31 August, 2013

More With A Whimper

So that's Summer, then.

The last few days of August have seen me rather preoccupied with Things, and so mostly glued to this here computer screen or otherwise being busy.

When I've been out it's been all about the Patch, but I've not a huge amount to show for it. I did finally catch up with a Southern Hawker - after my Mum gripped me off [Tut] - although to be more accurate it found me! I was going to the Nose [to have another look for a chrrek!ing thing] when it came cruising along Ilsham Road at head height, hovered in front of me for a second, then went on past! Patch Tick. :D

[The chrrek!ing thing - which had been calling from low down inside a bush that morning, before vanishing - hadn't come back, naturally]

Other than that one interesting-sounding skulker, there have been a few of the usual warblers and bugger all else! I'd been hoping for a nice Wryneck, but... Ha, yeah. While stood around hoping to hear the Chrrek!ing Thing, I did see a little passage on the sea; a nice group of 3 Balearics went by close south, 2 Little Egrets went even closer north, further out a party of at least 3 Manxies went north, too, and a group of 8 Gannets hung around, about a klick or so out.

I did see a couple of nice butterflies. A gorgeous Clouded Yellow teased me mercilessly, it just wouldn't be photo'd, while a smart Small Copper was more obliging and even found a friend;

Small Copper, Hope's Nose

Small Copper and [very worn] Holly Blue

Finally, the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight came right over this afternoon, on their way to Dartmouth... I love Lancasters! :D

28 August, 2013


In what seems to be becoming a tradition, I've just had the Red Arrows past overhead. Twice. :D

Today I've been for a little trip to that Patch of Patches, the Inspiration of It All...

The Backwater.

I don't get over there half as often as I'd like; the trip is never easy or quick, alas, and with the crippling extortion poverty tax blatant profiteering cost of petrol being what it is, my attempting to 'live frugally' makes it 'special occasions only'. But this was one :)

Small Red-eyed Damselflies had been found on the Borrow Pit [by Steve 'Superman' Waite, naturally], and the prospect of seeing them close enough for my paparazzi setup to have a chance was too good to miss. I usually look for them along the Exe Canal - best by the sewage works - but they're never close and it's always a bit exposed. Plus, you know, right by Exeter Sewage Works...

But I'll get there in a minute.

I arrived at Black Hole Marsh in time for the tide. It being midweek and not a particularly high one, I figured it shouldn't be too busy and started at the Island.

::Baptist Choir appear and sing:: "Miiiiiiiistaaaaaaaake!"

I'm not an antisocial person. Not really.
Yes, I do appreciate a bit of quiet time now and then, but I'm not obsessive about it. I didn't go expecting solitude, I even took my Bird Guide along in case I was asked for help*

Having made that small disclaimer, I must also say I am very much of a mind with another famous figure of The Backwater, certainly this morning at any rate.

People make noise, they can't help it. Noise increases exponentially with numbers, this too is inescapable. Cue the positive feedback loop...

I'm stopping the rant before it gets going.

If you were there, I'm not criticising [everyone was enjoying themselves and the birds weren't fleeing that quickly], I'm just saying that this was the reason I had a look around, took a couple of phoneshots, and left without even taking my rucksack off, let alone trying to sit down.

Cue dreadful phoneshots:

Stunning Little Stint.
It really seemed to be that bright. 

Female and male Ruff - right at the back, naturally.

Wader ID 101

The Tower was empty [for about 5 minutes..]. Birds far off but that's what Big Scopes are for. People came and went, I stayed a fair while; waiting for the sun to come out and the Wood Sand to appear from wherever it was hiding. It was lovely.  :)

Lots of variety on Black Hole; with plentiful and showy Common and Green Sands, a scattering of Snipe, and a sneaky LRP [right in by the causeway], plus 2 Greenshank and some nicely variable Dunlin to play with. Assorted gulls showed up on the river, [with only a lone Med to catch the eye among them], as did lone Turnstone and Whimbrel, and a couple of dinky sailboats?!? The Wood Sand never materialised, but I eventually caught all ten Curlew Sand out in view together - very satisfying and easily my highest total.

