16 September, 2021

Getting On With It. Pt.2, Early Birder Gets The Gull

After not getting out on Saturday, Sunday saw me finally out at a decent hour [nothing like actually sleeping to help with that..] and down the Nose before the gibbering hordes..

Dozen-plus anglers, but that's standard at high tide.

The Top Dell was quiet on the way down, but on the way out it was another matter [as often happens, it being the only {mostly} chav-free area]. Big party of assorted warblers - almost all far too busy feeding to call, so proper ID fun! - messed about the Sycamore, flycatching and aphid-harvesting. It was wonderful. :D

Willow Warbler!

But before we get too far into that, I spent more than 3 hours on site, mostly NOT staring at the sea [shock].
Though the sea gave the star bird, as it was clear a passage was occurring and I gave it my attention, just in case [and because counting passing seabirds is pretty much a reflex by now..]

Said passing birds were BHGs, and in about an hour I counted 58 heading by south before the flow petered out. With them? Little Gull, 2cy by the look of it. :D  
In the same period, 19 Gannets, 2 Fulmars, and 3 Kittiwakes went the same way and a female Common Scoter flew north.
Further off, at least 6 Common Dolphin were active in the outer Bay, but not for long as jetscum arrived and they departed.. Also offshore were at least 4 skua spp., three looking Arctic and one probably a Bonxie but just too far out to rule out a big, aggressive, dark morph Pom [most vexing; I still haven't seen one this year!]

Closer to, an increase to 21 Oystercatcher, roosting in three places over the tide.
At least 5 Wheatear were present, with two seen to fly off west.

"My post!"

Also autumn passerine movements have started, with a scattering of alba Wagtails overhead.

The warbler hike was noticeable, though, with [including the Top Dell posse and IMD] totals of
Willow Warbler 3
Chiffchaff 20+
Garden Warbler 1
Blackcap 7+
Whitethroat 3

"I see you.."


Sizing up the next one

"'Ere, wot you lookin' at my PP for??"

And as it wasn't all phylloscs...

Hmm, wonder what that is...?

Not a bad day, I thought at the time.

There would be a post-script.

Be Seeing You...

Getting On With It. Pt.2b At Last...?

Following on from a long morning, I wasn't exactly expecting a text from the Teacher late afternoon. He'd been off dipping a Hoopooebird at Slapton [See The Murphys' twitters for porn of said. They got there earlier..] instead of at the Nose.

But there it was, he'd travelled down and not only had he had great views of Knot [needed for Year, note past tense..], but he'd only gone and found a Wryneck!*


Cue Roadrunner.

I was there very fast [as fast as you could be, legally] and braking from a run to a careful walk once in sight of Sandy Point's scrubby adjacencies, where he was...

And the Wryneck wasn't.

Word starts with F and sounds like a Mallard.

I wasn't entirely surprised, Wrynecks are slippery little gits. We tried hard but bad light stopped play.

Spot The Wryneck....

Yeah, exactly.

There were Wheatears, and it was good to catch up with the Teacher after a few weeks of near-misses, but mostly just;

Ah, yes, dipping, sucks, doesn't it?

Life's a- and so on.

Be Seeing You...

[[* Last seen Wryneck at the Nose being September 2016 - see this very blog for photos!!]]

14 September, 2021

Getting On With It. Pt.1, Late Again...

Once upon a time, there was a Backward Birder who could go tarting off about the place, massive scope over his shoulder, chasing almost any bird he fancied [when he wasn't working, anyway...]. Sometimes he even saw them.

But those times are gone, so now he has to just get on with it.

It could, after all, be far worse.

[[:: Crowd :: "GET ON WITH IT!!!!!!!" ]

Trying and failing - I got frickin' gazumped..!! - to get a new li'l car interrupted a series of visits to the Nose, in search of anything, really.

A cunning plan to use my last Friday to get to the Nose early was vexed by Other Issues [it just isn't stopping, this year...], but eventually I got there and did what I could...


As tends to be the way at the Nose, once you've finally seen one, you find loads.... At least 4 present.
A lone Willow Warbler was the only other migrant of note oneshore, as as you might expect it was a bit dire so late in the day.

Offshore was another matter, with a juv Swallow going by low over the waves north [I did ask why, but it didn't answer]. Much much further out, two distinct feeding groups; right down NE of Berry Head were at least 250 birds which looked like Kittiwakes but were just too distant with the optics I had. At least 4 probably Arctic Skuas were 'keeping them company'*. Somewhat closer [in the northern half of the Bay, at least...] were 66+ dark seabirds which looked awfully like Balearics in shape, size, and flight and feeding action, foraging in a long loose line. Aside from a handful of diving Gannets, they were alone, not even much in the way of gulls around them.

