27 February, 2017

More Dots...

With a day filled with assorted Things to do, I was nevertheless unable to resist taking a scenic route to the supermarket [very scenic!] to have a quick look at the Buoy Farm scoters, on the off chance.

Lots of scoters present, broken up into various mobile flocks due to persistent harrying by gulls [mostly young GBBs] - numbering anything from 4 to 220+! - made counting interesting, and I ended up spending half an hour on them in the rather strong wind.. But eventually I caught them all either flying or just landed and got a count of 395. So I think ~400 is reasonable.

The swell and mobility made picking things out more interesting, unless said things wingflapped or flew. Of interest, one group, conveniently flying away in line abreast contained not one or two but SIX Velvets!

Here are some nice dots for your amusement;


More blobs

Blobs and flying blobs

Landing blobs

On the deck and in the air. Again.

How many scoters blobs..?

Ok, I'll stop now...

When the sun shone, and as I'd picked a vaguely sheltered viewpoint, it wasn't as bad as those look - at least not through the Big Scope, anyway! - but these little darlings are not in any way close inshore..

Also present by the Inner Buoy Farm was a nice GND - amazingly the first I've seen on-Patch this year! [Though one might wonder about the one near the PacD, but that's another issue]

This afternoon, I've just counted 2 22-Spot, 6 4-Spot, and 8 Harlequins in one room, all wandering around going "Is it Summer yet?" The Robin sang on the balcony, and the Blue Tits [who've been coming in a lot more recently] were very cute in the sunshine.

Then the rain showed up again.

Be Seeing You..

25 February, 2017

Thar She Blows!

Did you really expect any other title?

Yes, after my lovely new working week [now with added 'work into weekends'] ended, it was straight off down to Slapton to have a look for our lovely visiting cetacean, who's definitely putting the mega in megafauna.. [[Ok, ok, I'll stop it]]

I succeeded, more through jam than judgement, as every call I made about where to go and when was in the clear light of 20/20 hindsight wrong.. I started up at Strete Gate, walked down to Memorial, saw the whale at about 2.5km - WOOOO!!! - then decided that as it was seemingly just south of Torcross to relocate there. This I did* at the same time as the whale decided to head north... To add injury to insult I managed to slip on Limpet Rocks and make a fair attempt at bending my fingers over backward - fortunately they still work but aren't happy about it - and while a lovely Peregrine did fly past, the whale eluded my attempts at a sub kilometre photo-able view..

But I did at least get to see one full dive sequence up to and including undersides of flukes, all sharp at 75x, so I can't and won't moan [any more].

I will grumble quietly** about the hordes [plural hordes] who drove me from my attempt at a quiet or indeed any lunch at Stokeley, but that's weekends for you. So no chance at another go for the littlest Scaup. Instead I muttered over to Thurlestone, where the Desert Wheatear was adorable, despite the blast, and after far too much looking, even the Whitefronts failed to elude me. As a bonus I even got onto a Water Pipit!


I'm calling it a win.

Time to assail your eyes;

Looking south at a Humpback Whale
[there may be a little water in the way..]

Looking east at a Humpback Whale
[ok, maybe 'at where one was'..]
[[But there are Block'eads and a Fulmar!]]

Wonder why a Desert Wheatear likes it there..?

Time for your close up

Two of these geese are not like the others...

White front?

Ooh, before I go, I have some more news.. Wednesday afternoon saw me get an unexpected Home Tick, with a flyover Mallard!! [Yes, such joy over a Mallard.] It went zipping over west, about 20' higher than That Osprey went north [Yes, I had to remind you about That Osprey ;) ]. Male, just the one. :D

Ok, that's it.

Be Seeing You..

[[*Yes, I lugged the Big Scope from Strete to Monument and back.. Fool. Though 6 singing Cetti's were some consolation, I admit.]]
[[**Hairs are for splitting. In my defence, I was by then in a little discomfort, which did not improve my mood or my willingness to be reasonable with regards to people who were enjoying Nature with just as much right to as me.. Ahem.***]]
[[***I'm sure I wouldn't have seen her anyway. Though the report of '1 male and 2 female Scaup' makes me wonder....]]

23 February, 2017

The Cute The Bad And The Noisy

Scenes from a Patch, and so on..

There are always flowers on The Patch, it's a part of being in Glorious Devon dontcha know, but once things start to warm up a little they really get into gear. Here be a few brightly-coloured things that caught the eye;

Defying the feet of heedless passers-by

Mimosa, sweetie?

Snowdrops and..er..

Ok, enough of the eye candy, time for an eyesore or two. Oh yeah, it's a roller coaster on here;

Blasted heath..

