30 April, 2014

There's Change a' Comin'

First up... No Swifts yet.    :(
I had hopes for yesterday, but nope, no sign. The House Martins I saw a little while back were just passing through, as there's no sign of them back either. The assorted residents are all busy nesting away, though, so 'tis not all doom and gloom and gripping Pratshots..   :(


A public service announcement;

Due to imminent technical issues, Backward Birding is going on hiatus for an unknown duration.

I hope it will be days, but it may be longer.

Anyways, expect me when you see me, folks.   :)

26 April, 2014

Still Busy Busy..

Bladdy sodding Pratincoles...

Nope. Not been, can't go..   :(

But moping aside, here's what little I've been up to;

Well, work mostly! But in the two other days, I've managed to get down to the Nose for two brief but productive visits, so it's not all doom gloom and ever-growing gap since last Lifer..

I said I'd stop moping, didn't I?

Right, Monday saw much busyness, but a quick foray most of the way down the Nose with the Folks - their first time there in years! - to see the [sadly now mostly hidden] Primroses and Violets also got the first two singing Whitethroats of the year and a flock of 7 Whimbrel, who were flushed by civilians and flew off south. At least 15 Swallows came in/off while we were there, too.

Along IMD, both Green-veined White and Orange Tip were on the wing - the former a surprise Patch Tick [I could have sworn I've seen them here before, but records say no].

A male Sprawk and a Grey Heron - flying over within seconds of each other - were very nice at work on Friday morning.

Today I again had lots to do, but snuck off to the Nose anyway! I only was able to spare the sea half an hour, and unluckily caught the sunshine.. But I still managed my first Manxie of the year, plus 4 Sarnies, 5 Kitts [both in single flocks], and reasonable numbers of Gannets, Guillemots, and Fulmars. Razorbills - several still in w/pl - were moving in lower numbers [though with the Ore - and indeed Berry Head - colonies in the vicinity, numbers will be distorted]. Also at sea a grey dolphin spp. - presumably Bottlenose - heading north and seemingly being followed by at least 4 Harbour Porpoise [??]

Onshore things were even better, with a singing Garden Warbler in the Second Slope main bushes and now at least 5 Whitethroat territories occupied. The best was saved for my slog back up.. Firstly an extremely confiding Whitethroat, which kept singing as I passed within 6' of him, and then flirting around the Rock Path near the Bench Gap, was a female Redstart! :D


And finally...

[Unless the sodding maltese have shot them all.]

Free Chris Pac- oh, they've let him go.

20 April, 2014

A Post Actually Involving Birding

Just for a change...

EDIT: This Post May Contain Nuts and Does Contain Rants. Reader beware..

So, with the long Easter weekend I had a chance to misbehave and do some proper birding - with the Big Scope and everything - for the first time in what felt like months. It felt like months because it was months!

Early let-out meant I was abroad on Thursday - oh, the shock - and as I just happened to have business up Topsham way, it would have been wrong, if not downright rude, not to drop into Bowling Green for the tide. :D

An interesting mix of summer and winter was on offer - including the odd duet of Wigeon and Reed Warbler! - though the star birds were feeling shy and hid out of sight for most of the time I was there. I speak of the insanely pretty s/pl Spotshanks. Fortunately, one did have a brief fly into view. Unfortunately, it saw me go for my phone and promptly scarpered back onto the hidden shore again... Better behaved were the 24 Greenshank who just stayed put at the back.

Speaking of staying at the back.. I had my first look at Goosemoor.

Oh dear.

I don't know who designed that, but they need dipping in warm marmalade. What we've been given is a nice wide racetrack, with a railway line on one side and a big fence on the other. Most of it is raised wooden boardwalk, with grip rumble strips, to maximise the noise of movement, especially the wheeled kind. At regular intervals there are nice big viewing slots, thoughtfully provided with no backing so every passer-by, never mind every watcher, is silhouetted. The new bridge over the Clyst is a wonder of design, with wooden slats on the upstream side carefully spaced so that while again everything on the bridge is silhouetted to the birds, no-one can see clearly out, and it will give absolutely no shelter whichever way the wind blows! The downstream view is a lovely unobstructed one of the railway bridge.

On the plus side, watchers at Bowling Green will no longer need to curse as birds fly past to roost at Goosemoor - they'll soon be back.

Marks out of ten? A very generous 1.