On the shore, the wave-cut platform held a mere 7 Oyks, one of which dislodged a Common Sand, which came skimming past and vanished tight in along the Sole.

ID the Hoverfly

Not easy from this angle. I now have a very funky book, but the step by step ID bit [SO useful] starts with 'the pattern of veins in the wing'... Bugger.
Lots of insects about, with Ivy Bees on the wing in numbers, but not feeling posey. 
Also of note, a very small very dark Common Lizard!. I'd assume this year's?

So, all in all, better than I had a right to expect.

Though still not exactly earthshattering.

Keep on keeping on.

Be Seeing You...

[[* In case you desire explainations; feeding gulls being chased by agile skuas of about the same size are going to be Kitts and Arctics. Especially here and now. 
Poms and Common Gulls? Bonxies and Herring Gulls? [But shape and attacking style** wrong, though the odd Pom can be pretty Arctic-y] maybe Poms and Commons off northern Russia at some times [maybe?] but that many of either let alone both here? ID via probability is shunned for a reason {and you note 'looked like' and 'probably' up there}, but there are some times when you can just say 'Come on...' ]]
[[** Poms and especially Bonxies are just as happy to eat you as your lunch...]]

11 September, 2021


Hmmm... Manic laughter and a big lump of granite. Someone's been up on t'Moor again, hasn't he?

Sunday afternoon saw me out with the Folks again, up on t'Moor again [called it*], munching baked goods again, and getting done over by lying weather forecasters again....

We took a toddle up to Laughter Tor - one of my favourites - and sat drinking coffee, munching flapjacks, and trying to enjoy the view through all the mistyfog [you know, which was supposed to have gone by lunchtime and was only around the coast anyway...]


It was, to be fair, periodically sunny, and then it was very nice indeed. Quite quiet [can't think why..?], well, except when Her Horribleness saw a couple of unlucky sheep... 

First up, some scenery;

The Laughing Man,
and Laughter Tor

I don't believe this standing stone has a 'proper' name, but I can't not call him that!
He has a rather robbed double stone row, too - as you may remember from a past post when I was this way a couple or three years ago... - but with a newtake wall driven through it, it's hard to photo from his end.


Just the one, but very nice.

Wheatear inna Hawthorn!

Not often seen. :)

Getting all arty in the mist...

The usual birds you'd expect were about, in low numbers, but you expect that, too. Of note; a couple of Chiffs working the Hawthorns and Rowans around the Tor, a flyby flock of 24 Linnet, and 3 Crossbill messing about the plantation.

Most activity came from insects, with passing Peacock, Red Admiral, and Small Tortoiseshells, and assorted 'little pale ones', which I was able [lovely when you stay put for a while] to get a couple on photo;

[I can't find this in either book...]

Welsh Wave

But most activity was from these little 'darlings'...

Flying Ant!!!!
Likely Woodland Red Ant
[Myrmica ruginodis]

Also of interest;

Common Water Boatman
[Corixa punctata]

This made the classic 'mistake shiny car for a pond' mistake...

And finally;

Ye Olde Busse Sheltere??

Funky little thing by the road.

Just think of the circle* destroyed to make that... [And so many walls, gateposts, roads {smashed into hardcore} and so on. Not just on Dartmoor, but once that would have been all of Britain.  ::Sigh:: ]

Anyways, it was a very nice afternoon, despite the naughty weather [I feel I've written this a few times recently...?]

And certainly better than inficting more nasty grainy gull shots on you, right?

Be Seeing You...

[[* You weren't expecting sanity in this post, were you?? It's not Madman's Laughter Tor for nothing, you know... ]]
[[** Look at those beautiful stones, those had to be taken from something.]]

09 September, 2021

Different At Last

Sunday, last day of my 'holiday' [see previous posts for relevant bouts of self-pity on this subject] [Or not. I'd recommend not. Look at the {sometimes} pretty pictures instead. :) ]


With Nights looming, an early morning start was right out, so of course it was all misty with light winds at last...

Mutter mutter.

Despite having something important to do, I couldn't resist and nipped over to the Nose at lunchtime..

Blackcaps outnumbered Chiffs more than 2 to one and at last something not basic! A Garden Warbler lurked in the Entrance Bushes. Woo.

Then, piling down to look over the gulls on the Lead Stone...

Manky Herrings, a Shag,
a Crow, a nice adult LBB,
oh and a monster!

Gotcha! Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. Look at the size of him, too! Lovely long wings. Let's see them better, shall we?


