28 April, 2015

Belated Godwiting Post

Betcha can't guess where I was on Saturday afternoon?

The still-horrifically-cheery-after-three-days grin I'm sporting may be a small clue.

As would this awful offering;

Hudsonian Godwit
Tank 2, Meare Heath

[Please note the time stamp [if you can be bothered to look at the exif]. It is [if I recall] 1623. But more on this later.]

I say afternoon, as I was bashing the Patch in the morning and didn't find out the news until I sat down with my lunch. Tsk tsk.

I did find a singing [albeit briefly, due to assault by Common] Lesser Whitethroat at the Nose, by the way, plus some other nice things, so considered myself thoroughly vindicated in proceeding at a brisk yet legal speed up the M5...

The bird was hiding in the near left corner when I got there, but at half three - after a wait enlivened by a lovely Wood Sand plus low-flying Bittern, GWE, and Marsh Harrier, it flew out [oh, what a lovely sight!] and proceeded to first preen and then feed for 45 minutes or so. Then it and a half dozen others suddenly took off and headed high west [Dun-dun-DUN!] for what was probably seconds but felt like minutes, before equally suddenly making a hard bank and spiral into what looked like Noah's. Yes, I had bins on it the whole time.

Cue panda-monium as the crowd mostly headed off after it.

I decided I might as well be off - having had said 45 minutes, after all - when [again suddenly] half a dozen godwits arrived and dropped back amongst the main flock.

Oh look, it's back.

Gone less than 5 minutes. As I said at the time: "It's a sneaky one..."

Here's another shot;

"I won't be seen with the likes of you"
Hudwit scuttles away from Blackwits.

It was still there when I left at 1630, on the left edge of the flock of 215 Blackwits [and 2 Redshank]. I didn't keep it a secret, including telling two groups I passed who thought they'd arrived too late.

Anyway, hair-splitting over rarity behaviour aside...

Oh what a lovely day! It may have rained on me, more than once, but I cared not. I do so love a happy twitch. I do so like it up there. Even better now that the RSPB have built a car park [though not perfect; there are loos - gasp, loos! - on the signs, but they're not built yet! :( ]. As well as 3 GWE, 2 Bittern and male and female M Harriers, a hatful of warblers - including my first zumerzet Wood - and my first Cuckoo of the year to boot.

Here's an earlier Hudwit;

Like a mini Blackwit painted as a Stilt Sand

Ok, ok enough with that...

Sunday saw day-bracketing Nose visits, with the evening trip doing much better. I even got a seawatch in! There were terns and a very confiding Whimbrel [which came in/off onto the rocks below me for a quick rest, before heading on north].

Saturday morning also saw Whimbrel - two this time, sitting about on the grassy end - very odd! Even odder that a couple of dog walkers seemingly turned aside to avoid flushing them.. Will wonders never cease? They did then flush the 4 Wheatear that were around the top of the Quarry, so maybe not an actual Sign Of The Apocalypse.

Awful pics;

Female Wheatear, honest.*

Two Whimbrel, even more honest
[The one on the left is preening, on the right is asleep!]

Sunday's Whimbrel is..
..a hell of a lot closer. 

[Please excuse the gubbins on the phone lens..]

Forgot to mention on Friday, but I managed to miss the Little Terns at Dawlish Warren somehow - despite thoroughly scanning with the Big Scope and everything. I suspect SEO-related brevity may be the cause. That and them hiding up the estuary mouth, maybe? I did see at least 3 Common Terns among the Sarnies, so not all bad. Also a way-out Bonxie, the V Scoter, 2 C Scoter [past south!] and a small group of Razorbills.
Perhaps I should have stayed longer, but a [HORRIFIC PUN DELETED FOR THE SAKE OF DECENCY]

For Devon's Year [now lagging a bit further behind Britain..! ] I'm into August!

[[*Sat right by the Ledge Of Doom, btw.]]

24 April, 2015


Patience. For birds are unpredictable and tend to fly off.

