Monday, 30 September 2013

The Inevitable Monday Post


Habits, habits... Tut tut.


I can promise no post next Monday afternoon, but more on that at another time. Maybe.



Anyways..

Sunday started up much drier than forecast - oh, now there's a shock - so I wandered off about the Patch, hoping to catch up with whatever these 'vagrant-rich winds' had brought in, which would hopefully be a little more visible.

I found a few Chiffs, a couple of Blackcaps... Hm. Tit bands were in evidence, so it is autumn, but as for migrants.. Well, some Swallows were passing. North.


I ended up down on the Nose, watching what was passing on the sea. This was much better, with a lovely all-dark Balearic heading South [as were 5 Commic terns and 4 Razorbills] - it showed beautifully at bin range, too. :)  9 Wigeon went North, but despite a careful look, none of them were yankees. [Not that I was expecting it, but you never know...]

Also some drama, with a rescue in the Bay;

Torbay Lifeboat coming to the assistance of a dismasted yacht.



Much wandering produced buggere alle else, so I headed home and tried to decide what to do next..

Oh, look, there's a frelling Grotfinch at Fraggle Rock. It's sticking around but is .....[Oh, that dreadful word].. elusive. It's also pretty much mid-afternoon - by the time I get over there, it'll be getting dark in short order, given the weather..

Oh, fuck it.*


I went for a wander with the Folks instead.

Mamhead was quite nice, though all of Haldon we passed was as cone-less as everywhere else seems to be this year.. That, however, didn't stop us actually seeing a Crossbill. Fly over. Oh well....

They've been very busy there, hacking down trees all over the place [not unlike at Fernworthy and Sousson's - hmm, coinkydink??]. Not just felling sections, but also cutting these weird breaks in the plantations;

Much too narrow for firebreaks

I'm sure there's some reason for it; letting light in, or splitting up different orders or something?

Anyways, a few more hirundines went over - all north, too - loads of Goldcrests all over the shop and a couple of Redpoll lurking near the car park. Finally, the fungi seem to have appreciated the rain, though none had been spared chavs' feet enough to photo..




[[*I'm sure it will be there all week, tarting on a bird table in front of the Obs for all and sundry, before buggering off on Saturday morning!!]]

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Boom!


The day started early, with a massive thunderstorm first thing! Half five in the morning is a little early, but the blasts of light and house-shaking thunder were worth the bleary eyes!

Did I mention I'm rather partial to electrical storms?


[[Well, apart from that time I got caught inside one on a mountain in Spain, but that's another story.]]



Anyway, the lightning was pretty much done by the time it got light, but the rain settled in and with a brisk NE wind it wasn't conducive to hunting for migrants. [I trust you don't need to ask why I didn't consider seawatching*]

So I stayed in and waited for the rain to ease off, figuring anything dumped by the weather would stay cowering in shelter until it brightened up anyway.



Mid afternoon I tired of waiting, donned my waterproofs and set off. A few gulls on the flotsam and jetsam off Blackball didn't include anything like a Little - let alone that Bonaparte's... - and with the wind and ongoing rain, landbirds were as unobtrusive as expected.


As I got to the Nose, however, the rain stopped and it brightened up no end - the sun almost came out! This was a brief respite, as it clouded over and drizzled quite quickly, but in the gap I had some hope. Alas, the wind didn't ease off and so the few birds on shore were for the most part staying firmly huddled in cover, with only the odd call. The lone - and notable - exception was a Redpoll! Only a standard one, of course, but still nice to see.


I had a look at the sea, which was pretty bare, too. A few Gannets passed and the odd Oyk zipped about, piping incessantly, but as to the Lead Stone... Even though the sheltered side - where the birds should be - was for once fully in view, there was bugger all apart from the usual Shags and Corms and gulls [ordinary].
But wait, what's this? Juv. Kitt- no! 2cy - no!! Shit! Yes! SABINE'S GULL!
A juvenile, it came delicately shearing along the crest of a wave, inside the Lead Stone, and went on it's way south. Yeeehaaaa!!!!!!!!!

First Sab's for 13 long months, that. I am a happy bunny.


So happy, in fact, that once I was sure that nothing else sexy was coming - the sea was pretty dead; a few LBBs in with the gulls on the blown-south slick was IT - I decided to see if that little angel had taken a right.

