18 April, 2024

Spring Thing. Pt.2, Pesky Waders

Another day, another too late start, but the promise of spring-plumage Wood Sandpipers got me off out down southwest.

Oh look.

It was a bit overcast and a lot windy by the time I got there - kudos again to The Teacher - and the birds got a lot more elusive than previously [see his twitter], but eventually, 3 Wood Sand, 1 Ruff, 1 Dunlin, and 5 Cattle Egret were visible [with aid of some height]. At least 4 Teal were about the Marsh, but no Garganey that I could find.

Bad pics [I blame the wind];

Shelduck, Dunlin, Wood Sand, Ruff

Cattle Egrets

With all the wind, and now the threat of rain, I decided to give the sea a go.

In 30 mins, 3 RT Divers [all together], 2 Cormorant, and 19 Gannets went by North.
Yes, counting Cormorants.

I took a meandering route home, but despite getting back into blazing sunshine [it was only horrid over there.. natch] I was unable to find anything noteworthy. Ah well, you tries, you does.

Those Wood Sands, though [spring ones are rather fancy]. [[And getting Ruff at last... Ahem]

Be Seeing You...

17 April, 2024

Spring Thing. Pt.1, Pesky Warblers

At last the weather had gotten bored with raining all the time and something vaguely like sunshine was appearing about the place.

Also, a Spring passage of summering species had started up.

Naturally, a deranged yearlister starts getting ideas...

The Teacher, having the benefit of one of those school holiday things, had been out the day before and used the Dread Power of The Artefact ::Ominous Chanting:: to Summon a Gropper from the depths of cover to perform in full view for him, while he was sat down having a nice spot of lunch [after seeing assorted Redstarts and Pied Flies and so on].

This seems to happen to pretty much every birder with a camera, phone, or sketch pad       Except me.

The next day, then, and due to an entirely unrelated series of completely accidental and in no way associated occurrences, I happened to find myself sitting down for lunch at pretty much the exact same spot. Funny that.
The sound of reeling Gropper that I'd triangulated to that area may have been a factor, and I like to think a more significant one.

Alas, I did not have an Artefact of Dread Power ::Ominous Chanting::, though I'm doing my best to imbue the Big Scope, it only really works on seabirds so far.  

Thus it was that while I got one brief glimpse of Gropper-in-transit, I did not get a lovely view of a reeling bird, let alone any chance to photograph said. This is over a period of about 50 minutes.

Oh well. One day.

I took the chance to do some skywatching, seeing assorted soaring Buzzards and so on, but then the Gropper decided that was enough for a mid-day reeling session and shut up.

I went a' wandering and found a few things. Some of those things were quite showy, some very avoidy, and some took a good hour and a half of waiting before they'd allow a picture.


Not a Gropper

"Yeah, I'm much prettier"

Flight shot

Distant mobile warbler

I did mention other birds, and have proof!

Redpoll on the deck

The closest of at least 
13 Buzzards up 

Staphylinus sp.

Obilgatory Panaeolus sp.

Brimstone, Orange Tip, and Holly Blue butterflies were on the wing [mostly Brimstones] but none felt like being photo'd.

It was fun and frustration in near equal measures, but them's the breaks.

And oh, to see Dartford Warbler again


Be Seeing You...

[[*Note strong contrast between barred secondaries and inner primaries. Also, this is as close to an angle as you'll see in a soaring Buzzard's wing, and is largely an optical illusion caused by the carpal joint. They use a shallow straight-winged v. to soar.   No, I'm not letting it go.]]

15 April, 2024

A Quick Tease

I'm still here, despite my attention being rather diverted by my succumbing to the Other Place, and to show you all here's something you haven't seen There;

'Somewhere in Devon'

Heh heh heh...

Proper posting will be along directly.

Be Seeing You...

10 April, 2024

Eekwend Oundrup

Three[ish] days, one post.

There would have been more, but indecision, apathy, and especially my pesky head got in the way.

Getting on with it;

Sunday Sarnies

Saturday Stock Doves..

