02 January, 2014

Aaaand They're Off!

After a false start anyway...


A New Year begins, all your yearlists are zeroed, what's a birder to do when it's forecast to piss across in a howling SE?

I went to Berry Head. I got there not quite at dawn and was shocked, yes shocked, to find absolutely no one there whatsoever! Not just no seawatchers, but nobody on site.. Scandalous, I tell you!

The weather was indeed as evil as forecast [for once], and I was glad not to have tried the Nose - where I'd have spent the morning hunkered down under my bumbleshoot being bombarded with sewerage.. - as it was pretty rough at the Head. I had to move back three times as evil spinning blasts of air tried to relieve me of my brolly. One good one sent my brolly right as it blew my scope over left and me backwards.. I made a wonderful Banksesque save, fortunately.

The weather was also too much for the birds, with almost nothing passing - though quite a bit was trying - and only one bird of note; but it was a Little Auk! :D  Came screaming past at 0959, it did.

After three hours I gave up and decided to move to Shoalstone. I've not watched from there before and I have to say what a wimpy fairweather excuse for a seawatching spot it is! There's a shelter with a roof, it's right next to the car park, and there's loos! And you can see out into the Bay enough to get passage. Sitting down in dry shelter was almost as good as the sight before me; female Eider, check. Female Long-tailed Duck, check. GND, check. Score.

The ladies were less than impressed with being so casually yearticked and promptly buggered off in opposite directions. Five minutes after that, the first birders of the year arrived. We swapped bad news, as they'd already dipped the Brunnich's and there was no sign of the WBD [ouch..]. They went back towards the Breakwater - as I'd seen the LTD fly that way - and I followed not long after.

The LTD was indeed asleep in Breakwater Cove and Brixham Harbour was full of divers, but only GNDs and BTDs. There was a monstrous GND with a huge bill knocking around, but it was just that. Of the White-bill, not a sign could I or any of the other hardy [and soggy] souls find. A Red-necked Grebe did show cripplingly well right by the mouth of the Inner Harbour - with an adult and 1w BTD in close proximity at one point - and not one but two Black Guilles also eventually showed very nicely, but no White-bill and no white winger, either, as the Iceland Gull wasn't seen.

There was much speculation about New Year's fireworks being responsible, and perhaps this is true, but it is also to be noted that birds can be right bastards. The delay in my posting this allows me to see the truth in this, as apparently the White-billed has been tarting around all day... Git.

It's not like I'm actually planning a Devon yearlist. I genuinely wanted to see more of it; it's an insanely wonderful bird, in my top ten most desirable birds that may be seen here, and just.. well, just look at it! The chance to have a look without a special trip was too good to miss. Oh well..

But getting back to it; after much searching and with dusk approaching, it was agreed that the bird was definitely not there, so those present split up; I had a plan, though. Yup, I went back onto Patch and checked the roost at Blackball! Would I find a monstrous ivory sabre-toting wonder?


2 GNDs, 17 GC Grebes, a few Razorbills and a Guille, 630+ Kitts, and 1600+ large gulls. Drat.

Coming up; the infamous Top Ten of 2013!

Run while you can....

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