I searched along the coast, naturally found not a sniff of the Sab's, didn't find much else, either, and headed home.




[[*Just in case it isn't obvious; sitting in the open with what are effectively two lightning rods. Yeah.]]

Monday, 23 September 2013

More Of The Same


Sunday.... Different day, similar weather - warm and muggy. Similar report, too.


Went for a wander about Fernworthy with the Folks - it was a lot less mizzley than Saturday; it almost got bright, even. I again had a good look for cones and again found bugger all - and not a sniff of Crossbills, though that isn't a surprise, is it? There wasn't the cloud of hirundines over the reservoir that I'd been hoping for, either..

On the plus side, three nice Common Hawkers - all showing well for them, though not stopping - and a plethora of GSWs were about. The tits and crests have evidently had a good breeding season; they were all over the shop. Less good, though, were only a single calling flyover Siskin and no Redpoll at all. The res. was pretty dead - only one Canada! - and no waders, though the low water and half decent weather meant the shoreline was constantly occupied by people and dogs, so no surprise there.

We had a nice meander, even getting out onto t'Moor proper for a spell of open vistas and a little bog-hopping :)



Also yesterday, a welcome Garden Butterfly Tick - an overflying Brimstone. :)


Today, from the canteen at work a steady if light trickle of south-bound hirundines; in ten minutes of sustained gazing-out-the-window I counted 19 Swallows and 8 House Martins.



Saturday, 21 September 2013

Out In The Mizzle


A nice [well, sort of] frontish thing coming in with low cloud and mist overnight, eh? Worth a shot, right?

Not so much. A couple of Blackcaps and a few Chiffs at the Nose, with not so much as one Wheatear.

Looking up was a bit better, with a nice cloud of ~120 hirundines [about 90/30 HM/Swallow] mooching about in the lee of the land just west of the North Side. With the wind in the south [or so] the South Side was - as is so often the case - a bit blown out.

I went on and decided to go for a wander up on't Moor. It was lovely and murky, with low cloud and waxing and waning mizzle. I got to Bennett's Cross to find the car park empty! On a weekend! This is truly shocking. Anyway, I wandered about Vitifer before giving Sousson's a thorough going-over. I was looking for cones and by extension Crossbills. Bugger all of either. Another bad year for them, it seems... :( After a stakeout lunch which saw me seeing nothing fly past, I decided to get some proper exercise and bounced up Birch Tor, looping along the ridge. Which was nice until the mizzle turned into rain. As it was nigh on 20°, I was in a shirt and didn't feel like digging my waterproofs out and sweltering, so I cowered behind an outcrop while the ponies sniggered at me..

I did find more Chiffs than you'd expect for Moorland, and shedloads of Mipits; with one huge flock of 162 - yes 162! - which flew over me in a stream on the ridge north of Birch Tor [heading...west! Shock.] I also saw a few butterflies - whites, a Small Tort and a Peacock - and a Black Darter; out despite the overcast.


Shelter on the hillside overlooking Vitifer. 
It's a lovely spot, except for the minor detail of facing into the prevailing wind..


And on a less pleasant note, not far from there..

On the left, the Two Moors Way - pretty much as it has been for years. 
On the right, an 8-10" wide groove, cut down to the soil, running roughly parallel*.

Now, this is on a bridleway, so cycling is allowed, but what gets me is the way that channel [which is what it is] has been cut by riders who don't feel like weaving around rocks but want to whizz downhill as fast as they can. Never mind the fact that next year they'll have to make a new track a bit further over after the soil's washed away over the winter. Never mind that the whole point of off-road cycling is the challenge of rocks and things, right? Never mind that if you want to go really fast, there's a road** running down the same hillside a few seconds' ride further over which is even smoother and won't erode away when you wear the vegetation off!



When I wasn't open-mouthed at the thoughtlessness of fellow Moor-users, it was a nice wander, if not spectacular. Notable for how quiet it was. Well, until a horde of schoolkids wandered by... but you can't have everything.



