30 March, 2010

'ardcore birding. Sort of.

After all that wimping out and dipping, it was definitely time to do some proper birding!

Rain? Wind? Giant potholes? Seas of mud? Sideways hail? Pah! A true birder fears not these things.

Dipping, on the other hand... But more on that later.

First up was Exminster - refreshingly not under several feet of water this time. The potholes on the causeway have reached a truly impressive scale, it was like driving through a skate park...! ;) To my delight, the Spoonbill actually moved for me - stalking around and briefly preening before going back to sleep - but was careful to stand so I couldn't read its ring [they have a real knack for that]. Swallows and Sandies swooped over the empty lagoon, plenty of Shelduck, Shovelor, and Wigeon were on and around the assorted smaller pools, but the Merlin that's been hanging around was probably sheltering from the rain in some corner. The RSPB's shiny platform [with very-short-kiddy-height bin-slits] was better than standing on the towpath, but not the proper tower hide the place needs! I mean, I've seen the plans for the Backwater - wipes the floor with the RSPB and their vastly superior budget. But anyway, on with the fun! A single singing Cetti's Warbler briefly paused its routine of hide-and-sing-very-loudly to pop up and twitch its tail at me [I wasn't complaining], a couple of Greylags were hanging with the Mutes, and a Cormorant was for some reason standing in a big very un-flooded patch of grass.

To Bowling Green while the tide was still up. Lane was alive with passerines - at least 8 Dunnock between the railway and platform, for example. No singing Willow Warblers, though there was one lurking near the hide which very kindly showed off its primary projection for me. Still a fair few waders present in the roost, and a haze of hirundines were hawking over the pool - about 60/40 Sandies/Swallows, but with at least two House Martins thrown in. Have you ever tried to keep a House Martin in your scope among a hundred or two other hirundines, while trying to direct someone else on to it? Interesting challenge.

As the weather was being a lot more reasonable on the 'other side' of Haldon, I decided to press on to the Otter and see if the Garganey were feeling showy. About 5 minutes after I got there, someone turned on the wind! Then it was squally showers with bright sunshine in between - lovely. Wally the Whimbrel was hanging with the Curlew, more Swallows and Sarnies were making the place feel summery, but an hour and a half failed to produce any ducks other than Mallards and a Teal. The rush hour was looming, so that was that. Ah well. Got home to find I've sheared a second pin on my quick-release plate, so spent a merry while looking for a replacement [not plastic this time] and eventually finding a bit of copper insulation wire that was the right size. Hopefully this one will last a while longer...?

In other news.. yes, you know already. BUT! What you don't know is the shocking sight that befell this morning - juvenile Woodpig! Already! [Yes, I know they breed year-round, the dirty little buggers, but doing the maths means those were some 'ardcore parents...]

Hmm, Friday's looking interesting, isn't it? Maybe this whole unemployed thing won't be entirely bad....

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