29 June, 2015

The Last Watch [er, again]

I know, I've used this title before...

This is the last of my catching up post series, so you might want to scroll down. Or not.

Friday and Saturday saw very little birding, aside from an evening wander to the Nose. I got rained on a bit and saw some lovely juveniles, including a family of Bullfinches.

Sunday was the closest I would get to seawatching conditions, though not super promising ones. After some umming, I set to default and went to Prawle!

6.5 hours gave 4 Puffins, a Balearic [eventually!], 458/3 Manxies, a skua sp. [dark morph, I think Pom], and a dark shearwater sp. [picked up in bins, lost in gunk before I could scope it]. 3 Med Gulls - a 2s and 2 near fully-hooded 1s [which made me double-take, I can tell you] were also noteworthy. Not spectacular, but a lot better than expected.

I might come back and flesh this out some more, but now time is against me.

Be Seeing You..

Even Moor Catching Up

[Oh stop it...]

I seem to be suffering punitis today..

I blame the heatwave.

Yes, its going to be so powerful, it drives me crazy[er] before it even gets here.

[[The 'close window' button's just up there...]]


On Wednesday, there was a family reunion. I met my cousin, who I have not seen for 20+ years. Said cousin was down with family and the Folks and I [Sister was working] wandered up the Otter with them. There were Kingfishers and Banded Demoiselles and it was good. The cream teas at Otterton Mill weren't bad, either. ;)

The next day I resolved to get some decent exercise and up onto t'Moor I went. With the army playing with the fun stuff I had limited areas, so defaulted to Vitifer and wandered in a big spiral from there. I covered nigh on 10 miles, with long stops to sit and see what flew by [or just called from cover]. As the day wore on to evening*, I found myself sat atop Water Hill. The view was something else, and a Painted Lady showed up to share it with me. [Ok, probably got blown up and couldn't get off...]


Sousson's Circle

WWII emplacement [radar?],
also Sousson's and SE Devon,
Merripit Hill


Large Skipper
with wings folded!

Birds, odonates, and butterflies all over the place - it was a really good [if a bit hot] day. I took 2.5 litres and used the lot..

[[*The long light evenings are just ones of the reasons I choose this time of year to take some hollyday.]]

Vengeance Is A Dish Best Served During Office Hours

It's Tuesday, and after a brief delay at the garage, it was time to head over to the far east for my third attempt at seeing a Certain Yankee Wader..

Welcome to corporate birding, folks.

On the plus side, lots of roomy hides, helpful staff, even paths, loos, etc.


View from Spurgin hide

Oh, and shedloads of good birds.

On the down side, the aforementioned office hours - strictly enforced - and having to pay for the privilege [with no late in the day discount, either].

So Titchfield Haven gets a 6/10 from me.

The Greater Yellowlegs, on the other hand, was so absolutely stunning that despite making me go back for it I was still swooning for hou day... I'm still swooning.

Pics as per usual do no shade of justice;


Stunning in the feather

Also present were a bunch of Cetti's, a Cuckoo - still singing, too - and a Common Tern fishing in the river in front of the 'legs!

The traffic was horrific, but I got 'im I got 'im I got 'im!


Mind The Gap

Apologies for the unscheduled delay in our service, this was due to leaves on the line.

Well, something like that, anyway...

Wotsee bin upto, then?

Enjoying the traditional midsummer week off and not getting around to posting, the lazy git.


After a sunrise lacking sun [I watched a red line in the clouds over east Devon..] and a quick seawatch containing a surprise Puffin [Get in!], the Traditional Fathers' Day Nicpic went well. The poor sheep and ponies of Burrator got barked at by a horrible little black dog, but otherwise everyone was happy.

There were Redstarts and Beautiful Demoiselles in numbers and it was good.

Heggs were a touch overdone, but the japflacks [I made two kinds, just to really be sure of the overkill] went down very well. So a win.

Monday saw a slight technical issue get in the way of any attempt at Greaterlegs [and thus foil any hope of that frickin' Terek, too.. grrrrr]

By the time I gave up on twitching, the rain had cleared and I tried plan B.

Up on Haldon at the Viewpoint, there were indeed soaring birds - but all Buzzards and Ravens. Well, anything scarcer was a long shot...

