Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A Sunny Long Weekend


Spent mostly looking about for something I really really really wanted to get a picture of.


I admit it, there would have been crowing.


But this was not to be. Ever the bashful, Lemmy The Lammergeier manged to keep well out of shot.



Oh well.



I did see some nice scenery and some cracking birds - though the former was far more co-operative in the getting photos stakes, I must say - and covered some turf I'd not trod in an age.

Instead of burbling on, I'm just going to inflict blindness show you;

Great Mis Tor

Middle and Great Staple Tors and Roos Tor


The upper Walkham valley and Great Mis Tor,
 from Great Staple Tor

The Cowsic valley, with North Hessary Tor in the background
from Lydford Tor

Fresh bones along the Cowsic..

Devil's Tor and The Beardown Man,
Fur Tor on the horizon


The Man

Again, Fur Tor on the horizon [Great Links is also visible from there]. What may well be a collapsed row in the foreground.
This shot also amply shows why he's the Beardown Man. [That's not an artifact or photoshopping..]


The U rated side





The Man and Great Mis Tor


He doesn't measure up in all directions, though.. ;) 


On the High Moor
Hare, Sharp, Great Links, and Fur Tors


More bait!


"Put me on your blog, human!"

This stallion [plus hanger-on] demanded attention when I was minding my own beeswax at Conies' Down Tor. He walked right up in front of me and stood there until I'd taken his picture, then wandered back over to his herd!

One more;

Cup marked stone
Now unfortunately part of a wall [and somewhat defaced by paint-wielding ignorants].


So, lots of possibly-even-pretty pictures and very few words.




Be Seeing You..



Friday, 27 May 2016

In The Air


Got in from work and before I could do much the gulls went nuts. Looked out and couldn't see anything odd until.. wait, is that a.. Fulmar!?!??

I don't know if it was scared up by the Big Mystery or if IT was what had everything going, but it was well over land and well up.. Odd.

Also, found the remains of the first kill on the balcony - while I was at work of course! Presumably a Sprawk attack, I think a Goldfinch was hit, judging by the feathers. [I have oddly mixed feelings about this..]



Getting on to the Main Event, at last I had L news when I could do something about it.

Was shocked to actually get a wandering raptor on the way - a Red Kite over the A38 - and... Well, I gave it until the Buzzards gave up, and the Herons flew home, and the big kettle of gulls dispersed.


Wheatears are always good. A Cuckoo was calling. A Mipit had a very persistent pursuer...





Here's one for you;

What's more or less black, with looong wings, a looong tail, and is waaaaaay over there somewhere?


I'll tell you if I get a picture of the git!



Be Seeing You..?

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

With Great Vexation...


...and furious grippedness.


Did I read of what that bladdy [CENSOREDCENSOREDCENSORED] bird did yesterday.




Ahem.



So, Sunday. I had things to do, and only managed a quick look at the Harbour late PM.

The Artist's Common Dolphins* were waaaaaay off to the south [until a speedboat came along, anyway..]. A few Gannets - who helped me find the dolphins - were about over the calm seas, but the only birds of real interest were much closer.

The Real Living Coast


Stonking summer duds - like a mini Stiltie!

Not just a couple of Purple Sands [though those shots are the same bird], either;

Wowzer!

Two Turnstones, one much more summery than t'other, were also present on the RLC, along with a very vocal Rockit.

The waders were - as you can probably tell - very mobile and actively feeding, clearly just stopping by on their way to pastures north.



Closer to Home, the feeders continue to be hit at a staggering rate - you'de think it was deep winter or something - so I've tried adding soaked worms to see if that helps, but while some are being snarfed by a Blackbird [Blackbird in my ickle garden!], most seem to be being taken by the local Magpies..

Still, I suppose every time they hoover up my mealworms, they're leaving some nest alone..?




Be Seeing You..



[[*Ok, 'dolphin sp., almost certainly the Common Dolphins The Artist had seen from Brixham'...]]

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Spoooon!




Seawatch at the Nose this PM.

2 Poms, light morph; stonking adult with exquisite spoons and a 3s - through together.

Good numbers of Manxies, and the odd heavy shower - it never quite stopped raining the whole time - gave some excellent bits and pieces, including 2 cracking Black Terns and a wader splurge starring a [very brief] Wood Sand [only my second on Patch].



EDIT:

Bit more detail;
Waders included Dunlin, Turnstone, and Whimbrel.
Swallows and a Swift in/off.
No Puffins, though, and only one Razorbill hanging around the Ore Stone [that I could see].
Moderate passage of Gannets, Kitts, and Fulmars.