This is, or was, the southern half of the Second Slope at the Nose. When this was an area of Blackthorn and Gorse, a couple of pairs of Whitethroats nested here. Not any more. The lower edge had a bay in it, where I have seen every single Redstart I've ever found on Patch. Every Single One. I even dubbed the area 'Redstart' for it. Not any more. It gave shelter to the butterfly-rich paddock by the Mud Path. Not any more.
I think I've belaboured my point enough..

But I'm sure the tcct know better than me. After all, dogmess-streaked muddy grass and Bracken is a far more environmentally useful habitat than warbler-streaked Brown Hairstreak-used Blackthorn scrub, isn't it?

Not just one more spot, either;

The top of the South Side

Looking the other way

Speaking of annoying things at the Nose, there's no escape from them...

This my camera would focus on...

Right, after all the tooth-grinding vexation, I think we need to remind ourselves of the nice pretty things out there. The glory of Nature and so on. Here comes the Wow..

Almost an eagle*

How's about that? :D

Yeah, that was pretty darn good, but I'm still not centred after all that badness, so I feel I must sign off with some extreme violets;

Proper wild ones, too

Be Seeing You..

[[*Ok, it might have been roadkill...]

20 February, 2017

Misses And Hits

After Friday's glorious fun, I figured Saturday was time for a long shot cunning plan. This involved me, my Big Scope, and checking all of the waters off The Patch on the off chance a certain diving thing had wandered into range...

After the lack of sun on Friday, there was a surfeit, and so all the sodding jetskis and speedboats were out and roaring about. Needless to say, there was sod all on most of the waters.  :(

Pretty birdless

Not quite everywhere, as the proximity of the Buoy Farm gave protection for some diving things. These being 4 Eider [presumably up from Broadsands?] and at least 19 C Scoter. But they were the limit and extent. Hm.

[That's right, no divers, not even any grebes to be seen...] On shore, a Blackcap was singing. But nowt else fancy. Here's a poser, though;

Pretty bird

Not all posers had it so easily, alas;

Lovely day for a soar...

..or maybe not.

Sunday's weather seeming to defy the forecast and actually be sunny saw me toddle off inland in search of some cheering shrikey goodness. This was forthcoming, as the Vitifer Great Grey Shrike was the very first bird I laid eyes on!


Lookin' at you lookin' at me..

The weather was.. less than hoped for, with for some reason sun shining on the far side of the valley but not the near [where the bird was], which seems to defy various Laws.. Until you remember the Irish One..
The shrike never came close, despite me stalking it carefully, setting myself up with forethought and waiting for two sodding hours. [Lunch may have been involved.. :) ]  Oh well. I did see a couple of nice Green Woodpeckers;

Photo one Green Wood, get another free!

Eventually, the sideways drizzle convinced me that no joy would be forthcoming, so I took a toddle about Sousson's and wandered back. It was nice, and very warm out of the wind.

Looking over the Great Gert towards Golden Dagger

In other news, I've been out and about The Patch some more, catching up with the reported scoter by the Buoy Farm - there were about 250 of them, south of the Inner Farm, when I finally found the right mix of viewpoint, light, and birds behaving themselves to get a decent count - and the odd singing Blackcap [though no Wheatears here! :( .
I also have various things to show you [oh yes, more optical torture photos to come...]. Said things are numerous enough for a separate post, so that's what's coming. At some point. [[Don't panic too much, some things are really quite pretty. No, really]]. So it is that I shall

Be Seeing You..

17 February, 2017


The Artist has done it again, so it was straight off down to Broadsands this afternoon, where I found a few familiar faces staring off into the distance....

They were looking this-a-way...;

Four flavours of divers
[what do you mean, you can't see them?!?]

Yes, a lovely, [if mobile and blimmin' distant] Pacific Diver, present with a Red-throat and also Black-throated and Great Northern Divers! It was well off to the north, seemingly about Roundham Head range, towards Torre Abbey to Torquay Harbour. Mostly close to the RTD, but the GND and a BTD were also up close [especially later on - I gave it two hours]. No chance of getting chin strap vs crease, but it very helpfully rolled and preened and showed me its vent strap instead! Also no thigh patch, and the distinct neck pattern - paler nape giving the contrasting vertical black marking sharp against the white throat. Made it look much more contrasty than the more two-tone Black-throat. Nice neat little bill, too, which gave it a more RTD shape to the head, but with a bigger 'large diver' neck, so a unique structure.

Enough babbling. It didn't get anywhere near close enough [you needed a BIG scope to get a good view - I love my 75x, you know.. :D ] to photo, but a couple of Black-necked Grebes did;

Cute. Very cute.

Also out there were a few Fulmars, a small group of GC Grebes, and a very smart male C Scoter.

Closer in, the gulls were much-vexed by dogs, and so mostly cleared off into the distance. Not one to be put off, I was determined to inflict at least one upon your poor retinas, so aimed and fired at a random* victim.. :D


Don't you feel educated?

Finally. A lot of people have taken shots of sketches in notebooks instead of the bird. Don't think I wasn't tempted...

