31 December, 2013

A Surprise End

I wasn't chasing any yearlists this year, so easily breaking the Patch Yearlist Record wasn't something I expected. Of course, I have been doing more on Patch, and it's been a very good year for bird variety [if not always numbers]. New Patch Record? 155! The Patch List itself is now a mighty 203. Off the top of my head, that's about 60 birds in three years!?! The moral; There's more out there than you think, just put the time in. 

Today I ended the year as I started it; defiantly NOT chasing any of my yearlists. Sort of. I went up on't Moor [after the rain stopped.. Ahem] and went looking for the flock of Brambling reported near Sousson's. Having never seen more than a couple at once, a 'big flock' was appealing.

I eventually found them, just as they were being flushed by a horde of yammering tw large group of vocal people out for a walk. Brambling, Chaffinches, Bullfinches, Mistle Thrushes, Redwing, assorted Tits, a couple of Nuthatches and even a Jay, all went zooming up into the Beech canopies and then off and away....

I waited, no sign. Bollocks. I moved on a bit to the next stand of Beech, where I found to my joy that the megaflock had only split, with maybe a third flying off up the hill out of reach and the rest staying by the lane. At least 19 Brambling among more than three times that number of other birds! With the others that flew off, it looks like there could be as many as 30 present! :)
The birds showed really well, though I got more than a few funny looks from passing drivers, as I was sat on the edge of the roadside ditch, drinking coffee and grinning like, er, me. Vehicles moved the birds up only for seconds, and then only out of the lane itself, but when the Hunt showed up, the birds moved out to the nearby hedges and let me get a scoped Brambling count that doubled what I thought was there!

Fairly quiet elsewhere in the area, though. This not unsurprising given the carnage in Sousson's itself, where some liberal felling has been added to by the weather. With trees taken from the exposed edges, the wind has been playing dominoes, and long lines of mature trees are thoroughly blocking several tracks. Many of said tracks are also now morasses of 4' ruts from the forestry machines, too. Enter at your own risk....

Time had marched on, so I took a scenic route home, hoping for a SEO, but no joy. I stopped at Venford where in the gloom 17 Goosander [4 looked pale enough to be adult males] roosted. Either side of the reservoir, I scored birds I'll  really be rueing tomorrow; first a Jack Snipe flushed from the roadside in the O valley - it zigzagged along in front of me for maybe 20 yards, showing off its dark pointy arse! - then a Woodcock flew through my headlight beams as it headed for Holne Moor.

30 December, 2013

A Black Start

[As opposed to a Blackstart, btw]

Hoping to get in behind the viciously tight frontal system forecast to come through early this morning, I headed down to the Nose.

Unfortunately, the weather hadn't read the forecast and a S-SSE 8 gusting 10 was in full cry, with sideways rain and all the trimmings...

I don't call The Lookout that just because it's a great viewpoint. With exposed rock treacherous underfoot and being open to any direction of wind it's a nasty surprise to anyone not expecting it. Sure enough, as I crossed it towards the Middle Path I was nearly picked up off my feet [despite going sideways..]. Mad? Yup.

Still, I got down in one piece and finding the Traverse mostly sheltered was a very pleasant surprise. I gave Hope Cove a good check and found a BT Diver and the Black Guille - so if there were 2 in Brixham again today then there are definitely 3 in the Bay - before looking to set up. The Traditional Spot was not as gust-wracked as the week before, but I still found myself hunched under my bumbleshoot, waiting out the front. I was able to see that nothing was passing this time and so just watched the brave Kitts playing over the SWBCM's slick.

After only 15 minutes or so, it was as if a switch had been thrown; rain eased right off, wind snapped around, and the sun almost came out!

I scurried over to The Steps and gave it two hours in increasing amounts of sunshine! ::Faints::

42 divers on show; 32S, 3N and 7 GND in Hope Cove when I left [no sign of the Blacks]. 459 Kitts, 268 auks [about 60/40], 276 Fulmar!, 101 Gannet, with a Bonxie, 2 C Scoter, and 4 Shoveler north. Harbour Porps were about, though with the swell all I can say is 2 or more. 2 Turnstone were mooching about the rocks with the Rockits and a collybita Chiff was in the Entrance Bushes.

The rest of the day was taken up with Stuff; mostly getting stuck in traffic...

