31 December, 2016

More CatchUp Posting

So I've not been posting enough and it's the end of the year and oh dear oh dear...

To catch up briefly [stop cheering]...

Today I've been about the Patch a bit, with nothing spectacular or even really interesting to report.

Yesterday I went up to Stow on the Wold, where the Blue Rock Thrush had sneakily moved over a couple of streets, but eventually showed almost as well as the bacon sarnies. Hellish traffic kept me from my secondary stop - Chew - until near dark, [it took me longer to get there from Stow than it did to get from home to Stow....] scuppering my shot at the RND. I did see 5 GW Egrets, and possibly the yank himself - but at such range and in such light that its not even vaguely enough. Oh well, only would have been a British year tick anyway..

Thursday I was suffering the effects of a treesplant [twinged my back..] and so limited myself to a toddle about Yarner, where I didn't even get a flyover Crossbill, but it was till lovely.

Wednesday was the day of the Great Treesplantation, where my Hawthorn was pruned from its 3m glory, de-potted, re-composted and re-installed. Also re-potted was my Blue Spruce, which was far less vigorous in it's protestations, with only a few prickles inflicted [unlike the strain, cuts, jabs, and "aarrrgh you 'orrible tree, why do you need so many roots?!?" from the Hawthorn - who in this last year has learned what ouchy thorns are...  :( ]

Tuesday was going to be a meander about Bellever and madman's laughter Tor, but the ravers had other ideas, so I went over to Fernworthy, and found hordes of non-raving people and hardly any water. But there were Crossbills here and there.

Cut back to the 24th, when a peninsular sweep gave very little; just 9 GC Grebes, one BN Grebe, a few Guilles [plus at least 85 on the Ore Stone] and no visible divers [though I missed one at Hope Cove, it seems]. Nowt notable on land. 

Ok, less gabbling, more pictures. A sample of what has been;

Thrush Fans

Chew at dusk

 The Nave at Yarner

Who said Winter was dull and without colour?

Sheep appreciating the EDM rolling over from Bellever
[seriously, they love a bit of trance]

Where the frick is all the water??


More Crossbills!

Assycombe Row

GC Grebes off Longquarry
[Identifiable! ::Gasp!::]

And finally...

A Guillemot's arse..

Happy New Year, and Goodnight!

Be Seeing You..

Not Fog Nor 'No Sign' Nor Traffic Hell

Could keep me from this glorious little chap;

Blue Rock Thrush

[Of note; no wing or toe or plumage damage, no rings, and certainly not tame..]

Here's a slightly souped-up shot to emphasise;

Ok? Good.
Time for cooing;

He likes roofs

Awww, all fluffed up...

Ran about as well as flying

More on this to follow, but I had to get some of these out..

If you haven't yet, go and see it. Yes, fog makes driving interesting, and hold-ups on motorways are a pain, but the reward is worth the trials. It's utterly gorgeous, photos cannot do this bird justice. Also, a donation will get you charity bacon sarnies - which, as everybody knows, are Good For You! - so it's a winwin!! :D

I mean, come on... A Blue Rock Thrush!



Be Seeing You..

29 December, 2016

I'm Still Here

Just not quite got to proper posting.

This will come, with details both on-Patch and off.

In the mean time, here's a festive shot from the big day;

For some reason I can't recall,
we've stopped putting a sprig of Holly on the Pud...

Ho Ho Ho

23 December, 2016

It's A Robin? It's A Wheatear? It's A Ringed Plover?!?

No, it was the Blyth's Pipit!

Such were some of the likenesses it showed when I toddled up Blagdon way yesterday.

Cracking little bird, if somewhat mobile...

Bigger, paler below, and a very different jizz to the Mipits

Coverts hard to see due to the scaps hanging over them

And so streaky above - almost like a Sedge Warbler..

All those legs, and it used them

It wasn't alone, either. All the birds there.. brilliant!

Like 10 Great White Egrets. TEN...

"How many??"

 "Two? No, he said ten!"

But that would mean bays of them....

Subtle? Moi?

And ten is the minimum figure..

Ten GWEs in view at a time.. [With another early flyover which could be 11, and another on the far side down near the dam that might be 12.. but 10 seems quite enough to me.]

Yeah, so all the egrets [only not, as we shall see]. Also 3 Bewick's Swans tarting about up the Top End;

One, two


With a large cast of wildfowl also present, including Pintail, Goosander, Goldeneye, pleasing numbers of Pochard [there are some around], a flock of Shoveler, vast numbers of GC Grebes and Cormorants..
It was a lovely spot and a pleasure to be there.