.. and Spider!
[Tetragnatha montana]

News of a Short-eared Owl at Exminster had me dragging myself out and over there despite my head's complaints. No sign of any owls, of course, but those 6 Stock Dove were nice, and a few waders and wildfowl were still knocking about. Also hirundines, with 11+ Swallow, 6+ Sand and at least one House Martin chopping about in the teeth of the 'fresh' wind. I rather suspect any SEO present was hiding behind the largest solidest piece of scenery it could find. A passing Marshie failed to put it up, though did show nicely

La Marsh Harrier

It was disappointing to see that exeter council have removed all the gates on the canal tow path, allowing cyclists [and, say motorbikes...] to zoom along freely [as one did, only just missing me]. Their replacement to enforce the law and protect the public? Single posts with little 'No Cycling' signs on them, carefully placed to the side of the path to allow free movement.
Compare to their attitude to drivers of enclosed motor vehicles [closed roads, raised parking charges, removed parking areas, concrete barrriers, cameras...]


Forcing  myself out for a Patch Patrol on Sunday, I was detoured by gen from The Teacher who was seeing skuas at the Nose.

I wandered over and, while I didn't get any skuas, I did see a few Sarnies and GNDs

16 Sarnies south, a single GND south with at least 5 on the sea [samples of both above], a diver sp. [probably another GND] north, and a steady trickle of Gannets, Kittiwakes, and the odd Fulmar. A few Manxies were mostly waaay out; I got on 3 south and 1 north.

More interestingly, before joining the Teacher at the TSWS, I was fortunate enough to see a Black Redstart being flushed from the Sole cliffs by a cockapoo [loose dog, in other words]. Woo! None seen at the Nose for a fair while, so this is presumably a migrant from parts further west stopping off en route to the continent. [Well, that or the wintering population got VERY sneaky, or moved somewhere we don't or can't check? Hmm.]

Also on Patch,

Rockit demonstrates posing

Seven Spot Ladybird

Yellow Archangel,
with red ant sp.,
and Black-horned Gem?

On the plus side, I did a little baking, which went down very well with the family. And I did get out and have hoovered up a few more yearticks - one a nice sticky one - so, well, we persevere.

[Don't talk to me about frickin' Hoopoes, though.......]


Be Seeing You...

07 April, 2024

More Rain

I figured I ought to give 'winter' species another go, so headed up to Fernworthy in the vain hope of a Great Grey Shrike [well, there might have been one up there, unseen and not very looked-for] then out onto the Moor in the equally vain hope of a Merlin or even a nice SEO. [Yes, I know it was a bit windy, but the sun was shining, the Willow Warbler was singing when I got there, and, well, like I said; hope]

However completely I failed to find my targets, I did see the odd nice bird, before the sideways rain became the rule not the exception, and it's never a waste of time to get out there.

You never know what might turn up, right?

Clearfell may have been shrikeless, but not birdless;

Lesser Redpoll

A half dozen of them, how about that?

Also lots [as in dozens] of 

"No, no, I'm a Tree Pipit!"


Sitting quietly and unobtrusively often has benefits, such as seeing one of these without being rattled at;

Mistle Thrush

In less-felled areas, these were about;


Closer-to and in slightly better focus, the warmth and rain had encouraged a few fungi to appear [oh yes], and so behold;

Milky Bonnet

Orange Webcap?

And of course, we need some scenic views;

It started wonderfully sunny...

Well, that one missed!

Dirty sheep?

Wethers up close

I'd checked all the felled areas [yes, all of them. I was thorough] and then went out to Sittaford Tor to overlook a moderately-sheltered bit of the near Moor. In the lee of a handy stone wall [one runs right over the tor], with brolly [told you I was thorough] protecting me from passing showers, I was quite well set. Unfortunately, nobody told the wildlife and I had no birds to write of.

Oh well.

Here's the view;

Looking towards Quintin's Man and
White Horse Hill. With sheeeeep for colour

After one that didn't miss.

A rather diminshed Fernworthy on the right, Cosdon Beacon way off on the left.
Skylarks and Mipits were up and singing, but, well, all that food but not a Merlin to catch it. I don't know...

The weather got a lot rainier, and I had to get moving at some point. As I left, showers got replaced by not so much rain as 'yaaaargh'. The onslaught eased as I got to the Grey Wethers, but then started again as soon as I left [you only get so much grace]. A much soggier birder got to the shelter of the trees... and the Sun came out.
No more heavy rain until just as I was getting to my car and thinking on a quick diversion. 'Hmm. Someone's finding this funny' thought I.

But it was still good to be out up on t'Moor.

Be Seeing You...

04 April, 2024

Hare Time. Pt.4, Also Overdue

The wind blew, so did the rain, and I got myself to the Nose for a proper seawatch at laaaast!