Yesterday afternoon a wander about Yarner with the Folks produced Marsh Tits and  a flyover Crossbill or two, but it was great just being there.

Finally... Here's a pic I didn't put in from Saturday. Portland Harbour; the pipe by the Castle. This is an uncropped mobile shot; the water's edge is about 20' from me, the line of weed on the left is maybe 8' long. Spot the Brunnich's Guillemot...

Peekaboo, I see you!

28 December, 2013

I Twitch, Therefore I am

Someone who's seen a Brunnich's Guillemot at ridiculously close range!


What a wonderful little bastard of a bird! Mobile and elusive and showing cripplingly at the same time. Not bad.

Unlike this;

Yet another Brunnich's Pic

With another 1w Black Guille, BTDs, another female Eider, a hatful of RB Mergs as support, it was very pleasant birding. I turned up, the Brunnich's was right there.. YE GODS... Having seen it insanely well, I figured that, instead of chasing a bird that could swim faster than I could walk [if not run, it moved] I should stay put in the spot I was in, where I could see the bit where it had been resting in past days.. This would have worked if it had stopped moving to preen or something, but it didn't. Oh well, I still had two hours of amusement watching the BG pop up here there and everywhere, oh and the horde stampeding after it.. ;)

I decided to relocate to Radipole as the rain arrived, where the Hooded Merganser* was fishing down by the dam [though it later realised lots of twitchers were in town and came up to the bridge]. The reserve was slightly underwater, with 2" of water over the boardwalks, which were floating - a little unnerving to walk on! - on the way to the hide. Lunch under a roof meant not a lot of birds, with only Bearded Tits in the distance to speak of until I was packing up, whereupon more than a hundred ducks flew in!

They were mostly Teal and I didn't tarry long - quick counts and Green-winged checks - as I had an appointment with an Ibis and the frickin' meter was running [::Mutter mutter::]. The walk turned out to be much much much longer than I thought it would be, but the Glossy Ibis was gorgeous!

It's an Ibis

Parking time up, but daylight to burn; I headed home with a detour. Not a birding one, though there was the odd bird about [mostly Pheasants]. Turning off the coast road up onto the ridgeways, I parked off a little lane and followed a bridleway. My goals; the Grey Mare and Her Colts en route to Kingston Russell Circle. The stones at Kingston Russell are all down, but the location is incredible! Oh, but the views.... For the first time in a long while I got the proper camera out. Also incredible was the mud - definitely one for dry weather..

Kingston Russell, western half

Kingston Russell, eastern half

Looking at the pics, they don't seem much, do they? You've got to be there.

As I headed back to my li'l car, a big flock of Lapwing came over; I counted 246. Lovely way to end a brilliant day's birding.

[[*I've gone into this before, it's as plastic as the Brunnich's.]]

26 December, 2013

The Seventy-seventh Diver


Stop Press:
Brixham Birder Gets Xmas Pressie He Won't Forget In A Hurry!

With rellytives over for the festivities, I spent yesterday being good.

This morning was another matter - I dived out the door and nipped over to Brixham for a proper treat, oh yesssss my preciousss!! :D

The 2w [no retained spotted coverts and far too dark for a 1w] White-billed Diver was tarting around the Inner Harbour by the Lifeboat Station when I arrived and showing as cripplingly as divers are wont to do there. I still remember vividly that GND which made eye contact with me at about 30' - utterly unbothered - before doing the nuclear sub routine. But back to the WBD, which in the sunshine was just fabulous! A bit too fabulous, as even after I shifted to get a better angle the sun still burned that amazing ivory dagger out;

Just look at the sheer blazing bulk of that bill!

Snorkelling - almost a nice shot of the pale nape.

Two shots was all I was allowed, as it worked over to the other side of the Harbour and neatly Houdini'd us. BTD and GND tried running interference, but the WBD had snuck off into the marina - not that we knew that. I wandered down to the end of the breakwater and picked up RTD for a pretty set of 4 divers, then came back and reluctantly tore myself away to get home. [Made it just nicely, too]

This afternoon and a Clan Perambulation about the Patch gave nothing fancier than a GSW and a couple of skulking Blackcaps - no divers in view on the sea from Meadfoot, alas!

