29 August, 2016

Hordes Of Lovely Migrants..

..Well, a few of them anyway!

So, this morning I defied the sunshine and grockles to get down to the Nose and see what might be. All those ickle birdies from everywhere else can't be missing here completely, right?

For a while I wondered.

Not that the Nose was quiet;

Standing room only

And the weather was fine;

Complete with forecast overnight cloud cover

But I persisted, and, while there were a few warblers about [a Garden and a few Blackcaps, a Willow and a few more Chiffs], the real interest was above, with two groups of Yellow Wagtails; a ~15 [they got into the sun before I could get a full count] and a 3+. Also a trickle of Swallows, a Mipit, and a few finches.

After a Wryneck run failed [what a surprise], I resorted to the sea. I could only find one point of interest, a nice stern trawler hauling her nets off up the coast. I fired off a salvo at full zoom in the hope I'd get something, and was shocked to succeed;

Can you see it?

Answers on a postcard.

With time passed on a bit, I made a Wheatear run, and scored!

Wot yoo lookin' at?
"Look, I'm an Issie!"
At least 2 along the Sole Rocks, and then on the South Side scree;

How many can you see?
At least 7 more. Most notable was this modest fellow;

This is my good side
This is also my good side

And a juvenile finds out it can always get worse;
"I have to fly across that?!?"
After all that loveliness, I can't resist lowering the tone somewhat;

Sunbathing 'beauty'
Juvenile Raven

I had to mess with the image a bit, which is why he looks so brown, but that's black[ish] things in strong light for you...

I'm not going to bitch about all the lazy..  Ok, that's already doing it, but you know what I mean. Instead, here's a picture of some scenery.

 L-R; Black Head [dolerite], Longquarry Point [limestone]
behind Longquarry, Petitor Point [limestone, with scoop of a quarry in it]
past Petitor* the Permian clastics at the base of the South Coast Sequence

And yes, some geology! Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!

There will be more.


But for now, here's a noisy Nuthatch;

Nightingale schmightingale!

Then I got home, and found where all the warblers had been hiding.. In the Lime Tree across the road! At least 8 [and that's only 'sure of at one time'] assorted - many nicely yellow - were nipping about hammering the aphids and flies. Not a hope of a picture, with rapid movements and intervening leaves.
I stopped and watched them for the best part of 10 minutes before they moved on. This is what migrants around here tend to do - filter rapidly inland to the big gardens and woody bits you can't get at. Sometimes you get very spawny and intercept them. All you can do is smile. Which I did.

Be Seeing You..

[[*Technically over Petitor, as it's a palaeomountain**]]
[[**Limestone formed in the Devonian, uplifted in the Carboniferous, eroded into a hill then buried by sediments during the Permian, now re-exposed.***]]
[[***You can find bits of Devonian limestone - even fossils - that were exposed in the Permian and stained red by the desert conditions in the Permian rocks.]]

28 August, 2016


I don't know what it is, but this time of year seems to be the most spanner-friendly. Current one in the works has put my li'l car out of action for the whole weekend [I love the way it's only the things you really need that still stop dead at the most inconvenient times, don't you?].
This also came right after I'd been up to Bowling Green, and right before I found out that said visit had ended 5 minutes before an Osprey showed up.. Deeeerat.

But Bowling Green was nice, if a little busy, and the Spoonbill even had a fly around for me;


A couple of Curlew Sand and Spotshank hid amongst the roosting waders, while a Wood Sand was much showier. It was briefly joined by no less than 6 Yellow Wags [all in view at once];

Yellow Wag, Wood Sand

This male was rather interesting-looking, 
so naturally the autofocus failed...

A Stock Dove also came in, but got Woodpigged;

At least I got a comparison

Here's a wider view;

Anyways, since then, I've been stuck on foot about the Patch. Which hasn't been all bad, as I've amused myself by taking shots of manky Herring Gulls [you may quake...] and more things besides..

The gulls I'm saving for my '10,000 gulls of no rarity' special [mua-ha-ha-ha-ha], but a couple of other things will be going in that other post I'm preparing.

Birds have been not inspiring, though a lovely juvie Whitethroat at the Nose this morning got my hopes up, dreary dullness splatted them back down. Then I saw the bank holiday crowd and their general tidiness and respect for the environment and their fellow humans... Ah, you know this all already.

Here's something pretty from Home;


And finally, something for your amusement. Yes, after too long a break, its 'What Bird Is This??';

Answers on a postcard

But he's still not done!