Persistence. For when your patience runs out.

A really big scope. For when the bladdy thing shows up half a mile away.

The last helps turn a brown blob into.. A bigger brown blob. [Ahem.]

Here you go;

Indeed a very dark SEO

While I was waiting for it to materialise, I had a look about the place. A cloud of mixed hirundines were hard work to check thoroughly for Red-rumped interlopers - needless to say, none were found. A s/pl Barwit was nice, but I couldn't help but look at the assorted manky gulls on the river..


But enough of that. Earlier I'd been to Dawlish Warren for terns and the Nose for.. Well, not as much as I'd hoped when I'd seen how good it looked and so got there before work. There was a nice singing Garden Warbler, and a flyover Yellow Wag, so definitely not wasted time. But only a minor fall of Blackcaps gave anything like numbers. And those were single digits.

Finally.. Yet more thanks and kudos to Bun; without whom there would be no awful excuse for an owl pic.

21 April, 2015

You Know It's Monday When...

You get in from a merry working day to find that miraculously you have another chance at SEO at the Backwater, burn over, and despite there being many people getting all sorts of pictures, see absolutely nothing.

Before I get going, thanks in great profusion to Bun for gen above and beyond the call of duty - cheers mate!

Right. This owl. Sat in the open all day, viewable from the Farm Gate. Great, right? Easy. [Once you know where to look].

Except birds do tend to move, and it seems that by the time I got past the traffic, it was in fact sitting on a post at Black Hole, getting dive-bombed by a Kestrel.

I saw nothing of this. Not even the Kestrel and I was up there 'til dark.

I did see a cracking male Whinchat - hanging around the area of posts and fencing more or less opposite Colyford Common - and the redhead Goosander. Not the yeartick I was hoping for. [Though still gorgeous].

Oh, and not a single one of the myriad of Red Kites, either. Though to make up for it, there were about 10,000,000 midgies all keen to keep me company...

Birding, eh?

The day before was much better, with things like this;

Pied Fly going old school
[phonescope in x-ray mode]

I like Yarner.

18 April, 2015

Deja Vu All Over Again

They say those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Other Theys say the same thing about past mistakes.

Still other Theys say that those who perform the same actions and expect different results are insane.

Now that I have you in a suitable mindset, here we go again.

I was at the Nose this morning - managed to miss PD - and despite the stiff [to say the least] ENE wind and blazing sunshine, managed to, well hear more than see some birds.

The best one was seen; a Hobby through at typical altitude [about 100' above sea level, hugging the coastline] at 1005. Hiding in the bushes and with a mix of calls and song, the sylvias* outnumbered the phylloscs** [by 2]. Offshore, there was the odd Gannet, but nowt of real note.

Inshore and along a sheltered section of IMD, I found my first Orange Tip of the year. It didn't feel like posing for a pic, though.

Yesterday, I gave utter thanks to the Goddess of Birding, for hearing my woe-filled plea She sent a GWE my way. There may have even been two of them - I went off chasing what had looked like one in the distant haze, but despite a full loop of Exminster it eluded me. The stunning adult in full regalia off Lion's Rest was much more helpful.

Ta and indeed Da;

The typical view

Striking a pose to show off
those gorgeous raspberry tibiae

There were hirundines above, waders and a few ducks about, and 6 flavours of warbler. While on my Wild Egret Chase, I also took the chance to look at the new bit, which was better than nothing, but still not a frickin' tower hide. Come on RSPB***, pull your little blue socks up!

I also managed to miss a low-flying Red Kite, but at least that was because I wasn't there  ;)

I didn't miss a very frisky shower, but fortunately I was close enough to the Turf to hide from it. Oh tragedy. :)  I took the opportunity to count a flock of lovely s/pl Dunlin out on the mud. 43 of them. While I was doing that, a flock of 5 Whimbrel flew past upriver. Unfortunately, neither Kite nor Osprey showed up while I was looking, though something with interestingly long wings was soaring way off towards Woodbury. Oh well, patience and persistence...