Finally, here's a treat for the eyes [and tastebuds! ;) ]. This is what happens when your sister marries a baker;

Gingerbread Cottage for Christmas!
[I soon found out it was full of home made chocolate-covered fudge, too!]

Happy Happy Joy Joy


24 December, 2013


Ah, what a day!

I got down to the Nose first thing and spent a much happier four and a bit hours. This time I was mostly going "It's another diver!" Why? Because I saw 76 today!!!

Bladdy hell.....

34 Great Northern, 27 Red-throated, and 5 Black-throated passed south, 1 Red-throat went north [well enough out to be probably different], and 7 Great Northern and 1 each of the 'throats were on the sea... Ye Gods. Biggest flock was 5 RTDs, with 6 of the GNDs in close proximity in Hope Cove.

Speaking of Hope Cove... :)  I noticed a couple of birders looking into it as I was leaving - "Oooh, more divers!" said I to myself at the GND-fest and started counting. Then this funny little greyish thing popped up. "What the..." It dived like an auk, and got closer; right up to the near shore, in fact - "SHIT! Black Guillemot!!" Fortunately, both birders got onto it and even more fortunately, the wind [just about] let us scope it. A couple more birders arrived as if by magic and then the Tystie got bashful and dinked behind the hump [it was getting some grief from the GNDs, for some reason, so it's not surprising it moved]. I circled around the quarry edge to try to refind it, but it'd done what they're so good at; vanished.

But never mind the brevity, what a result! Not only do I find something good, but I actually manage to do it when there's people around to see it too. Sweet. :D

As I was on my way already, I shamelessly swanned off and went to see if my run of good fortune would continue at Clennon.

But before I get to the Great Mud Mash...

It wasn't just the divers putting on a show [though some of the close flypasts were very impressive]. Two Pom Skuas - an adult and a subadult - were marauding around, harrying the poor Kittiwakes. The younger bird came right in - I'm talking age it with unaided vision right in! - to the slick and oh but the Kitts [and gulls] scattered! The sun had come out and it was amazing.....

A Bonxie passed without stopping, as did a lone C Scoter [this time an adult female]. Auks [mostly Razorbills], Kitts, Gannets, and Fulmars were passing, as did an early Balearic. The Grey Seal and Harbour Porpoises were still around, and while the SWBCM had pretty much shut down, the remains of the slick drew in more BHGs than yesterday and with them 2 or maybe 3 adult Med Gulls [by head markings]

Things were very different from yesterday, much more civilised, genteel seawatching, with the heavy showers fended off via bumbleshoot and no dead legs at all.. The Rockit still tried to mug me for fruityoaty bar crumbs, though ;)

Observe, regardez;

Monday's bright spot.
Ore and Lead Stones from The Traverse

Tuesday's bright weather
Ore and Lead Stones from The Steps

76 divers, though.... :D

Right, Clennon was mostly underwater and while a thousand or so BHGs and a lone adult Med Gull were rooting around the pitches, the Cattle Egret was not in sight when I arrived. I had a mooch about; seeing a Kingfisher, 9 Snipe, 4 Shoveler, 16 Tufties, and no YBW.. :(  Though I did see a very nice green Chiffchaff by the flooded corner. It was very muddy and very wet - I'd advise not wellies but full on waders if you're planning a visit - but on the plus side only the nuttiest people were there, so the birds weren't as dog-disturbed as I'd feared.

Having heard that the Egret always came back to roost, and time having gotten on [and me being very soggy] I thought to wait.. This I did, as the three other birders on site gave up, I muttered about blimmin' invisible Egrets and stayed on. By 1615 it was getting dark and so I gave up on watching 'the trees by the eastern pond' and went back across the fields.. Ah, the gulls are back - Oh, look, there it is.

Time for the most horrific 'record shot' you'll ever see. If you've just had your turkey, look away now...

Cattle Egret, Carrion Crows, and BHGs. Clennon Fields.

I was tempted to use this for a 'What's That Bird?' competition, or for that matter, print it out on A1 and try to sell it to the Tate Modern.. ;)  No picture I took came out at all; I think it was some sort of automatic low light function that messed up the pixels to maximise brightness? Anyway, you can sort of see there's an egret there next to a Crow - it's facing away and left, honest! Oh, that wibbly thing above them is a BHG that's just taken off!