There was also this character, who dropped in for a rest;

Ooh, what's that?


Gannet.
 
Adult and appeared uninjured, unfouled, and unoiled. As a lot of waders dropped in - some very quickly, some hanging around - I guess it too was just waiting while the rain did its thing.
Apparently, there's a lot of algae in the sea right now - the fish aren't biting due to it, said a couple of fishers - so maybe it didn't fancy sitting in the goo?


Be Seeing You..

Thursday, 19 May 2016

That Big Day Out


Cast your minds back through the mists of time to those halcyon days when it was the Pelican flying around and Lammergeier was a fiendish crossword solution....



So, a great big 'orrible Dalmatian Pelican was flying around the west end of cornywall like something out of a Ghibli film..
After natural caution [and no small amount of research] I decided that the 'french park' theory was highly likely to be merde and that this was as kosher as you could get bar a satellite track.


And I hadn't been that way for an age.


So, down I toddled, all casual as it seemed to be following a nice pattern of flying around between 10 and 11. Roadworks and the usual fools made the trip interesting, but I got to the spot [not concreted and past Polgigga as well as Trethewey, but never mind] with plenty of time to spare.

Only to find out it 'was here 10 minutes ago'.

Oh dear.


The temptation to head up Carn Brea and sit there with the Big Scope was resisted and the bird duly appeared after it had decided enough people had given up.

What pictures follow suck even more than usual because I was far too busy going WOOOOOOOOOOW and making bad sketches to try more than a token effort at them.

But here you go anyway..

Look! Up in the sky!


The monster blacked out the sun...


Before heading off to terrorise the local fishing ponds

 
Amazing amazing bird... Interesting parallel with my last post, because it was noticable that it flew very much like a Griffon Vulture [also seen in Spain back in the day - insanely well... :D ]

Eventually, the DP got bored with showing off and headed out of sight. I decided to relocate somewhere I could have a bite and get out of the wind.. Drift.


Being a member of CBWPS has its perks, and access to Drift is one. I found the hide empty of birders and the res empty of the GWE that had been there the day before. It was full of floating fishermen in little rubber ring-come-carp chairs, though...
I suspect the two may be related.

There were a few Whimbrel foraging in one of the goose paddocks;

Three of ten

and someone [who was in and out of the hide so fast I couldn't even turn] flushed a Com Sand, which flew by calling, but mostly it was pretty quiet. A nice hefty LBB dropped in for a bath, the Pelican cruised by, you know...


Fancying a change of scenery and resisting the siren call of the sea, I picked a circle at random.

After a small detour for some more skywatching, I found myself here;

Boscawen-un


One stone is a huge block of quartz.

The leaning stone is very carefully placed.



A truly wonderful circle in its own little world. The rest of the afternoon just wandered by...



Finally heading homewards, I realised that it was late enough for a small detour and stopped off at my favourite Nightjar site. It was just after nine, clear and with that cold wind, so I wasn't tooo hopeful, but what the what, eh?

2115. Blimmin' Nightjar starts up from the tree right next to me. I was in a slightly more sheltered bit than usual - at least from this wind - and maybe that helped. Or maybe going early in the season is just a good idea. Whichever, at least 3 churring males, including one which gave a wonderful display of, well, display at the early time of 2123. [There were still daylight birds around]




Now if only that dear Great Winged Terror would rematerialise somewhere I can get to it...


[[What? I can dream!]]


Be Seeing You..




Tuesday, 17 May 2016

...................


I keep telling myself the following;

"I have a job I need a job I have a job I need a job I have a job I need a job"


So I am working and not spending every second of daylight scanning the Dartmoor skies...




Thing is, I've seen Lammergeiers.


It was long ago and it was far away [oh gCENSORED ] [[Sorry.]]



The first time, I fell off the mountain.


Ok, so Spain isn't that far away, but it was a fair while ago. I was a mad young geology student out learning mapping the hard [and fun] way. I didn't get many new birds, what with having other priorities, but Chough aside, those I did see were, well.. Big Ones.


The immature[s] were like SuperRavens, but the adult was a dream come true, as if my wishes had flown right out of my head; held there since I'd first picked up my parents' Collins [the old white one] as a teeny youngster. The soaring raptors page in particular [[why has nobody else done that? It was brilliant]] still sits in my memory.


But yeah, the first one... So, I was on this ridge on the mountain we were playing on and looking at an exposure. I had climbed up it to see if a particular stratum was silt or mud stone [for which you need a fresh surface], when something made me glance around. Naturally I gave the sky a quick scan and- bird! Bins up [they were also useful for being able to avoid crossing valleys to look at outcrops] and all thought stopped.

