28 February, 2018

Pretty Pictures

Because before the freeze, they just kept posing.


First up;
Long-tailed Tits

"That's a lot of LTT shots"

"You think that's bad? Look down.."

"I'm a cute little fluffball. Honest."

"This feeder is mine, too"

"Back off the fatballs!"

"The ground is mine as well!"

The colder it got, the fiercer he became. He's taken to hiding in the conifer over there [you've seen pics of things in it on occasion] and sallying forth when he sees anyone else fly in, the git. Poor little LTTs..

Time for some sympathetic photography - look at the sun [the picture, I hasten to add!] hard enough and it will return.

Nobody mention The Lion King..

Hail to the Sun!

There, don't you feel warmer already?

I can hope.!

Be Seeing You..


Wow, who turned winter on?

I suspect this is an unfortunate side effect of GoT; if enough people believe Winter is coming, it surely will.


Yes, it is actually wintery here on the Patch, which is highly unusual. We have settled snow, and there was a centimetre of ice - snow over it - in the bucket minipond when I got in from work this afternoon. Afternoon! It keeps refreezing as well, so I fear for the birds. Vast quantities of assorted fat and seeds and worms put out, so if anything's still going [other than the Woodpig which popped up within seconds] hopefully they'll be ok.

Definitely cold weather up country, as a Lapwing was trying to make progress into the wind over the Old St. Marychurch road this afternoon - almost but not quite on Patch, alas. It is a long time since I've seen one this side of the Teign.

In other news, posting should resume after an unfortunate break. Possibly even today..?

Be Seeing You...

19 February, 2018

Elation And Vexation Pt 2

Continuing from last time...

This was a weekend of sun and mistyfog, and when not dipping white-winged gulls, I was trying to find Patch yearticks. Which is a little easier said than done in an area mostly made of concrete, tarmac, plastic green*, and other peoples' gardens...

Not to say my Patch is an urban wasteland plus the Nose. There is a golf course [oh, I said not just urban wasteland, didn't I?], actual farmland [currently rather muddy], and woods [ditto], even the odd tiny bit of marsh. Nothing even vaguely to compare with real wetlands; all my non-Mallard ducks and non-Moorhen waders are coastal [ie. usually flypasts!] - but there are a few. Perhaps soggy bits is a better term, but anyway, one is right on the southern edge;

With free Moorhen!

That one was not a yeartick, you see, as this one was;

Bathing Beauty

The glorious sparkly bottom to yonder stream is in fact broken glass, this being Victoria Park and all, [ie. 'that bit behind Lidl'] but it's not hurting anybody down there so I don't mind it.

I was down there on my southern borders vainly chasing the reported showy YBW of a week or more earlier. I know there's some lovely habitat there [very like the back of Broadsands, actually] so I figured it might still be hanging around. And it could be, but in two goes [before and after gull-dipping] I failed to find it. I got lots of tits and crests, though.

Why all that effort for birds I've had out the window? Because when you yearlist you try your best. Yes, I'm after my Patch record this year, and it was only having Important Things That Could Not Wait that stopped me from going earlier.

Speaking of year ticks...

Collared Dove 
has been getting scarcer on Patch

Though as soon as I get one there.. There were three together in Tessier on Sunday! First ones I've seen there in about 4 years.

Not a yeartick, but worth a shot

Next to Lidl, of course

I think this is the first deliberate photo of a House Sparrow on here [as opposed to 'in shot with an Italian']. Woo.

Aside from that, business was mostly closer to home. With all the travelling on Saturday [plus unhelpful weather and even less helpful jetskiers..] and the mistfog on Sunday, I've nowt from the
sea to report, but I do have birds from the shore. Yes, even more Purple Sands from the Real Living Coast;

Could never get them all in one shot, though

Here's a close up

Speaking of close ups..

I love Crocuses

Well worth getting a muddy knee for.

Also in the mist were these..

An 'atmospheric' Tessier

Winter is going

The ugly face of Tessier..

They're everywhere. It's terrible. Though if you want 'adorable little squirrel' shots, you'd be hard put to do better. Urgh, the mind twists at the thought...

The Babbacombe Undercliff


Closer to home, my constant attempts to get shots of the birds coming to my feeders - now including groups of up to 3 LTTs! - have provided proof the eye could not; I have multiple Blackcaps coming in!

