean - most likely a Bottlenose - but a proper frenzy didn't develop.
Three Brixham trawlers came in - one being none other than the Vigilance. One yacht full of the questionably sane went out; 'Escapade' indeed...

And finally, the Leach's. Yes, made you wait until the end; at about three fifteen [Young Devon Birder] found a couple of Balearics which pitched down onto the sea to our north, quite close in to us, in the vicinity of several young gulls. While I was trying to get my scope on the Balearics I found a Storm-Petrel, fluttering as it fed among the waves. I called "Stormy!" even as a little voice in my head* was wondering why it's wings were that shape... MD had no such problems as he got on it very quickly; "It's a Leach's!"

And it really really was. It hung around for a while, once flying right past one of the [now four] Balearics loitering about what must have been something interesting, showing off its wonderfulness and generally being beautiful before neatly losing us all. I picked it back up further out and stayed on it for a bit longer as it headed out to sea, pretty much due east, before it finally lost me for good. What a bird.

WOW.

[I think that was justified, don't you? :D]


Now, about that week I've missed out- Oh dear, I'm out of time.





[[*As opposed to the Purple Pixies that tell you what to do, of course.]]

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Goooooooaaaaaaalll!!!!!!


Leach's Petrel at Berry Head!!

Hung around a bit, too, at pretty close range for Berry. I'm a very happy if somewhat soggy birder, oh yes I am. Not the only thing passing, either, but that shall have to wait for later when I have a little more time to crow post.


Happy happy joy joy.
:D

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Weekend Birding. Again.


Ah, the Joys of the day shift...

Highlight of my working week was 18 Swallows past south on Wednesday lunchtime.

So... Saturday I decided to do something. But what to do on not entirely inspiring weather and nothing in reach worthy of a filthy twitch? Hmmm... Second week of September? Prawle, I think.

Plenty of migrants knocking about the bushes by and below the car park, including a very smart Spot Fly, but nothing fancier that I could find. I have little doubt the Wobbler there today was lurking there somewhere. Git.

I then headed up to the Point, found myself somewhere comfy to sit and stared at the sea for a while. In this case, 'a while' was about 5 1/2 hours. What wonderous passage was there to trigger this stay? Well, 140 Gannets. 64 of which passed between 2-00 and 3-00. There were some yachts, some with truly...er.. unique names; 'Ryan's Daughter' isn't that bad, I suppose, but 'Multiplex'. Seriously??? Also the aircraft helicopter carrier, one of those big grave-robbing treasure-hunting ships, and the police boat 'Excalibur'.

I had been hoping for a bit of quiet, what with that cycle nonsense going on, and maybe some cetaceans, but a distant large dolphin sp. breaching once was all I got. Most likely a Bottlenose. Nope, not even one Sunfish, let alone a Basker. Drat. Still, it was nice and peaceful, and a gorgeous Wheatear dropped in to say hello. :) Swallows with a few House Martins were passing west steadily, a couple of Small Coppers and a Migrant Hawker were on the wing.. Odds and ends, really.

It wasn't until I was going that something fun happened, with a field of coobeasties that had been pretty empty on the way out suddenly sprouting Yellow Wagtails, at least 26 of them! They just kept coming and coming out of the long grass, it was amazing...

Today's fun will have to wait, as I've got to get up in the bloody morning.. Tut.



Monday, 10 September 2012

Aaaaaauuurrrgghhh..........


Is a fair reproduction of the sound I uttered on having to get up Far Too Early this morning. Yes, Fun Times are over and it's Back To Work, on days too, just to stick the boot in.

But before all that suffering and woe...

Having spent the previous two days seeing fancy waders on other peoples' Patches, I spent Thursday resolutely on mine. Much was the bashing and many were the Dunnocks, Wrens, Robins, and Chiffs quietly cursed. Eventually I headed home with but one 'decent' bird to show for the day. But it was a juv. Whinchat, so I was content. :D

