27 June, 2016

Moor Rocks

Two posts in a day, oh dear. Fear not, though, I'll keep this creditably short.

Saturday saw me once Moor upon the... yeah, yeah, enough of that one.

I defied the weather and wandered about a bit before heading into Fernworthy by the back way. Ok, technically by a back way. [And not the Back Door, either]

The FC have been very busy with their Machineries of Destruction and some of the trackways are effectively impassable - which is both kind and considerate of them* - and more are covered in mud and tree bits. Good footwear and a stick recommended folks, in case what you're about to tread on is actually a metre deep rut filled with you don't want to know...

Aaanyway, I found some much-needed solace at the Row. There was even the odd moment of sunshine.


Cairn and row amongst the trees

The double row runs up
a picturesque slope..

There's a bit more of it. Too much to photo in one go [with my phone, anyway..].
So I didn't.

The cairn terminals 
- in some disarray

There's a nice though not enormous terminal [this is not Drizzlecombe] at the far end. Close by is a neat hut circle. The proximity [and what looks like an impressive hearth] makes me wonder if it wasn't some sort of ritual building. This whole row, more than any other - even Hingston Hill - shouts 'walk me'.

The mud and weather meant minimal human activity, which meant more bird activity, which was nice. Though very few were actually showy - a Redstart being an enjoyable exception.

Even though I got rained on more than once, it was still a most refreshing way to pass the time.

Right, that's it. I'm going to go and curse the weather again; why weren't the next two days last week? Why? Whyyyy?

Be Seeing You..

[[*Yes, I know they have a job to do, but why does said job always seems to co-incide with wet weather?]]

Seawatch Sunday

Weak front.

Weak results.

What the what, it was worth a try.

I got 15 Manxies an hour. Woo.

One highlight was a pod of Common Dolphins, which went north, but vanished with impressive alacrity when I tried to get a good count. 'More than 5' is all I can say.

Better counting was the Ore Stone auks; ~550 Guillemots! 5+ Razorbills!

Observe, regardez, lookit!

Lots and lots of Guillemots

Oh, the horrors of phonescoping....

Sneaky Razorbills

And he gets some lurverly geology in there too! The Razorbills might be hiding black and white blobs, but look at the strata... :) Ah, it's a thing of beauty; as above, so below and below and below and below..... Right down to the microscopic.

Also of note on the Home Front, a fireworks display [and quite a fancy one, too] disturbed a large bat sp. - looked like a Serotine by the wings* - on Saturday night. Set at least 3 Tawnys off, too.


[[*Quite broad, as opposed to long and pointy for a Noctule. {He says, sounding as if he actually has something approaching a clue....}]]

24 June, 2016

Even Moor Fun

Back in the before, it was all fun and frolics on t'Moor yesterday, with me going for a toddle and then meeting up with the Folks for an old tradition - Tea on the Moor!

We used to do this often in the Summer, taking advantage of the lovely warm evenings when the grockles had all buggered off... ;)

This time, the wind was feeling capricious and finding somewhere sheltered from it was not easy. We ended up near Aish Tor and it was very nice, with a lovely view of pretty scenery and no livestock..

Tea might have gone on longer, but after eight the midgies decided to crash the party, and despite efficient repellent [be prepared or be sorry], having a cloud of the little buggers about ones head wasn't that much fun when there weren't even any Nightjars, so we called time.


With Her Majesty's Finest playing on the north Moor, I went for a wander about the southern bit, heading down to some more big rocks.

On my way south along the crystal path, I was unhappy to find the cyclogene erosion was worse than ever;

That middle one is nearly 1m deep

Might as well argue with the wind, I know...

On a much lighter note, there were Wheatears. Everywhere.
Not just adults but juvs. LOTS of juvs. All cute and stuff. Some of the males were very protective, one even spent several seconds hovering in front of me at eye level so I could be certain I was the one getting chakked at! [And I was only walking along, too...]

Indeed, so concerned were they with watching over their babbies, that I even got a picture of one;

Keeping watch.

Right, on to the main event, namely the Bronze Age Wonder of the Moor; Drizzlecombe.

I know, such an appropriate name, right?

But wonders, oh yes.

Oooh, what's that?


Brodgar, Stonehenge, Drizzlecombe

Looking up the row to the terminal cairn

The pictures don't show the size of this thing, let alone its presence. It is also not alone.

