29 August, 2011

Sunshine and Showers

How often do we hear the weatherbods utter those dread words?

Yet, since coming back down to earth from the Joys Of Thursday, this has been the story. I've been rained on and sunned on, often when I was expecting [or at least had been told to expect] the other. All good clean fun, eh folks? But I'm not here to rant about the weather [again...]

A brief summary ensues;
Friday. Forecast: sunshine and showers. It rained. A lot. I decided to do something random and went to Yarner. I expected [as it was indeed raining there and as well as it does at Yarner, which is very] there to be no birds and fewer people, and to have a merry mellow time wandering around smelling wet trees and munching the odd Bilberry. As it happens there'd been some sort of Event on and there were several determined families with be-wellied kids wandering around. BUT I did meet my first Tit band of the Autumn, and it had the whole 5 flavours, so that was fun.

Saturday. Same forecast as Friday, but with actual showers turning up rather than just rain I went back to have a look at Huntingdon Warren. As I walked up to the dam, the sun was shining... Deary me. I took the chance to look for odonata and met some frisky Black Darters, a passing Golden-ringed, and some showy to the point of Porn Star-hood Keeled Skimmers [very odd, they're usually buggers to get close to..]. I just happened to have camera with Shiny New Lens with me [funny that, might even have been expecting sunshine?], and got a couple of shots off. Then it rained on me. I kept going and had a mooch about the place - the Heap Of Sinners is quite a nice cairn, with some serious views. Bird-wise the Avon and its tributaries gave me a whole heap of Whinchats and Wheatears, plus a Hobby passing through [How many is that this year now? I'm really doing well! :) ]. The reservoir was continuing to merrily pour over the top, but still no Goosanders [or anything else] on it.

On Sunday I gave the Patch some overdue attention and, after thinking I was going to have been sunblasted and generally made to suffer in the heat for very little, I was just about to leave the Nose when a big party of migrant warblers* collided with a group of tits** and I was in the middle! Imagine the chaos as more than 30 small passerines were zipping about the trees and bushes all around me, flycatching, chasing each other, calling, popping up, dropping down... The tits moved through fairly quickly, but the warblers stayed around for almost an hour and a half, starting at the Pear Tree, moving down to both sides of the First Slope, before looking at the Top Dell and finally moving off into the North Side. Of course, plenty of civilians were passing through while this was going on, fishers, dog walkers, and general wanderers - mostly looking at the guy with the bins spinning around and staring at trees with a silly grin on his face with various versions of 'These Bird-spotters are Crazy' on their faces... ;)

[* A good dozen Chiffs, at least 5 Willows, at least one Garden]

[** 7+ LTTs, 4+ Blue 2+ Great and 2+ Coal]

Today a Day Out with the Folks on't Moor! In an attempt to have at least most of a day without Tilly going bonkers, we went to Fernworthy. Cue mouse quote... Yeah, there were these sheep that had gotten into the enclosure. Oh dear.... Still, we did have some peace and quiet, and in a shocking development, the Little Black Dog even spent the whole of our coffee break being quiet..... ::Sound of Apocalypse Nearing:: She did this by means of finding a dead gorse stump [well, more of the whole stem], tearing it out of the ground, and then chewing it into teeny tiny little bits....

Aaaanyway. We went our way along many of the tracks among the trees, visiting the Circle [and wondering why people, when leaving flowers {which is sweet} leave the frickin' cellophane on them........] and various other bits. We wanted to go and have a look at Staddon Tor [which is one of the few we haven't been on] but unfortunately, a big herd of coobeasties were there first and there were sheep, so we decided perhaps next time.. While we had lunch beside a babbling brook near the plantation's edge [lovely little spot] we were visited first by not one but two Southern Hawkers [???] and then by two delightful [and presumably juvenile, as they were so bold] Redstarts! Ah, Fernworthy strikes again - got to be the best place to see Redstarts in Devon.

Redpoll were less confiding - a couple flew over the car park and that was it. Siskin were also feeling shy, giving only distant flight views, but the Crossbills.... Well, for almost all of the time they were busy playing les buggeres risibles, but finally a group of 15 decided to play nice and showed very well, and close up too :D The water has gone down a huge amount - you can see exposed some very nice hut circles by the main car park, and a bridge near the hide - and to my delight a Green Sand was present, at least for a while before being flushed away by all the bods... 4 Little and one GC Grebes were trying to fish in the reduced reservoir. A group of about 20 House Martin came overhead for a few minutes, and there was a steady passage of Swallows all day - eastwards.

Ok, so that's it for my summer hollyday; shutdown's over tomorrow, so it'll be weekend birding for me and not much for you to use for your insomnia cures.. Sorry.
Though you never know, I may be able to coincide finding the words for a rant with being here to put it into type... ;)

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