Friday I went for another Yomp on t'Moor. Not quite such an epic distance [::Coff coff::] as the week before; I went up the Avon from Shipley Bridge, hung a left to The Sub, then on to Western White Barrow, down to the tramway and around to Leftlake, then up Three Barrows, before dropping down to Hickley Tors, then down Diamond Lane [with funky fallen tree right near the top to vex riders.. ouch] to get back to Shipley. The sun shone mightily and the wind barely blew; with the grass and bracken starting to turn it finally felt like August! [Oops] There were still a few Wheatears up there, and another passing Hobby [plus at least 3 Buzzards and a high altitude Kestrel!], which didn't chase anything in my view. I had picked a route with plenty of nice viewpoints for any passing raptors which may have been feeling charitable, a nice Kite or Honey Buzzard, say, but no joy. The gunky haze didn't help at all - the best I could do was 'Distant raptor which might not have been a Buzzard'  ;)

On Saturday first thing at a misty Hope's Nose, despite the conditions [night had started clear] I could only find a couple of Willow Warblers. So I did what I'd nearly done the day before and went down to Soar!

It was pretty thin on the ground there, too. I did find some more WWs, one of which was very showily catching flies at East Soar Farm. Less fancy but sitting better for the scope at the same spot - in the same bushy bit, in fact - was a Spotted Flycatcher. :) There were a few Wheatears knocking around and a fewer Yellow Wags, plus the first Woodpig flock of the autumn; 62 in this one, so a way to go yet. On a non-birding front, I was treated to a very close view of a combine harvesting the airfield, which was almost as enjoyable for me as for the kid in the cab with his dad, who was clearly having a great time :)

Having thoroughly worked over the eastern half, I decided instead of wandering over to the western bit to instead drop in on West Charleton Marsh, where I have not been for a long long time. Tide and sun were out, so the glare was just as evil as I remembered, but it was good practice in identifying common waders by silhouette and movement only.

Yesterday I had Things To Do in Newton. Thus I only got to give the Patch a brief going over; I got absolutely sod all..

Spotted Crakes.. Pec Sands.. Hundreds of Balearics... It's definitely Monday.



Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Off-Patch Birding


AKA
Filthy Tick-hungry Twitching!!

Guess where I went today?

Yup, off to Lodmoor I did toddle as soon as I heard the SBD hadn't buggered off overnight. I would have been there for 6, really I would, but after a couple of early starts and late nights involving alcohol, I really needed at least some sleep if I wanted to get there.

Anyway, my tardiness was rewarded with a lovely late birfday pressie, as I did indeed get to see this elusive little Yank. For nearly 2 whole minutes; feeding and looking very very pretty, before it casually ambled back behind the rushes it was spending the day behind... Prior to and after this it briefly moved past gaps in said rushes, but other wise it was a no-show. Apparently it did some flying about at 8, and had been in the open from 6-15 to 6-30 before that. Yup, really tarty bird, this one.

Also amazingly Short-billed Dowitchery, too. Those tiger-striped tertials were incredible! Body shape was also much longer and slimmer [for a dowitcher] than the LBDs I've seen. It could be today was markedly hotter and it was slimmed down and showing the tertials better than previously? I'm not going to mention the barring, which was clearly - oh wait, I just did.

But enough of that! Its an SBD, its gorgeous and I saw it! WOOHOO!!

I also yearticked Mr. Evans, who was not in a white suit of any kind! [Gasp!] [[Sign Of The Apocalypse!]] A good crowd mostly hung around for the hours of waiting, and included many other Famous Faces, both National and from Glorious Devon; [Famous Devon Birder, Devon Birder, Infamous Devon Birder, Devon Birder] and Bun being notable. ;)

The sun shone, Migrant and Southern Hawkers buzzed around [one of the former to point blank range - I hadn't taken the camera..] while Common Darters zipped around! 7 Sarnies sat by a mob of 80-odd BHGs in front of the waiting throng, with waders of a non-dowitchery persuasion being [in my sight] 2 Snipe, a Common Sand, a Dunlin, a Ringo, 4 Lapwing, and 6 Blackwit. Overhead a steady though light passage of Swallows was interrupted by a Hobby early on and a big boss female Sprawk right as I was leaving!

There was a lot of waiting, but it never got tedious and I never felt the onset of that grinding weight, the Prospect Of Horrific Dip feeling you get sometimes [Usually before you do..]. It was very much a sense of that the bird would show, but as and when it felt like it.


Short-billed Dowitcher... Brilliant! :D




Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Patch Birding


With some actual mist and gunky cloud, I dragged myself out of bed and down to the Nose this morning, in hope of maybe something interesting. The sun came out, quickly and fiercely, and then a gimp got going with a strimmer just across the way. Ok, maybe that was a little unfair, I couldn't see if the strimmer operator was wearing a gimp mask, but it sounded like he or she was into torture..

