07 December, 2010

Today on't Patch

It were bloomin' freezing, like...

Heading out this morning to do a quick berry sweep, it was -5. When I got back [Redwings and Starlings] it had warmed up a bit.. to -4. I refuse to wear hunter's mitts in town, so my poor fingers were suffering somewhat. One little Waxwing would have made them feel all better, but no, the buggers seem to have bypassed the Bay and headed on to Plimoth [I'm sure they're regretting it already! ;) ]. Lots of activity out back all day, with a Redwing in the garden and 80+ Starlings and 12+ Chaffinches new highs for the winter. I reckon there's at least 40 Redwing and 150 Starling within the immediate neighbourhood, mostly munching berries and palm seeds [Starlings love Torbay Palm seeds and watching them trying to cling on to the heads like ungainly Blue Tits is most amusing..]

After the World's Fastest Job Rejection [thanks to the wonders of modern technology] I had stuff to do in town in the afternoon. Sleeves rolled up in emphatically a metaphorical sense only, I took the opportunity to bash the harbour gulls. A brief 1w LBB must have been regretting staying here, 2 adult Geebs looked very smart with only the lightest winter streaking on their crowns [also very cool customers, letting me almost walk up to them], and the rest were the usual motley assortment of Herrings. Later, as I was returning from my Pier adventures, an interesting one did arrive; a new form of Herring for me, this one [a 1w] had a big round black eye on it that really stuck out, nice parallel-sided bill going pink at the base, white head, [good shape to the head too], long wings, very nice tertial pattern, but not much else...

Mooching down the the Real Living Coast, I found only 2 Sandpipers Purple among the weed, plus a couple of Rockits. I've a real soft spot for Sandpipers Purple - not least due to them being my first sands [and how many birders can say they saw Purple before Common or Green or Curlew?] - though I've always thought them badly-named. Rock Sandpiper is taken, I know, and I suppose Grey-with-a-faint-lavender-sheen-if-the-light's-right Sandpiper is a bit long... I like Frosted Sandpiper - they do have a [very pretty] frosted effect to their upperparts, and they've always been cold weather birds to me.

A few Shags and Cormorants [all carbo] were swimming about, or optimistically trying to dry their feathers [I was expecting them to freeze solid; even then it was -2]. Not far out were 2 Great Crested Grebes, a nice surprise, and as the light was good and visibility reasonable, I decided to go to the pier's end and have a look out at what was on the sea. At least 13 GC Grebes, plus a Black-necked off Tor Abbey [not that often they get up to the north end of the Bay] was a very pleasing return, and as I could see well I figured I'd have a go at picking out the LTD that's been off Preston / Paignton. Resting my bins I slowly swept and- ooh, what's that? It is? It is! Ha! I admit the light was favourable, I was looking along a nice smooth long swell, and the bugger posed side-on.. but still, a Long-tailed Duck with bins at over a mile isn't bad at all. :D

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