The Egret's actually a cracking bird and pretty confiding, but I was out of light and time.

Ho Ho Ho.

23 December, 2013

Blown Away

Very nearly and more than once today at Hope's Nose!

Yowzer, but the weather meant business... Sea watching involved quite a bit of watching the sea, and what a show! The waves were putting water [not spray, proper white water] halfway up the Ore Stone and right over the Lead Stone, there was the proper 'boiling' spray coming off the waves [and the rocks], vicious little squalls, microbursts, and the odd 'sea devil' too.


The wind was in that nasty mood where it swung between SSE and SSW and made The Steps and The Traditional Seawatching Spot unusable. Even The Last Resort was taking gusts, so I wedged into the north end of The Traverse Of The Gods [right next to TTSS], where I was very sheltered if not very comfortable, perched on a narrow rock step. Unfortunately, being right up against the rock meant I couldn't deploy the great big bumbleshoot without being bent over double by it - and so not being able to see anything on the sea. Minor technical problem, there. If I'd been psychic enough I'd have brought my broken one, which would have worked pretty well and kept me dry, but alas I wasn't and didn't. So, I got very very soggy as the water gradually found all the weak spots in my waterproofing..

So what did I see for my four hours of cold and wet and not quite miserableness?

A couple of divers were in Hope Cove; a BTD was lurking close in to the cliffs and a GND started further out and then came right close in to the Toe - at one point it was less than 10' offshore! Crippling! :) Early on at least 2 Harbour Porpoises were in the lee of the Lead Stone [and even seeing the 'at least 2' was pretty jammy, with the waves] and late on a Grey Seal was right where the GND had been an hour or so earlier :)

The SWBCM was in full flow, and had attendants all the time I was there; I counted maxima of 292 Kittiwake, 26 Fulmar, 23 BHG, 5 Common Gull, and 3 LBB - plus Herrings and GBBs. A couple of Bonxies showed up to see what the fuss was about, but didn't come in close. They both plonked down on the sea just before a squall arrived and had gone when the viewing cleared. A juvenile C Scoter - just the one - came haring through, with a trickle of Gannets, Kitts, Fulmars and auks also passing. Clickers really not needed!

I was reminded, though, that seawatching is not just about counting passage - and not just because there wasn't much! - as the Kitts in particular put on a marvellous display of aeronautical skill. Also on show were some shore birds - the american term appropriate here - with 5 Purple Sands and 2 Turnstone messing about on the rocks below me the whole time I was there. One of the Turnstones decided to have a fly, lifted up maybe 15' and set off north at high speed. Backwards. The rest stayed lower, dodging gouts of water, trying not to get blown off their feet, and taking frequent baths in the rainwater pools.

The Rockits, as on Saturday, were soon playing the sidle up game. I was in the territory of a rather olivey one, very white below, too [the variation in Rockits is quite interesting] and it got to play 'how close will it come?'. The answer to that being 'right up to my foot, after a few aborted tries, with a defiant chirp as it snatched the little chunk of sarnie and scurried off with it'.

Finally, the Patch wouldn't be the Patch without a dodgy gull, and I eventually saw one; a manky-looking 1w that after a hard bit of studying I decided was one of those annoying LBBxHerrings.

So, no Little Auks, no white wings, not even that Balearic [by the sound of it, it probably passed the Nose before it got light! ;) ], as for a Puffin? [Oh, you know it's coming] Nuffin.

I had been planning to try to outbeast the weather and maybe get some passage in the lull in the wind that had been forecast for the afternoon, but the weather won. Four hours in and I was cold and wet and out of coffee, with the wind if anything getting stronger. I admitted defeat and, not fancying making The Traverse into the teeth of the storm, I got out via The Wall, which was more like The Waterfall. Not fun. The wind nearly got me twice more and the rain was hitting as hard as hail, which isn't a joyride, either, but I got to the bushes and then the Rock Path was comparatively easy. That last says it all, really!

As I type now, almost 5 hours later, the wind hasn't shown a sign of letting up, so at least I made the right call. Not the sane call, which would have been to stay in bed - or at least limit myself to getting wet twitching The Artist's Cattle Egret [now that's a nice Garden Tick! ;) ] - but then birding has very little to do with sanity, now does it?
If you don't look, you don't see.