Right then, now that that's been vented...

I had lunch at Exminster; my psychic powers failed utterly and I went inland to look for LRPs and so missed the Garganey. I did get to watch Lapwings beating up Crows, which is always amusing, though, and there were hordes of butterflies on the wing. Mostly Green-veined Whites, Peacocks, and these;

Orange Tip
[Yes, it was very sunny]

Moving on, after failing to find an Osprey at Powderham, I ended up at the Warren, where I spent a merry hour playing peekaboo with the Scoter flock. There was a nasty bit of chop, a blustery wind, heat haze - despite the now overcast skies - and of course diving ducks doing what they do to make things interesting. What made things bladdy hard was the gang of immature gulls who continually harassed the poor Scoter, despite never even getting close to them. The highest count I had was 144, so 140+ Common plus the additionals.

Elsewhere I couldn't find the female LTD who's been hanging around, though one GC Grebe was on the sea and an RTD flew past south. 9 Sarnies were on a bar offshore and a pale-bellied Brent was off the Bight.

Aside from the first House Martins of the year on Patch, there's nowt to report from Friday, aside from me swearing at my computer late on!

Saturday saw me back at Dawlish Warren bright [well, sort of] and early. Naturally the stunning male Kentish had done a Friday Night Special - [MANY NAUGHTY WORDS REMOVED] - but the morning wasn't a total loss, as eventually the female Snow Bunting showed brilliantly for a small but appreciative crowd of Kentish dippers;

How close?

This close!

With apologies for the windshake - she was on a log on the seaward side of Warren Point and it was blowing a bonefreezing hoolie out there!

Yes, an odd day, with very hot sunshine but a wintery blast of a nor'easterly.. Toasty in sunny shelter but finger-achingly cold in the shoreline blast.

Getting back to the birds, at least 3 Wheatears were in the vicinity of the SnowBunt, and while we were looking at it, IL managed to pick up a Swift heading past inland! One Swallow may not a summer make, but one Swift certainly does! :)  Offshore at least 9 Gannets - the first group I've seen for a while - were fishing well out and the female LTD popped up, close in and looking very fancy.

I spent far too much time looking for and at the small wader flocks, getting - when they actually coalesced - 110 Dunlin with 2 Sanderling, plus 13 Ringed Plover who went their own way after high tide. Bigger stuff had less focussed counts, though sheer attention on the Bight eventually got me 5 Brent Geese; 2 pale and three dark. My 394 Oyks pre-dated the high tide so is an undercount - also notably did not include a single CR bird?!? - as may be my 2 Whimbrel, 2 Barwit, and 6 Grey Plover. I could only catch 5 Sarnies in view at one time, but that too is probably an undercount.

Along the Dune Ridge was my first Small Copper of the year - it didn't want to be photographed - but I failed to find the reeling Gropper that had been reported.

One last bright spot amongst angst was being treated to my first Whitethroat; merrily singing away in a big Teignmouth bush while I crawled past in a very long clog of grockles...

The afternoon was mostly taken up with busy business, though it too ended well, with a very grey Willow Warbler out the back; cleaning the philistines' half-Birch* of aphids. I watched it for several joy-filled minutes before it moved on to the cover of a nearby Elder.


Today I have been busy. Also it has rained. The best bird I saw was a Great Tit.


[[*The philistines are neighbours who concreted every green thing in their new garden except for a Silver Birch. Which they cut in half. Literally. {Mr. philistine used a chainsaw held at just over head height.} He has put in a big raised pond full of Koi, though, so that's all ok.]]

19 April, 2014

The Sudden Yet Inevitable Dip

I really really really really dislike Kentish Plovers.

On the other hand, Snow Buntings rock.

More will be forthcoming at some point in the near future, wherein I will vent my frustrations upon you by assailing your eyes with more terrible travesties include photos.

bastard bastard bastard bastard bastard bastard bastard bastard bastard birds.......

14 April, 2014

Quietly Ticking Over

[Insert Weekend's Report Here]

Friday: Early visit to Hope's Nose gives 3 Willow Warblers - one singing low on the North Side - 13+ Chiffs, 2+ Blackcaps, and a Swallow. 200+ Guillemots very noisy on the Ore Stone, 3 Fulmars around the cliffs, a Grey Seal in the sea, and three Mallards and 5 Oyks around the exposed weed.

