05 February, 2011

The Joy of Rain

Or not, as the case may be...

Certainly could do with some proper squally bits to maybe get some birds that aren't Razormots inshore? Rain's a funny thing, has this habit of not showing up when you want it, but when you'd quite like it to hold off, coming in and pissing all over you.

Now, the textbook says [[or would say, if there was one]] that sustained strong winds aren't actually that good for seawatching, as stuff is too busy being blown around to pass. However, there is another rule to be remembered; the 'What The Frell Else Is There To Do??' Rule. There's also the 'You Never Know What's Going By' Rule and the 'Really Good Things Frequently Ignore the Rules' Rule to think of. So I gave it 4 hours at Berry Head today, following the 2 1/2 hour [yes, the same 2 1/2 hours! ;) ] watch I tried yesterday at the Nose.

1305 auks in 2.5 hours versus 2017 in 4 hours [with 1033 in the first hour]. 296 Gannets vs 102. 209 Kittiwakes vs 127. Yeah, 102 Gannets in 4 frickin' hours. I've had much worse in the past [oh, so much worse] and I did get some lovely views of them battering the baitfish that have been so common off this part of the coast this winter so I'm not complaining [much]. 8 Common Scoter went past the Nose, but only a single male passed the Head today. There was also a Red-throated Diver. Yesterday a shearwater sp. - probably Manx - got my hopes up, but just as I lost it behind yet another tanker before it could be nailed, so a flood of fancy birds failed to materialise. Single graellsii LBBs on each day [adult and 3w], 58 GC Grebes on the sea in Hope Cove and 3 female Eider off the blockhouse provided some distraction and the Harbour Porps present on both days were worth the ticket price by themselves. The Berry Head pod were on particularly fine form today, showing right in close for the entire watch and matched only by the aerobatics [if not vocal performance] of the local Fulmars.

On Thursday I went for a proper wander up on't Moor, such as I haven't done for far too long. There's nothing like low cloud, wind, and the threat of cold sideways rain to get some privacy up there :D I went south from Princetown to Drizzlecombe - which I for once had to myself :D - and while the best bird I saw was a dark Buzzard [thoroughly enjoying being able to fly around without being pestered by corvids] it was pretty fun [well, apart from managing to get my hat blown into a puddle, but these things happen*] [[*Sounds very laid-back, that. Not how I felt then, oh the air went navy....]]. Drizzlecombe's an interesting place; the ancestors were very busy there and have left assorted cists, cairns, and three stone rows. Each row has an impressive terminal stone, one of which is the tallest in the south west. I can't remember offhand if it's 13 or 15 feet high, but it's well worth a look if you're ever wandering the upper Plym.

Wednesday was Patch-oriented, with the only interesting [if you like grebes] news being 18 GC Grebes off Blackball in the morning [actively fishing] and 80 there late afternoon [mostly sitting around]. Oh, there was a RT Diver in the morning, too.

Finally, I have a Lifer to report! Not a bird, but a ship. The Navy has [for now, at least] several minesweepers, but I'd never before yesterday seen one. She came south, outside the Ore Stone but inside the tankers - too much gunk in the air to make out her name, unfortunately. Today HMS Bulwark steamed into the Bay, shifted position a couple of times, then headed off up the coast towards a couple of auxiliaries that were lurking in the murk off Labrador. Oh, and three beam trawlers came into Brixham, one considerately washing her nets. They didn't bring any nice followers, even though one was the telly star 'Angel Emiel' herself! It's all go, I tell you.

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