Love a good Sarnie

The weather was a bit variable, and the passage was, too. Behold a few scenery shots, in chronological order;

Weather shifting from blasting hail to blazing sun, mostly sideways light rain. Interesting times! :)

Now the obligatory horrid gull shot;

Gull comparison, 
2cy Common and 3cy Herring

One of these birds is
not like the others


Numbers! Actual numbers from a seawatch! Woo!


So, yes;

Glonk Corner. 5hrs
All S or S/N unless stated.

Sooty!                                                               1     [1053]
Balearic                                                            1     [1118]
Manx                                                               176
Bonxie                                                              1     [1204]
Sandwich Tern                                                 1     [1437]
Gannet                                                             247
Kittiwake                                                        117
Fulmar                                                            100
Puffin                                                                2    [1115, 1537]
Razorbill                                                           8
Guillemot                                                         15
LBB                                                                  4
Common Gull                                                  18

Probably should have cut it shorter, [most passage in the first two hours] and definitely would have been nice to get there earlier {ahem} but that Sarnie [in blazing sunshine and almost no passage] lured me into giving it 'just one more hour', and then the second Puffin [much closer than the first] eventually turned up!

Also 2 GND, 1 GCG, 11+ Guillemot, 1 Grey Seal on the sea, 19+ Common Gull on the slick, 1 Wheatear, 1 Turnstone, 6 Oyk in the Quarry.

After being cautious over the whole 'recovering from plague' issue, it was great to be out, huddled from the rain and cursing the scope-shaking wind.... Seawatching!  :D

Right, when can we do this again?

Be Seeing You...

02 April, 2024

Hare Time. Pt.3, The Moor!

After a few days of drier weather, I finally decided it was time to get up on t'Moor and have a proper yomp. I'd had a few walks without side effects so I figured losing a month to plague and so on hadn't been that detrimental and I might as well do things properly.

20km with river crossings and lots of proper bog-hopping later... I'm still alive!!
Legs a little achey, but nothing unexpected.

Way up t'North

Start at Okie and head south. Follow the military tracks.


Target in sight. [Yup, that furthest highest hill {just}] Never mind the clouds, it's only hail.

Crossing the East Okement

It only hailed once, and not for long, really. :)

Get to the Pool Of The Crescent Moon, then find and follow the via obscurus et tormentum*. 
While you do, in the bit between the peat hags, watch where you're walking. There are some nasty holes.

A small puddle on the path?


Those stick things are a bit handy.

Anyways, follow the path to Cranmere Pool. Meet a couple arriving as you do, so don't hang around for photos. Instead, left hand down a bit and cross more peat bog [less hags, more verrrry deep pools], oh and Taw Head. While you do, look left and see if you can see this;

Ted Hughes' Memorial

No, I'm not giving any more directions. He'd want you to find it yourself.

One fairly gentle climb later and you've reached your primary destination;

It's very impressive.

The view, that is. 
Though that hut will always give shelter from the wind and at least a little shade. Very valuable things, those.

Ok, the view works
better with bins

Fur Tor!

Just a little zoom makes a difference.

With Hangingstone being one of the stops of the frothing hordes of 10Torsies [yeesh, more every year, and always without rubbish discipline; Full thigh pocket of assorteds picked up], I didn't tarry long, and headed to Designated Lunch Spot and all around Best Tor.

You know the one.

A little piece of Wild

Find a nice spot out of wind and in the view. Plonk behind down. Get little scope out. Enjoy leisurely lunch.


Golden Plover
[how many do you count?]

Lower down [sometimes];


Camo works better
in the grass

More lovely views, but no lovely Merlins [oh well].


Tinner's Hut

Steeperton Tor

Steeperton Gorge
[Yes, granite-paved ford. Very fancy]

350m years before

Oke Tor, for a coffee stop, a cower out of the blast, oh and - oh at last - a

Dartmoor Wheatear Yaaaaay!
::Waves arms Kermit-style::



"Put me in your blog
or I'll crap in your coffee!"

Ruthless operators, those Mipits.

Going thattaway

It was rather a lot of fun.

[You may be thinking this post a little light on details. It is, due to Reasons. Also, why tell you how many Golden Plover there were when you can have seconds of enjoyment counting them yourselves? They're all there, after all.   :) ]


Be Seeing You...

[[* Don't worry, it doesn't Shine**]]
[[** This is not funny, btw.]]