Yeah, a 'turn up and there it is' Lifer wasn't bad, either.

After finding a Warden [and major respect to BW for letting the crowd twitch first and permit later, btw], I decided to wander over to CVL and see what was up there.

Even more birds! [Shock!]

Some quite close..

Yeah, another one..

There were at least 3 more GWEs at Chew; that one at Nunnery and one either side of Herriott's Bridge.
Yup, 13 for the day. Ye Gods and Little Fishies....


Showy Goosander

Some birds were very close indeed.

The real Teal.

Some were less close..

Those Barnies get everywhere..

Some were waaaaay off..

Seven o'clock from the white van [centre top] is a GC Grebe facing left
Eight o'clock from the grebe 
Three ducks in a row, below white van
[Note posing Tufty below dark van and compare]

Oh never mind....

Yeah, so lots of stuff on the Big Lake, too. At least 8 Goosander, 19+ Goldeneye, with Tufties and Pochard [and Coot!] in numbers, plus Gadwall and GC Grebes and.. You get the idea.
Waders were not at Blagdon [no sign of Little Stint], while at Chew I saw a Common Sand in Nunnery Bay and a scattering of Lapwings [a half dozen at Nunnery and a score at Herriott's]. Also plenty of gulls at both sites, with Common and LBB well represented [the latter mostly at Chew].

I did zip around to Herriott's* in a vain attempt to get better angle/distance/light on that last subject, but the weather had had enough of 'bright sun cold wind' and it absolutely tipped down on me, and so carried on until dark stopped play. [Not that it would have probably helped, the birds were well out even from there, and the vis isn't exactly great from the causeway anyway..]. I did see a couple more Pintail and the usual Shelducks on the other side, though.

Switching on shore, here's two other shots that had to be taken.

Roe Deer at Blagdon

Anyone else remember that one?

On my way back, I stopped off at Taunton Deane for a quick cuppa, and met this noisy lot;

Hmm, let's look closer;

No, those blobs aren't leaves..
They're wagtails!

It was quite dark and they were not sitting still, so all I can say is that there were lots. [I wasn't about to zap roosting birds with a flash, btw]

Be Seeing You..

[[*Yes, really I should have gone to Moreton..]]

21 December, 2016


Happy New Year!

That's a new solar year anyway, even if the calendars take a little while to catch up..

So, another Solstice, another cloud-blocked sunrise - like I said last time, pcc - but hey, what can you do?

The sun did peek out briefly for me, so I can't complain too much, see?

'Day For Night' mode..

 "I say, that's a bit shooty for your dodgy 3 pixel phone camera, isn't it?"

Indeed it is. I've been out and replaced my ex- with a newer, fancier model... [Mid-life crisis, anyone? ;) ]. It's even got a viewfinder ::gasp::. It also has its very own set of idiosyncrasies; though it does seem to not partake in that insanely annoying 'get in focus on object, especially one flying, and then, after you hit the button, go out of focus and then take the picture'

Vaguely in focus.. ::faints::

Ok, enough of all that - it'll get ideas - and on to what I've been up to. As you may guess from the piccie, I tried a seawatch, what with an overnight front [of sorts] and an alleged SW plus another front allegedly incoming. You may take note of all that allegation and wonder. Indeed you might.

I gave it an hour and a half from not long after sunrise and soon found that, yes there were birds, but missing was a rather critical thing - all my sodding clickers!. With 'lots' going by at multiple ranges, these would have been required for a good count. As it was, I had to do a timed count and not take time to ID all the auks. And it was all the auks; I wound up with a passage rate of 1220/hour! In addition to this, there were 447 stuffed onto the Ore Stone when I sat down - though they mostly cleared off - and more on the sea. Wowzer.
Gannet rate was 184/hr and Kittiwakes were at 76/hr. All three southbound. Also a few Fulmars passing - with 5 more prospecting the cliffs around Kittiwake Gulley - and 16 Common Gulls over the full period, plus an adult Med.
Star bird should have been the one which went by at 0845, but the shearwater - probably a Balearic - was just too far out and sneaky for me to nail it. Drrrrrat.
The auks were mostly Guilles, but there were enough Razorbills - both flying and on the Ore Stone - to have me again regretting my clicker-less state making me unable to have the time to pick 'em out and give a reasonable ratio. Oh well.