There I was balanced on this rock face, with THAT BIRD cruising by. Effortless.  It was a sunny day [of course] and the glare from the white limestone lit it beautifully.

It kept going and I twisted to follow it and so on and.. you can guess the next bit, right? Yup, the top half can turn only so far before the legs have to move and you can't stand on fresh air..


S
h
i
THUMP

Bugger

Fortunately I only fell about 4 feet. Unfortunately I landed rather badly and spent the rest of the trip hobbling..

It was worth it, though, even with 2 more sightings to come, under less damaging conditions.



So.... Lammergeier. What a bird. [What a name.]




I hope and pray that it's found an ex-Sheeeep or two and decides to hang around at least as long as that Pelican; two Giants in the south west.




Be Seeing You..

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Quick News Update Post


Because I've yet another trip report pending and I can't be sure when it'll arrive, here's a summary of the Backward News Headlines;


  • Annoyingly quiet on a Patch lacking sexy migrants.
  • The Dalmatian Pelican is AWESOME. Go see it.
  • GWEs do not like floating fishermen. Whimbrel don't seem so bothered.
  • There are lots of Buzzards in Penwith - where are these supposed hordes of kites [assorted]???
  • Cornwall has some very nice circles.
  • Nightjars at 2115 and frisky with it.

Finally, the 'human interest piece';
As you may have surmised, I got back rather late. So late that when I turned the box on, I saw the eurovision result.. Now, I'm really not a fan, but I have to say I was delighted. :)



[[BTW, I have no idea where the flowers came from, but they won't go away...]]


Be Seeing You..

Monday, 9 May 2016

On A Mission


I was birding on a Mission on Saturday.

With the Dread Kentish Blocker Plover finally ticked, I decided it was time to get his associate.

Long has it been that I have pondered on this, but fortunately the raspberries and one of Devon's Most InFamous gave me the gen I needed; somewhere in reach. [Ie. not frickin' norfolk...]


So it was that I girded my loins, prepped my kit, and dragged up far far too early and headed to wiltshire.


My goal?

This sneaky git;
What do you mean you can't see anything???




Ok, actually a valid point, as naked eye and even bins were vanquished by this master of open ground stealth. But no bird can withstand the Big Scope. Here, let me help you;

Stone Curlew

See?

How about another go?
Looking a little more to the left.


You think these are tough? Try another location's shot;

Somewhere out there..

That one is even craning its neck..



Here's a Hare at the same site;
Not in a great pose, I admit..


Speaking of Hares....

"You know, actually we don't like Cowslips.."


I saw more Hares than I'd seen previously put together...

Also flowers and butterflies - loads of Orange Tips and Brimstones - and a nice array of warblers.


So, job's a good 'un, but my plan of looking for Singing Things was kaiboshed by the very sunny weather... What to do?

Go somewhere else I'd had an eye on..


Martin Down is a lot bigger than I'd thought and much more popular with dog walkers.. But still had some wonderful birds! Hobby and RL Partridge for two. This is a site you could easily lose a day in - I will be back.


Then, continuing on, I went for somewhere with height for yet another round of skywatching. [This being seawatching without the rough weather. Or the sea.]

Maiden Castle also has a profusion of Corn Buntings - there were 5 having a sing-off around the car park, for frick's sake! - which is another good thing.

Much better, certainly than my phone's reaction to Corn Bunt in sunshine;

Darn burn-out..

Ahem.


So, defying the heat, I lugged the Big Scope up to the top - on the way solving the mystery of how Rome got in so easily;

vidi veni vici, perhaps?

-and plonked down to see what I could see.

There were plenty of birds on the wing; gulls and corvids aside, there were Swifts and hirundines, the odd soaring Buzzard...

But wait! An actual non-buteo raptor!

A Hobby, low and fast as they often are, but that's the advantage of a good viewpoint. Second of the day, and not bad [though a couple of Crows didn't agree, they were easily outpaced].

Then something soaring way off to the north.. Hmm, funny Buzzard? Might as well stay on it until it gives a good view, as that tail looks long. Wait and wait and.. Red Kite! Get in.
:)


While it was a long day - and I was knackered by the time I finally got back - I didn't really feel it when I was doing it. Well, except for salisbury. Oh ye gods and little fishes the traffic... Aaaarg.



Getting back, I found where all those forecast heavy showers and thundery bringers of woe were.. Devon!



So, another Lifer bites the dust, and I turn my attention wholeheartedly on my Most Wanted Most Desired [and now Most Dipped]...