Ahem.

I got bugger all, anyway. Well, three Bullfinches. Not even a Wheatear. Ok, a couple of Chiffs and something that 'chack!'ed so impressively it sounded like two sticks breaking. [I have no idea what it was. No, not someone breaking two identical sticks unless they were in a bush and also then flew out the back of it..]

Anyway, having tried and failed on my Patch, I decided to finally give in and go to somebody else's.

Black Hole Marsh is indeed lovely at this time of year... :D
I'm not yearlisting, as I said back in January, but I am keeping score. Just for comparative purposes, you understand. I may have quietly decided that getting 100 on Patch, 20 odonata, and 200 in Devon was something that indicated I was paying attention, but in no way have I been chasing yearticks. Just wanted to make that clear.

I may also have been on 198 for Devon before today and after the Little Stint [there was only one on view at a time when I was looking] finally came out from where it had been hiding, the Green Sandpiper that peered around the corner 20 minutes later was duly toasted as 200. Yup, due to some interesting circumstances I'd yet to see or hear Green Sand in Devon this year. I'm rather amused by that, I have to say. :)

I spent an amazing - I say amazing as it felt far less than that - 3 hours in the Tower Hide. First searching for a Stint - which took most of the first hour - then counting and recounting the Dunlin and Ringos, before getting distracted by all the lovely gulls right there on a plate... Time just went. It was brilliant. :D

I got high counts of 31 Dunlin and 13 Ringed Plover, btw. Also a Greenshank [very close :) ], 4 Common Sands and 3 Green Sands, 46 Blackwits [one colour-ringed but I only got the left leg, which was Red over Orange over Lime], and 21 Redshank. I wrote 7 Curlew but that has to be wrong - must have forgotten to put in the final total.. Drat. I even took some rough [they would keep moving] gull counts; ~650 Herring, 120+ BHG and 75+ GBB, plus 3 LBB. Not even a Med, let alone a YLG... Oh well. 4 Wigeon knocked about the place as did at least 4 Shelduck.

Eventually I wandered around to the Island Hide, where the [a?] Little Stint came very close, but then flew off just as I was pulling out my camera.. Little Git. On my way out, a gorgeous Wheatear pulled the same stunt on the fence! Before that, a very smart Migrant Hawker patrolled the ditch by the Tower Hide path, above a little channel cleared through the weed that hadn't been there when I arrived.. Nice to know they're there even if I didn't get to see one.

I had a lovely time, the hide to myself for most of it..




Monday, 3 September 2012

It's That Time Of Year


Apologies in advance for some of this, but it's been a hot ratty day of multiple annoyances. I blame the time of year; all those kids going back to school are sending out waves of suffering and it's affecting the rest of us...
;)

Set my alarm this morning, as the fools liars weather forecasters said that there would be mist and murk around the coast first thing, with the sun gradually burning the cloud off inland.

For those of you not reading in this part of the world, that was a very inaccurate forecast. It started clear and almost cloudless and stayed that way. Hot sunny day with a few little white fluffies. Oh well.

After looking out the window, swearing, going back to bed, then getting up much later...

Today, with it being all hot and sunny, I decided to try chasing odonata in September! Shock! Eventually getting going late morning, I wandered not too far and ended up at Stover. This would be ok, I thought, as all those 'orrible noisy brats adorable little kiddiwinkies would be back at school, getting tortured an education. Not so much. Many many kids, plus the inevitable roaming dogs [[the latter despite some lovely new and quite graphic signs about what loose dogs do to nesting birds. But since when did irresponsible dog owners notice any signs?]]. Oh well.

I had a look about, also had some lunch, then went on to Little Bradley, which contained absolutely nobody! It also now contains the lens cap from my big lens, due to circumstances that belong in fiction and have no place in the real world. If it hadn't been mine I fear I would have done myself a disservice from laughing...
Imagine you've got your camera on a strap over your shoulder while you're standing on the little dipping jetty thing. Then you see your lens cap rolling along the hand rail, dropping off onto one of the planks of the stage, rolling halfway along that, then falling over the narrow gap towards you, before tipping back into said gap, to vanish into at least three feet of weedy water under the jetty. All of this just out of your reach.

Its only a lens cap.