[[*The photo doesn't do it justice; from a distance it looked like someone had taken a giant marker pen to the hillside. At one point it cuts through a low bank so deeply I wondered if a spade had been taken to it.. There are sadly a lot more tyre tracks cut into bits of the Moor that aren't bridleways - ie. where cycling is illegal - but they're nowhere near as photogenic as this.]]
[[*Straight, wide, soft verges, 40 limit, and livestock to make sure the drivers are paying attention!]]

Friday, 20 September 2013

Sunday's Skuas and a Teeny Gloat


While I firmly believe that a single shearwater, seen closely enough to be appreciated, is enough to make a seawatch worthwhile, there is something about skuas.

There's the ever present chance of excitement, of course; some poor innocent getting mugged. There is the ID challenge - all of them have something you've got to look hard at. Yes, even Bonxies - how old is that one, eh? And there is the fact that even the oddest immature is still prettier than a Herring Gull ;)


Sunday saw quite a treat for me; 33 lovely skuas [[ok, some more lovely -ie. close - than others]], which I brushed over fairly quickly [yes, that was fairly quickly]. True, I managed to miss an adult Long-tail plonk down right in front of me at naked eye range.. but [having had a few days to get over it] that's seawatching. Better that than be one of those poor nameless two at Berry Head ::Fervent prayers to the Goddess of Birding that She never torment me so::


The first skua took more than an hour to arrive, but it was a Pom - I took this as a good omen - albeit a distant one, powering through well above the surface in typically badass style. Bonxie and Arctic followed within 20 minutes and there was a steady stream for the rest of the day - interestingly, they came in alternating runs, B-A-B-A-B-A, with the two never present at the same time! Oddness.

Every skua got a time - bar the sp., which is very remiss of me - and the notable ones got little notes as well [little notes due to little notebook]. I had thought about going through every one of the 33, but that'd be daft, especially when it's a 'Bonxie at 1159', so the bird went straight through and wasn't a juv. or otherwise remark-worthy.

So..
The other Poms were a light morph adult at 1440 and a juv. at 1712, both close enough to age, but neither came in properly close, let alone tarried.


Much more fun from the Bonxies - a two [adult and juv] 1627-1649 and a three 1641-1655 not only on view together but came in and had some fun, so 5 Bonxies; up close and personal. :) They weren't all harrying at the same time though [ooh, that'd be nasty] - the twosome had had theirs and were sat down when the three arrived. After that things got a bit mixed, but never more than three up at once. Not that three wasn't enough, mind! Interestingly, it was the juvenile which was going after the Balearics - though seemingly not very seriously. Perhaps it was playing with them just because they were there, or maybe it just wasn't very good at vexing poor innocent shearwaters; I've seen adults attacking Sooties more than once with horrible thoroughness.


I have to say that the Arctics stole the show. One light morph adult in particular [1407-1419] gave such a display of Kitt and tern harassment that I nearly applauded! So close, as well - comfortably inside the Lead Stone - which is pretty much a Nose specialty. The [lack of] range let me appreciate the sheer speed involved in these chases; you see them happening further off and are wowed by the agility, but it's hard to get your head around just how fast the birds are going.
It was interesting as well to watch how the skua would pick a victim, chase them for a second or two and seemingly know if they had anything; it would suddenly break off and go for another, or pursue until it succeeded, with no obvious difference in the target's behaviour. [That my puny human eyes could see, anyway]


Earlier, the first WOW I wrote down - [[Yes, they are a feature of my notes as well as my blog]] was for the dark-intermediate [1119], the LT-ish bird. Arctic Skuas are very variable, not only in plumage but in size and structure, [which isn't always evident in the literature, especially as the obvious ones are really obvious]. Anyway, this one was very slender and rakish, full up front, and with the dirty yellow collar of a dark-int,* and the light bouncy way it flew and then stalled and dropped to the sea; at range, especially in some murk, it would have been very problematic.