21 December, 2013

A Short Solstice Seawatch

A morning piece of business can be convenient or vexing, depending on the birding.

I wasn't expecting that much at Hope's Nose this morning, hoping yes, but not expecting. I'd time for two hours sitting in the rain sipping coffee and watching soggy gulls, so why not?

Well, it certainly did rain - divers! 25 of them, not at all bad for the limited time.

What am I saying? 'not at all bad'? Bladdy brilliant!! :D

The SWBCM was in operation, though the high tide and swell was cutting the slick up a bit, and about a hundred Kittiwakes were in attendence. About 90/hr were passing by further out, as well. Gannets were the chief movers, with more than 200/hr, while auks [majority Razorbills] at more than 150/hr, weren't far off. The female Eider is still hanging around; she showed up and mixed with the Kitts [chasing a couple off, too!] while a few Gannets were fishing right off the Nose, which in a brief moment of clear weather made for quite a sight!
A few Fulmars, a couple of Curlew, and a Bonxie also came by, but the best of the also-rans were right at the start and out in the murk; white secondaries blazing - 3 Velvet Scoter. :)

The Rockits were clearly bored - with no fishers or birders about [lightweights! ;) ] - I was the only interesting thing and they amused themselves by seeing how close they could sidle up to me before I tried to look at them.. The boldest one [which was definitely not a littoralis type, as they don't exist, do they?] was rewarded with bits of low-flying fruityoaty bar, which it seemed to quite enjoy. :)

Later on I had time for a quick look at the Real Living Coast, where a lone Purple Sand defied the crashing waves!

19 December, 2013

But It's Thursday..?!??


I managed to get myself up and out to Blackball this afternoon - fighting my way through the rain and great big 'orrible hailstones to get there, too - and after my li'l scope stopped misbehaving, I had a look at what was cowering in the lee of the cliffs. Ok, sitting happily on the sea beyond the muddy bit, at least.

Well, for a couple of rain-soaked minutes, anyway, as then I was distracted and and to take a couple of piccies!

The Bonaparte's Gull is located by the Leprechaun Bird News Service
[The service is outstanding, but the subscription's feckin' costly!]

So that's one rainbow for the rain and the other for the hail?


Right then, with it brightening up, I got some half decent counts. Roosting were; 1340 Herrings, 70 GBB, 8 GC Grebes [Mixed in with the gulls - explains why I've not found them last couple of tries], 2 RT Divers, a Razorbill, a BN Grebe, and a probable Slav Grebe. 310+ Kittiwake flew off as soon as the front cleared, and 8+ Gannets were fishing off Petitor - or at least trying to, as a Bonxie was giving them some, er, 'company'!

It also got markedly colder after the front went through, but I'll make no comments about the weather remembering what season it's supposed to be!

15 December, 2013

Another Busy Week

Mostly not busy with birding, though, and alas and alack for that. :(

Even when work was done for the week, I've had plenty of Stuff to be busy with.

Not to say I've seen nothing, though....

Yesterday I eventually got to the Nose for a seawatch, though this was very late on indeed! So late that I didn't bother going right down, but set up amongst The Mounds. I was not fully kitted out, as this was primarily a field test of a new setup; a lovely neighbour was having a clear out and found an old tripod, would I like it? The grey case had Velbon written on it, so I said Yes Please! It's an old one; no quick-release, even. It's also too short to use standing upright and much too dinky for the Big Scope, but the li'l scope fits on nicely and it is above all insanely light! I'd walked down with the case slung over my back; containing tripod, the li'l scope and a sit-upon! Very very portable :D
Down side is, of course, the lack of reach - the li'l scope only has 20x to play with - but it is very good in low light and I stayed on from 1600 until 1620, when it started to get rainy and the light really died!

Not that much was doing.. A little southerly passage; 35 Gannets, 2 Kitts, 2 Razorbills, 2 Fulmars, and 5 [all juv] LBBs. Still, it was nice to be watching, albeit briefly.

Today I was again preoccupied and didn't get to the Nose at all... Tut tut the shame...