[*Blackcaps and Whitethroats]
[**Chiffs and Willow Warbler]
[***My feelings on the mangling of the name are not repeatable in polite print****]
[****Or even here]

15 April, 2015

Yes, It's A Catch-up Post

I've been trying to remember the last time I heard a Gropper reeling.

It's been a surprisingly long time; I'm pretty sure I've heard Savi's more recently! I remember the where - I think - this being the somewhat unlikely setting of a large Gorse bush on't Moor. In the early afternoon. It was overcast, but a reeling Gropper was still not expected.

Anyways, with assorted Groppers seemingly turning up and reeling all over the shop, you may be expecting me to tell of one of my own? Perhaps on the extra-foggy morning I stopped off at the Nose [yes, again, I am a masochist]? Well.. No. I did see one, though, which is almost as good. [Yes, I have seen more Groppers than heard - go figure]

I did hear my first Gropper. This was at South Milton Ley [many years ago], and I heard it reeling in the big bush by the bridge. Couldn't see it, but then it stopped reeling and moved and then I did see it. Then it started up again from its new position [on the other side of the bush!].

Ok, all that aside...

Tuesday morning, and fog so thick I couldn't see the lower ridge on the South Side, let alone the sea. Or that there were clear skies above said fog. But this worked out well as a scattering of warblers included said Gropper, which flew between the same bushes the Redstart did three days earlier [I like those bushes!].


Saturday and a small fall at the Nose was highlighted by a male Redstart [plus a few other bits and pieces, including Whitethroat Number One]. A cracking Sarnie gave me a nice close flypast, too. It was by no means spectacular - migrant numbers seem to be down this year, though there have been some nice quality birds among them - but perhaps the best morning I've had there so far.

Sunday afternoon saw me back at the Nose for Wheatears [and maybe another tern or something, even a passing raptor?]. I ran into PD and he told me of two by Sandy Point, so I toddled down, and [after a family had moved past] they duly showed up. Great! Then there were three! Then four! Two more males arrived as I watched [at 1709 and 1712]. Here's one of them;

Spot The Wheatear.
[Yes, he is quite buffy underneath]

Right.. What else was there? Oh yes, Spring-y pictures!

Bloomin' Lovely...

Annnd, my first non-micro moth attracted to the porch light;

Moth sp.

Don't worry, I'm not going to make a habit of posting awful moff shots.

Though the Yearlist is ticking along nicely [I'm into May], I keep missing the scarce vagrants I really need for a big total. Why do the bastards keep showing up midweek [and while I'm on Days..] and not hanging around? It's positively rude.

I ought to write a letter to the Times.


12 April, 2015

Raid Warning

::Sirens start wailing::

Attention all hirundines in the Exe estuary area, with especial regard for Exminster lagoon.
Hope's Nose reports two Hobbies northbound at high speed. Watch your sixes, people!



In other news, the stiff SSW blew out pretty much everything on land, with the only birds of note singles of Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. I gave the sea half an hour, despite the blazing sunshine, and was rewarded with 7 Gannets, a Fulmar.. and a Puffin!

More detail when I have more time, but yesterday there was a small fall at the Nose [birds that caught the overnight front, I suspect] with quality if not quantity, and otherwise it's been pretty dead over there.

07 April, 2015

Wokka! Wokka! Wokka! Wokka!

And when the flat had stopped shaking, he could start typing..

Just had not one but two Chinooks low overhead. Wowzer!

Right then,

Now that I have a little more time, here's some stuff I've missed out. You know, minor things like the 8 Wheatears at Hope's Nose on Saturday morning!

Only one sat still in view long enough to try a shot [there were loose dogs, joy]. Not one of the six about Sandy Point, alas, but the two on the South Side Slope. And you know what that means....

Spot! The! Wheatear!

He is there, and fairly visible. For a given value of 'fairly'...

