21 December, 2012

You Little ... Er.. Beauty?

One of the nice things about working in a factory is the Christmas Shutdown, which started today. So, just in time for the End Of The World, then.. :)

What were you doing when the world was due to end - in some vague manner possibly involving an invisible planet, was it? - I was out wandering the damp but bird-rich lanes around Exminster. The magic moment came and went, and while I cannot prove all this isn't an hallucination brought about by the trauma of imminent death [there was an X-Files episode about it one time], I think I'm still here.

More importantly, what about that ever so elusive Rose-coloured Starling? Already in the bag! :D

But to rewind a little....
The Mid-Winter Sunrise at Hope's Nose was utterly spectacular.
There was a line of cloud on the horizon [but of course] but this only served to cause golden beams of sunlight to reach up into a sky that shifted into a series of ever brighter colours before the sun finally revealed itself in a surge of light that fair took the breath away...

Once I'd finished grinning, I went and had a look at the sea.

With the sun blazing away, counting Guilles on the Ore Stone - let alone picking out Razorbills - was a difficult proposition. I finally decided on 163+ [certainly 'quite a few' but not 'a full load']. There were, in defiance of the light winds and sunshine, quite a few birds passing. I wasn't set up for a seawatch [shock!], having Things To Do and so on, so I gave it a 10 minute timed count. Oh boy, what a ten minutes....
Gannets - 29
Kittiwakes - 109!
Auks - 60 [almost all Guillemots]
Puffin! - 1
Bonxie - 1
RT Diver - 4!

This was not sustained for long, however - I kept looking but no more fancy birds and the Kitt rate dropped right down within another ten minutes; by the time it got to 9:00 it was just the trickle you'd expect for a sunny day after assorted blows. Like they always say; get there early.
There were a few gulls knocking about the remains of the slick, but nothing interesting among them. All the Stonechats were spotty, no warblers of any kind about.

Onward onward to Exminster, where the hope of a Devon Tick lurked. I made my way quite slowly to the churchyard, as every Starling needed checking and there were a few around.. The cold was far more evident than at the balmy Nose, and the tales of how elusive the Rosy One was made me wonder if not taking coffee was a mistake. It's certainly a very - I was going to say scenic, but perhaps atmospheric is better - place, especially with a little mist curling around the headstones...

I found the north end, with the allotments behind a little black gate and two nice bare trees with a succession of Starlings coming in to sit in them. Also a lot of cats, none with collars, but that's by the by. Various locals came by going to and from shops. Lots of birds moved around; aside from Starlings, mostly Blackbirds, House Sparrows, Chaffinches, and Blue Tits. Two Snipe flew over towards the marshes. About 15 minutes passed, and then there it was, right in the top of the right hand tree. There it was and there it sat and preened and sat some more, for maybe another 15 minutes! Elusive? Hard to see? Ok... Admittedly, it did stay front-on for most of the time, but it did eventually turn sideways, too. Of course I didn't have my camera with me. [[I suspect this is why it showed so well, they can see what we're carrying, after all!]].

Great, Rose-coloured Starling! Admittedly, this was more a Sand-coloured Starling, really, the cygnet effect in play. Being next to fresh Starlings didn't help it's cause much either, truth be told. The bulk of that bill was quite notable, a very marked difference to the Standard Starlings, though it could still peer down it like they do. :)

Having scored earlier and better than I could have hoped for, I decided to take a wander around and about. I was feeling chipper, to say the least, and taking my life in my hands seemed a good idea [big lane-filling tractors going very fast, idiots in cars that don't realise gravel on tarmac is almost as slippy as ice, etc. etc...]. I didn't have any near-misses and I did find a lot of birds - mostly the usuals, of course - including a very nice flock of mixed finches. Said finches included a few Brambling, two of which sat and posed for the scope :)  Joy. A male Blackcap and a Chiffy [collybita] were warblers of the day.

Back on the Patch; Parents walking Little Black Dogs reported 6 Waxwings on Wednesday and 5 on Thursday. Frau Schwartzkopf holds the Garden still, and there have been no sightings of Blackstarts there for more than a week now [are the two related, or have they just gotten sick of Palm seeds?].

This afternoon I was busy Getting Things Done, and alas didn't even get time to check the Grebe roost.

The world keeps turning - at least until the asteroid they haven't told us about bullseyes us tomorrow....

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