18 December, 2010

Three Days on the Patch

After all my naughtiness the last three days have been spent confined to Patch, thanks to a mix of commitments and the weather. Despite regular checks of assorted promising berry bushes, no further Waxwings have been forthcoming.

Brief highlights [and there are, oh yes indeedy :) ]
Thursday morning at the harbour saw a Great Big Crane prevent me from checking all the pier, so I don't know if there really were no Purple Sands or not. There was a Turnstone sitting on a fishing boat, plus a GND out in the Bay and a Razorbill flying north out of it. In the harbour, an adult Herring Gull with very dark pink legs caught my eye.. No, not a Thayer's [Yeah, I wish..], but the darker mantle, large size, plentiful head streaking and extra white on the primaries indicated a good candidate for argentatus. The harbour gulls are very good at flying off the second I take my eye off them, and this one was no exception, so it'll have to go down as a probable.

Friday was a fun day! First proper snow for a very long time indeed - ok, only 2cm, but that's a lot for us! A notable absence of Redwings occurred - I didn't see a single one all day... Bird highlight was a very dark 1w Buzzard, which got a frosty reception from the locals, then an outright hostile one from a couple of Crows. Then it got snowed on. It's tough to be a Buzzard...

Today woke to no less than 4cm of snow! A late morning to early afternoon wander around the north end of the Patch brought a female Siskin [Patch scarcity], 35+ GC Grebe in Babbacombe Bay [good, but nowhere near a record], and a shock flyover - Lapland Bunting heading north just after midday! Pure fluke, of course; I happened to be listening hard [trying to get eyes on some Bullfinches - which are Patch scarcities themselves..] and heard it call, then actually got on it... Patch Tick :D
Also noteworthy, given other reports, was the lack of flyover Skylark; aside from the Lapland, there were a few small groups of Redwing, Starling and Chaffinch, but these all seemed like local movement, with no obvious directional trend.
A late afternoon grebe scan from Corbyn's Head - taking advantage of fairly calm seas and good low light - gave 3 Black-necked Grebe and at least 8 GC Grebe in the Bay, plus three flocks [two ~30 and one ~50] of passerines [looked like larks but too distant to be sure] cutting the SW corner of the bay*, low to the water. In the harbour, a 1w Herring Gull with a bill deformity and unusually dark plumage made me go 'WTF...' Gulls, what are you going to do with them?

*[[Heading away from Paignton, naturally. ;) ]]

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