BEE-EATER


Due notice, dear readers, I'm on a mission.



Be Seeing You..




Very Little


To report over the last couple of days.


Sunday's highlight was a small group of hirundines over early PM - including first Patch House Martins of the year.. Wow.

I did get down to the Nose for another go at evening passage, but despite some promising-looking conditions, all that went by were 17 Gannets, 3 Kitts, and a Razorbill.

Oh well.


Today it has been dank and overcast, switching to rain. With a side of rain. And a variation of more rain.


Woo hoo.


I'd got my big scope set up for the Transit of Mercury - having done a trial on Friday - so the weather is not unexpected.


::Mutters::


Here's said trial;

The Sun on the back of an envelope..

One small + shaped sunspot was visible near the bottom, but didn't come out in this pic.


Oh well.



Friday, 6 May 2016

What Was In The Corner


The NE corner of t'Moor, that is.


The 'bit between Cosdon and the countryside' is one of the few bits of Dartmoor I've not really wandered all over. Well, until Saturday, when I did just that.

The sun shone, the wind blew [where have I heard this before..?]. Yeah, so said wind was a sort of NW one, which is different, and cold too. The sun was as hot as befitted May Eve, and out of the wind it was almost toasty.


I looped from Scorhill up to the White Moor Circle,

The White Moor Circle, and aligned White Moor Stone


Then hung a right and bounced up Cosdon itself. It being a sunny weekend day, the summit was far too full of bods, but I knew a nice spot a way on and had a very relaxed lunch enjoying the insane panorama while in the sun and out of the wind.. :)

Just a teeny section;
Looking towards Castle Drogo and Lustleigh

Only Buzzards and Ravens flew by, so eventually I set back off and followed the highway of a path down the east side to my main target; the 'Cosdon circle'. Which as it turns out is less about what's left of the circle, and more about one of the nicest triple rows around;

Looking east





All the rows end in terminals




Though they have suffered a bit,
most notably from a cart track



Ok, ok enough stones!

I then started to head back towards Scorhill, hoping to take in a couple of interesting spots and a couple more sites en route.

The first spot was the Blackaton Brook, which turned out to have a wonderful and well-hidden secret;


Blackaton Steps - one of many



A chute feeds a pool deep enough to jump in...



This is a wonderful spot, but not easy to get to - the slope you see on the left of that second pic is typical!


I headed on down to Shilstone Tor, past some nice settlements, and meeting some nice birds, including this little beauty;

 Itsa blur Whinchat!


Shilstone is a very easy tor - right by a little car park and practically made of sheltered picnic alcoves - so I stayed put and finished off my coffee while watching the coutryside for whatever felt like passing.

And yes, I finally got my flyby raptor - Hobby! It powered overhead and zoomed on east. This got my spirits up and I started to idly wonder about Red Kites and the like, but the only other flyby was a [admittedly very smart full b/p] Grey Heron.



Time to toddle on, so after a small detour due to a valley mire, I was soon climbing towards Butterdon Hill and a couple of monuments.



Or not, as the case may be, as while there's a 'cairn circle' marked on the map, there was none I could find. One lone standing stone, and maybe a few in about 1⁄3 of a circle - in the wrong place and with nothing else. Oh well.

The chambered cairn - possibly even a small robbed-out chambered tomb - was exactly where it was supposed to be, however;

Looking in the entrance?

Back to birds, as while Cuckoos had been about since I left Blackaton, I finally caught one sat down close enough to get a shot off;

Cuckoo
Brown morph female
Honest.

My attempts to find the Lost Circle Of Invisibility did have one unexpected benefit, though.. As I was traversing an area of swaling, I was sort-of-delighted* to flush a Grey Partridge! There was lush new growth grass amongst the charcoaled gorse, so I guess that explains the bird's presence [and it was pretty close to the Moor's edge].

Another stop atop Butterdon Hill itself gave great views of scenery but no passing scarcities, and as the sun westered it was time to go.



One last thing. This amused, bemused, and generally had me shaking my head in sad despair;

In case you can't make it out, 
the shiny TT sign is next to the great big 'Please Shut The Gate'...
On both sides, too.



Right then, there you go. Ten miles of fun, somewhat delayed.


Not at all delayed is my report from the Nose this morning;
Surprise at actually seeing a Garden Warbler in the South Side, then hearing a Lesser Whitethroat sing.. Less surprise at the large numbers of seemingly fresh-in Blackcaps. Whitethroat numbers building slowly. Buggere alle else to report.