The Second has a more impressive row

The Second, its row, and the Others

Parallel to its row, unlike the First

And don't forget the Third. Smaller, yes, but also interesting, not least in where it came from [look at the granite]

The Third

These are not all.
There are other stones, cists, a large cairn, a small circle, and some very well-preserved settlements all in this one area. A whole landscape, left alone between miners and warreners and field systems. It's well worth a look, even though you can only approach from one direction without risking getting soggy*.

It wasn't a long walk or a full day, but it was very worthwhile and not just for getting lots of iffy shots to vex you with. :)

Later on, as I found myself staying up [for some reason] I tried to see the Whirlpool Galaxy. Despite knowing where it was and applying a Big Scope, I failed utterly. I blame the light pollution. :(
Saturn was more obliging, but singularly failed to let me photo it, despite looking as awe-inspiring as ever**.

As consolation, a Spotshank flew over calling while I was outside. :)

Be Seeing You..

[[*I'm not telling you which, that wouldn't be any fun ;)]]
[[**Have you ever looked at Saturn through a scope? Do it. You will be filled with awe that such a thing could really exist. This is no dot, no arrangement of points of light, this is a creamy yellow circle with a fucking ring around it and it's so far away the light you're seeing took an hour and a half to get here...  It shouldn't be real. But it is. Like I said, awe.]]

Breaking News


Apparently, the world has come to an end.
Society has collapsed.
Nothing now exists except endless repetition of the straw poll result, mixed with rampant mass-guessing of theoretical consequences and shamelessly self-serving manouevres. 

The Price of Freedom?


21 June, 2016

Ohh, It's A Codfish!

Midsummer and so naturally the weather was heavy with the gunk and light on the sun yesterday morning.
Naturally I also took the opportunity to get some seawatching in.


The conditions were interesting, but the frontal system - though nicely messy - was too early, too late, and too light. The main force of it went through too early, the rain was too late to start up the chummer before everything cleared, and the winds were too light to make up for it.

But June is when the fun begins, and as probably my only chance [verdamnt weather..] I wasn't going to miss it.

In five hours [before everything cleared and reallllly died] I got a mere 112 Manxies [they must have all been in Start Bay]. A cracking Arctic and [what looked suspiciously like that 4cy] Pom were the skuas - both showing very nicely, thankyou - and a few Scoter were flying around. No Puffins. No Stormies. Not even a Balearic.
There was a lovely 1s Med Gull, which hung around for a while and provided some amusement.

Gannets, Kitts, and Fulmars moved, though not in epic numbers.

Better were the 5+ adult Razorbills and a 1s which hung around the area, and best of all the one which I caught headed to the Ore Stone FF!!! 

Ok, to the title. 5 fishing vessels were working the area over the morning, and of them 4 were flying flags expressing their desires regarding this little straw poll of ours. One was the standard red Leave, but the other 3 were different. It took a while and a view of a boat going the right way before I could decipher the cartoon of exactly who was subbing for Britannia [with helmet, breastplate(!), shield and banner, naturally]; 

Colours on the masthead

I wasn't just photoing fishing boats, as some travellers caught my eye;

Royal Marines off on a jolly..

..with Assault Craft

Yeah, it was a bit slow. Ho hum.

Over the weekend, the Patch failed to deliver anything spectacular. The Big Fathers' Day Nicpic was carried out indoors due to inclement weather, but it went off well [there were japflacks.. :) ]. I did take the opportunity to sneak off to photo something interesting at Meadfoot during our afternoon perambulation, though;


The current flowed from the east and formed ripples in the sand on a sea bed probably shallow enough for you to have walked on. Four hundred million years or so* later, here they are.  

Here you might be able to see where the tide had come in and never went out again. [Ok, it will have gone out..] The water was deeper and so the ripples were buried in silts [top centre and left - on the right is a loose block]. The harder sandstone of the ripples has resisted the sea better and so is still there. 

I should add that, on the tiny off chance you are considering taking a look for yourself, these rocks are exposed on a section of shore washed by the tide, covered in sloping and loose rocks and boulders many of which are slippy and have sharp edges, and under a section of cliff for which the term 'unstable' may be an understatement. Approach with care!

 I will be back [you may consider youselves warned..] to have a better look. Hmm, have I said that before..?

And finally, something prettier from t'Patch;



Be Seeing You..

[[*Ok, technically more like 385 to 390Ma, but I was waxing lyrical...]]

15 June, 2016

Good News!

This morning my feeders saw some very welcome visitors;

Pair of Greenfinches plus four [yes, four] juveniles!
The youngsters showed varying degrees of caution [and balance!] but all got the hang of stuffing their little bills, while I sat and watched with a silly grin on my face..


