27 March, 2017

A Little Sunshine

Here and there over the weekend.

The big day on Sunday took up a lot of it, both in doing and preparing, and indeed went off very well. :)

About the Patch, I only got out for a quick futile Whitethroat hunt on Saturday afternoon [there was a Lemon and Lime Drizzle Cake to bake, you see.. ;) ]. The sun was promising, the wind less so, the hordes of mundanes everywhere really not so.. Ah, what can you do?

No Whitethroats, no Wheatears, [no sign of Bailey Jr.'s Cirl, either]. Persistence eventually found me a migrant, but it was naturally mobile and annoyingly clever in its photo-dodging poses..

How to hide your legs, face, wings, and underside.....

As to where I'd recce'd and we visited for the Traditional Mothers' Day NicPic.. I'm under instruction not to publicise the exact location. This is not due to Schedule 1 or anything, just sheer selfishness! Yup, no shame. It's gorgeous and lovely and wonderful and quiet [well, mostly; there was a Little Black Dog around...] I will be back, and may possibly even drop more obvious hints [it's not as if I've got a six-figure readership, after all*].  :D

I will however put up a few pics, so if you reallllly want to know, you can work it out.

Can't see the rock for the trees?

I really lichen this place

Flooded forest

Wildlife-wise, there were singing Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, and of note the first Brimstones I've seen this year, both on site and en route :)

In other news, I'm still to see a non-sandy hirundine yet this year, so bah and humbug.

And no, it didn't even call!

Be Seeing You..

[[* A figure of six readership more like it...]]

21 March, 2017

Patchy Gubbins

I considered calling this 'Dots and Destruction' due to the pics I took about the Patch on Sunday, but never mind.

The star of the show was a lovely Blackcap in full song, hiding amidst the remains of the top of the South Side at the Nose. I failed to find any definite migrants - a calling Chiff might have been one, as of course the Blackcap - or indeed a lot else of note. At sea, there were Gannets about, and the scoter were back in numbers by the Buoy Farm; a half dozen groups in proximity, each of 20-70 birds. In the wind, with the ducks riding the big swell, and with the habit they had of partial group diving and so on, an accurate count wasn't realistic, so I settled on a '~250' . It looked like there was still a group of Velvets with them - maybe 5 - but they didn't do anything definitive, only be Velvety*

At the Nose, here are a couple more instances of 'conservation by chainsaw';

The re-opened Mud Path

There's a hole in the hedge

Finally, there's no escape from the blobs of doooooom...

Particularly blobby

Hmm, I feel the need for something more decorative. I've been putting too many like those up recently. ::Shuffles through the Dread Archive..::

Ok, here's something completely different;

Yeah, that one again

Be Seeing You..

[[*Velvets are bigger, and show a longer more elongated body when on the water. Head shape is different, with a 'roughly concave' bill profile. They also tend to look darker, and of course can show white secondaries even on a folded wing]]

18 March, 2017

Spring Things

I got out and about today looking for a few migrating type things, and I even managed to see a few. A swing by Stover saw Mandarin and Sand Martin, plus Goosander and Pochard, but no other hirundines or stripey-headed ducks. Then a longer wander about Exminster drew many more Sandies, and some nice Greeeeen Sands, plus encounters with Bailey Sr. - we looked for an invisible Swallow, but as we'd forgotten our Invisible Swallow Seeing Filters™ for our scopes we failed ;) - and the famous JK and her Camera of Cirl-summoning.

Unfortunately, said interesting birds stayed either too distant or too fast for a decent [or even awful] photo.

But I can't spare you the horror deny you your fun, so here are some less camera-shy if also less migratory birdses;

Spot the Kingfisher

Too late, he realised why they'd said 
not to go out into open water...

One of these Goosander..

...Is not like the other.

"Wait, did I just hear his autofocus lock on?!?"

Did someone say Spring?

In other news.. I'm sure there's something, but I can't remember it right now. Never mind then, eh?

Be Seeing You..

15 March, 2017

Unhappy Success

I'm with Garfield when it comes to Mondays.

That says something about my age. There's a joke involving the three responses you get; "Who??", "Yeah..." and "Wait..do you mean the president..?!?!?"  [[You shouldn't lead with the punchline, but never mind that, eh? Not like I'm pretending to be funny here]]

So, awakening for another lovely week of nights to find that yes, the whale was back in the Bay, and hoping the sodding white arses might have gotten out of bed themselves, I took the Big Scope down to the Nose in the vain hope of a big cetacean Patch Tick.. :)

Oh dear.

Yes, the Humpback had in fact frelled off back south after being harassed by a biamv*, but not before showing gloriously to the lucky buggers on BH. Oh well.

At the time, of course, I had no idea of this and seeing the constant crowd up on BH from my perch at Sandy Point [where I could scan the outer Bay and look for Wheatears at the same time - cunning, no?] I figured it was either down that way or [more likely] south of the Head. Hey, I thought, it could head north at speed at any time [I knew this well from the Slapton shenanigans, after all].

In the end, the only thing that came north was this coast-scanner;

MH-60S 'Knighthawk'

Search And Rescue configured Seahawk variant [the Seahawk being the naval version of the famous Blackhawk], note the search camera attached to the nose [as used by police helicopters etc.] and winch cable pods. **  I guess it's from one of the ships exercising offshore at the moment.

Here's another one from when it came back south a little later;

Big grey hellycopta

The police chopper was up doing the same thing soon after - hopefully a false alarm [I've not heard any relevant news]?

Getting to quieter things, I was not alone up the wrong end of the Bay, as there were still 13 scoters off the Buoy Farm; I'll inflict no more blobs, but they were 11 Common and 2 Velvet. Much closer were the assorted Rockits;

Spying on me in the bath?? How daaaare you!

