21 January, 2012

Decisions and Consequences

What to do, what to do....

Always the big decision, bird-wise. Do I burn off to twitch the Spanish Sparrow, or try staking out Brixham Harbour for the Kumlien's Gull [if its still within 500 miles, that is], or try somewhere else, or just prowl around the Patch muttering about the weather....

I decided that wind and possibly rain too were not conducive to sparrows being showy, let alone bloody Hume's Warblers [Mutter mutter..]. Figuring that trawlers wouldn't come in until late on when the tide came up and also that seeing as [Famous Devon Birder], [Devon Birder] and [Devon Birder] hadn't seen a sign of the Kumlien's despite many many trawlers, that it most likely wasn't still around, I didn't go to Brixham either.

Stop sniggering.

So, I went for a day-long stomp around the Patch. This was not an exercise in futility, and also saved me from what I believe would have happened if I had gone to Brixham - namely hanging around for ages, giving up, going home, wandering online - and then banging my head on my desk until my monitor fell over.....

But enough of that. The wind was blowing a hoolie and there were actual grebes off Blackball in the morning! Lots of them! 42 Great Crested and joy, a Red-necked! :D Of course said Grebe duly snuck off when I tried to get a better look, but still nice to find. More GC Grebes were knocking about in sheltered pockets towards Hopes Nose, with the final total being 55. Looking from Black Head, a Fulmar was the first of the year for me, and then a small group of Harbour Porpoises went north, with what looked like a Bottlenose Dolphin close by... [The pause being due to Bottlenoses having a nasty habit of killing Harbour Porps. Flipper has a lot to answer for.] At the Nose, a large group of gulls lurking on the Lead Stone gave me reason to stop and give them a thorough going-over. No dice, but while I was looking at them a smart w/pl Red-throated Diver surfaced in some convenient sunshine. :) Why so happy? Because the rocky tide-racey exposed place that the sea off the Nose is, RTDs are the least common of the 3 divers on the sea there. Strange but true. With that in mind I gave it a careful checking-over to be sure of it, as it wasn't holding it's bill in the usual snooty manner, but the starred soft grey uppers and extent of white on the neck plus fine bill and gentle forehead left the ID clear.

I shifted position to get a better look at the diver when it came up [I like divers and the light was periodically very kind], but the git made like the earlier RNG and pulled a Houdini on me.. Drat. After re-checking the Lead Stone, I was scanning further out when I noticed a stern trawler was making its way towards Brixham [but of course...]. Legging it back along the Sole*, I tracked it carefully, trying to somehow pick out a white-winged gull among its faithful devotees, but instead the best I got was a Bonxie.

[[*If you look at it on a map, Hope's Nose is shaped like a foot - the Nose is the toe and Sandy Point is the heel, thus the bit between the two is the Sole. Logical. ;) ]]

One location-change later, a wind-blasted Torquay Harbour was almost gull-less, with the sea defences lacking in Purple Sands but smelling badly of oil [not diesel, but proper 'some ship's been washing their tanks out' oil... Grr]. Wonderful... Bracing myself I scanned the north half of the bay and was rewarded with a BN Grebe to the east [seeking shelter] and a couple of Razorbills off Torre Abbey. Then I noticed a big beam trawler had come around Berry Head. Oh great... While I was looking at that, a little gull swung into my field of view. No, wait, a Little Gull! Brilliant! Less brilliant was the great big GBB which picked itself up off the sea and set out in what looked like pursuit..

Seeing a few gulls off Torre Abbey, I kept on round, but found nothing fancy, not even a Med. I counted the BHGs in sight and got 267. I counted the wagtails on the grass; 10 Pied and 1 White. I even went and counted the Mallards on the ponds; 48. It is a dream of mine to find a decent duck on one of those ponds one day. A Teal, or maybe a Gadwall. Hell, a Tufty would do! But enough of that madness.. Getting home, I had to set out again, as I'd discovered I'd lost a glove at the Nose. I amazed myself by not only finding it, but also finding it to be completely intact and un-gunged... Miracle.

Ooh, I've forgotten to mention that Herr Blackcap is on station guarding 'his' fat block in the garden. Also a big [16+] posse of Chaffinches, but no Bramblings with them so far. Also, the sparrows give the distinct impression they're thinking about nesting... Oh deary me.

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