The first Arctic [1048] was a proper dark morph and a hefty one at that - an adult, though, not all the big fat ones are juvs - which came by nice and close and lifted over the Ore Stone for reasons best known to itself. It's not the first time I've seen an Arctic do that, maybe they're looking for Puffins? ;)

The rest were a mix of ages and morphs; the inevitable dark and light adults together [1432], a nice 2cy intermediate [1324], a dark-intermediate juv [1500], and the last bird of the watch - another light morph adult at 1815. The two juveniles who tried their luck close in with the Gannets - at 1455, they didn't hang about long! - really made me laugh. They were like puppies, bounding in, looking at the Kitts but then seeing the little knot of circling Gannets and going"Wow! Look at the size of them, how much fish must they have??".... then slinking away with their tails between their legs, poor things.. ;)
The second close light adult [1552], being a plumage and tail state match AND in secondary moult like the first one, made me think it was the same bird. Fortunately, it was so close I could see exactly which secs it had dropped - the outermost ones - whereas the first one was missing it's next to outer [Would they be S9? I honestly can't remember, and none of the two whole books I looked at numbered secondaries..]. Needless to say, I was quite pleased to be able to say that the Arctics, at least, weren't circling***.


Ok, that's a lot of burbling about skuas I dun saw.

Finally, that gloat. Many of you will also read the wonderfully-titled blog Brett's Goosey Ganderings. As those of you may know, a little while back he put up a pic of a Mystery Gull and held a poll to ID it. Only one responder got it right. Yes, that was me. :)
It wasn't that hard, I must admit, and not only because of the obvious - it's ALWAYS a Herring Gull! - but also because there's a gull that looks very much like that one, hanging about the Harbour!
[[In case you're wondering, I've blacked out those bits for those of you who want to go and have a guess yourselves without spoilers.]]
[[Oh, stop laughing, the rest of you. There's nothing wrong with larophilia.]]
[[Well, unless you take it too literally, but that's just so wrong I don't even know why I'm writing about it..]]



Last of all... Er, not a lot to report. There was a Chiff out the back this afternoon!




[[*Yes, 'officially' there are dark, intermediate, and light, but AFAIC, those 'darks' with off-yellow collars aren't properly dark. You can't be Dark unless you're all dark, end of. See p.229 of 'Flight ID Of European Seabirds' for a proper dark, a dark-intermediate, and an intermediate** ]]
[[**Which is quite a dark one; they can show a paler underside while still not being light. Or is that light-intermediate.. Oh, sod it.]]
[[***See? They're all an ID challenge!]]

Monday, 16 September 2013

Waiting For The Rain


Ooh look, here comes a great big low, whatever shall I do?????




Hmm, I wonder.....


So, Hope's Nose yesterday was rather bright and calm. I'd considered not showing up until the afternoon, but then I thought "Naah, what else is there to do? Go off and dip Osprey again?"

Which is fair enough.

So I toddled down - checking the bushes on the way [I found a Blackcap and a few Chiffs] and casually set up on The Steps. To cut the story short, the weather took its sweet time arriving, and the epic deluge of a front the forecasters were promising was little more than a few bands of fairly light rain after a bout of sideways drizzle. The wind did pick up, and was very nicely SW, so I was wonderfully sheltered.

There were birds, not in vast numbers [probably], but in plenty of variety and all through the day. Albeit a bit thin now and again. There was always something to look at, even if it was the distant feeding frenzies [at first, anyway] and mostly that something included a Balearic or six, so the time went. It didn't feel anything like the 9 hours I watched for, which is always a sign of a good watch.*


Rather than go into lots of pointless numbers, I'll try an overview;

The feeding was split into several areas, many well offshore, but one got continually closer and further north as time wore on. By the time I left the birds were practically in Brandy Cove! [I have learned that the Mackerel have been running, so maybe that's it?] This closest frenzy was never huge, but did consist mostly of Balearic Shearwaters - largest group 21! - and Gannets, feeding on something very close to the surface. The Gannets were only lifting off a wingspan above the sea before diving back at a shallow angle. The same group also had a lone Sooty with it early on - it was sat on the sea next to 3 Balearics - nice comparison!
The activity meant getting accurate passage for a lot of the birds is... problematic. There might have been 147 Balearics passing, or there might have been a lot less on big loops. I tried my best; the short loops I saw and ignored and I kept an eye out for distinctive groups, but really who knows? Certainly they outnumbered the Manxies by a lot.

