12 May, 2013

Time For An Horrific Tern Pun...

I like terns. To watch them do their thing is to know sheer joy at their grace and agility.

Today I had my lunch at John's Watch on Dawlish Warren, spending a merry couple of hours watching the terns catching theirs. Well, when they weren't haring off towards Langstone Rock, anyway. My attention was on a pack of about 30 birds, all zooming around together; Commons being the most numerous [surprise], but also including 3 Arctic, 5 Little, and 8 Roseate. Yes, 8 Roseate Terns!! As the tide receded, they spent more and more time further out, but their forays along the nearest surf line were well worth the gaps! Did I mention I like terns? Late on a group of 5 Arctics came in from Orcombe way - it looked like they were a separate group. There were Sarnies about too, and a few Gannets quite close in. A decent-sized group of Common Scoter were offshore, but the chop and heat haze [grr] made getting a good count impossible. Much closer and more countable, 11 Sanderling and 1 Dunlin on the beach, dodging the walkers [no colour rings].

I also saw a very pretty, very rare, and above all very small flower. Cue crap mobile photo;

Warren Crocus

Earlier I'd been at Bowling Green, where the superb s/pl Bonaparte's Gull was with about 240 BHGs and 2 1s Little Gulls. The Little Gulls were driven off by psycho Black'eads, then most of the rest of the gulls exited post-haste when a Hobby dropped by to see the hirundines! The falcon didn't catch anything except some flak from a gung-ho Pied Wagtail and soon departed. There were a fair few waders still present for the tide, with s/pl Knot and Barwit being the prettiest. A female Ruff was at first elusive among the rushes at the back, but eventually came over to the channel and I couldn't resist...

The scope was in focus, alas the phone had other ideas..

Stepping back further in time.. Saturday's forecast promised a strong WNW with squally showers. Interesting? I knew from past experience that little or none of that would get past t' Moor to the Nose and so I toddled down to Prawle. There was an agreeable amount of sideways drizzle when I got there and I found [Famous Prawle Birder] already many hours into a watch at my favourite spot amongst the rocks. This was a very good thing too, not least as he got a couple of Poms while I was still setting up! These would be the only skuas I would see all day, but never mind, they were lovely. 

The weather misbehaved, with only the odd band of cloud disturbing brilliant sunshine, but the wind blew and now and again there were birds. First decent passage of Manxies, first Stormies of the year, and gorgeous s/pl GNDs to admire. Quite a few Commic Terns were moving through, some stopping off at a small feeding frenzy [which made all the counts difficult, though the loitering birds were nice]. The conditions made these true Commics, as I could only safely ID 3 Arctic and 2 Common out of at least 66 birds.. Ouch.
The balance of passage was west, [with the exception of a flock of 32 Common Scoter who went east] including several small groups of Swallows - which seemed to have had enough of the weather and decided to head back to Africa!

On my way back I stopped in at Slapton, where hundreds of Swifts and House Martins, dozens of Swallows, and a few Sand Martins were feeding over the Ley - quite a sight. No terns offshore - a couple of Whimbrel flew by north and that was it.

Friday saw me battering the Patch to not much result until I got to the Harbour, where I found 5 very moulty Purple Sandpipers and a Turnstone! :) The gulls' pontoon has been reduced but not yet entirely removed, though there was nothing fancier than a Moorhen among the 83 Herrings and lone GBB present.. 

And Finally....
Wednesday saw a surprise Work Tick; male Goosander over at lunchtime!! Score! :D

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