28 October, 2012

[Insert Humourous Blog Post Title Here]

I was very tired when I got in yesterday, and very grateful for the extra hour's sleep as the clocks went back to Real Time. No, I'm not going to get distracted and go on another rant about that.

Where was I....?

Yeah, so no posting yesterday. Friday was a washout, no birds of note to report on t' Patch at all.

Saturday I allowed myself to be tempted by the possibility of four great birds on one Rock. I dipped three of them, the only one I saw was the only one I'd seen before.

But that Shrike was GORGEOUS!!!!! As you may remember, I'd been for the Gosport one, which was cowering in a bramble bush and I don't blame it. This one was flying around making forays like a flycatcher and generally being amazing. Unless you were trying to get a picture, that is, as it's wonderful poses were generally held for a split-second less time than it took to line up on it...

But before that...

Suspecting a clear night and a brisk [to say the least] northerly would spell an exodus, I'd a backup plan in place. I stopped at Dorchester to get gen and - it being all negative at that point - I didn't spend half the day freezing my arse off around Fraggle Rock, but instead went somewhere I've been meaning to get to for years; Maiden Castle.

Yes, it blew a hoolie, but the sun shone and the views were outstanding. I didn't get the passing bird I was hoping for, but the resident Corn Buntings were on show, so a result! But they were icing as I wanted to have a look at this most massive of monuments. I'm very fond of hillforts - we have a few in Devon and there's one [perhaps more, though now pretty much destroyed] on the Patch.

Not as big as I'd expected, to be honest. I've heard a lot of stories about how amazingly big it is, and yes its a big hill, the main wall and ditch are suitably sized, but the entrances aren't as epic as I'd imagined. Also the info boards could do better, with their plan views of the evolution of the site being hard to read at best. They're also a bit low - I practically had to kneel to read them.

Having said that... I really liked it. I suppose the minimalist approach does work; letting everyone take what they want from the place, even if that does seem to be a good sized dog/kid walking circuit. Sitting on the outer ramparts, with only the wind for company, I watched the long green grass rippling and felt quietly moved.

So to today, and this morning with what turned out to be an erroneous 'No Sign' at Soar I gave the Patch a bash - things started well with a flock of ~120 Woodpigs over that had at least one Stock Dove with them; Garden Tick! :)  There were quite a few things moving, though no spectacular numbers, and the Woodpig flocks [I caught the back end of another as I got home] all stayed inland of the Nose. Finches, pipits, and wagtails were all moving or lurking - still no big pipit, of course...

There were 2 Curlew with the 40-odd Oyks [only had singles before], about 30 Guilles on the Ore Stone, and a couple of Kitts and a 1w Med Gull past south. Also on the sea, the first GC Grebes of the winter; a group of 5. Also 5 were very pretty Bullfinches, munching berries by the Rocky Path. I only found one Chiffchaff - things have shifted - though a Swallow let me know it's not winter yet.

After lunch I shamelessly twitched the Soar Sibe Stony, which proved elusive in the wind and sideways rain. That is, until it's Brave Finder showed up to point the small crowd to where it actually was.....

Yeah, it's a pale juvie Stonechat, big deal... ;D Like all Stonechats, it was a little cracker and seeing it was well worth the cold, wet, and dodgy humour. :)  It stood out very well from the Bog Standard Stonechats - though apparently it's quite a bit paler than the one I dipped yesterday was, so they aren't all this easy to pick - and while unless it felt like showing you it's arse [let alone underwing coverts], from the front the white throat makes a nice field character to say "Look at me!"

A flock of Golden Plover gave us a fly-past, and some impressive flocks of Starlings swirled in the background. The latter also gave a good The Birds recreation en route, turning overhead wires black..

Finally... I keep trying and failing to come up with a suitably 'funny' title for this. Answers on a Comment, please!

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