Some more time passed, I scoffed my lunch, then dragged myself down to Seaton Marsh. [Yes, on foot. With all my gear. What? It's barely 10 minutes if you stroll!]

I've never actually been to The Borrow Pit before. This is something I now regret, as it's amazing! The Backwater's Hidden Gem;

And these ain't the half of it ;)

Ok, yes it is next door to Seaton Sewage Works, but still - look at it! And there are benches!
Also shedloads of odonata, with Small Red-eyed Damsels on the floating weed you can see in the pics. I saw a joined pair plus at least 3 more males and got the proper camera out, so We Shall See..

Also Emperor, Migrant Hawker, Common Darter, Azure, Common Blue, and Blue-tailed Damselflies on site.

I gave the Hide a go, but apart from a couple of Oyks, nothing new was on offer.

I definitely need a Patch/Backwater teleporter.  ;)

[[*No matter how good the in-hide pictures are - and on The Backwater, they're very good - there's always at least one that isn't included, so having a book can help explanations enormously**]]
[[**Also to remind you.. ;) ]]

27 August, 2013


These last couple of days, I've been bashing the Patch and it's been bashing back...

I've not been giving it a lot of attention recently - at least when the wind's not been blowing - and it's clearly unamused. When your Patch is mostly made of hills and housing, a sultry August is not a happy time. So I've been keeping at it and it's been hard going.
But perhaps the weather, at least, is going to change? Hot and humid is my least favourite, but now that thunder is rolling around the horizon it may get a little fresher. Only may, though...

But what of my bashing? Well, primary goals were finding any tardy migrants and nabbing those elusive little butterflies. I have at least partially succeeded. Yes, yesterday I finally saw a female Brown Hairstreak at That Hairstreak Place. Very briefly. At a distance. Once.

Oh well...

No sign at all of any Chalkhill Blues; I fear the ones last year must have been wanderers, rather than an actual colony. Drat. I have found lots of Silver-washed Fritillaries - at least 7 today - plus a couple of Dark Greens, which is great. I'm also seeing more Blues - the Common and Holly varieties - which is great too, they are my favourite butterflies, after all.

On the bird front... Hmmm... Today I got two definite migrants at the Nose; Wheatears! Otherwise it's been dire. Not that I'm complaining too loudly, Mr. Cetti's-on-his-House-List... :D
House Martins still overhead, frequent avalanches of Sparrows into the garden, and Goldfinches, too. Yesterday afternoon a good burst of flying ants summoned up a very impressive kettle of ~600 Herring Gulls, pretty much overhead. Common Darters have been coming to the Pond now and again, as well.

I think that's it for now.

26 August, 2013

Now That's A Big Surprise!

Yesterday, on Patch I failed miserably to find anything more noteworthy than a single Jersey Tiger.

At least bird and insect-wise.

While I was again dipping Chalkhill Blues, I was overflown by something amazing, something wonderful, something like this;

That's with no mag - oh, she was low....

Through the bins, after she'd turned to make her approach to the Dawlish Air Show

A VULCAN. A real amazing wonderful glorious incredible beautiful VULCAN.....


A bit later, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight showed up too, but they'd been totally upstaged.

Today, the Folks and I went for a good long yomp on't Moor. We got to Cranmere from Belstone [despite the best efforts of hiding paths, deadly tussocks, and juvenile delinquent livestock!] - which is the sunny side of 20km. The early sun turned to overcast and the northerly wind blew, but to me at least that just made it near ideal for walking. A couple of Common Hawkers, a Black Darter, and an Azure Damsel [they do get everywhere!] defied the weather to show for us, as did legions of juvie Mipits, and the odd other bit and piece. No Wheatears, sadly. It was a good day, especially the two amazing times when Our Little Whisthound walked right past sheep without even a peep! [The other five hundred times, though...]

23 August, 2013

Patch Tick!!

Another one!

