Let's get the irritating bit out of the way..
Saturday was spent around Bowling Green, Goosemoor, the Clyst, and Exminster/Powderham, looking for an invisible Pec Sand. Needless to say, I did not see it.
I did see several great big well-marked juvenile Dunlin. I saw a Green Sand. Also Kingfishers, Spotshank, lots of Greenshank, cute and very late baby Lapwings...
Other than that, there was much looking and walking.
And my first Horsefly of the year. Joy.
Oh well, sometimes the Goddess of Birding requires sacrifice as evidence of our devotion to Her.
Speaking of sacrifice..
Hope's Nose in an onshore wind + lots of rain = suffering. I know this. It's why I used to head to Berry Head in such weather. Well, until TCCT upped their subs by 60%, anyway. [But that's another rant]
If you do dare it, you must hope the wind is feeling generous and allows you a brolly. Sometimes it won't. You get hard gusts from all sides and no matter how you wedge yourself in, or where you retreat to, there is just no escaping it. Then you have to choose; test your waterproofing to the limit and beyond, or
If you can beast it out until something shifts; the rain eases [or starts] or the wind kicks around, then you can get some amazing views. But I'll say it again; you will suffer for them. Soggy and sewage-sprayed, aching from huddling in wrong positions and wrenching your brolly against gusting gales, crawled over by snails [they get everywhere], and peep!ed at by hungry Rockits..
Friday had a Balearic pass so close that it was barely visible over the rocks. Wonderful view, it was a classic type, and came by slowly as it hugged the coast to keep out of the headwind as much as possible. Wow.
A Sooty was further out, with 119/16 Manx in 4 hours [it was good but not busy!]. 4 Med Gulls together [2 ad, 1s, juv], a 3s Pom and an ad Arctic Skua, 4 Sarnies, 2 Guilles, 37 Kitts, 14/4Fulmars and a mere 18/6 Gannets.
Big surprise was the Common Sand, which came in from the north and landed on the weedy bit by the quarry beach! A couple of gulls gave it some casual hassle, but it stuck around to terrorise the sandflies and things for at least an hour.
The weather was just about 'orrible, I have to say. Going from a SE in gusty jerks to eventually ENE, the rain did not let up. The birds did, though, so I called it a day after 4 hours and went home to dry my kit off for Sunday.
Probably didn't need to have bothered with the drying, as the wind on Sunday, despite being more in line with a 'proper' watch, was feeling particularly vindictive. I'd taken my smaller brolly along as well, hoping to wedge into the Traverse, but no dice. I had to hold out with just my silly hat to protect me. [To be fair, the thing is nearly halfway a brolly in itself..] The wind did eventually kick to a SW and I scuttled around to the relative comfort of the Steps, but most of the birds were already past.
I was late starting, due to feeling somewhat under the weather [ho ho], but I wasn't going to let it stop me and I got to the Nose eventually.
Definitely worth doing. In the first 5 minutes my clicker smoked as 192 Manxies streamed by in a river of shearwaters such as you normally only get on the north coast. Wowzer.
[I had got there right after the really heavy rain stopped, to be fair]
Bird of the day was the Sooty, which came by at 1144 at point blank range - not much further out than Friday's Balearic! Best view I've ever had of one, the immaculate feathers made me think it was a juvenile [plus tarting around inshore when it should be blazing past a klick out!]. 9 Balearics [including a wonderful Sooty-a-like at 1238, with pale underwings and all dark belly], 1329/9 Manx!, 4 Bonxies.. There were numbers all right.
Also terns, loads of terns. Almost all very close terns, too. Most numerously, 69 Sarnies included about 1/5 juveniles - all yarking away. 205/5 Gannets and 53 Kittiwakes show the shift in numbers compared to 2 days before, as does the impressive 80 Fulmars. [Though as ever I can't rule out the old 'zip back high north overhead' routine]. 19 Guilles, 5 Razorbill, 5 Whimbrel, a Swift, and 31/3 C Scoter.
Also of note, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth right as I was packing up.
Very mixed watches, those. A lot of getting cold and wet and cramped, but also some of the best seabird action I've had. Ok, so Manxies might not be more than clicker-fodder to many, but I never tire of watching them fly, no matter the wind. The contrast between them and Balearics always intrigues as well [never mind getting anything else].
Also the SWBCM didn't exactly work as it can - the weather wasn't quite right for it - and the best gull on Sunday was a Common, but it could have been better. Hell, the first bird I saw on the battered excuse for a slick on Friday was a really good Sabs-a-like 1s Kittiwake; really bleached and tattered, it even moved more like a Sabs than a Kitt. You never know. And any of the passing terns on Sunday could have been a Little.
Or a frickin' Caspian, come to that. [Nope, still not over that one]
The high season is yet young, with months of possibility to come.
I have been getting a new visitor to my feeders; a young Magpie, which has been balancing on an arm and nibbling away at the nasty remains of buggy nibbles in the top one. I've even put some fresh ones out in gratitude for not having to dispose of them! After a brief pause in the Greenfinches [I'm guessing wing moulting?] when the Coal Tits put in an appearance [or at least, a more protracted one], the Greenies are back again and hitting the sunflower seeds like nobodies' business.
Also, still Swifts.
And I am up to date at last! ::Cheers, applause, wild celebrations etc.::