I was able to get to Blackball for the evening roost - just about! - and this was worth the rain. Again I had the li'l scope on the li'l tripod and the stability and low light ability was most useful. Of course, I could put the 30x on the Big Scope, but that would mean lugging it down there [[Yes, lazy..]]. And all I'd be doing is mourning the lack of magnification - Big Scopes need Big Zooms. It's The Law.  ;)

Aaaanyway...  The gull roost built up out in the murk, so 800+ with at least 20 GBB is the best I could do. The Kittiwakes I had hoped for were present - spread out parallel to the shore, nice and close in - and with a steady scope it was an easy count; 308.  Never mind the Kitts, though, look what was near to them! Is that..? Shit! It is! Only an Arctic Skua! Sat on the sea just off one end of the band of Kitts. Ye Gods and Little Fishies, I've never seen a skua in a roost before!! Light morph, looked pretty adult-like, but hard to be sure when it's on the deck like that  :) Compared to the skua surprise, the group of divers weren't much more than an interesting diversion..

Also of note; not a single grebe of any flavour. On 16/12/12, there were 59. I blame the warm weather; after all, if you can roost on a nice lake/pond which is notably lacking in gulls and big waves, why wouldn't you?

Right then, no time for anything else; I'm busy trying to arrange for a whale carcass to be lashed down on to the Lead Stone...  ;D

09 December, 2013

Sunday's Post Is...

Short and with a surprise at the end!


I only got out in the afternoon, and then with the Folks for the Venford/White Wood loop. It was not quite as quiet as I'd expected, with a party of about 20 Redwing and at least 1 Mistle Thrush moving through the canopy at one point. They were utter bastards, staying three trees away from us and then looping around behind.. Other than them there were a few small tit bands, a showy Stonechat by Bench Tor, and a vocal Treeeecreeeper.

It being fairly late, we had a look at the reservoir to see if any Goosander had come in yet and lo and behold! Two females were already present, hanging about with a female Mallard and...what the frick is that?? A smallish dark duck with white secondary patches, a white vent, and a cocked tail?!? It stayed resolutely arse-on as we moved around the shore, but eventually we got a clear view and a side-on duck. A juvenile Goldeneye!! I've never seen a Goldeneye sitting around with its tail stuck up like a Surfer, and the lack of a golden eye [which would have caused an instant recognition, of course] wasn't expected, either. Juveniles aren't that common around here. Ok, most Goldeneye are seen at range on the Exe or at Slapton, but I'm pretty sure the 'females' always had the eponymous feature..

Anyway, it stuck with the Goosander and one wing flap aside, didn't do a lot. More impressive was the drake Goosander, which announced its arrival with an almighty splash! Normally Goosander seem to arrive almost by magic - take your eyes off for a second and there another one is! - but not this fellow. I suppose he wanted to make sure we admired him :)

We didn't get any more arrivals before we left [LBDs get bored quickly, and Parents are allergic to hanging around in the cold while it gets dark without even a nice flask ;) ].

And finally...
Today I started a new list. It won't get proper attention for a while, but this is definitely the right and proper start date. As of now it numbers a mighty 10, and the First Bird [do you remember the first birds on your lists? I don't for any of the others, which I regret a little, so I think it's worthwhile recording mine :) ] was Goldfinch. Which beat Herring Gull by about 2 seconds! :D

08 December, 2013


I was rather shocked to learn that today's visit to Dawlish Warren was my first since the Great Day of The Rosey Terns and only the second this year... What has been going on??!!??

Also shocked was that dratted White-fronted Goose, who didn't expect me to pop up on the Dune Ridge and nail it while it was stuffing its face on the golf course fairway!

All it could do was waddle away muttering "No comment";

Lovely view of the tertials, there.

Not wanting to waste any more time on that git, I pressed on and spent a merry while in the hide as the tide went down. There were Dunlin,

Lots of Dunlin. Quite close, sometimes..

As I have said many times before, I'm quite fond of them. There were other waders, too. A flock of about 130 Grey Plover were quite a sight as they flew about, a feeding group of BHGs in the estuary were accompanied by a 2w Med Gull, oh and this little bugger - dainty but feisty!

Bonaparte's Gull*

Ok, enough piccies.

I spent far too much time watching the Dunlin doing Dunlinny things, but in the moments my attention was elsewhere I noticed a few of the other waders and wildfowl, too. Of note - when LC pointed it out to me, anyway so I could check the reading with the Big Scope** - was a nice male Shelduck with a yellow darvic 'SL'; one of the Axe birds!