Didn't even have to leave the house this time, either! Yesterday afternoon, about half six, the late sun warms some nice bushes-come-trees-come-bramble thicket out back. As I look out of my window, a movement catches my eye; Ooh, a Jersey Tiger! Then I pick up a brown bird.. Another Reed Warbler?!? Oh no, that's no Reed, that's a frickin' Cetti's!!!!! It found a nice spot, caught a couple of flies, and sat in the sun for an age - maybe 20 seconds - long enough for me to decide to go for my scope, at which point it vanished back into it's cover and didn't re-emerge. Many is the time you hear Cetti's without seeing them [even when they're at blow in your eardrums range] but it's not often you see one without hearing it. I assume it was a dispersing juvenile - I just hope it was able to move on before the cats found it...

After that, and with the mistyfog arriving overnight, I was down at the Nose this morning. I gave it a mighty battering and got one band of passerines for my pains. They were very mobile and seemed to be  one of the local tit bands [LTTs and Blues] with a bunch of warblers following them about; at least 5 Chiffs, 2 Whitethroats, a Blackcap, and a Garden Warbler [the latter actually posed in the open for nearly 3 seconds, the porn star! ]. They could be local juvs, of course, rather than grounded migrants.

More productive was the sea, with a quick scan turning into a 5 minute timed count!

Balearic  2
Manxie  16
Fulmar  2
Gannet  12
Skua sp. [probably Arctic]  1
Kittiwake  124!

And that was just what was in binocular range. The Kitts were a pulse, not sustained passage, but the birds are still out there...

There was also a Clouded Yellow which vanished when the sun went in and didn't reappear, and a lovely Painted Lady, which landed in front of me as I toiled up the First Slope and posed;

Later on I got to the Harbour, where there were plenty of juvie Herrings, but nothing sexier.

19 August, 2013

A Post Mostly Not About Birds

No, no, I didn't go to Pendeen yesterday. I suppose I should have, but after all Saturday's fun there was no way it was going to happen.

But no more on THAT.

Yesterday I found bugger all to post of about the Patch, got some Stuff done that really needed doing [it was DIY - really out of my comfort zone, but what the hell] and went on a little field trip.

This was to a field [yes, really being literal] near Ipplepen, which aside from having an interesting name, is mostly a village between Newton and Totnes. Anyway, after a couple of chaps with metal detectors found lots of Roman coins in several fields, it is currently home to a very interesting archaeological dig, and yesterday they had an Open Day. There being no mega-rare yanks swept over with the weather [That have been found.] [Yet.] I went along to have a nose.

It was very interesting, the reports in the media I'd heard were all very wrong [what a shock!], and despite catching a very frisky shower, it was well worth the trip. It was also very busy - much more so than the poor folks on site were expecting - which is a good thing for Science, but not so good when you're trying to hear what the poor guide is trying to say..

Here are a couple of dodgy mobile shots of the bit they were showing us;

The dark bits are ditches; red-white tape in a ring ditch, suffering guide by Romano-British field ditch

More of the ring ditch - older ring ditch branching from it - plus slightly better view of later straight ditches

A brief summary of the 25m square site; a ring ditch which may have been for a round house, or an animal enclosure; several Roman-style field ditches [straight, the Iron Age ones are curved]; several pits, possibly used for storage - one lined with slates*; a humungously deep ditch, purpose and age yet to be ascertained, but through the ring ditch**; lots of assorted post holes, from Iron Age to Modern fence lines!
All of these were cut into the bedrock - no mean feat in the nice hard metapelites and metavolcanics.

[*Also with a hole in the bottom. I suspect an Iron Age bath! ;) ]
[**It took out the centre of the ring ditch, which would have held a big post hole if there had been a hut circle there. There was a single bit of pottery in it, but this is yet to be dated.]

I'll not go into everything I learned [not least because the site is very complex and the archaeologists are still very unsure about it!], suffice to say it could well be very important. There could be 'proper' Romanisation here - with civilians living a Roman lifestyle - which is unheard of in the area. Previously, away from the Legionary Fortress at Exeter, all that has been found in Devon and Cornwall is military - ie. the locals putting up with rather than buying into Roman 'civilisation' - so evidence that people were living the Roman way out in the sticks would be a big thing.