Yes, it's tail feather examination time...

Right rectrices damaged and
clearly shorter than left.
Left rectrices unmarked

Taken seconds later;
tail tip just visible shows intact right side.
Also pale mark halfway down left side rectrices

So definitely two!
Also explains why sometimes 'the' Blackcap is twitchy as anything, and sometimes seems to almost ignore me. If I am very careful.

I mentioned Long-tailed Tits up there, so you are surely expecting this. No more vent shots though, I promise!


Miniature parakeet

Sticking pellets on Hawthorn spines
is time-consuming and ouchy
but has its advantages

Cute contortionist

'Long-tailed Tits have a tiny little bill'
Yeah, right!

So cute it hurts

Everybirdy loves buggy nibbles

Fancy fat balls are pretty popular too

You may have noticed a slight perspective shift recently. This is due to my moving my feeders over to my Hawthorn, initially due to a Force 10 front that came through, and then left because, well, look at 'em all! The birds seem to like it there and I'm not [yet] suffering pigeon/corvid issues, so while it is harder to move around for me - having to step over my mini-pond and sway around the feeder to get to the Berberus - I'm sticking with it for now.

Be Seeing You..

[[*The sort of 'green spaces' beloved of councils, where you might get a Pied Wagtail. If you're lucky...]]

18 February, 2018

Elation And Vexation

This weekend saw me attempting to work on the Patch yearlist, with only moderate success. I also took the chance to sneak over to Brixham, in the hope of getting decent looks and even decent [at least by my standards] pics of white-winged gulls..

The best laid plans and all that.

We'll start off down sahrf, with what seemed like a good plan - public transport! No worrying about parking tickets or any of that nonsense! Hmm, rather mixed results, though. Reliance on fixed and inflexible routes was a bit of a hindrance time-wise, and I hardly came off ahead cost-wise, either. But it was an interesting go.

Anyways, I wasn't the only one out looking, and as one of each had already been seen by the time the buses and yomping got me to the breakwater [not helped by my started at the fish market because walking past one or both would have been embarrassing] I wasn't too annoyed by the "they've flown off in different directions" I got.

I tried the 'stake out attractive locations' method, first with a handy fisherman and his catch, then with my own bait

Note guy in foreground

This lot did

But not a white-winger among them.

So, try it myself. I went off and found the best gull-attractor I could lay hands on, then headed back out with a little trepidation. Having seen what the Oban Harbour gulls do to people who act like I was doing*, I think this was not out of order.

Perfect bait;
cheesy chips!

Also very tasty for famished birders.

As it happened, I need not have worried. The Brixham gulls were rubbish and didn't even harass me! I got a couple of flypasts and that was it, despite waving chips about and going "Free chips for white-winged gulls"..
It shouldn't need to be said that I didn't actually throw chips about - I had absolutely no intention of feeding them; the point being that the gulls didn't know that [and as they can't read 'Do Not Feed The Gulls' signs, I didn't expect them to] - and carried the empty about until I found a suitable bin.

Yeah, so I failed to find my targets. Gulls and Brixham Harbour are a worse than 50/50 prospect for me, so I wasn't entirely surprised.
This doesn't get you off horrid gull pics, though

The Glonk liked that spot, apparently
[That's a big Herring Gull, though]

Trying to work out what the big sticks are for

Making sure to look their best in case
The Artist decides to make them famous

Speaking of famous;

Heading in

But with guess how many gulls following? None. Zero.


Guillemot; "'Trawlermen' was better!"

Elsewhere, some more obliging birds;

A few of the horde by the fish market

This one struck a pose and waited

Now with some added criticism..

Coming up; on-Patch shenanigans, including Blackcap rectrice analysis.. Oh, I kid ye not.

Be Seeing You..

[[*They circle about 50' above them, and one at a time peel off to dive-bomb** them like black and white Stukas***... ]]
[[**Yes, bomb. They have realised that while gulls have no problem eating fish and chips covered in crap, humans will not only refuse to, but will usually instantly drop said rations on the ground and run about going "Aaaargh!" after being hit.]]
[[*** Yes, black and white. I'm not talking Herring Gulls, these are Great Black-backed Gulls here! Think about it and know fear.]]