White rump and uppertail with neat black terminal band, but oh look at the wing! Big dark bar in the secondary coverts, caused by lack of notching [such as Herring and even more so GBB would show]. Also note how dark the hand [outermost part of wing] is.
Alas, the other gulls never had their heads especially pointed the right way for a direct comparison of head and bills, but you don't get it all [unless you're the Artist, of course... but I suspect he can control gulls with his mind]

Inshore, again 9 Oyks on the wave-cut platform, no sign of any other waders.

Later in the day, the Teacher went over and found a very showy Redstart [rats] and had those two nice gulls on said WCP, where I'd have acquired very much better pictures.. [Double rats!]

But I was busy elsewhere.

Doing what?

Wait and see.

Be Seeing You...

08 September, 2021

Second Helpings

After a treat for my special day, the next dawned with the promise of lighter winds and more mistyfog..

[Those reading back may be thinking about Lucy, and with reason...]

So it was play it again, Tom as I headed down to the Nose in the morning, hoping for bushes full of migrants and maybe even a nice Wryneck...
Yeah yeah, stop laughing.
Same weather, more or less than Friday. Same birds? Well, sort of.
I did find some freshly-arrived migrants;

[The Mounds]

[Sandy Point]

At least 4, possibly as many as 7 arrived on site [there were none the day before] over the morning [they are diurnal migrants].
Nothing else, alas, was doing.

I ended up watching the sea for 2 hours, just as the day before.

Things were a little different.
Passage was all south, for a start [going the 'right' way!].


ID challenge!

It's going away [of course..], in active flight with some gliding.

Dark morph!

Yes, it's an Arctic Skua [I know, awful photos, but better than nothing... Er, maybe.]

I had this one in close - turning away as it approached the Lead Stone to pass outside the Ore Stone - and 8 more way out. As in Big Shear range or more..! Plenty of time to watch them go past, though, so able to be confidant with the IDs. Numbers are a slightly different thing, as they came in three bursts [and indeed one group] of three. So theoretically could be 3 birds going round and round in circles....

I don't think so, though; they all were moving in 'going somewhere' mode, not wandering about looking for victims.

Proper numbers;

Arctic Skua 9
Balearic 5
Common Tern 6
Sarnie 7
Common Scoter 4
Razorbill 1
Fulmar 6 [plus at least 4 loitering by the nesting ledges]
Kittiwake 32
Gannets ~96/hour [timed count]

On shore, 9 Oystercatcher.


YOC pose!

Again I was wishing for a scope, but what can you do?

Be Seeing You...

[[Next post will be different, promise!]]

07 September, 2021

Making Do

Yet more of not quite the same....

It was that time of year again.

I got to the Nose at a slightly more respectable hour than recently, found it pleasingly low on mundanes, though high on wind and cloud and low on migrants in bushes. Chiffchaffs got up to two sets of fingers, but that was it [not even a Blackcap!]


Yup, singing and everything. By the yellow in the bill base, a young male, clearly very keen!

Also showy;

Common Dolphin!

The fun was offshore, with a pod of 11+ Common Dolphins south of the Ore Stone and 3+ Harbour Porpoises north of the Lead Stone.  :D

Waittaminute... How did he get a shot like that of a dolphin so far off?
Well, because they didn't stay there. In fact, after going round the Ore Stone and doubling back on themselves a couple of times, they came in incredibly close to the Toe of the Nose, before heading off northwards.


Ore Stone in background,
Common Dolphin on right,
RIB on left...

When the animals keep turning away from you, take the hint...?
[You are supposed to stay out of their axis of travel and let them come to you if they choose to, btw]


After losing the boat


See how close in?
[Less than 200m]

Also note the small calf in that last pic. At least two with the pod, possibly why they were unhappy about the RIB?

NE wind and overcast.. Perfect seawatch weather..?!?  Well, it wasn't at all bad!
I gave up on the bushes and sat myself down amongst the Mounds, bins propped on knees*, and ended up watching for three hours! The last hour of which I was joined by the Veteran. :)
Not having any proper kit, I was limited in what I could count - no hourly Gannet totals, I'm afraid - but I had a notebook and a good field of view.
The Mounds 0930-1230;

Arctic Skua 1
Skua sp. 1
Bealearic 2
Common Tern 17
Sarnie 11
Arctic Tern 1
Fulmar 3
Kittiwake 3
Common Gull 2
Gull sp. 1
Gannets ~50/hour [timed count]

Note: All passage north except terns, who all passed south.

On shore, 15 Oystercatchers on the WCP and a Turnstone on the Lead Stone! :)

Now that might not seem a lot, but for me right now, breadcrumbs are a feast.

Be Seeing You...

[[* Shoulder still not right... Very frustrating! ]]