Certainly there seems to have been a settlement there since the Bronze Age, through the Iron Age, and possibly into the Mediaeval. Roman pottery has been found - along with the mass of coins which started the whole thing off - though not huge amounts and it includes local knock-offs of Samian Ware [fancy roman stuff]. Whether that is someone trying to look more roman than their finances allowed, or some enterprising soul using local clay to make pottery for sale to more romanised people elsewhere is another question among many.

Ok, enough burbling about archaeology - the Joy of Work beckons!

17 August, 2013

One Glorious Day

Shock does funny things to you. It makes you react in ways you would never expect. Seeing fantasies become reality is something the human psyche just isn't really equipped for. Your brain thinks "No, I remember this; it's a dream, it's not real" and makes you rationalise. You need time or a good smack 'round the head to get it to give in.

I was at Hope's Nose today.

Fucking hell!!!!!
[[I really wish you could put animated smilies in this - the eyes popping one would be perfect]]

::Drinks a little more* to steady the hands::


I was at Hope's Nose today; my Beloved Nose, oh yes, not the lure of 'Gwarra or a comfy chair at Berry Head, oh no.

Been waiting for this since I saw the forecast; Nice juicy frontal system coming in, maybe even enough rain to start up the SWBCM, and I didn't even have to drag up at Aaaaaarrrrgh... o'clock to do it. I watched from a little before 11 to a little after 7. Not often I stay on that late, but well...

On my way down, the first two on Patch Walls of the year were fluttering about - a good start. It was brightly over cast and not much apart from Gannets were moving. Actually, not a great deal was moving all day! The numbers speak;

Gannet; 463S 105N
Kittiwake; 64S 6N
Fulmar; 63S 1N
Manxie; 202S 203N
Balearic; 7S

Quite a contrast to the numbers further south, isn't it? There were long periods when visibility was restricted and a lot could have been moving further out, but looking at the numbers from even further 'up' I'm not sure that's the whole case. There were a lot of birds going both ways pausing to feed - mostly between the Manxie and Big Shear Lines, from pretty much due east to out behind the wreck - and quite a few 'appeared' in that area without seeming to have come from due north. It's hard to be sure as I don't habitually scan that far up the coast [unless I'm clearing datum before taking my eyes off the sea], but I suspect a lot of birds have been hanging around in Lyme Bay rather than just travelling out around it. I think the totals from the Backwater may indicate if this is the case [I've not seen any yet - so edits may occur].
The Manxies are an especially interesting case, as the southerly-bound birds came through in small groups spread over the whole 8 hours, while the northerly ones came by in two big fast pulses. I didn't see any obvious circulation, but if it was a big loop??

1 Arctic Skua [nice intermediate adult] and a Bonxie [which showed amazing agility in mugging a Kittiwake], both after 1800, were the only skuas - also odd. A couple of Meds and 4 LBBs - no YLGs, either - and a few little groups of Commic Terns [total 30]. Whimbrel and Dunlin and a few Swifts, too. Second best bird of the day was the adult Black Tern, which passed by 3 whole minutes before the Bonxie arrived.

I won't go on about it. It's not fair to you, my long-suffering readers. All I shall say is that it almost got past me.

Oh, but the wings on that thing.......

[[*Glenrothes - very nice, amazingly fruity and floral.]]

16 August, 2013

That Friday Feeling!

Ah, the Joy of Nights..

I even got in a couple of hours shuteye this morning, before the sunshine arrived and I sprang into action! Time's been a' wasting and I needed to get to Smallhanger before the quarry and mine destroy it all* the temperature drops and the massed hordes of dragons vanish for another year. Yes, there's lovely wonderful Summer Shutdown coming in a week, but a week's a long time in many fields, so it made sense to use a warm sunny day while I had one.