The DW blog has bigger totals [though I did find all of the Ringed Plover, which was heartening], though they did miss the 15 Barwits, 9 Teal, and a Water Pipit, which was messing about the spartina in front of the hide! To be fair, I would have missed it as well, were it not for having a close look at a 1w Skylark. It was eating a big insect when I first noticed it, making the bill look huge.. Through the big scope it was just a Skylark, but then this Water Pipit wanders right through my field of view! It was a really good one, too. None of this Rockit-a-like nonsense. :)

When the Slav showed up to fish around the wreck, I knew it was time to move, so over to John's Watch I toddled. From there, and then by the Wood and finally by the lifeguard's hut, I counted a whole heap of scoters! Final score was 176 Common Scoter! Plus 2 Velvets. Not bad...

It was getting on by this time, and I only found 9 GC Grebes and 2 RT Divers [a nearly full w/pl adult and a juvenile] among the Shags and Cormorants, with at least 8 Gannets fishing and a small party of Kittiwakes heading by south. Also heading south was a lovely pod of Bottlenose Dolphins; I reckon there were 13, with at least 2 small calves, coming up in two close but distinct groups.

In the Garden, a Robin has started taking the sunflower hearts  - for use as offensive weapons?!? Also, a good sized flock of Starlings showed up in the early afternoon - at least 700 of them! - and lurked in the trees near the Garden for a while. As it started to get dusky, I made my first check on Blackball of the winter; nada. Oh well... 

[[*Now, the next time any of you with blogs put up a 'dodgy record shot' that doesn't look this bad, relabel it!! ;) ]]

[[** I would have noticed it eventually, honest. I did see three CR'd Oyks - which he already knew about.***]]
[[***LC has set himself a mission to read 100 rings - that's optically, not in the hand - this year. This is different birds, btw, so not at all easy! Now this is seriously impressive birding and even more respect is due {which is saying something}]]

02 December, 2013

You Beauty!

Sunday saw me doing the TouchUp Shuffle in public for the second time in as many days. :)

Fortunately, there were again no witnesses to this sanity-blasting horror other than the bird in question [and a disbelieving Stonechat]. Where was I and what was I looking at to provoke such joy?

The Nose, of course, and what I'd seen, which then [after making me wait a good 15 minutes] proceeded to come right in and give the closest views I've ever had of this species in the wild, was this gorgeous lady;


What a cracker! Adult female Eider - the first I've seen all year, in fact - and right off the Sole. At first she was diving in the lee of the Lead Stone - right in the surf - but then she swam over and posed wonderfully... :D

Crappy mobile pics really don't do her justice.

Also in the sea was this;

No, not Nessie; it's a Grey Seal.

A half dozen Common Gulls were a little unusual, a Razorbill and a few Guilles were still about, a lone Kitt flew south.. Yeah, pretty quiet. On land, a few Stonechats seemed to be it, until as I was leaving a flock of 112 [they spread out to pose] Woodpigs made me pause long enough to pick up on the male and female Blackcap [that should be Herr and Frau] working through the Top Dell. :)

On I went to Cockington, far corner of the Patch, to follow up on the reported YBW in Scadson's Woods*. After taking a circuitous route about the fields in the vain hope of winter thrushes, I eventually found it skulking right at the bottom [that's east, btw] end. It called a lot but without the sunshine it wasn't feeling showy. Oh well. The trees are utterly spectacular right now, with this not coming close to conveying the wonder;

In the afternoon, I went for a wander about the Bovey with the Folks. We had a lone flypast Crossbill as the only birdy excitement, but again the trees were quite something. One Beech, flanked by Hollies, looked as though each leaf was lit with golden neon.. I couldn't photo it, the result would have been a travesty that would mar the memory. It's on the path up to Hisley, go in the afternoon when the light's behind it.

There was also the promise of the new year to come, with catkins formed and ready to go;

All silhouetted and artsy.. Oh dear.

Finally.. As you may have guessed from the time of this posting, I am once again a Creature of the Night - a surprise early pressie from my lovely bosses - so maybe, if I can get away with it, Friday might see more fun! :D

[[*No, not even a year tick and yes, The Artist's one at Clennon would be easier to get to and see, with Sibe Chiffs too, but there's off-Patch and on-Patch, isn't there? ;) ]]