09 January, 2012

Rescue Mission

Yesterday dawned.. well I don't know how it dawned as, due to being up all Friday and driving nigh on 300 miles, I slept in rather late... Eventually getting going, I gave the Patch a bash. This got cut short at Oddicombe, when, while counting distant Gannets I heard a commotion!

Something on the water was being dive-bombed by a couple of Crows and an ever-increasing number of Herring Gulls, something very unhappy to be taking an involuntary bath - a Harris Hawk! Defying its tormentors' attempts to kill it, the hawk managed to swim the 50 or so feet to Blackball Rocks, where it dragged itself out of the water and sat on a rock looking bedraggled and utterly cheesed off.

*[[The following account may read very oddly, due to my policy of only naming people who either a) have blogs in which to defend themselves, b) I know don't mind, or c) are too famous to care. Sorry...]]

I started making calls, trying to find someone who knew someone who could find out who the bird belonged to - it could clearly be seen to have a ring, jesses, and a bell. [Though being a Harris Hawk was a bit of a clue, I must admit.. ;) ]. Steve 'Superman' Waite put me on to [Famous Devon Birder] who called [Famous Devon Falconer] who called [Devon Falconer], who had a Harris Hawk AWOL. Said Falconer duly turned up and the two of us tried to first find and then get [Devon Harris Hawk], who had moved up into the piled boulders as the tide rose... After much bouldering and fortunately no falling into the sea, it became clear that [Devon Harris Hawk] was a very scared bird who wasn't coming out until he was ready [Can't blame him, he'd had 40 Herring Gulls on him...]. With [Devon Harris Hawk] in a safe position with regards to the tide, [Devon Falconer] resolved to wait him out 'til dark then from first light and so I said my goodbyes. I hope that the two were reunited today.

With my attention pre-occupied, all to be reported was a raft of 105 Kittiwake and at least 79 Gannets fishing well out into Lyme Bay.

Today saw a family day out, with Sister coming along - she brought Cake and handled much of the dog-wrangling. :) We walked from Start Point along to Horseley Cove and back, getting a bit drizzled on in the middle, but otherwise having a good day. Double figures of Cirls were to be expected, the Merlin and a brief Purple Sand were not. At Horseley, after a bit of searching [while the others threw a knotted bit of driftrope for Tilbury further up the beach], the Water Pipit eventually gave itself up, posing next to a Rockit like a little porn star :D

At sea, there was a light but steady traffic of auks in both directions - those close enough to ID were all Razorbills. In the sea, at least 3 Grey Seals, one of which seemed to be watching Tilly's fun with the rope with some interest! Once the frontal rain band had cleared, the sun and clouds made for a truly atmospheric afternoon, with the sea that wonderful turquoise washing creamy pink sand and dark dark rocks all twisted like molasses. The crystal beaches of the Start Complex are quite something, I always forget how pretty they are. Dragging me away from fruitless scans of Start Bay, we took the scenic route back - via Slapton - where to my delight Her Ladyship performed over the Higher Ley. No Bitterns, though a vast horde of sea anglers set up along the shingle made quite a sight - at least 100 little shelters!

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