Or maybe that should have been IF I had one.. Despite setting off in sunshine and it being sunny most of the way there, on arrival at Drakeland Corner it was very overcast, windy, and then it started raining! Undeterred [vexed and muttering, yes, but undeterred] I pressed on, and eventually the sun did come out to play and it got all hot and everything :)

Here Be Dragons, it says on my map, and this is true, with 13 species of odonata on display; not bad for Smallhanger, pretty damn good for almost everywhere else. My primary aim was the ongoing unsanity of trying to get photos of all of Devon's Dragons - Small Red and Scarce Blue-tailed were the targets. What happened? Well, after much hunting, many many near-misses [they do it deliberately, I'm sure of it], and almost as many near-sinkings, I have - I sincerely hope - got them both. Maybe. We shall see; this post may at some point sprout pictures...

And here they are!

Male Small Red Damselfly 
[Vaguely in focus - sod it, that'll do!]

Spot the damsel....

Here it is!
Male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly.

I don't have time to go into as much detail as I'd like right now - this pesky irritation called 'The Real World' keeps getting in the way - so I'll cut short and only add that there were lots of butterflies too, including very nice Wall, Grayling, Small Heath, and Small Copper. Birds included parties of passing Swallows, an overflying Tripit, and a family of Bullfinches with at least 5 juveniles! :)

Ooh, yes, on Wednesday morning there must have been a fall in the gunky drizzle overnight, as a cracking Willow Warbler was in the Garden! :D Also 3 brand new juv Blackbirds, a juv Greenfinch, and the 20-odd juv Sparrows - quite a mix!

[[*The neighbouring clay pit has extended to destroy the best single pond - the one where I got those shots of Black Darters - and the mine, when it reopens, will apparently close the traditional access route.]]

12 August, 2013

Silver and Red

An interesting weekend, despite the weather being neither truly one thing nor t'other.

After taking care of Things on Saturday I gave the Patch a going over. It was warm and humid, but with too much building cloud to really get results, I think. Having found Chalkhill Blues last year, I've been on the lookout for them - with the weather being less windy I had hopes, but they were dashed as I didn't get a sniff of one. The most interesting butterfly I found at the Chalkhill site was this incredibly blue female Common Blue [which had me wondering what it was for a while..];

It looked even bluer than this in life, too!

Undersides, with orange spots stopping halfway up the forewings

I headed on to another site where Brown Hairstreak is apparently possible, but again no joy. There were LOTS of butterflies about, including a nice [though mobile] Painted Lady, another Holly Blue, and at least two of these;

Mrs. Silver-washed shows the boys how to pose

Lots of juvenile passerines about; Blue Tits, House Sparrows, Wrens, and Crows - including an unruly mob of 26 mugging passers-by at one site! - the most numerous.

Sunday was the first full day on t'Moor with the Folks since the start of June! Shocking, I know.

We went to the bit of Moor between Burrator and Princetown - looping around a section of the Devonport Leat. We had an early lunch at what has now been christened the Redstart Field. Its a very nice spot in the Burrator compound - one of many there - where, as you might have guessed, we often see Redstarts. This time we did very well, with a female and a number of juveniles popping up now and again all through our [typically relaxed] stay. There were never more than 2 juvs in view at once, but I think 4 or maybe even 5 is the true number. However many were actually in the area, they were confiding [for Redstarts] and a pleasure to watch. :) The moorland was quiet, with few Mipits and Skylarks out in the open and a couple of Stonechats and a Wheatear in the Meavy valley.

In the compound, Green Woodpeckers were vocal and a Grey Heron flew across the reservoir, but insects stole the show. The Devonport Leat was alive with Beautiful Demoiselles - I've never seen so many in one place before. Common Hawkers and Golden-ringeds were numerous if well-spaced, a couple of Keeled Skimmers - one an over-mature female which appeared almost black - and a possible [fast fly-past] Emperor. As seems to be the case everywhere, Whites dominated butterfly numbers, add all the others together and multiply by several to even match their masses! Most notable among that minority were singles of Small Copper and Brimstone.

Alas, nothing sat and posed close enough for long enough to try a photo.. Oh well.
Finally, a young Red Deer also made an appearance - sadly for Tilbury [though fortunately for the tree she was attached to!], this was out of her sightline and downwind.

