26 July, 2014

Another Post - What Madness Is This?

Today wasn't going to be very birdy and certainly not posty at all, but I'm all happy so here I be, sharing the joy.  :D

Too much heat again, especially when the sun got properly going in the afternoon, so I didn't wander out until the evening. I've been toddling over to the Nose fairly frequently, hoping for passing parties of shearwaters or terns - warm summer evenings can give some lovely views - though as yet I've had no luck.

Today was no different in that regard, but there was some passage - dolphins!! A pod of 21 Bottlenose came north, and with the dead calm they were very easy to watch. A passing catamaran noticed them too and heeled 'round to follow them. The dolphins were clearly unfussed by this - despite having a calf with them - as they slowed down and messed about by the yacht for a bit, to the evident delight of the passengers. I stayed watching them until the light faded and they were pretty much out of sight.

Before the dolphins showed up, I saw - finally - my first juv Yellow-legged Gull of the year. This was a real monster, total classic, which was nice. There was a second bird, which could have been a YLG too, but it remained resolutely sat on the Lead Stone without so much as a stretch, and as I didn't have the Big Scope with me, stayed a 'possible'.

Then, not far from home, I saw my first Brown Rat of the year! Not a 5kg one, fortunately, but it was a pretty cool customer, sitting up to look at me as I passed by;
"Evening, Ratty"

Finally.. I am pleased to report that my feeders have been found, with something having had a peck at the buggy nibbles. No spilt sunflower seeds, but of course they're likely to be carried off. I've yet to catch anything in the act. I suspect the LTTs, though...

[[*Translated: "Don't call me 'ratty', you semi-evolved monkey"]]

25 July, 2014

Too Blot To Hog [Now With More Pictures]

Something like that, anyway...

If you could insert a paragraph-long moan about the heat and humidity here, I'd be grateful. I'd do it myself but...

Right then.
Last Sunday.. back back in the mists of time, when it was - well, just as horrible as it is now.

There was some heavy rain, and after that I went a hunting White Ones. I took the paparazzi setup and went to a publicised location for White-letter Hairstreak and White Admiral. After much malarky, the latter were far more obliging - ie. I actually got to hit the shutter a couple of times. Whether anything comes out is a matter for debate if not philosophy. Or possibly quantum physics - Schroedinger's Film may or may not have an in focus butterfly, and it may or may not come out, it may or may not be cut off and thrown in the bin by the developer - a chap called Heisinger, I think it was - whatever, it's all very uncertain.

EDIT: Right then, the butterflies definitely were on the winning side, but here you go;

White Admiral

Silver-washed Fritillary

Eventually I gave up and just watched the Admirals fly. Seriously, this is something you should do, the way they move is unlike other butterflies and well worth the search. Think Swallows; White Admirals move like they are liquid, the make the other butterflies look like cutouts on strings..

It being a warm sunny day, I stayed out and toddled over to Yarner - wandering in after the car park had been locked, so I had the place to myself. Well, me and all the deer. Also this little family;

Mandarin and quackling

Apologies for the utter lack of focus - she was very wary and they didn't stay still.

Arriving at work on Wednesday, a Hobby came zipping through - it scared the shit out of a flock of Goldfinches but didn't so much as look askance at them.

Today I went up to the Exe Canal to look primarily for Small Red-eyed Damselflies and Banded Demoiselles. I am pleased to say I found both and lots more stuff besides. Again, much Uncertainty may or may not exist as to the nature of any pretty pictures taken the old fashioned way. My attempts at phonebinning met with abject failure, except for this;

Black-tailed Skimmer

Yes, that was the good one...

This is not because the Small Red-eyes were at great distance or bobbing about in the wind, it's just picking them out was... Difficult. See?

There is an ovipositing pair of SREDs in this shot 
Can you see them?
How about the 5 or 6 LREDs?
Or the 3 or 4 Azures?
Or the Blue-taileds?

EDIT: Ok, now with the aid of some optics and a lot of patience...

Small Red-eyed Damselfly
Horribly out of focus, but the 'tail pattern' just about visible

It was punishingly hot, but that's all the better for the little insects - they all zipped about like nobody's business.

Of interest, I discovered upon arriving at the Old Sludge Beds that according to signs dated from March, the reserve was 'closed due to tidal flooding'. Curious, yesno? There were no barriers, just small signs. Naturally I went and had a look*, and discovered that flooding is indeed still present, and that while you can get to most of the reserve, you have to go in and back from each entrance - unless you have waders and are very brave [those tanks are likely to be quite deep, and the sludge in question is what's being treated next door, after all..].
This is not for much anyway, as the reeds are now so high you can't see the pools [if they're still there, even] aside from the one by the main entrance, which is now a suspicious brown. On the plus side, there were Bandies and they almost posed beautifully..

EDIT:  See?

Male Banded Demoiselle

Female Banded Demoiselle

Male again

I shall end with one more 'awww...' shot. Yet more adorable ickle baby quacklings;

[[*I'm not unquestioningly taking the word of the sign-writers who label a Sedge Warbler as a Reed on the Main Entrance Sign and either don't notice or don't care.]]

18 July, 2014

Pretty Pictures

You may recall that I made mention of a film that I had developed recently; wherein should have been a wonderful shot of a Downy Emerald in flight but due to incompetence laziness the malice of fate that Irish Guy circumstances there wasn't. Anyways, of what I got back, some was vaguely discernible, so here we go.