Two odonata on Patch today! Southern Hawker [female] at the Nose and Golden-ringed Dragonfly [female] about 200m thattaway ::points::

Be Seeing You..

25 August, 2016

Who Needs Hordes Of Lovely Migrants?

This is what you say when you have one of those job things, while everyone else is playing with vast flocks of Yellow Wags, Tripits, Flies and so on..

[Ok, so I did find a SpotFly at the Nose at the weekend, but it didn't strike any poses for me..]

When I'm working, the only birds I get a good look at are the ones that come to me. Fortunately, they're quite cute [ok, apart from the pigs..];

I'm Here Because I'm Beautiful

..And To Stuff My Face

More cuteness;

Juvie Greenfinch

Less pretty, but still interesting, look up!

How's this for a moult shot?

Classic juvie Herring

Green locusts..

There were 10 assorted Greenfinches on my balcony when I took that last one.

Unshot was a gorgeous Goldfinch on Tuesday, which dodged infamey due to being flushed by a BFW..
Coal Tit[s] still very regular. I only ever see one, well spaced, but it is taking so much seed that I can't help wondering if there are really a whole load of them.. [I know they cache food, but a) its August, and b) this amount is ridiculous..!] LTTs are about quite often, but I've not caught them actually on the balcony, though they could be taking insects off the trees [which are around the corner, so to speak]

I have another post still to come, this time about the non-seawatching / bush-bashing bits of the Nose. There will be pictures of plants, animal, and [of course] rocks! ::Evil grin::

Yeah, start hoping for something nice and twitchable...

Be Seeing You..

22 August, 2016

The Interesting Bits

Now for a post full of gabbling and nonsense*.

So, three days, three watches... Some numbers;

Averaged hourly rates for the weekend [all southbound passage only]:

Manx Shearwater; 108
Balearic Shearwater; 3
Gannet; 37
Kittiwake; 27
Fulmar; 9
All terns; 19

Passage rates were.. Interesting. Circa 3% Balearic is more like what you'd expect for good passage counts - they've probably been off somewhere earlier this year. For Manxies, they were 129 / 35 / 130 per hour. Big drop on the Saturday, which was a day of much sunshine. Co-incidence? The wind was easily the strongest, and with a WSW, still in a 'good' direction. While the similarity between the other two is striking, Friday's figures are probably an undercount, due to dodgy visibility. Then again, with all the feeding activity on Sunday.. Ach, it is what it is.

'Terns' included mostly Sarnies, as you'd expect - 19per on Friday, 20per on Saturday, 1.5per Sunday - with a mix of others on Friday and Sunday. The others were again as expected mostly Common, but 2 Arctic Terns passed on Friday and one and a surprise Roseate on Sunday.

Skuas were very few indeed. A distant possible on Friday might have been the LTS that went past Berry Head, Saturday was a blank, and Sunday.. Ah, Sunday. A glorious adult Long-tailed with a feeding frenzy - feeding, not harrying! - was later followed by a light morph Arctic, harrying a luckless Kittiwake, again well out.

The turn on of the outfall on Friday and a shift in the wind brought a Stormie in - though very briefly, as it surely took one look at all the gulls...

Gulls included 5 BHG on Friday, and a scattering of passing/loitering LBBs. Two juv YLG on Friday, and one on Sunday. I keep hoping one will come in and land with the loiterers on the rocks so that I can get a decent picture, as yet in vain. 

Odds and ends included a Common Sand and 3 Common Scoter on Friday and a Razorbill on Sunday.

Yeah yeah, time for the big shears...

Friday; first up was a Great Shear, which passed well out and very fast at 0739. This was followed by a Cory's which, due to a lamentable failing on my part [I was, in my defence, wrangling a brolly and trying to keep track of other birds as well..] only recordable as 'some time after 0830 and before 0900'.. I think it was about 0840, but I can't be sure. It was almost certainly the same one which went past BH at 0856 - it was on the Manxie line and with a party of the same - so my lack of accuracy is very frustrating. [In the past, Greats have been timed from the Nose to the Head in about 10 minutes, and it would be interesting to see the difference, if any]
Three Sooties also passed at 0755, 0805 and 1042.

Saturday; What I believe was a single loitering Cory's was well out to the ESE at 1408, 1435 and 1446 [[Sorry, guys...]]
One Sooty went by at 1507.

Sunday; single sighting of a Cory's, heading north but in close proximity to a frenzy [due E] at 1750. This the same frenzy with the LTS, which popped up at the same time - I lost track of the Cory's due to the appearance of the Long-tail!