Certainly also they came in enough for long enough for me to try this and sort of succeed;

Phonescoped Balearics!!!
Bottom left [side on] and top right [underside on]


There was some definite passage though, and it included some very nice bits and pieces - ducks and waders! 4 Ringed Plover were a bit distant, but 5 Redshank were much better! They came in and landed on the back of the Lead Stone with an Oyk - I even heard them calling - stayed for a while then moved on. Waders good, but ducks better; Common Scoter moved mostly south in small groups, but gold to me were a Tufty, 6 Wigeon [going N], and best of all....  7 Teal!! PATCH TICK!!! :D


This is the Joy of Patch right here. Getting this excited about Teal**.




Also a passage of Razorbills - 7 of them including a 2. ;)

Ahem.

Terns showed up and in increasing numbers after the rain started, mostly Common but 3 Arctic, including one cracking adult lingering at point blank range and a few Sarnies. Dawlish Warren may be the best place to see terns, but the Nose isn't bad for close views and when the outfall has been running, they will linger right in front of you. :)

Lingering terns, of course, draw skuas! Arctics and Bonxies mostly - with several of each coming in to cause mayhem, panic, and disorder :D  Two different [by location of moult in secondaries!] adult light morph Arctics gave spectacular views as they harried Kittiwakes and terns so close I couldn't use the scope and barely kept up with bins! Two lovely gingery juveniles tried harrying Gannets - I don't know who laughed more, me or the Gannet which just glanced back at the young skua and then totally ignored it...
It may not have rained much water, but 12 Bonxies in 75 minutes wasn't bad for raining trouble. Among the victims was a 2cy GBB, who got flipped upside down in mid air by a Bonxie coming from behind [ouch]. By this time the feeding Balearics were in close and they too got some unwanted attention - though they were able to evade with surprising agility.
Also notable was a lovely dark-intermediate Arctic - a very slender individual which would have been be really nasty if it was further out. Especially when it stalled! Three Poms came past - two light morphs and a juvenile - though none of them were particularly close and no spoons on show. Also a skua sp. - an A/P.


A few Fulmars moved past - again mostly south and not tarrying.
Don't forget the gulls! Two Meds, one a fabulous adult right off the rocks, a dozen BHGs, four LBBs, and a creditable 21 juvenile Kitts out of 79.
On the rocks, eventually 3 Wheatears [never more than two in view at once] and at least 4 Rockits kept up a merry go round of hop-hop-chase!


Nothing as spectacular as earlier in the year, but for the leading edge of the wind it wasn't bad at all.



Annd finally, a couple more shots for you;

First of all, how do you know when your seawatch is over? Simple, you look left and see this;

It was like a curtain being drawn!



Lastly, a plant! Not what I expected to see below the Steps in the spray zone!

Ready salted...



[[*Or a good sleep.. ;) ]]
[[**Yes, they're beautiful little ducks in their own right, but admit it, you only look at them in case there's a rarer duck hiding amongst them!]]

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Spot the Knot


Got down to the Nose this morning and there were migrants about, though it was more quantity than quality - with oodles of Chiffs on land and oodles of Mipits passing overhead. Variety came in the form of a couple of Wheatears and the surprising sighting of two juvenile Knot, lurking among the rocks! Can you see them?

The camo works a lot better against dodgy phone cameras than eyes, it must be said.


I then headed up Exe way, hoping for a few nice birds. I found them! With no published news about yankee porn stars, I went first to Bowling Green, where there was serious quality. 6, yes, 6 Little Stints, 9 Curlew Sands [they flew in together], a couple of Spotshanks, 24+ Greenshank, a couple of Green Sands, plentiful 'common' waders... It was great! And an amazing 61 Little Egrets [most of them came in in one great mass, too - what a sight!]

With the Lesserlegs confirmed as still present, I decided it might be worth trying to follow the directions
and driving up. This eventually worked and I found a truly amazing sight;

The bird was by the water's edge, pretty much centre of view.
Yes, THAT close!


I hadn't taken my camera, knowing how it tends to repel rare birds. This was a pity, as the shots I got with my mobile hint at the glories that may have resulted [what, you didn't think you'd get away without suffering MY Legs Shots, too?];

That's almost decent..!



Vignetted to hell, but I still like it.


Ok, one last one.
As you can see, the wind was blowing a bit.


What a wonderful wonderful bird....



Right, time to play with the stripey-headed gits. [The Ospreys refused to show at Bowling Green]. I tried Exminster, where a couple of Garganey failed to see me coming - when I lined up on the lagoon, they were the first things in my scope! :D A Kingfisher doing that wonderful hummingbird hover over the canal was a treat as well, but no sign of any Ospreys...