 Small Red-eyed Damselfly
The Borrow Pit

Southern Hawker

Green Hairstreak
East Budleigh Common

Silver-studded Blue
East Budleigh Common

Downy Emerald
[No, really]

Male Small Red Damselfly

Ok, all over. You can open your eyes now.

This morning, I got in from work and went straight out down to the Nose. The weather looked interesting on the forecast and it looked downright Big Shears there, I can tell you.

No big shears were forthcoming, but a few smaller ones went by, as did 7 Med Gulls - 2 adults and 5 juvs! - 50 Common Scoter in 3 flocks, groups of Whimbrel and Curlew, a lone Swallow, a few Gannets and Kitts plus the odd Fulmar.. 

What really got me going was something which didn't pass by;

Small Skipper
On My Patch!

The Skipper is something I've been looking for - at the Nose especially - for years. Today, there he was. It may not be a co-incidence that I'd just run into The Boss - I swear he draws great stuff to him like a magnet..  ;)

15 July, 2014

Hunter and Hunted

Belated posting again. It really won't do. Nor will the repeated first paragraph nonsense.

Hokay, last Fryday afternoon I went hunting pretty little insects with the paparazzi setup.

Started at Yarner, after big woody butterflies. This did not go according to plan, as I only saw one White Admiral, and that doing the usual thing up in the canopy, way out of reach and far too brief. Still, always a joy to see even one.
Silver-washed Fritillaries were much more visible, though even more active. This is what staking out a good nectaring site is for, and I know a nice one there. So, here come pics?

Alas no, as while the SWF were abundant, the fucking Horseflies were even more so. Have you even been attacked by five Cleggs at the same time? Its not fun. There ensued a frenzied engagement; largely thanks to well-placed repellent and spinning like a phalarope, I took no bites and then in as many seconds I killed one, stunned another, then ran like fuck made a tactical withdrawal..

Eventually finding a relatively safe spot* to have some very overdue lunch I was treated to a few flypasts. Only one put down in sight;

Male Golden-ringed Dragonfly, with lunch.

I choose to believe that is a Horsefly he's munching.

Giving up on butterflies, I relocated to Stover, where there were no Horseflies [where I went, anyway] but some nice dragonflies. I took some pics. They may even come out. They MAY even get developed. [That last due to having my wonderful 'Gotcha!' shot of Downy Emerald cut off and not even developed, while two loading shots of nothing were returned to me. The fucking shits.]

Getting back to getting out, we cut to Sunday [Saturday being spent mostly in the kitchen - I cooked for the Folks. Including pudding. They were impressed, or at least, unpoisoned. It's a win either way]

So, early afternoon and I'm, well thinking about blogging, when I see that that Hooded Crow is 'showing well' on Fraggle Rock. Oh what the hell.

Admiralty Quarry is one of the few still working, and so with blazing sunshine and a brisk wind, we're talking the full glare/scope shake/dust package. Add in a whole heap [ho ho] of hiding spots and a good 400 other corvids to run interference and things looked less rosy. Especially as it wasn't in sight on first full scan of the loafing crows...

A couple of scans later - I'd driven two hours to get there and wasn't leaving before dark - as if by magic;

Hmm, what's that one?


Good enough views.

I then went for a wander about the Isle, picking up another lifer in the form of Lulworth Skipper - though not another pic as the one I was able to stalk noticed a Meadow Brown and chased it off into the distance...

Success, though, and that all too rare this year.

[[*Horseflies need damp ground for their larvae - so dry ground with plenty of big hungry ants is the best place to not find them. Of course, you then have to deal with the ants, but I know which I prefer to share my lunch with!]]

10 July, 2014

Another Bits And Pieces Post, I'm Afraid

And there are more delays on the line, due to all manner of things; mostly involving a lack of hours in the day and a surfeit of apathy in your blogger. Sorry about that.

Anyways, I've not done a huge amount of proper birding, with only a few evening visits to the Nose - main highlights evensong for assorted warblers - aside from a quick-ish detour to Bowling Green last Saturday. I was out getting some horribly expensive and almost certainly futile feeders for my shelf balcony. These are installed [and wired into place; between gulls, corvids, and howling gales {I wish}, feeders need all the holding up they can get] though they are as yet to be [obviously] touched. I'm not too bothered; they're there if needed, and it'll be winter when they will be, the way the weather is. But it's nice to have them there, regardless.

Bowling Green was surprisingly busy - turned out a few had come down to see the Ross' Gull. It was feeling elusive, shuttling between the Green and Goosemoor, staying at the back and picking along the waterline like a Phal when it was on show, too.


Spot the Ross' Gull

Yeah, there were one or two Black'eads around as well...

Among the horde was a 1s Little Gull and an assortment of pretty Meds. The Spotshank on show was moulting out of s/pl and looked a bit manky, if I'm honest - perhaps why it stayed hiding at the back - and the single Green Sand seemed to think it was a Spoonbill, the amount of time it spent asleep!

A few Sarnies didn't stay long, but the juvie Lapwings did :)

Finally... a sneaky little quacker.

Checking the hairdo

Spent most if its time hiding right in front of the hide where nobody could see it - naturally.

Last note; yesterday evening I finally got House Sparrow on my Home List - with a juvie that almost hopped onto my feet! :D

[Ah, the joys of listing, that I'm so chuffed at seeing a Spadger...  ;) ]