Also hanging about The Heel, though much less obliging..


Yeah, I got the Wheatear shot. Alas, as soon as I took this - which was a 'shoot first' and a good thing I did - he vanished and I couldn't refind him.. Hmm.

And no, no sign of any sodding white-wingers.. ::Muttermutter::

So you see, I succeeded in getting that Wheatear, and an aircraft lifer [photo'd quite well, I think] but I wasn't an entirely happy bunny. Especially after spending more than three hours standing about in the cold. [[Oh poor baby..]] I did find it amusing at the time [if you can't find a little pleasure in suffering, you're probably not cut out to be a seawatcher. Or twitcher. Or list-chaser..], though the poor dog-walker coming the other way may have been slightly unnerved by my expression as I climbed back up the long long slope at dusk..

Be Seeing You..

[[*EXPLETIVEDELETED in/on a motorised vessel. Yes, it's an inelegant term, but it needs to a)cover everything from big cabin cruisers to jet skis and b) not involve any of the actual words I tend to use]]

[[**The 'S' is a general purpose helicopter and if you're interested in such things, you may notice it doesn't have the high-mounted nose FLIR*** for missile guidance, chin-mounted radar, or the winglets for carrying ordnance. I'm curious as to who owns it, as I didn't think the Americans had sold 'S' types to anyone else, but they're not usually bashful; I'm not sure why its 'NAVY' has been painted over [just visible on the tail side] - only the number '10' is clear - but the crew were in military fatigues.]]
[[***It is possible that the 'camera' turret actually houses an ALMDS - lidar mine detector - which would, if I understand the system, also work for looking for people in the water]]

13 March, 2017

Happy Failures

Contradiction in terms?

Well, I have this weekend failed to see any Wheatears or indeed any other sexy migranty things like the hirundines seemingly flooding everywhere. I also failed to see a great big frock-off* whale near or even [whisper it] in Patch waters....

But I have had some fun in my failures/ignorance.

Saturday was not my first Wheatear-shaped dip. I did, however, see the odd nice thing. Such as 200+ Common Scoters, still with a half dozen Velvets attached.
Though admittedly, they're blobs in this;


Ooh, what's that?

Big grey scoter-flusher**


HMS St. Albans

Ok, enough warship porn...

Perhaps a reason any Wheatears were feeling elusive;

DFA and all that

Sunday saw me toddle off past Mor'n'ampster to a couple of favourite sites. The first having not only these;


And this;

Alas poor Mipit..

And these;

Part of the Mardon Circle
[it's too big to easily photo..]

I'll be merciful and only inflict that one shot.

I moved on to the Teign, where they've been busy massacring the poor Larches.. Yes, I know the plague is the plague, but it's not their fault, is it? [Perhaps if we cut a few bio security-violators off at the ankles, there wouldn't be any more invasive surprises..?? ;) ]

One moderately shiny lining is the opening up of some sight lines, such as at Wooston Castle;

Looking over the ramparts towards Fingle

I took a few shots of the defences, but you can't appreciate them in the format, so I'll not bother putting them up. Suffice to say they're quite impressive for a small hill fort; especially the ditches, which are neatly landscaped so you can't see them until you're right on top of them. While the overlooking hill would have made the Romans snigger as they loaded their ballistae, to an onrushing iron age attacker, shield up against the sling[shot]s and arrows of outrageous defenders, either  zooming down the slope or knackered climbing up from the river, it'd be a very serious proposition...

I also took a wander and yes, there's more horror the inevitable attack of rocks!!!!;

They were having a BOGOF on trace fossils..

[On the grey bit, the long curvy thing and the racetrack-shaped thing next to it]

Even better than all that, while I was saying Hi to the glorious full Moon [plus assorted planets and stars - twere great conditions - this evening, not only did a big meteor go over [a proper one with a distinct head - real 'shooting star'!] but an owl called, too.

Be Seeing You..

[[*My spell-check came up with that, and once I'd stopped laughing, it had to go in..]]
[[**Though it must be noted that, according to the scoters, despite all the missiles and guns, she was still "Not as scary as a Bonxie.."]]

04 March, 2017

The Yellow And The Black

Twice out on t'Patch today.

The morning trip was the longer, with the vague hope [very very vague] of Things With White On dashed, though plenty of hard white things fell out of - or rather shot sideways across - the sky.

I noticed I'd missed a couple of Spring-y staples, so here are some pretty pictures [to lure you into a false sense of security..];

I think Primroses look better in the shade

Daffydowndillies, on the other hand...

..surely prefer the Sunshine

The trees were getting in on the act, too

Only avians of note were the scoters off the Buoy Farm. Again about 400, this time split into 5 groups. The light was not friendly, so I came back later, when the sun was at the better angle and I also happened to have the Big Scope with me.

The ducks hadn't read the script, unfortunately, as only a scattering were still there. The near-constant harrying by a half-dozen young GBBs seemed a likely reason for the reduced numbers..

Fortunately, one of the small groups - 5 strong - was entirely made up of Velvets! :D

Yeah, here come those blobs again...

Sunny scoters

Another group, well part of;
 they're halfway through 'diving to avoid camera'

The afternoon Velvets, somewhat overcast
[with photobomb by wingflapping Razorbill!]

They looked a lot better through the scope [he says]. Also of note, one of the male Commons present in the afternoon had extensive yellow on the bill, but was definitely [after waiting an age for the git to turn] just that. Hey, you've got to check.

Ok, enough enough....

Be Seeing You..

EDIT: You may notice this post has morphed slightly. This is due to amongst other matters a minor issue with remembering which photos were taken when.. Oh well.