30 April, 2018

Here And There, Pt. 1

Work got in the way again, as it does, but did have the odd good moment in the last week. Two very good bits, in fact; with a reeling Gropper in the car park fringe Brambles first thing [and that's very first, alas..] on Monday - which made being back of days a lot easier, I can tell you! - and my first Swift of the year over south [!] on of all days Friday!

I was eventually free to go chasing birdies on Saturday afternoon, where I tried a late day visit to the Nose in the hope that some of all those lovely terns  that went by Berry Head the day before were lurking in the area. This is not that daft, as evenings are often quite good for locally passing terns - which often forage in the Bay after the petrolheads have given up - and of course the light is then behind you.

No such luck, but I did get a PYT - Whimbrel past calling away merrily. Optics [not the Whimbrel, though]

Nowt rare there

Let's have some pretty flowers as I couldn't get birds

Sunday dawned cold and windy and a lot like Winter Had Come Back.. But I was undaunted and set out horribly early anyways. This was a good call.

There were Willow Warblers everywhere. I counted seven by the time I got down the Nose, and while the blustery wind made shooting active green birds among leaves not the easiest thing in the world, that didn't stop me trying.


And look at that little beauty. :D
Now, you may think seven singing WW's isn't very much, but as I've had a total of four so far this year..? Yeah.

I failed to find anything new for the year on land - the wind was really not helpful showing what it had dropped in - but I managed to again score when I took a look at the sea; Redshank! As with the Whimbrel the day before, a couple yarking away as they passed by northwards.

Promising weather?

Also several Fulmars moving north, including one very tatty one which managed to avoid me even trying to pull the shutter with an amazing Houdini manoeuvre.. :(
Heading south were a couple of Puffins [avoiding the weather to the south and east, I expect] and a cracking s/pl GND that was too far out to get a lock on. Total shame as it was typically stunning. Oh well.

So just look at the WW again, maybe?

Or this poseur;

"Hey - I thought he wasn't doing that any more??"

"You're right, he's got that camera again.."

"Let's just look the other way until he gets bored"

Visit over, I had time to get home and sneak a quick cuppa [Getting up far too early has the odd perk..] before meeting the Folks for an amble up on t'Moor! Yes, we defied the north wind and out we went. What where and so on shall be revealed. Next time on Backward Birding!

Be Seeing You...

28 April, 2018

The Filling

Relief at last from that awful cliffhanger..

After giving up on the Nose last Saturday, I decided to try some birding further afield and once more found myself at Exminster and Powderham Marshes.

I also found some more birders, and we were found, well, flown over, by a few birds. Unfortunately, these were put up by a twerp in an ultralight, presumably deliberately to see them fly [yes, clear course changes over river and marsh and of course far too low].

This one, in fact;

Where's Xena when you need her?

Said birds were mostly Shelduck, with large numbers present - I later counted 152 in view and I'd be confident there were more I couldn't see - and some shown here;


A few more

You get the idea

Not just Shelduck up there, though


Not a Summer yet

Looking less up, we [for we were three at this point] located with admittedly not much trouble another waif and or stray upon the Marsh. What is it with geese this year?

White-fronted Goose
[Eurasian, 2cy]

Did I mention there were lots of Shelduck?

"Stuff them, look at me!"

Ok then

Sedge Warbler!

Who turned the sun on?

That last was taken later and further away, as I had by that time decided to wander over to Powderham, to take up position [and rations!] at the viewpoint and hope for a Red Kite. If the sun came out.

This it did, but only after it rained hard a couple of times!

In a shock that had me singing a certain musical song, I actually saw a Red Kite... ::Faints:: It was glorious, it was in view for about five minutes, it stayed on the far bank of the Exe... Drat and double drat. Even the Marshie popped up, and also stayed the far side of the water - indeed the far side of the frickin' water tower - but then again, so did the 9+ Buzzards, too.

Indeed, only one raptor came close enough to get more than little blobs [I do have little red and dark brown blobs of the other two, but there are limits..]. As such, I hope you'll excuse my excess here;


Flew off north 
after being beaten up by Canadas

There were other things in the air. Also well present were insects, including my first Orange Tip, Brimstone and a surprise GV White. It was very warm, though. Also lots of hoverflies, one of which was very big, and often very close. So close it got zapped!



Struck a pose

It was still very very muddy over there, the waters having solidified a bit, not a lot... But it was lovely to watch all the activity, and getting soaring raptors is always a treat.

Ok, filling filled. Now all I need to do is post about this week...

Oh dear.

Be Seeing You...

26 April, 2018

Patch Sandwich

No, not a tern post, a weekend post which started and ended bashing the Patch [there's a shock], with a raid up to the Exe in the middle.

This sounds familiar? Oh well, onwards and so on, after all it is only Thursday [admittedly, reality did get in the way, what can you do?] on the actual week after the events to be described. I am getting slightly better.

Spoiler 1; My hoped-for migrant avalanche has yet to materialise.
Spoiler 2; I did still see a few things and even photo some. [Some of those even recognisably..]