There were also other birds knocking about the Nose, such as this gorgeous thing;

"My name is not Quoth, 
you ignorant semi-evolved monkey..."

So.. While there were no Great Big Black And White Things, and not the numbers seen elsewhere, I did pretty darn good. I had toyed more than casually with heading for Porthgwarra and then Pendeen, but decided in the end that the weekend is not a fun time to go, and the weather wasn't that epic. [Hmm, not entirely accurate, judging by 170-odd Cory's at Gwarra...] Oh well. I will get down there eventually. If the Goddess of Birding smiles upon me with the weather, anyway...

In the mean time, I'll gladly pay my suffering and woe to keep on at the Nose - and elsewhere now and again - in the mad vain hope that one day, one shining glorious day, I'll actually get a decent photo!

Oh, stop laughing.

Be Seeing You..

[[*Please refer to the disclaimer at the page top before making any queries. Thankyou.]]

Far Out, Man

Three days, three watches, three scores.

Friday in the morning, starting as early as possible [breakfast went with me].
Saturday in the early afternoon.
Sunday in the late afternoon.

Not exactly round the clock coverage, but it's the getting there for the key moments that is the important bit. [And sometimes that even comes off..]

So, where to start?

Pictures three, I think. A comparison;




Things went.. better than expected. Much better, though as the title says, the good stuff was mostly well out, and often not hanging around at all. Though not always, as Sunday showed.

All three days were interesting in different ways, and all with their little challenges.

Friday's was most obvious; a rapid switch to a blasting SE with bands of hard rain and near constant sideways drizzle - the kind that doesn't seem like much but will in fact soak you to the bone in very few minutes if you don't brolly up - that made things difficult. Moving to the TSWS wasn't really on the cards due to it being occupied, and so the squirrely wind would mean I'd have been almost as exposed whilst being hit by gusts from multiple directions. Ok, no getting sprayed with 'sea' water [as the chummer did eventually turn on], which would have been better in the long term, but I was determined to beast it out. And I did. So nyerr.

Saturday was quite sunny. Though the wind was blowing very well, and nicely off shore, so I got some shelter. Just no big squalls actually hitting, and thus birds well out and hiding behind waves for the most part.

Sunday saw the inconvenient timing of a weak but profitable warm front - bad light stopped play right after it finally cleared!

I have a variety of piccytures, indeed several posts worth [[mua-ha-ha-ha-ha]], so I'll just add a little colour;

Friday's gull is.. 'orrible

Well, they like it anyway..

Name that bird??

Itsa Sarnie!
[Ok, there are two here]

Never mind 'name that bird',
'where's that bird?!?'

"Did somebody say 'sandwiches'??"

Right, time for the birds.

Ok, more properly; time for more birds.

But not yet. :p

Well, I've gone through so much space already, and time is getting on. Also, I want to do some comparative number-crunching concerning relative rates of passage.

So, a more listy post will be coming soon.

Then another one with all manner of 'orrid pictures. Beware, for there be ickle tiny flowers ahead. And some wonderful load structures! Yes, it's going to get botanical and geological. >:D

The Earth is doomed.

Be Seeing You..

[[Bonus points for the photobombers!]]
[['That bird' is about to vanish behind the Ore Stone and is actually a Balearic Shearwater. Really. Honest. I kid ye not. You can see its dark underside {wind blowing away from camera, so underside on view} if you look carefully.]]

21 August, 2016

Another Stand-in Post

Yup, putting it off again, with interest.

After-effects of Friday's fun limited Saturday's fun [and looks like Sunday's too..], leading me to only get down to the Nose for an afternoon session. Passed a couple of Devon's Finest on their way out - they'd had little luck and missed the Cory's that went past DW, poor lads - and so didn't expect much.

Sometimes it is so Very Nice to be wrong.

With that teaser, I'm off to bed again.

But not before at least one manky gull!


And one cute one;


Be Seeing You..

19 August, 2016

I Was There

No, not Prawle [mutter mutter etc.], but I was on duty at the Nose today; there was no way I'd miss the fun!

For reasons I shall blame on seawatching after work, I decided that as the weather wasn't going to be that hardcore, I didn't need to cower 'round the corner. Then, when the wind picked up quite a bit more than forecast for longer, I didn't give up and move, on account of all the birds.

Result is that I'm delaying a proper post until tomorrow on account of being knackered.

I will say that I saw some stuff, missed other stuff, and saw other stuff!
I also took a few more pictures of manky gulls. Be warned...

Be Seeing You..

16 August, 2016

A Redstart Day

Sunday, and an outing with the Folks to Fernworthy.