There was one of those funky-looking SwallowxHouse Martins flying around - I've not seen one before - which was a lot less like a RRS than I'd feared it would be. A few dragons were battling the wind - it was warm, still - with Migrant and Southern Hawkers plus a Common Darter.


Ok, thought I, there's one place the Osprey could be hiding; Powderham.

Fail.


Drat.




You know, I'd forgotten how good I am at dipping Ospreys.....

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Will This Post Appear??


I don't get a lot of traffic on this blog [you may be shocked to hear]*, but the majority of it comes through the blogs of those two of Seaton's Finest who have - by fit of charity or madness - linked to mine. All well and good, but for some unknown technical reason, my updates aren't appearing! Scroll down the Favourites and there Backward Birding is, last updated [now] more than a week ago.. But look down.. Yup, posts plural.

Oddness....



But apart from that;

Sunday. I bashed the Patch and found pockets of migrants in odd places. I reckon they'd been brought down due to coming together with one of the hefty but localised showers that have been knocking around. One of these spots being the Garden first thing, where there were at least 3 Chiffs, a Willow Warbler, and a Coal Tit!


Out and about, the star attraction was at, or rather above Redgate Beach and Anstey's Cove** - at least 88 House Martins! They were busily munching flying insects and from the Window on the Coast Path you could see them above, below...all around! The air was filled with their merry chrrick!s and I spent far too long there watching them. I eventually moved around to Walls Hill - where I got the good count - and also got a surprise falcon sp.! It looked very much like a grey morph Gyr, markedly bigger than  the [very brave] Crows which tried mobbing it, but not exactly epicly huge. Possibly a male? While it had no jesses or wires protruding, it had to be a falconer's bird [and of course likely some unholy hybrid*** with Peregrine and goodness knows what else..] being so far south so early. But, ooh it made me look! :)





[[*Not that audience figures are why I do this - you may be even more shocked to learn..]]
[[**Midway between Babbacombe Beach and Hope's Nose - Anstey's is rocky and Redgate is sandy and the best beach around, but closed to non-yachties after the Council in their wisdom blocked the access in case a rock rolled on someone and they sued. Words fail me.
The Window is a spot on the Coast Path between Walls Hill and Anstey's where you can look down onto Redgate and across to the brightly coloured cliffs of Walls Hill - one winter's day I'll find a Wallcreeper from there! {Oh stop laughing!}]]
[[***In my humble opinion, all this hybridisation is very very dodgy.]]

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Damn The Snotpedoes!


Yup, still suffering from the Lurgy.


Today I defied it - it being all or nothing time - and headed down to Cornwarl. I had a Job to do before I could have some fun; Sister had Stuff that needed delivering to her and so I took the scenic route. The plus side of this involved Nephew being amused by my sleeves and Sister producing coffee and toast, the negative side involved me not getting to Pendeen until 10!!

Why Pendeen? Well, the forecast was for NW winds - starting more N, then getting down to almost W - with bands of showers in the morning and afternoon. Sunshine was a risk, though. Having scored very well previously in a SW version of this at 'Gwarra [The famous Day of The Big Shears], the NW version might well pay off, or so I thought. Of course, 'Gwarra does have a much better cetacean record than Pendeen, so if when I got to Penzance and had to choose - there's a roundabout; straight on to 'Gwarra, right for Pendeen - if it was sunny, I'd go to 'Gwarra and never mind the wind direction. Needless to say, it was very not-sunny and full of interesting weather.


But getting back to it...
While there had been many vicious showers on the way down, no more hit there after I arrived. Instead it got sunnier. Drat. There were a few birds passing [all west unless stated] - in 5 hours I counted 14 Balearics, 241 Manxies, and 3 skuas. 3 Razorbills and 5 LBBs made up the others. Gannets [538/21] Kittiwakes [13/5], and Fulmars [56/13] were divided, but mostly the passage was west.

In the sea a couple of Basking Sharks and two Sunfish were interesting - the Baskers were typically slippery, but here's an awful Sunfish sequence;


Sunfish with 'admirer'




Also on site were a couple of Wheatears;



Never mind that sitting-on-a-post malarky, check out my rock!




