24 March, 2014

With A Touch More Verbosity

A little more burbling this time than last, I think.

So, Saturday;
A week after encountering Bailey Senior on't Moor, I met Bailey Junior at the Nose. We were both sneaking quick bits of birding in before Doing Things and we both had some success. I found the first Wheatear of the day, but then Mark went and got two more. It was a sunny windy day, but a couple of GNDs were visible on the sea, and further out a nice RTD flew south. Lacking heavy artillery, the best count I could get of Ore Stone Guilles was '220+', when the sun dipped behind a cloud and the light was at its best.

A notable lack of non-Wheatear migrants [though the wind didn't help] was only enlivened a little by my first 'lurking thing' of the year. A proper OTGA, the calls it gave were nothing I recognised - vaguely sylvia-esque - and it showed not even a hint of itself before scarpering in the face of territorial Dunnocks! I suspect a very common species* being odd - it didn't give me that edge you feel when something really different shows up - but we'll never know..

The Chiff had decided to be coy whenever I was near, but right up at the top, a lovely male Bullfinch sang and actually posed. At least until my hand went into my pocket for my phone...

Sunday afternoon I went for a wander with the Folks for the first time in aaages. Naturally we went to Yarner. Despite the brisk wind, it was very nice, though no Mandarin on display on the pond was a little disappointing. We heard lots of GSWs and Nuthatches and saw quite a few of them, too, which was good. I say 'we', but Dad managed to miss every single woodie... Ouch. He was wrangling the Little Black Whisthound, though; so both frequently yanked/spun/tangled and out in front, where it is hard to see people pointing to that tree.

After a good long wander, we got back to the car park to find a 1w Siskin on the feeders, which did show for everyone. :)

[[*Personal chief suspect is Blue Tit; Great Tits are infamously varied in their calls, but I suspect Blues are almost as bad, just sneakier about it...]]

21 March, 2014

Minimalist Posting

Wednesday. Took a break from the Works to clamber up the Dart a way. Dippers, slip scars, and trees embedded in islands. The sun shone and there were Brimstones and Peacocks on the wing. Also these;

Grey Wagtail - who comes up with the names?

I went further and harder than I intended, but that's birding for you. Rather than go back down, I went up first. View was a bit hazy, but there were Stonechats.

Today I stopped by Clennon for lunch. A House Martin flew over but there were no Kingfishers. There were psychotic Mute Swans and a lone Snipe having a preen.

19 March, 2014

From Winter To Spring

Back for now, at least, though maybe not at full burble yet..

I've been and remain very distracted from the right and proper order of things - namely birding every moment I'm not actually indoors and away from a handy window - but on Saturday I took a day off from my concerns to get out and have some fun;

We're Going On A Shrike Hunt

[Don't worry, I won't start singing my version of the bear hunt song..]

Great Grey Shrikes are wonderful birds and well worth a looksee. Especially when they hang around my favourite bit of t'Moor when it comes to birding.

I took my usual route up - passing Challacombe - but aside from a couple of Fieldfares and an interesting Buzzard all I met were monstrous potholes. Seriously, the road north and south of Grimspound is bloody dangerous; if you're heading north, the first pair [one on each side of the road, east one's deeper] are hidden by a crest and if you're doing any speed, unless you're very lucky and in a small car you're likely to lose a wheel...

A more pleasant surprise followed; as I was tooling up at the Warren House, who should burn up in his big flash beemer but Bailey Senior. So, we wandered down together and soon had the bird, messing about in the trees and bushes on the west slope of the valley. The wind was blowing a bit, so even when it was sitting still it really wasn't - thus you are spared the horror of my phonecam [and the threat of my actual camera, which was along for the ride]. It caught a lizard and zipped upslope a ways for a while but came back down again. The usual superlatives apply; wonderful cracking superb WOW and so on..

Showing impeccable timing, The Artist duly appeared. He was out for a moorland stroll with his family and there just happened to be a shrike in the area, what a happy co-incidence. [It's a beautiful thing when you can pull that off :) ]. After admiring the bird for a while, we parted ways. I decided to circle round through Sousson's to see if I could get position for the shrike to come close without getting flushed by the next walker heading along the track. This took a little longer than expected as there were Siskin in Sousson's and they were displaying like nobody's business. Siskin are great. Getting up to the ridgetop, I found the FC have been busy, hacking even more trees down, and eroding what was a nice heathery track into this;

Hard to tell from this, but those ruts are a metre deep in places..

With natural consequences downslope;

Mudflow - resembled pahoehoe!

Once I'd navigated the new hazards, I carefully worked downslope besides the perimeter wall, only to find no shrike.. The trouble with birds is that they do tend to fly. I stuck it out for an hour or so, but still no sign. Drat.

Ok, time for plan b. I've not had a good yomp for a while, either, so I wandered over to Staddon Tor. I met a few Skylarks - some singing, some moving through - and a flock of 14 Golden Plover. It was nice to stretch the legs.

Earlier on Saturday, first thing, in fact, I'd been down at the Nose..

The first singing Chiffchaff of the year was the highlight. A Blackcap was also making song, as was a Song Thrush and two Rockits. A few migrant pipits were hanging about Sandy Point and 4 GNDs were on the sea. One of them was a 1w with some sort of moult/feather thing that gave it a thigh patch! No, it was definitely NOT a BTD; huge dagger bill and a frickin half collar! But to anyone seeing it at any range, especially if it was partly facing away, it'd look very tricksy indeed.. [Bladdy birds] Out on the Ore Stone, I counted a minimum of 280 Guillemots, so they've not all been wiped out, thank goodness.

Today's Nose was a cooler and much windier place, but this time there were Wheatears! Two males lurking at the end of the grass, then moving into the quarry. Ta-da!

It's a Wheatear!

"Oh shit, he's got a camera!"

Wheatear number one being markedly paler underneath than number two, can you tell which one is lurking in the quarry?

Spot the Wheatear.

Wheatears aside, there was a continuous, if light, passage of Mipits going north with the odd small group of finches also moving. I only counted 51 Guilles on the Ore Stone, but it was the middle of the day, so they would have been out foraging. 3 GNDs and a moulting Razorbill on the sea, the Chiff and Blackcap still singing where they were at the weekend.

Ok, that's it for now. Expect me when you see me..

18 March, 2014

YES! YES! It's Spring At Last!

Two utterly gorgeous male Wheatears at Hope's Nose this morning.


I have been [and remain] very busy with the Dreaded Stuff, but having been busy all yesterday* I snuck off this morning and scored! I am a happy chappy.

I still have Things to Do today, so there's just this quick crow for now. More [and maybe even dreadful dots pictures] will be along later.

Yes, that's right, I think I'm back.

[Oh, stop gibbering... ;) ]

[[*Yesterday being the 17th of March, aka National Wheatear Day]]

14 March, 2014

Two Weeks In Two Sentences

Not counting the intro where I say that while I may have cracked by posting something, the sabbatical ain't over yet..

Right; it may be all sunny and so on, and the birds may be singing their little bills off, but I haven't seen a Wheatear, so it's still not Spring. The birds of interest have been; a Sprawk at work, a lovely flock of Common Scoter past the Nose [beautifully lit], a singing Blackcap, and a very surprising Water Pipit right after the weather broke.