Twas a sunny day of light variable winds and lots of peoples in the popular spots, so wandering about the back ends of the plantation seemed a good idea. As you may have surmised from the title, this was indeed the case.

There is in some circles no small amount of dislike for conifers. The dread cry of "Non-native!!" is uttered, and words beginning with d, such as dark dreary and desert usually turn up.
To me, nothing could be further from the truth.
I suppose a vast sea of monoculture would fit some of those terms, but certainly in Devon, the plantations surely do not. No, you can't easily cover every square metre, but do you want to? Indeed, should you? Shouldn't there be places that are hard [at the very least] for humans to get to?

You can certainly bird the plantations. The access tracks get all over the place [if you're willing to walk them], the terrain gives you overlooks, and there's that wonderful term patience...

Yes, every hill covered in trees is one that Dunlin and Curlew can't breed on*, but every big block is one where Crossbills and Siskin and.. other species can. AND, what is 'natural'? Hmm? That moorland? Or a sea of assorted native trees [with an impenetrable understory beneath them, fit only for Boar and Bear]? Humans are here and it is, imho, naive to deny it.

I've not even got to the environmental benefits of growing trees here, yet.

But I think I've gone on enough for now.

We wandered about here and there, and there were loads of gorgeous juvie Redstarts [at last!], and the odd skulky adults, mostly around the felled edges of conifer blocks.

Hit the pics;


Modern art installation;
'Someone's been busy'

Marmite birding.


And now a more traditional shot, due to bad light and temperamental autofocus..

 Male Crossbill

Something for KW;
Smaller plants

We had a nice [if quite warm] time, with double figures of Redstarts, as well as Crossbills and the usual suspects. Also notable were large numbers of dragonflies - Migrant and Common Hawkers mostly - with almost every ride and open area patrolled.

Closer to home.. Large numbers of wasps around right now - frequently attracted to windows at night and unable to get back out - they seem to be Red Wasps [well, the dead one under my window is, anyway]. Coal Tits and Nuthatches are back to the feeders, presumably freshly-moulted, and the odd lost-looking juvie Greenfinch has hung about with that 'wth?!?' look you often see on the freshly independent... 

Be Seeing You..

[[*Though between climate change and the hordes of people wandering around...]]

13 August, 2016

The Dark Tower

I often liken Great Mis Tor to the Barad-dÛr *. It has a knack of finding a shadow to brood under on the sunniest day, stands alone and towering over the surrounding area, always takes a toll to get to, and is just so... BIG.

I mean, this tor has more than a dozen tor-worthy outcrops studding its peak; its as if they've been collected there by some absent-minded builder who never got around to puting them on other hilltops..

Here be piccies;

Three of the outcrops

And another three

The views from are quite something;

Looking towards the Ryder's massif and North Hessary

Great Staple, Roos, and Cox Tors

Over the upper Walkham to the western wall tors, 
Great Links, Amicombe Hill, The Wilhay, Great Nodden, Fur Tor...

Fur Tor herself

Nice view of Brunel's handiwork

Looking Back..
Conies' Down Tor, behind it
Devil's Tor and the Beardown Man 
[left of outcrop, below skyline]

There were also a few birds about, mostly mobile Mipits, but also a few of these;

There are at least 5 in this shot.
No, really.

How about a closer one?


And up above;

"I'm NOT saying it!"

Between there and here, a stealth hut circle;

Stands out better irl

Pictures standing in for words again..

There's not an awful lot to say; I wandered up to the tor, sat on my behind for a long while enjoying the view [and being out of the wind!], ambled about the place a bit, then wandered back down again.

The journey took 50% longer than it should due to brainless grockles - especially the ones with far more money than sense who tried taking an insanely large caravan** along the Holne road.. - but its August, so what can you do?

Maybe don't answer that.


Closer to home, a bevy of Greeeenfinches - including 4 fresh 2nd brood juvs! - descended upon my poor benighted feeders [and the poor benighted Coal Tit!];

Count the Greenfinches;
One, two, three, four..

Coal Tit; "Will you please hurry up?"

Unexpected decoration!
[Or; 'Why cleaning up too much is no fun!"]

Ok, that'll do.

Oh yeah, today.

Not much to report. Only interesting thing being a large posse of assorted tits and things, heard mostly, along my route back from a bird ration run.

Be Seeing You..

[[*If anyone knows how to get proper accents, I would appreciate it...]]
[[**It was a huge box of a thing, almost a cube, so wide that they had to extend the extra wing mirrors to their widest and that was on a Range Rover...]]