Sunday's yomp - the first time I've been to Fur Tor with the Folks since spring 2013 [in our defence, there have been issues and inclement weather] - was amazingly peaceful for a sunny bank holiday weekend. I suppose most 'normal' people were doing the egg thing and then were too stuffed to venture far across t'Moor. Wimps.

Not that we were alone, but others were few and far between, with only one proper horde. [Though they were a party of about 40! Looked like university geographers playing with the Tavy - a nice upland river.] There were plenty of birds about; Mipits and Skylarks all merrily singing away, with Ravens and raptors above, and Tilly yapping at sheep below... Well, she had a very happy day anyway. And she did behave sometimes [Ie. when no sheep were in view] See?

Sitting without prompting
Waiting for the next sheep

It was a little soggier underfoot than we expected, though by no means what I'd call really wet. On the downside, this meant the fords were too deep for gaiter-less wading, on the upside, the waterfall was in good form;

Not Quite Victoria

It was good to be up on't Moor, especially with the Folks. We shall have to do it more often than last year. Hopefully the weather will be helpful. [[Hopefully someone will invent a Mute button for Little Black Dogs, but that's probably a hope too far...!]]

Annnd finally.

Still can't get over the 1840 Osprey.

You're supposed to look up at passing Ospreys. And usually you need a scope, too.

Ye Gods and [nervous] Fishies...

06 April, 2015

Get In!

I really don't have time, but I have to post today.

It was supposed to be a nice lazy day of laundry and chocolate, [after the clear morning put the kaibosh on an early visit to the Nose] catching up on things left undone [and indeed uneaten - a terrible crime!] and generally lazing after a long but lovely day on't Moor yesterday*.

However, not one but two passing visitors interrupted the [relative] peace and quiet. The second going past so close and low that I was forced to interrupt my sock-sorting to do a very silly dance in full view of any poor innocent passers-by.

Who knew Ospreys were like buses?


29th April, now.

[[*Did Fur Tor with the Folks. The sun shone [mostly], there was a Swallow at Bellever - seeing them there is something of a family tradition - and it was good.]]

03 April, 2015

Cheers Mike!

Thanks to The Artist's timely posting, I was able to twitch the Garganey that had taken that left at Albuquerque shown up at Stover.

In defiance of all logic and established Gargatic behaviour, it was not only there, but showing like a porn star. So much so, that there was the odd musing of the 'e' word. However, this was 'showing like a porn star for a Garganey', so keeping at least 30' from the assembled masses and eyeing us carefully when it got that close. Also, when the duckies were fed, it showed no interest whatsoever.

I reckon it's just a young bird that's landed on the first likely-looking lake and didn't realise its mistake. So he's alternating stuffing his bill with tootling up and down in the hope some foxy Garg-lady will notice him. Poor boy.

Not that my phone was able to demonstrate this adequately, as there was clearly just enough darkness to make it freak out and fail to focus...

As you can see, the flanks really stood out 
- even better than the superdupercilium

I don't know what happened here.
The scope was in focus, nice close range,
it wasn't swimming that fast...

Btw, note the posture - raised crown feathers and wings, with lowered tail.

Also, a pair of insanely confiding Mandarin, plus another male and two more fly-overs. A really hefty-looking LBB with almost no white in the primaries and a dark mantle shade [presumably an intermedius of some type] dropped in to bathe but scarpered before I could even consider how to get position for a decent picture. Annnnd there were Siskin and Bullfinches on the feeder.

Not bad.

BUT not one hirundine of any flavour. Tut.

02 April, 2015

To The Point

Namely that there has been bugger all in the way of migrants showing up on the Patch since last I posted. This morning, the best I could do were a few singing Chiffchaffs...

Though I have managed to avoid getting rained on at all. And the residents are getting things going nicely. [I like Bullfinches]

One piece of news:
On Tuesday, at about 1430, a big raptor came over and headed rapidly north or north east. I know this because the gulls made such a fuss that they woke me up. Whatever it was went zipping on its way, leaving the gulls floundering and me staring in vain at various patches of sky..