Also, yesterday afternoon, a juv Robin [one who did make it] was about the place. While I paused, a party of LTTs flew over [at least 4 juvs among them].


In other news, it is raining. Not very hard, but it seems determined to keep at it. [This means me not having to lug gallons of water about to keep my trees going, so it is a Good Thing. For now.]

With those startling revelations, I shall leave you.


13 June, 2016

Back To The Birding

Soooo, Sunday. I actually dragged up at first light to see if the forecast had been accurate vis-a-vis the overnight front-thing dragging into the AM and thus giving a shot at something on the sea.

It was sunny. Not windy.

I may have said some rude words as I went back to bed.

Later it was just windy and cloudy enough to foil insects without being good enough to keep the hordes away from the Nose. I did useful things and may have muttered a bit.

Then I thought 'achtohellwithit' and tooled up.

Default useless weather setting applied; I went to Prawle.

As I was leaving the heavens opened with a deafening roar as about a quarter of the Atlantic dropped on the Patch*. The streets were rivers, the manhole covers bubbled up like pretentious postmodern water features at some OTT chelsea show garden.. I nearly turned around, but then I thought better of it. Maintenance Of Aim and all that.

Getting there to find things hot dry and sunny [though reassuringly windy] I may have muttered a little more, but I got into the car park [I'd had doubts] and went up to a nice little spot [if now a bit leaky in the rain] and settled in to see what came by.

Very soon I was treated to a lovely Balearic and I did grin happily.

There followed a lot of bugger all. There were Kitts foraging off the Point all afternoon and into the evening [as I had no constraint other than daylight - nights have their uses] and a few Gannets passed, with the odd Fulmar and the very odd Guille.

After 5, the Manx passage suddenly woke up and in a little over 2 hours 90 went west and 33 east. Not enormous numbers, but a few stayed around to fish with the Kitts and in the strong low-ish sunlight they were a sight to see. Very brown-looking! Worn but not moulting [as you'd expect] they were, well, look at the Yelk on The Boss' twitter and they were a bit like that..!
I certainly enjoyed watching them**.

I also kept an eye on the various Kitt parties as they worked their way westwards, and eventually this paid off with a 1s Little Gull amongst them [score!].

A smart adult LBB, a Turnstone [seemed to be local rather than passing], and a couple of swifts out/over were also of interest.
A Large Skipper skipped past me and landed just down slope at one point, tempting me to go down after it. It was sat happily out of the wind and let me line up a photo... right until a half second before I hit the shutter. Little bastard.

Yes, it was quiet [well, passage-wise - I had the euros on the radio!] and I even counted Shags and GBBs [!] 5 and 3 - they were not evident at all! I also had a look at Gull Island, where I could see 17 cute ickle fluffballs on legs.. Aww.

Best land bird was on my way out, as a local Little Owl deigned to show itself [only my second there].

Time for pretty pictures;

You'd almost think it was Summer..

Bolt Head and Gammon Head
[and yacht heading for Salcombe]

It was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon and evening. Even when there weren't passing Manxies [which was most of the time, true] there were always the yachts [seemed to be some sort of race on] - and the ever-lasting "They called it what?!???" game*** - and other passing traffic. No cetaceans, despite nothing with a motor about inshore of the shipping lane [[joy]]. Perhaps this survey ship was banging about with an active sonar??

This is awful mostly due to the haze.

Be Seeing You..

[[*Ok, something of an exaggeration there, but it did rain VERY hard]]
[[**Nothing like a good bit of practice with the standards when they're doing something naughty to help you if you come across something else]]
[[***Never ceases to amuse, today they ranged from 'Right Choice' to 'WENIMBI'............]]

10 June, 2016

Stop Gap

A short post about not much, really.

It's late and muggy and I've been busy [you'll find out in a minute] and those owls are being blimmin' noisy...


Do you have gardening woes? You'd think I wouldn't have enough garden to get woes, what with it being so teeny, but woes I have.

Lots of them and their names are all the same; 'weevil'!

My poor little Bay is beset, and so I am doing my best to let it grow some leaves without having to resort to chemical warfare...

So far my nocturnal sorties have, er, 'removed' 14 of the blighters - the birds are grateful, judging by the alacrity with which the fallen are removed - and I'm wondering how many more nights will involve picking up a rather heavy planter and shaking it like the devil!

But anyways.. Speaking of, my lovely Hawthorn is once again in its 'grow like anything' phase and has eclipsed the poor Berberus next to it. Living Yule Tree number 2 has exceeded expectations and is not only still alive but shooting very well :) [Evidently this one really was 'pot grown' and not 'hacked out of the ground with an inch of root'..]