The action wasn't all out at sea, as I had a curious visitor;

 "Got any flapjack?"

 Also on shore, as well as getting carried away with their lawnmower, the cheery bods at tcct have been continuing their project to make Whitethroats extinct as a breeding species at the Nose;

The Lower Tower
hacked from the jungle like a Mayan ruin

I asked a young Shag what it thought;


In other news.. I had some other things to do - not least being dekkers - so that was that for birding. Though a flyover - and I mean right over! - Kestrel was nice.

Finally...  I forgot to stick on some pics from my mist-bound trip to the Nose. Instead of editing my last post, I'm putting them on here, so you can be extra grateful to me for spending some more money;

Mercury calm

Very atmos-
wait, who's that coming out from dredging up the Bay
 well west of Thatcher Rock?

That naughty girl Rona
and a few of the 2k gulls following her

Always seems to be on a Sunday or Bank Holiday with iffy weather. But I'm sure it's all perfectly legal.*

Never mind the poor sea bed, here's a sunset to remember;

 Wow, just wow....

Be Seeing You..

[[*She was probably just outside the MCA, in the area that should have been included to help the poor starving seabirds. You know, the bit the RSPB are campaigning to have included? Did you not hear about that? I even wrote to my MP [real posted mail and everything!] about it**.]]
[[** Of course, I got a standardised 'restate Government position while ignoring your actual arguments/questions/requests' reply - on fancy HoP stationary - but what do you expect?]]

20 December, 2016

Head In The Clouds

The rest of me, too, yesterday.

Being determined to get up on t'Moor at least once more before year's end, I figured the imminent rain [at least forecast so..] would make it a better sooner than later affair. With the prospect of it coming pretty soon, I figured I might as well get going, especially if it turned out to be another of those 'fog in the valleys sun up top' days.

It wasn't.

Less fog below and hill scrapers above, but hey at least it wasn't windy and the rain held off until I almost got back.

I went along one of the favourites, from Scorhill to the White Moor Circle, then along the ridge to Wild Tor, before cutting across via Watern Tor, over the Pole Bridge and across Shovel Down back towards Scorhill. I took a slightly more circuitous route than usual - partly due to the white bowl but mostly due to taking an absence of coobeasties to have a good nose about the walled hill garden - and clocked up about 16km, so a good walk at least.

It was.. not as birdless as you'd expect, though the good stuff was heard only; Red Grouse[2+], Snipe [probably only 1] and several [presumably] groups of Golden Plover. The Rowans by the car park were very stripped, and only the odd winter thrush hanging about - a group of Redwing lower down and 3 Fieldfare up by the walled rock garden. Otherwise, usual suspects.
It was very people-less, and amazingly quiet. As I sat in the misty silence of Wild Tor.. Oh, apart from the odd passing aircraft there was actual real silence like you just don't get... :D Not even the wind in the grass.

The phone was unleashed for a couple of attempts at the joy of it, and no, you will not be spared.

See, it wasn't that bad..

White Moor Circle

Wild Tor

Oh, but it was wonderful.
[You may think I'm mad, stomping about cold dank hills in the fog, but I can think of worse ways to pass the time. Anything involving xmas muzak, for starters...]

In other news, Sunday saw me get out and have a look for birds on the dead calm sea. I found.. Not what I expected.

No Common Scoters! The mistyfog was a hillscraper, and so I went down the Nose and duly found visibility from The Mounds. I swept Thatcher channel to Longquarry and scored 60 Razorbill, 58 Guillemot, 9 auk sp., and a Harbour Porpoise [working along a flotsam and jetsam line]. A juvenile RTD flew south, and then so did 2 glorious Velvet Scoter - they came out of Babbacombe Bay! - adults, male and female, close in, in picturebook line ahead. Oh, if I'd had a camera..................
No sign of the previous GND, and not a grebe anywhere. I have no idea where they were, as the Boss saw plenty in the area the day after.. ?!?

So, another year ends and a new dawn beckons. The Sun is coming back, but what will it see? [Chaos, panic, and disorder - Plus Ça Change...]

A Hume's Warbler in Devon would be nice. [No, I didn't go to Dorset, I've had enough of dipping those things there..] A cute little pipette up zumerzet way, maybe? But not likely in all that rain tomorrow.. Oh well, what shall be shall be.

Be Seeing You..

There is already a change a' come. You shall see more. ;)