I did see 12 species of odonate, which was nice. There was still an Emperor patrolling at Bradley, but the Big Bad Dragon duty is now mostly done by Southern Hawkers. Tons of Common Darters all over the shop, with the odd Migrant Hawker or Keeled Skimmer for variety. Taking pictures of dragons in the heat is often an exercise in insanity, especially darters, who are very good at buggering off just before you're ready. Also in not coming back to a perch once you've set up on it.. Drat.

Best bird was a funny-looking Chiffchaff.



Sunday, 2 September 2012

Stripy-headed Gits...


So I was at Exminster yesterday, specifically hanging about the Turf Hotel watching the waders and hoping for an Osprey to come flapping past. Yes, I know there was one there, but did I see it? Nope. I have no idea how I managed to miss a bird which is not only the size of the proverbial flying barn door, but also seemed to have gone right past me..?!?!??

Oh well. There were nice waders, mostly far away of course - I blame the bloody canoeists - counts of 245 Dunlin, 11 Knot, 9 Ringo and 6 Grey Plover, plus plenty of Redshank, Curlew and Godwits.

Also worth a try was my trip for the morning tide to Bowling Green today, with a nice Garganey top of the shopping list. Naturally, the resident bird made itself scarce. The Osprey, however, sat on the stone barge for half an hour. Tart. :)

While waiting to see if the Garganey would come out of it's pet channels, I did a little counting*;
Spotshank 1
Redshank ~230
Curlew ~380
Dunlin ~75
Knot 15+
Whimbrel 2+
Blackwit ~650
Barwit 5+
Snipe 1
Little Egret 32
Wigeon 19
Shoveler 6+
Pochard 2
Tufty 2
Little Grebe 5 adult 2 juvenile 2-3 downy young

[*Many counts approximate due to the waders being very tightly packed]

After admitting defeat, this afternoon I had a consolation wander about Yarner with the Folks. Tilly saw some Fallow Deer, so she was delighted [they were less happy, it must be said]. We met few birds, unsurprisingly, but a gorgeous and showy male Southern Hawker, plus some wonderful Fritillaries - a male Silver-washed actually sat still and posed! [I didn't take my camera...] were well worth the walk. Yarner is still very very green and with a lack of distracting birds, you can appreciate the plants.


I almost typed that with a straight face, you know.
;)

Going back to Friday, I took that last weekday firing-free, to take a yomp up on't Moor. It's been a long while and I could feel that lack of practice every step from Lanehead up to the top of Hare Tor. Taking the opportunity to collapse have a quick rest while I regretted not taking a defibrillator admired the scenery, I watched a couple of farmers moving sheep from horseback. Onward I headed, over the Rattlebridge to Green Tor, where I stopped for an early lunch and a good thing I did.

Hobby! Heading west [same as a fair few passing Swallows], it suddenly noticed a Mipit.. The ensuing action took the breath away; the falcon attacked like a Peregrine, climbing rapidly then stooping on the fleeing passerine. The Mipit, though, was no easy meal, as it simply changed course as soon as the Hobby started to dive. But the Hobby, with acres of excess speed, simply climbed back and tried again. And again. I counted an amazing 16 attacks, with a couple getting very close, but still the Mipit kept dodging. It couldn't last for ever, the Hobby was so determined. Fortunately for the Mipit, it had a plan and after the 16th attack it reached the outcrop of Lower Dunnagoat and dived straight into a crack! The foiled falcon circled once and headed off west.

Ho-ly shit.

After all that fun, I headed up Amicombe Hill.

Look at it on a map. Big thing, but doesn't seem much, steep on the east side, maybe. I went from Kitty Tor to Branscombe's Loaf [I've told you the Tale, I'm sure]. The grass, though, it has been growing. It was thigh-high when laid down, and shoulder-high when I wondered how long it really was and pulled up a handful... Nice walking without a path to follow; took me an hour. The Loaf was its usual spectacular-viewed self, with the bonus of a Wheatear and no less than 12 Ravens! Joining the big corvids were a hang glider and a paraglider - notably less agile, though also quieter.

I headed back via Great Links Tor, racking up 20 klicks, also 2 more Wheatears. Wheatears rock. :) The Mipits are flocking up, with one group of 35, but the continued Wheatears mean its not Autumn proper yet. Despite how soggy everything is.

It was fun. Also wonderfully quiet. Funny that..