The birds continue to eat faster than in winter, with even the peanuts now going down apace. That's largely due to an enterprising Magpie, who has learned to balance well and peck even more carefully! [Hey, every visit is one less nest raid] - said corvid is even capable of perching in my tiny Blue Spruce to get the worms I put there in the vain hope the tits would be the only ones to get them....

Nuthatches are still regular and they and the Great Tits have not objected to my adulterating the RSPB's finest with extra fruity suet to cut the wastage.
The Greenfinches are a fixture - though Goldfinches much less so for some reason - as are a motley range of assorted pigs. These latter I blame for the suffering of my green bird bath [which still seems as near dead as it looked in winter.. I am worried].

And now for something completely different;

On my last Patch perambulation, I noticed human activity has left some interesting marks...


What the.....


Those railings are painted square tubular steel - rounded edges - so what the frilly knickers whoever put all the tape and repeated signs up was thinking [unless it's some sort of 'art' BS] I do not know.  


Be Seeing You..

06 June, 2016

A Borin Post About The Patch

Yesterday I suffered something of an energy drain.

I blame the weather.

[It's worse today, but work knows no mercy..]

I did manage to get out eventually and wander about the Patch a bit, and as it turned out, this was even better than I had any right to expect.

The chief and number one brilliant thing being [as alluded to in title] a frickin' Garden Warbler. This did not just call and maybe sing from cover [ok, it did that too] but it even showed.. with a billful of caterpillars!!! YES!


Those of you with good memories [or a talent for archive-diving] may recall that many years ago, I had no less than 2 singing GWs in a certain part of the Patch, though I never got more than that from them. I'm sure they do hang about in the parkier areas, but I don't get about to all of the Patch for much of the time. [[I know, 'tis a scandal]]
Birds pass through - they're always a part of migration at the Nose, though never in big numbers - and sometimes crop up in other parts, [I once found one singing in Tessier; which as the kind of garden they like would be ideal but for all the cats.....] but this one was there.

There were many other warblers,  Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, plus Whitethroats in the coastal scrub; all 'nicer' in one way or another, but that Garden really made my weekend.. [I'm such a birder, aren't I?]

Even though I later saw a big flock of Scoter [34!] which went hither and thither. Oddness, until a Gannet made a very hard turn and urgent detour and I saw the cause for all the consternation... Bonxie!! It was close inshore, a light one - you could even make out a cap in the bright overcast/hazy sunshine - [maybe a failed breeder, or possibly subadult] and powered through southwards.
The Scoter then split up, with about 20 lingering a while before seeming to head into the Bay.

Also of interest was a late afternoon feeding frenzy, about a klick south of the Ore Stone, at least 8 Gannet and 45 Kittiwake were involved. You don't see Kitts diving often [well, at least, I don't..] so this was quite something to watch. As this was happening, a trawler went by towards Brixham. She was cleaning her nets and the crew sorting catch, so the cloud of gulls attending was impressive; about 410. Fortunately for them, the earlier Bonxie must have left the area..

Ok, that'll do.

Be Seeing You..


04 June, 2016

Plan B

Always useful to have a back up when things go spoon-shaped in the wrong way [ie when said spoon not attached to a Pom's derriere..]

Yesterday the weather when I got out of work was not the balmy sunshine I hoped for but 14° and overcast. Hmm, not good for little flutterbies. So, off I went to the East.

I'd taken the paparazzi setup and - as the sun was indeed hiding over there - spent some interesting time waiting for a Dartford Warbler to risk posing in view for long enough to focus and hit the shutter.. At some point in the future we will see if I succeeded.

Also other butterflies and a fair few odonata around as well; these all staying very low what with a lovely Hobby zooming around above them!

You may have noticed my lack of anything even vague about where I was. Funny that, isn't it?

Earlier in the week, Saturn, Jupiter [plus all 4], and Mars were showing wonderfully. I even tried to get pictures, but only got one of Mars before a dreadful sheet of veeeery thin cloud arrived to spoil the fun.

Also available in red..

And yes, having seen that, you're probably right to be grateful about the cloud. Who really wants to see a variety of blobs and be told 'oh yes, they were wonderful views...'

Then again, you are reading this blog.

Right, back to the original point, as today's been mostly scuppered by one of those headaches. I've just about fought it off now, and as the weather's not SB enough [maybe] and as the Little Bittern was last week [and probably not twitchable even then] and Lemmy is still needing lots of time and far more fortune..

Here I am posting.

Be Seeing You..