Eventually I'd had enough [it was very sunny and nothing was moving] and so I decided to take another scenic route home - via Long Rock and a Certain Little Yankee Wader.. ;) Said Semi Sand was being difficult, however - seemingly unimpressed by the hordes of dogs - and took a bit of finding as it was hiding on the actual Long Rocks! Still, the assembled group [not really enough for a proper crowd] were treated to some nice if a little distant views, then really sustained flight views as it went skimming off to a point on the beach more than halfway to Penzance..


So, a bit quiet on the watch, but a nice yeartick [and another view of a definitely findable rarity] and I didn't get soggy. [With the plague already upon me, this is a Very Good Thing]



EDIT: Oh yes, yesterday.. I did get out for a quick wander to get some fresh air in my lungs, but other than a dozen Gannets fishing out in Lyme Bay, I've nowt to report.

Friday, 6 September 2013

A Quick Roundup


Hmm, what's worse than posting every day? A long delay and then not going into enough detail, probably.

Oh well.



Tuesday: I hit the Nose early and as I was intending to wander Exe way afterwards, I'd taken the Big Scope along. There were some migrants, including a Reed Warbler in the Top Dell, so down I went to have a quick look at the sea, what with some fog out there...
Ooh, passage? Cue some seawatching! I did very very well, even when the sun came out and the wind died! 1502 Manxies! 127 Balearics!! 3 Skuas!! A Razorbill!!! ;) At least 7 Harbour Porpoises and probably quite a few more! Best of all..... frickin' Minke Whale!!!!!!!!

Safe to say there's a fair bit of grub out there.


Also this little chap came to say hello;

Awwwwwww.....



Wednesday I hit the Nose again and was rewarded with more migrants, this time the best being a Gropper in with a mob of about a dozen assorted warblers and a few LTTs. I had a look at the [much thicker] mistyfog, but nothing was moving in sight. Well, nothing seabirdy;

HMS Defender, off Brixham


Then with the sun deciding to come out, I went over to Stover and spent a few merry hours trying and mostly failing to photo low-flying Southern Hawkers... I am a bit of a masochist, but the utter delight I get from those rare rare times when something works far outweighs the fleeting satisfaction of all the digital types.

Well, that's what I keep telling myself, anyway..



And finally;
Today I have mostly been coming down with Plague...


Bugger.



I have consoled myself with a couple of very nice birfday pressies, which found their way to me via my wonderful family;

Big Grin.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Another Patch Tick!


Today, while yet again failing to see Brown Hairstreaks;

Brimstone.
No, not that burnt-out; it's a female.


A few fritillaries and the usual Red Admirals, Peacocks, Commas, etc. among the thronged Whites. Elsewhere, again utter failure on the Chalkhill Blue front. I've not the time to go further today.



Yesterday [all my troubles seemed so far away] [[Sorry]]

Ahem.

Yesterday there was a Family Day On T'Moor. Sister and Brother In Law came up from Cornwall with The Nephew [and their 'orrible dog] and the six and a half and two Others of us had a very nice lunch, went for a wander, then had a very nice tea. There were pubs involved and as I wasn't driving it was indeed Good :D

The Forest Inn at Hexworthy deserves Special Mention for Good Beer and Good Food, plus putting up with the Hounds of Hell [though not all ours, they had some competition!]. We wandered about White Wood and Venford Reservoir - most of the Summer migrants had gone, but there were at least 3 Spot Flies still hanging around and they were gorgeous! Alas I was alone in cooing over them [philistines..]
It was a nice day and no, worry not, I've not forgotten my 'No Horrifically Cute Baby Pics' promise.


Hmm, it's not turning out to be quite the hollyday I'd planned, thanks to the frelling weather [as well as the Other Stuff, too]. I mean, it's the last week of the school holidays* - it's supposed to rain like a bastard then get all sunny the moment the little monsters darlings go back. That's how it always was when I were a lad, anyway! :(

Maybe things will change, maybe someone [looks in the general direction of the Axe] will find some Mega, at least? Another Audouin's - one that stays long enough for me, even??



Hey, I can dream.





[[*Which is a scandal - Back To School always used to be the first week of September when I was at school.]]