07 December, 2012

All Sorts. Not Liquorice.

Let's start the fun with Monday, when the first Blackcap of the winter put in an appearance in the Garden - a nice female, who stuffed her face with sunflower hearts [?].

Finishing work before dawn, I've had exactly one morning clear enough to try some astronomy, and was rewarded with a wonderful view of Mercury! Alas a very brief view, but special for it's rarity. The more ordinary planets also on display, but I hardly ever get to see Mercury, so  yay!


Having Fridays back [albeit without sleep..] saw me tarting about the Exe today. First up was Dawlish Warren, where under the mix of sunshine and showers the three oddities were all still about. As I got to the Main Pond, the sound of pinging [which still doesn't sound like a ping to me, but never mind, eh?] filled as much of the air as the wind would let it. Reed beds in the sun and out of the wind were indeed promising, but before I could pin down the little chap, right out from underneath me came the Black-necked Grebe! It seems to like fishing beneath the overhanging trees on the side by the visitor centre - I backed off, circled around and was treated to the best views I've ever had of one. :) While I was cooing, the Swallow came over; a December Swallow is interesting, but back when the merry 'vox was working, there would often be daft young ones hanging around and on a couple of occasions they made it to January - once even February - so I wasn't jumping around.

The Beardie had gone off in a huff at being ignored and refused to be refound, so after watching with amusement the sight of an Oyk swimming under the feeders I moved on the Powderham Bend, in hope of an estuarine LTD. No joy, though two duck spp. lurked in the far distance with a big group of Brents - carefully staying end-on in deference to the Big Scope. More obliging was a Slavonian Grebe - presumably the Slavonian Grebe - around the canal entrance. Avocets in the hundreds, at least 30 R-B Mergansers, plus the usual waders were gradually pushed around by the rising tide. I couldn't find any Water Pipits in the fields - though the wind didn't help - and after the mystery ducks gave me the slip as I changed position I decided to move on again.

Bowling Green was much nicer; sitting down out of the wind was good, but seeing the female Long-tailed Duck out the window was better! :D The Blackwits were in and feeding right up to the hide - accompanied by vociferous Redshank and the odd Curlew - Wigeon and Lapwing numbers were good, a drake Pintail, a couple of Pochard, and a few Shoveler livened up the Mallard and Teal. There were at least 3 Barwits with the Blackwits, 11 Dunlin pottered about - two Sanderling flew in but didn't stay long - and at least 5 Snipe were present. A Water Rail showed on and off by the hedge, while a Fox lounged in the sunshine... The birds were fairly twitchy, though nothing attacked while I was there, and this made counting them accurately nigh on impossible. ::Shrugs::  Oh well.

Also nigh on impossible was getting people on the LTD, as she was up and down like a frickin' jack-in-the-box! Fun times...  ;)

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