We had a good day, the breeze was vital in the sticky heat and let us cover more ground than we expected to - we got out to Hingston Hill, had the circle to ourselves, and then followed the row to reach the Leat and get back. Also glad to report was the lack of Horsefly attacks! :) Which is a very welcome change, I must say.

Last up. A pleasant surprise; I've been put on Nights until the Summer Shutdown - woohoo! - so Fridays are back on the menu, oh yeah! :D

08 August, 2013

Ok, Now Summer's Over.

Despite what the frickin' weather may think..

The Swifts left on Tuesday. Goodbye, farewell, au revoir, auf wedersehen, and so on..

In other news, yesterday as I got home from work, 300-350 Herring Gulls [they just wouldn't all stay put enough to get a better count] munching flying ants. Also, my Mum, while walking la petite horreur, met a Southern Hawker - which would be a Patch Tick for me.. ::Gripped!:: Annnd, this afternoon as I was leaving work I met a shiny new second brood female Holly Blue - with all the black, oh yes - looking as pretty as you'd expect. Very nice.

In other other news... It's not new news, but certainly important enough to keep going on about it;

Ye Gods and Little Fishes, what a year for super-sexy seabirds!

One Glorious Day.......

05 August, 2013

A Windy Showery Weekend. Part 2, More Wind

I thought about going to 'gwarra.

All this nonsense with Fea's Petrels all over the place was a spur, yes, but I like to get there now and again. It's an interesting change of scenery, a trip that more than a little resembles a pilgrimage [especially when The Bridges are out of effective reach], and there's the oh-so-slim-but-still-there chance of things that begin with F.. Fin Whale!!!  :D
Hell, Fea's is possible from the Nose [[Oh, one day. One Glorious day....]] but a Fin Whale? Forget it.

Anyway, yes, I thought about 'gwarra. The forecast put me off - it implied the fun would kick in at about 0600, which with the whole 'having to get down there' thing meant I'd have next to no sleep, and two long drives on grockle-infested roads. "Sod it. I'll go later, when I can pick a handier front on a quieter day."

I can see what would have happened. I'd have been there in time for the Fea's [about 9, I think it was?] and not been able to get on it. Yes, shedloads of big shears and a Long-tail, but being there and missing? It hurts just to consider it.

But this is all beside the point. Yesterday I did seawatch from my beloved Hope's Nose and I gave it 9 whole hours. I didn't start at dawn, as the weather hadn't arrived and I figured I ought to save my coffee for the forecast afternoon front-thing. [Also a bit more sleep is never unwelcome!]
How went the day? I had a fine old time! Only had the bumbleshoot up twice, the rest of the rain being drizzle that I took on the silly hat [which is basically a mini-brolly and reaches out just nicely to keep my eyepiece dry!]. I was able to set up and stay on The Steps - just about, thankfully the wind didn't kick up hard before it got W of S - and while the SWBCM didn't kick in, there was a lot of something in the water that kept a posse of gulls and even some passing Common Terns happy.

Looking at the scores from Berry, Start, and Prawle I did.. Ok. 692 shearwaters isn't bad, is it?

Bird of the Day was the Great Shearwater. As seems to be a developing tradition, I very nearly missed it! I had just pulled on an extra layer [I was half expecting blazing sunshine in the morning] and turned the scope southwards to check if any sneaky birds had slipped by. I wasn't really expecting there to be anything, as I'd checked right up to due north beforehand, but you always make sure. Ooh, there's a group of Manxies heading o-SHIT! Big Shear! Whammed it up to 75 in time for a lovely wheel - that classic 'big shear flight' - upper parts on view and it's a dark one with a proportionately short hand, wings held very straight. I didn't see the 'L', but it was going away, so that's hardly unexpected. The time? 1006. Nine minutes later it passed Berry Head. Admittedly it was well into the Bay by the time I got on it, but boy, that thing was moving....

Also by were a Sooty, 32 Balearic, and 657 Manx. That I could see. They were well out [at 'Big Shear range', Ho Ho] when it was clear and everything was going like the clappers. A Stormy too, shot by; I've never seen one going that quickly that wasn't being chased! By contrast, of the 8 Puffins, none were outside the 'Main Line' and 4 stopped to hang about in the lee of the Ore Stone. Not unwelcome, as a couple showed very nicely indeed :) Also 6 Razorbills and 4 Guillemots.