Be Seeing You..

[[*Ok, that was a fib. It was carefully chosen for your edification as it looks a bit like something actually worth shooting. And you should have seen the flight shot I almost got... ;) ]]

15 February, 2017


Oh, Saturday... It snowed, it did.

Not much in the way of settling happened, and the snow turned from sleet to rain [then hail, then a bit more snow..], but still. Scchhhnoooooooooww!!!!


I decided to get out and do some nice proper birding. In the snow and rain and frigid wind.. Ah, but where's the fun in easy? [Don't answer that]

Exminster Marsh had these guys;

There's at least 12 there...

And this guy, hunting insects in the grass by a gate and doing a wonderful impression of a teeny feathered Serval;



What a cracker! :D

Did I mention it was snowing?

Not heavily enough to hide this lot, alas

Lots of Wigeon and Lapwing present, though the AmWig avoided me.

On across the river!

On Goosemoor, the Spotshank was less elusive than it had been on the 1st;

Spot the shank.. [oh dear]

Bowling Green was a nice place to stop for some rations and to coo over the hordes of birds, many up close and personal;

Song Thrush





That Thing

This Thing is of note. You see, while they are recorded most winters, I've never actually seen a [I can't say wild] free one before! That blur along the base of shot is the boundary fence below the hide, btw. Yes, that close.....

Wide shot;

Lots of water, lots of birds
At low tide, too

Of especial note were the vast Pintail numbers, with at least 97 present! They were all over the shop [but none came close like those lovely Wigeon, alas].

I wandered on around the point, past Avocets off the Goatwalk [not a good photo op, see earlier post for that] and eventually up to the Rec. There were 4 Goldeneye up by the M5 bridge, but much closer [yes, here it comes...] was this...


It stayed up high and very mobile, but Ye Gods and Little Fishies, I got it!!!!!!!!

A Famous Bicycling Birder was also present, so out of respect to him I did not actually do the Dance Of Joy, but oh I wanted to...  :D

Finishing up, I took a detour on the way back, namely a wee wander about the Haldon Ridge, where the Folks had through amazing skill/fortune/both found this;

A bit of [crap] local flint?
[Left / upper side]

But look at that shaped edge...
[Right / lower side]

I'm not an expert by any means*, but having had a very educational meeting with a real knapper, I've seen what a shaped edge looks like. Yeah, this is rubbish quality flint [good stuff goes 'ping' like crystal], but when you're here, you've just killed a something and you need to butcher it, and what's to hand works.. ::shrug::

Held in the right hand: Upper view; First finger along straight edge at top, thumb sits in a depression in the angle. Lower view; first finger along the top, middle finger sits along the lit face below the little ridge.
You get a scraper which fits the hand beautifully.
How old it is? Not a clue, really. Could even be modern. 

The site is the shoulder of a watershed [as usual] and the tool came out of the root bole of a big tree. I had a good look and couldn't find anything else, though I'm not good enough to pick knapped off strikes from naturally broken bits. Also, the assorted leaves and liberal dousing of snow didn't help.

Right then, after all that fun, here's something at which I just had to laugh. Really, I had to...

Be Seeing You..

[It's not politics!]

[[*Not at flint knapping, let alone archaeology!]]

12 February, 2017


An interim post due to.. well, stuff.

I didn't get a lot of birding done today, as I had Things To Do and So On. But I did make the time to stop by the Real Living Coast, where there were at least 8 Purple Sandpipers to coo over, with 3 Turnstones and a couple of Rockits. I hadn't taken my camera - like I said, not proper birding - so no tiny dots of the 19 GC Grebes in view [with 1 Razorbill] in the top end of the Bay.

Needless to say, I inevitably found something. Indeed, a something so 'orrible that it demanded recording.

No, no mercy, no escape. It's Back To the Old Days... The DREADED PHONEBINS OF DOOOOOOOOM!!!!!  Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.........


Yeah, so here you go, more horribly unfocused burnt out monstrosities. Don't enlarge these I beg you;

One of these gulls is not like the others..

::Faints in horror::

Now it's going off in a huff..

And it did, swimming out into the Harbour then flying off before I could get more than these.

So, we have a more-or-less Herring Gull sized dark grey-backed gull, missing some facial feathers but still with a really chunky bill. Judging by said bill a 2w but with lots of adult type feathers. You can't see the tail, which is a real bugger as it had a huge black bar, with black reaching up many of the outer webs [I think], creating a Pied Wheatear-like effect*.

[*But from a deeper terminal bar and without the black central feathers]

Funny ickle Geeb? GBBxHerring? GBBxLBB???

Whatever spawned it, I know two things; One, I'm gonna need the brain bleach. Two, so are you. ;)

Proper posting with proper birding and proper photos of some properly pretty birds will follow at some point in the coming week. Trust me, these ones you do want to see! :D

Be Seeing You..