Saturday; Late visit to Hope's Nose sees 25+ Swallows in/off, including a timed count of 11 in 15 minutes. Only one Guillemot visible on the Ore Stone and only one Fulmar in sight. Wheatear in the Quarry until flushed by anglers, 3 pairs of Blackcaps, and 8+ mobile Chiffchaffs plus a bird with nesting material.

Sunday; Afternoon up onto t'Moor with the Folks and LBD [sporting newly-healed paw - the dog, not the parents!]. Many Mipits and Skylarks on the tops, but main interest bird-wise along the woody fringe. Here a singing Redstart in the morning was overshadowed by a large party of migrating pipits in the late afternoon; 22+ Mipits were accompanied by at least 2 Tripits. One of the latter posed with 4 of the former in a Hawthorn downlight at a nice binocular range for us :D  Mum also saw her first two Swallows of the Summer, which delighted her, and Tilbury found some water to jump in, which delighted her.

[This is the same LBD who won't venture into the garden if the ground's even damp..]

Several Small Tortoiseshell were on the wing on the tops, with an unidentified brown spp. low down. En route three Brimstones - 2m and a f

Anything else?
Oh yeah;

Two weeks and counting.......

08 April, 2014

No News Is..Well, Not Really Good News, Now Is It?

Despite being busy with assorted Stuff and commitments, I managed to get back to the Nose again last weekend. Unsurprisingly, no sign of any singing stripy-headed things - you may have guessed this by the way the previous post remains unedited - though the weather hasn't been exactly ideal for them.

I did steal a quick half hour to look at the sea on Sunday morning - even taking the li'l scope and dinky tripod along - but really I was wasting my time. I saw three Kittiwakes [a 1w being the Best Bird...], 6 Fulmars, 19 Guilles, and 3 Razorbills pass. There were at least 164 Guilles on the Ore Stone, but the [near ideal*] conditions and lack of Big Scope meant this was an undercount. A half dozen calling and moving Chiffchaffs in the bushes were the only migrants, and not even a GND - let alone the Tystie - visible on the sea.

Oh well, as The Boss says; it doesn't matter how good the weather is if the birds aren't there.

As it happens, there were a few good birds about [MB and GBSD were on site], but I managed to miss them. Drat.

Right then, expect my next update when you see it, I'm afraid..

[[*SSW blowing sideways drizzle and gunk, Ore Stone coming in and out of the muck, but bright ambient light picking out the birds nicely. If it does this in 'proper' seawatching season, I'll be quids in, oh yes..]]

04 April, 2014

Rumours Of My Return May Have Been Overstated

Today, well yesterday now, was the first birding I've done since last I posted. Other than quick looks out of assorted windows, that is. One such look got me a lovely Willow Warbler last week, so not entirely fruitless.. :)

Anyways, getting off another merry week's nights, I resolved to hit the Nose no matter what. This turned out to be a pretty good idea, as it happens.

[[Or at least, so I thought - bloody cuckoos.... ::Mutter mutter:: ]]

There were some actual migrants, with Chiffs hitting double figures and small parties of Woodpigs coming in/off all morning.. As was my first Swallow of the year! :D

There were also these two, mobile around the bushes where the Second Slope and South Side meet the Upper Meadow;


Demonstrating the name

Horribly lit random passerine, singing in a scorched gorse bush

And then together!

The Stripy-headed Lads' Club

I'm tempted to say "name those birds", but really, one's very easy and one's probably impossible. They both cleared off disappointingly quickly - having places to go and ladies to find [the horde of assorted territorial Dunnocks and Robins probably didn't help, either].

The 1w GND with the thigh patches was in Hope Cove and came right in close. As did 5 Razorbills - two sets of full s/pl duos and a lone full w/pl.

Further out - in the Ore Stone Channel before flying over to Thatcher Rock - was this;

Pics courtesy of a borrowed ATX!

Nice wingflap shot

This 2cy was pretty much in 1s plumage and while range and light mean I can't be certain, I suspect this was not my first sighting of this one.. ;)

After those beauties, I had a fair spring in my step, only slightly dented by finding out that the Inner Harbour Gull Loafing Station seems to be gone for good. They're putting in a marina. Joy...

Right then. I have re-arranged business tomorrow, so no filthy twitching for me :(  With Sunday taken too, it looks like it'll be another 16-odd years before I get that lovely bird in Devon.