Right then, early doors on Saturday, but not a vast number of things about. There were a few [ok, three] Willow Warblers, though, and a couple showing off in the Spot Fly trees were not quite active enough to evade infamy;



Not to be left out, a Chiff sat up, too

Nice hook to mandible tip, there
And yes, sylvia showiness also figured

The come-hither shot

Hmm, those are far too good for this blog, here's something better

Not on passage

And that was it, mostly. However, that was not all to see, as the sky put on a show. Observe, regardez, lookit!

Wow. Just wow.

Epic sunburst thundercell, people...

Those are just bits of the edge of the cell which glowered up from the south and missed well to the east. Those pics come nowhere near to showing how insanely beautiful it was. I almost forgot about the birds, I sat on the Sunrise bench and watched it for far too long.

On the way back up I met Mr B, who said he wasn't yearlisting, honest, just winding Stoney up. ;) We didn't find a Gropper.

Cut to Sunday, but not before we have a quick balcony shot!

Yes, he was singing

Right then,

A View of Hope's Nose
[photobombed by hoverflies!]

Still scenic there.

Another View,
from Poet's Despair*

Yup, not about the Nose, except looking at it. Photos entirely from Bishop's Walk, possibly the most picturesque part of the entire SWCP. For those who don't know, it's the section of cliff path between Anstey's and Brandy Coves which was used by his bishoprics when the Palace Hotel [now waiting 'redevelopment'..] was actually a palace. There's a lovely** bit of geo-vandalism along there if you want to look for it [not quite on the scale of Buckland Beacon, but along that vein].
By this weekend, the Snowbells and possibly the Bluebells should be well out along there, most prettily in the fairy glens around Black Head. No big pics, as photos really don't work there, but here are some botanicals for you;



Three for one;

Not growing on igneous rocks, this

Cowslips everywhere

I wasn't just looking at the flowers, as I managed to find some resting migrants. Not on land, though..

Even with the light behind me, they're black blobs!

One, two, three...

And finally, as we've seen the south end, here's a view from the north end;

Longquarry Point,
with a few other Patches off in the distance

Those of you expecting the filling will have to wait, as this is quite enough for one post. So yes, coming soon we will have me heading Exe-way, looking for interesting birds, trying to photograph them, meeting more birders and not photographing them, plus a cunning plan that worked in every way except in court.

Aren't you on your tentered hooks now?

Be Seeing You...

[[*A natural seat on the cliff edge, perfect for failing to write poetry worthy of the scenery, causing despair and rash action. Actually, I don't think it's properly called anything, but the urges to both sit and then jump are so strong there that I can't help but name the place. And try not to set foot on it!]]
[[**I apologise for the gratuitous use of sarcasm.]]

23 April, 2018

Twice Yarner

Because once is never enough.


A morning on my todd [well, mine and half a ton of assorted birders, plus dog walkers, happy hikers and so on...], and then an afternoon amble with the Folks.

Flycatchers of a Pied nature were on the menu, and though they were a little naughty in the afternoon, they eventually struck a few poses. I scored 8+ and we counted 6+, though that included three males in view at once, having a call-free barney up in the canopy :D

Birds we are not allowed to talk about also figured, though more vocally than visually, and the Phantom Redstart of Olde Yarner Woode featured as well [gasp!], as did Warblers Willow and a Tripit.

Less migratory birds included getting Bullfinch views for the Folks, posing Siskins and bashful Redpoll.

Bit misty

Mirror mirror

My first visit was a bit misty, but quite calm. The one brief burst of sunshine was greeted by a fanfare of Pied Fly singing. The reservoir was again waterbirdless - though it made a pretty photo, as you can see - with Pied Fly singing on the left and Willow Warbler singing on the right [out of sight, though].

Wonder what this Treecreeper is doing?

It was very much birding by ear, with only the exceptional birds giving views, let alone photo ops. Patience, persistence, and the favour of the Goddess of Birding were required.

Yarner is Art

The Australian race of Marshie
[also quite good at cricket]

Camera almost focuses through twigs


But then some just strike poses

Not everything felt like posing for me - and that Marshie was a right git to keep on, let alone focus on, being right up in the Birch canopy - but what I got I'm not unhappy with. When I wasn't wielding the camera, I was a lot mellower and generally enjoying the place.
Then you come across something that will pose, so you just have to;

I'd like to be all impressive and say what this is,
really I would.
It is sat on a Lumpy Bracket, that I know.

Nice mix at the feeders

Willow Warbler
And speaking of: This would have been epic, glorious, a work of patient stalking and a beautiful bird. But my evil autofocus laughed and laughed and laughed... So I'm sharing the pain with you.


That wonderful Willow Warbler popped up, and posed for me. My camera, sights right on it, defocused and then shot. It wasn't even Monday.

Banish the pain, on to sunnier times...

Just add sunshine


Coming out all over



Getting very into the spirit of the Spring Thing [at last], flowers coming up and out all about.

Still busy at the feeders

Also neat shots of 'How big is..'

That one's a male!
Really good size comparison, too

Gotta love those Siskin

In birding terms, a calm misty morning beat a sunny windy afternoon, but both trips were well worth it, though a certain LBD would have much preferred rations to be taken! [Poor starving animal, that she is]

Yes, that was a week late. What can you do?

I shall try to catch up in a swifter and generally more prompt manner this week. I have slightly fewer things to get done first. I think?

Ah well, we shall see.


Be Seeing You...