I came back via the Exe and off Dawlish Warren were Sandwich and a Common Tern, but no Littles. Still, the sumplum Slav [from Cockwood - in case of terns inshore] was cracking.

Rather than do one great big long post, I'm cutting them up, so see more above [[which you already probably have done, what with how this things works, but eh....]]

21 June, 2015

A Little Update

While I'm waiting for the eggs to cool - Traditional Fathers' Day Nicpic would not be complete without heggs - I figured I'd quickly update on yesterday's adventures.

Won't take long.

I got in some Stuff first thing [I know, instead of birding - criminal!] and then almost got to Bowling Green for the tide. Everything that came in was still in, but this did not include the Little Gull.

It did include IL, who was volunteering like the Master he is. Another face or two from the Devon scene popped in too, and a few good stories were told [which I cannot repeat, naturally]. Out on't the marsh, there were Bar and Blackwits, a few Whimbrel, loner Teal and Wigeon, a half dozen Lapwing, and more Blockheads [definitely the best term for BHG I've heard] than you could shake a Geeb at! But no Little Gull.

As not all the BHGs were in* [!] I wandered off to the Goatwalk to check the Exe. And look for that superb female LTD that showed up Friday night. There was no sign of her, either - not surprising given how busy the river was - but patient scanning of every group of gulls downriver eventually found the 1s Little Gull with BHGs in line with Lympstone. It looked like they were feeding on small fish - off Nutwell park, I reckon.

Also of note was a creche of 11 Shelducklings [awwww].

I headed back to share the joy, then on for what I'd 'officially' come up to do. Finally heading home for a rather later than expected lunch though, my blimmin' neck seized up, and I spent the rest of the day in pain as assorted pharmaceuticals bounced off it.  Joy.

Oh well, I'm better today. And you never know, there might even be Something flying over?

I can dream.

[[*There's about 1500 on the upper Exe right now.]]

17 June, 2015

This Post Will Be Too Short

Again only Sunday worth mentioning, but this time I got some proper twitchin' in!

A text from Bun spurred me to try to get myself out of the funk I've been in lately via driving vast distances in search of a couple of yankee wading Lifers. As the alternative would have been cheer-via-baking-things followed by another attempt at Little Birds, perhaps this was a very good idea.

So, braving sunday drivers and the threat of closing roads, we went here;

Pagham Harbour.
It's very flat and very windy.

And after a wait, and it flying past twice, it eventually landed out in the open where everybody could see it.

Ta and indeed da!

That's a funny-looking Whimbrel...

Very evenly buffy, with a paler head, and is that a dark tail?

Yes, the lovely Hudsonian Whimbrel kept us waiting a little over an hour before showing.
The wait was enlivened by a Little Tern [get over to Devon you git!] and a 2cy Hobby.
The trip back to the car was enlivened by Bun's encounter with a friendly Hornet..!

Good good, everyone's got a Lifer, now for that Greaterlegs..?

Maybe not. As the damn thing had pulled a Houdini. To their credit, even though they'd both seen one before, both my comrades in twitch swore vengeance with me. So we may well be back for.. Greaterlegs II 'This Time It's Personal!'

There were a couple of Avocets and a Cetti's or three, so not a total loss at Titchfield. Roach and Minnows in the canal also proved of interest. [[I know how this reads, but we weren't that desperate, really..]] The bird had also scarpered well before we got there, so our hilarious attempts to find the stealth car park weren't the cause of our woe. 

On the way back, we paused for the sunset;

Spot The Bun

In other news, after a pause of a little over a week, the Greenfinches are back at my sunflower feeders. Yes, feeders, as I've bought a second one to allow both pairs to fill up without coming to blows. [Aren't I considerate?]

10 June, 2015

A Spot Of Dartmoor Birding

Work has wandered back into the way of the important things in life [ie birds] again, and so it has been that only now am I posting and only on Sunday did I get out.

I went off to fill in a missing Spot on that Yearlist and despite elusive birds and a sunny Sunday's worth of assorted civilians I managed to find them. So that was good.

The what [as you may have guessed] was Spot Fly, the where was Venford. Spotfly was one of those birds I figured would be pretty simple and so didn't worry too much about [kinda like Little Tern, and we all know how that one's turned out so far...]. Then reports started drying up [as canopies opened, I guess], especially from my two favourite sites [Yarner and Challacombe - the latter even has a Spot Fly Tree].

