What, you thought you'd escaped the puns?
After too much work last week I only went and did even more.. Ah, when will I learn? So, only a quick stomp over to the Nose on Saturday afternoon for the Patch.
I was quite surprised by the amount of movement, with pipits, larks, and finches passing overhead in small but steady groups. The bushes were blown out, but on the Lead Stone an impressive number of waders; 28 Oyks and 15 Turnstone! Well out in Lyme Bay was a big feeding flock - seemingly south of the Otter or maybe Straight Point - of at least 550 large gulls with 11 or more Gannets [too far to pick skuas, though I think it likely there were some!]
On Sunday I was determined to have a good yomp and succeeded! I found the parking bit at Scorhill empty - shock! - and set off into the brisk to stiff SW-SSW. Only to stop very quickly as the last field on the right was full of thrushes! 4+ Ring Ouzels, including a very showy male, were with 18+ Fieldfares, 29+ Redwing and 73+ Starlings. Get and indeed in! :D
After that great start, I headed off in a loop around the Teign basin with Wild Tor my lunch destination; I went deosil for a change, passing Shovel Down, Fernworthy, Teignhead Farm, Manga Hill, and Watern Tor. The rivers and streams were full, but I only had to make one jump [I like clapper bridges] - picking my spot with care [the banks are quite undercut in many places]. I then finished the loop, coming off the big ridge at White Moor Circle and stopping finally at Scorhill Tor for.. well, I'll get to that.
The forecast was 'windy with showers', but said showers were more like low-flying clouds and didn't even need my hood up :) - there were also a few patches of actual sunshine, and it was all rather lovely up there. Been far too long and all that.
I had the usual hopes of some sort of wintery raptor; picking coffee and lunch spots with care for wide vistas of possible hunting territory and frequently stopping to have a good scan.
Unsurprisingly, any harriers or Merlins present on t'Moor chose other bits to be at. I did find Golden Plover, Snipe, Curlew [in October??] and Red Grouse [at the usual place, natch], plus a yellow-stained male ReedBunt [which really got me going until it started calling and popped up to mock me]. Plus the odd Buzzard and plenty of corvids, including Ravens. Always nice seeing Ravens [well, unless you're a Buzzard...]
A couple of bad mobile shots for you lovely peoples;
Two incidents of note; firstly at Wild Tor, when a great big falcon came up to say 'Hi!'!!!
It flew very low up the slope from the Taw side, made a sharp right and circled the outcrops, then powered down towards Steeperton Tor. And when I say great big I kid not - this wasn't a Peg, boys and girls. Whether a proper one or some falconer's hybrid that looked like one, this fitted 'juvenile Gyr, grey or dark grey [terminology may vary depending on literature] morph' very well indeed. [Nope, not the lost 'white morph-a-like'] It certainly gave me a shock. After the mounting "what the hell is that?!?" as it came in, I got a fleeting but seriously close fly-past [contrasting u/wing coverts, check, dangling jesses or transmitter wires, nope] as it appeared to my right, [having presumably checked the rocks for unwary grouse!], then a decent view of its arse as it flew away.
Holy shit. Even though it will have escaped from somewhere, I have no doubt, it was still an awesome sight...
Secondly was at Scorhill Tor, where, with the sun westering, I was treated to a very nice passage of birds going to roost. Minimums of 7 Mistle Thrush, 66 Fieldfare, 284 Redwing, 130 Woodpigeon [this one flock!] 76 alba wagtail [with 3 White and 2 Pied to race], 7 Grey Wagtail, 105 Chaffinch, 5 Great Tit, 4 Robin [together!], and 3 phyllosc sp. [with the Robins; looked small, might even have been Goldcrests], plus at least 1 Linnet and assorted finches that didn't call. Also various Mipits and Skylarks that seemed to be flying around rather than purposefully moving.
This wasn't the incident, though. That was when a Mistle Thrush decided to land on the low outcrop I was sat next to, a bare 4' from a surprised me! Both parties were shocked, with the thrush being the more vocal about it..! I've been wondering if that counts as a win in Fieldcraft vs Fieldfares [which I'd considered for the day, but put off due to the wind], as the bird voluntarily came actually inside the close focussing distance of my bins. However, the Mistle did flush [quite emphatically, too], so the whole 'not disturbing' bit kinda rules it out..
Still a big prop for just sitting quietly in unobtrusive colours, though.. ;)
So, a good yomp [about 17k's], some great birds, and just the joy of being up there again, oh yes indeed. All in all a cracking day up on't Moor!