Skuas didn't do too badly and almost did very well, with an Arctic early on, a nice Pom, and 3 Bonxies - one a juv, and one which scragged a poor juv Gannet! - plus a small skua sp. which looked horribly like a Long-tail but was just too far out in just too much muck to be certain! Rats!
A party of 5 Common Terns hung about for more than an hour, but the 3 Arctic Terns motored on through. As did the lone Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, and 37 Common Scoter. Gulls past included 3 different juv YLGs, 2 Med Gulls, 2 LBBs, and 4 BHGs. 144 Kittiwakes included 11 juveniles.
The only birds going north were 4 each of Gannets and Fulmars, 678 and 52 going the other way respectively.

On land, there were at least 4 Rockits knocking about the rocks, one of which was sporting a metal ring! I've never seen a rung Rockit at the Nose before [or anywhere else, for that matter]. Not a hope of reading it, of course..

So, a very good day indeed! Almost an outstanding one, if the vis and birds had been a little kinder, but them's the breaks.

EDIT: Swifts still present, with 39+ early evening. [I do, of course, have no proof whatsoever that these are the same Swifts every evening...]

SECOND EDIT: I clean forgot that I actually got a picture of a seabird this time!! Ok, it's only a gull, but still;

Showing off some anchors

Finally, a shout-out of congratulations to [Famous Devon Seawatcher], for showing us all how it's done. Seven......

04 August, 2013

A Windy Showery Weekend. Part 1, More Rain

Hmmm... Warm, breezy, showers forecast, what to do?

I went to Fernworthy.

Finding it quite balmy [22°] out of the wind, I had a look for insects and found a whole heap of butterflies. Mostly the usuals, standout being a superb male [yes, seen that well] Silver-washed Fritillary. Alas, it pulled a Houdini on me [in the middle of a flowery paddock!] when I went for the camera [[only the phone, but still worth a go!]]. A Small Skipper was a little more obliging;

Only slightly obliging, though.

Plenty of Common Hawkers and Keeled Skimmers were on the wing, as you'd expect for t'Moor; the Migrant Hawker I encountered must have taken quite a wrong turn! None of them sat still enough to photo, naturally.

Loads of juvenile birds around, especially tits and phylloscs, with a stripy-headed GC Grebe following a parent about on the reservoir. Singles of Tripit and Redstart were still present, but the bird highlights were beside the water. No, not the honking Canadas, but at least 3 juv. Grey Wags, one or maybe two Common Sands, and best of all... Wood Sand! :)

After getting attacked by yet another Horsefly, I turned away from the water and beat the tracks for a while. It was wonderfully quiet [the only people were walking the foreshore and keeping the poor waders moving.. ] and the trees [away from the waterside massacre] were their usual beautiful selves. There's a wonderful variety of trees hiding away in the valleys and yes I took a shot of a nice one;

Doesn't do it justice.

My enjoyment was, it must be said, not unentirely due to managing to avoid getting rained on by the vigourous showers which dropped by now and again - entirely due to jammy timing, it must be said.

Annnd finally; Swifts still around, with 74+ in the evening.

Coming in my next post, what I did today!
[[I'll give you a clue; It were Great! :D ]]

01 August, 2013

Yes, Yes, I Am Very Wrong..

Summer definitely not over, with one hell of a temperature jump this afternoon... ouch.

[Disagree? Try working in a metal box in a metal box full of ovens....]

On a high note [very high indeed, some of them] a new record Swift count! 134!!!!!!

Also at least 5 House Martins and a Swallow! [[They mobbed a censored, right after I got in from work, which was considerate timing :) ]] Flying ants have their uses.

Annnd finally; I'm not going to keep this up [the daily 'Swifts still here' posts, or the moaning about what's going on out west*], worry not.

[[*Fea's Petrels....Wilson's Petrels.....Bulwer's Petrels.....thousands of big shears... oh my]]