So I tried site three, and scored from the dam, and then again further down the Ven Brook. Very mobile and busy flycatching, so no chance of piccies [[Stop cheering]]

I continued down into White Wood, where [after a bit of persistence] Wood Warbler and Pied Fly showed very well. These are firsts for the site for me - the birds are there, but oh so hard to see well normally.
Then it was up to Bench Tor, where I plonked down at a nice spot out of the way of the casual visitor but with a good view. There to have lunch and see what was flying around. You never know, after all.

As it happens, this was mostly Woodpigs! There was a small movement going on - all down the Dart valley in small groups [no more than 8]. I'd noticed over the last week or two that Woodpigs seemed to be moving in small numbers, but thought maybe it was just the local birds foraging. This seemed to be a definite passage, though, and all adults. Interesting. Failed breeders maybe?

Time for a piccie!

Dart valley and SE Devon, from Bench Tor

I then moved on in search of better Spot Fly views and maybe even a Cuckoo [or something else flying over] to Sousson's and Vitifer, where Cuckoos yes, but Spotflies no. I did a little better with insects; three Small Pearl-bordered Frits messing about an area of boggy grassland [got me wondering for a second before I saw them well], Tiger Beetles, a big rove beetle sp. [I got a bad photo, but not enough to ID], and this longhorn sat on a car!

Itsa Beetle

It was very nice up there, and while no low-flying storks or brightly-coloured things showed up, it was still a good day's birding.

04 June, 2015

The Delayed Post; In Which He Has 'Proof'...

Ok, here we go; the rejigged post that should have been posted on 31/5 if google weren't useless excuses...

The biggest news was a creamhead [almost certainly a 2cy] Marsh Harrier, which came in/off from the ESE early afternoon at Hope's Nose! Flying very low over the water [and still trying the flap-flap-glide into the NW-ish wind], it looked to be heading right in, but then it met a GBB [only getting light menacing] and turned north, staying about 1km out [I guess the gull made an impression!]. Most likely went for the Exe, but seeing as it stayed out, the Otter and Axe are possibles too.

I tried for pictures, but the Geeb intervened; after the first [below] it was going away from me all the time;

Yes, that's The Wreck - it was well out!
[Cream crown theoretically visible..!]

In glide, heading away and to the left.
 Showing dark brown upper- and underparts

Wasn't that lovely? Another 'splodge he claims is a raptor'.. Oh well.

The 4.5 hour seawatch the Marshie showed up during also featured a Stormy, 2 Puffins, 43 C Scoter, and 481 Manxies [all but 4 going south]. 2 Arctic Terns accompanied 7 Commons - they looked like they went into the Bay. 4 Swallows came in/off after the cold front cleared, and 2 Oyks flew north. Speaking of, the Lead Stone pair were still in evidence; they gave a GBB a nasty peck where it really hurt, judging by the resultant yelp.. [ouch]

A seawatch on Friday - another 4.5 hours - gave 69 Manxies; both N and S! There was definitely some feeding going on way out to the near due east, so it could be circulation, but all the passing birds were much closer in, so I reckon its just one of those things. The weather wasn't as good as I'd hoped, and they were just passing feeding groups which happened to tally.

Also notably by were 2 [slightly untimely] Balearics, 2 Common Tern, and a flock of 20+ small waders heading north - they looked like Sanderling but I can't be sure. Definite highlight though was the Long-tail, which passed slowly north around 1040. It was out at big shear range, but the light caught it beautifully... :D

That harrier takes my DevonYear up to the 13th of October...

02 June, 2015

Google Equals Incompetence.

I posted a blog on Sunday. It went up ok. Or at least, it said it did [the 'view blog' was ok and everything]. Other peoples' links showed it, even.

Now I look and see it did not apparently post but is still a draft..

Google own blogger, so google suck.

Reposting will probably be tomorrow now, as it will need some reconfiguring. This is due me posting it when I got in as it contained news vaguely time urgent; namely the Marshie that went past the Nose and headed north "Hey, eyes open folks". Hell, I even got some [truly awful and very distant] photos.
Only not, because google are muppets.

Ok, rant over.