[[*Because I never like flushing anything]]


Thursday, 5 May 2016

Swift Summer!


SWIFTS!


Slightly delayed post as they first showed up on Tuesday...!

I meant to post about them yesterday, but they started flying about right out there and were showing so wonderfully that I lost all track of time and then had to get to work.. Oh well.


Yeah, so, Swifts are back and it is Good.


And no, I haven't forgotten about That Other Post. I am working on it. Honest.


Be Seeing You..


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

More From The Nose


So I went back after the rain.

Actually, it was a fair while after the rain, as all the sun and lighter winds didn't seem too promising. The evening passage seemed possible, though, and I figured 'eh, what the hell'



This was a good call.


The low sun lit the passing birds beautifully, and there was enough wind - wandering between WSW and NW - to get them moving. The evening passage doesn't always happen, but when it does, you can get a truly lovely and almost civilised seawatch. I say 'almost', as it was a bit nippy. Hmm, not quite Summer yet.

In the hour and a half until it got dark, I had 270 Manxies south, a Balearic north, a Puffin, a flock of mixed Dunlin and Sanderling trying to rest on the Lead Stone [20+, with 17 splitting off and flying north], only 2 Swallows in/off, but oh yes, there were the terns..

A Sarnie was the first bird in my scope, then much later a group of them messing about on of the wreck buoys caught my eye. In the area were some other terns; 2 glorious Roseate Terns with all the streamers headed by northwards, followed by a Little Tern, with at least one Commic Tern also out there...    Bingo.

Also Gannets and Kittiwakes and Fulmars in unspectacular numbers.



As it has been a long while since I put an 'orrible gull up, here's one which plonked down on the Lead Stone [plus a Herring]

Uuurrrrgh...

As to what exactly it is.. [Other than ghastly, which is a given.] Well, answers on a postcard.




Also of note was the Albatros which came gliding out of the Bay...




This [as you may note from the spelling] was a cruise ship, not anything seizure-inducing.
 See?

 Definitely a gull on its logo, though...




And finally, yet again I have delayed posting about the main thing I got up to. This will involve piccies and mostly not of birds. Though there were some crackers.. :)


Be Seeing You..

Monday, 2 May 2016

News From The Nose


Yesterday can be summed up very quickly; a few Manxies and Gannets at sea, and the land was made of Chiffchaffs. Loads of them.


Today there was more variety and quality [sorry Chiffs].

Before the front arrived there were a whole heap of Blackcaps - mostly in that determined 'feed and filter' of grounded migrants but a few in subsong - a steady movement of Swallows, and a few gems. My second Sedge Warbler of the year - in proper subsong not mimiccing like a git this time - and my second ever Pied Flycatcher! Woo and Hoo. Also at least 2 Wheatears arrived while I was there.

I'd lugged the Big Scope down and made a proper count of the Ore Stone Guillemots; 405. With birds clearly away fishing, and birds on the cliffs in places I've not seen them for years, I reckon the colony is in very good shape. :D

I also gave the sea a go before the front arrived, scoring 48 Manxies and an Arctic Skua in an hour. Also 36 Gannets, a handful of Kitts and Fulmars, and 25 Swallows in/off.



Sunday, 1 May 2016

Old School Birding


Was the order of the day on Friday.

As the weather scuppered a plan I'd had, I toddled over to one of my oldest stomping grounds [::Cue hovis music:: I remember back when I were a lad, going there to see the Ravens... Ahem.]


Yeah, so, Yarner.

I got hailed on. Hard.
Hmm, this whole 'higher energy hydrosphere' thing may prove even more vexing than I thought...

I shamelessly scuttled into the pond hide. There were birds braving the elements to stuff their bills.

Regardez;

Oi, where's the nibbles??

You're right, there's only sunflower seeds!


Eventually the sun came back out, I ventured out, and there were some nice birds.

Tripits on Trendlebeare [plus Willow Warblers], Wood Warblers, lots of Pied Flycatchers, noisy things, and even a Redstart that stayed put long enough for me to get my phone out...

He was even singing..

What, you didn't expect a useable photo, did you??!??

[I would have had a lovely one, posed with great light and much lower down, but for CENSORED...]


It was a lovely day [when it wasn't raining], with plenty of birds, members of the fan club*, and even a lovely party of adorable little horrors schoolkids - who were doing something with blindfolds. [I didn't dare ask.] At least that explained all the rain; when I were a lad [::Cue hovis music again::] every single time we went to Yarner on a school trip it absolutely BLEEP!ed down...






[[*Yes, for some inexplicable reason, some people actually read this drivel and like it... ;) ]]