29 August, 2018

Weekend Post Pt.1; All This Sunshine, It's Not Right

Another Bank Holiday Weekend dawned to more sunshine.

The Apocalypse must be Nigh.

Anyways, I had things to do, but Birders never sleep, so to speak, so I happened to do some Patch bashing at the same time.

I didn't find anything spectacular, apart from a nice Migrant Hawker - far too fast to catch on record, of course - but never mind, if you don't bash, you don't find that gigantic flock of Cattle Egrets [ok, I somehow doubt I'm going to find one of those, but you never know what's up in the Hinterlands...] [[Yes, I ought to get up there more.]]


Yet more Ivy Broomrape..

Time for some serious metaaaaaaaaal!

Silver Birch and Copper Beech

Great to see

White-tailed Bumblebee

Its always a Herring Gull!

There had to be a gull. It's the law. Really.

Time for some fun.

Oooh, what's that??

Itsa Buzzard!

Ooh, what's that?

Itsanother Buzzard!

Classic juvenile silhouette there, with even length feathers showing pointed tips, and no moult visible*. Compare with the adult from the weekend before;

Note moult centres and rounded feather tips

Combed clouds

See, something purdy to finish on.  :)

Be Seeing You...

[[*The fact that they were whistling pathetically, 'Feed me feed me!', prevented even the vaguest of hopes; I heard both long before they hove into view.]]

27 August, 2018

Weekend Post Pt. 2; Traditional Bank Holiday Activities

After the disappointing sunshine, Sunday saw a return to propriety, with a proper attack of August Bank Holiday wind and rain. Needless to say, all and sundry hit various parts of the coast to enjoy whatever was unlucky enough to be in the area, and some of said masses even got home not entirely soggy.

Amazingly, this included me, as I withstood the forecast deluge via the cunning method of it not turning up..!

The wind was also far more SE, verging ESE at times, for most of the watch, only getting SSW after midday, but the horizontal drizzle was near constant, with only the odd clear-ish patch, and actual proper rain only hit a couple of times.

With the wind making the Steps a no-go, and with the prospect of holiday weekend levels of anglers ambling about making the Trad Spot even less pleasant a prospect, I turned to Plan T. The Tower's exposure was one of the few rays of light in the TCCT's plan to bury the Nose in Brambles and Bracken, before it all erodes into the sea. There is, after all, nothing like a nice bit of solid vertical scenery to give a little shelter to the seawatcher. :)

The newly-sprouted vegetation had other ideas, however, with not only a sea of aforementioned Bracken, but also large and pointy Thistles [assorted] and Herb Robert filling the area I'd used last year. Hmm.

The wind came to my aid - surprise move - as it had battered a couple of big patches of the stuff further along the Wall, by the little tree. With the eastern edge of the flattened area forming a living wall, stretching from said tree, it was a natural sheltered area, perfect for seawatching! Ok, I'd have to stay standing, but that was well worth being as out of the wind as I was.

View over the biowall;
Lead and Ore Stones

'Scuse the raindrops.

As you can see, my position was set a bit back from the sea - not a lot of use for monitoring the slick [but then there wasn't one, due to lack of rain] - but at least I was presented with a broad field of view! I gave it 7.5 hours - being drawn out by the odd tempting bird passing just as I was thinking of going.

What did I see? Not vast numbers. Very low numbers of shearwaters - which I again blame on the very iffy vis, letting them sneak by unseen even on the Manx line for much of the day - with a tiny 6 Manx and 3 Balearics! Shock! A very nice Sooty came through at 0822, though.

Skuas did better, with 7 Bonxies, including an adult with orangey juvenile in tow, though only one was deemed worthy of focus by my camera - which outdid itself in petulance, thanks to all the fine water droplets in the air - and that not well;

Itsa Thingy

A nice dark morph Pom passed at 0937 [perhaps the Portland bird got a lift in a certain blue box?? ;)] and two Arctics, a dark morph at 1040


Very dark

Classic pose

Showing the thinner arm compared to Pomarine, giving the impression the arm is longer than the hand. Inverse true with Poms, and handy with side on birds at range.

Later on, at 1243 a light morph almost escaped the camera

Not my greatest picture

Terns were pretty good, with two Black, at least 5 Arctic, 56 Common, more than three Sarnie [heard-only, as they were too close in to see] and a handful of Commics.

414 Gannets, 121 Kittiwakes - with 7 juveniles - and 36 Fulmar, plus a lone juv Med, 2 LBB [adult and juv] and a flock of 24 Common Scoter. The Velvet evaded me - curses! - perhaps by coming through at point-blank*.

Time for some horrible gulls!

Looking for trouble

Moulting primaries?!?
You're not a juv!

Its always a Herring Gull

No, really

"You sure about that?"

Ok, it's almost always a Herring Gull!


Unless it's a Kittiwake

Yes, awful, but
look at that tail and wing pose!

Still looking for trouble

Responsible adult?

Itsa tern??
[Bloomin' big tern..]

Now, it being the holiday, you might expect hordes of people on the water. But weather. But holiday. But weather...

The ToJ were heard but not seen, and only one pleasure craft dared to round the Cape of Good Nose;

They came from the North

'Deadliest Catch Experience' 
It's a niche market

Coming up, Weekend part 1 where Patch reporting is enlivened by Compare The Mee Buzzard. [even less fun than it sounds]

Be Seeing You...

[[*In the past I've a couple of times seen Velvets come past well inside the Lead Stone, something I've never known Commons to do.]]

24 August, 2018

Gubbins From The Patch

With all the long posts [and indeed long-delayed posts..] I've been somewhat neglecting such fun and games as have been had closer to home.

Don't get too excited, now, this is still Backward Birding, here.

I present a series of vignettes from the last few weeks [yes, very remiss], about various things.

Classics, even by my standards.
What the...??!? If you care to direct your gaze to the things upper left and lower right, you will be looking at bats! Yes, really.

You think that's bad;

For comparison purposes,
this is a male Sparrowhawk!!

I kid ye not.

Taken at dusk at a local location, where I've been unsuccessfully trying to photograph [without flash, naturally], the assorted bats that come out to play quite early of a warm evening. There's about ten golden minutes where there are bats in the sky and my camera might be persuaded to work. Might. So, whenever mood and opportunity have struck, I've toddled over to have a go.

Finally, after more attempts than I care to admit, I hit something! Actual flying batses and everything. Yes, they're funny blurs, but with the eye of faith [yes, that's faith, not madness], you can sort of see what they are. A bit.
The Sprawk just cruised by at the right time [fortunately for the bats, much further off]. You can see [it's side on, going left] the much longer body - especially out the back - than the bats.

They don't half flap!

Small grey bats* are a very hard target; being fast, agile, and utterly unpredictable.


So I heard this weird howling sound...

Another patch of Ivy Broomrape

Despite being a bit gone over, the slightly pinched-in flowers, coming out right down the stem [and the er, Ivy!] make it clear which one it is.

Evening at the Nose

On a wander before a bat-hunt.

Quite scenic

I like evenings

And some gulls, too!

You knew it was coming..

Gulls vs bait fish

 Boiling sea!
Bait balls popped up all over the northern Bay
[Mackerel sometimes breaching through them]

The Mackerel drew attention of their own.
Lovely 2cy 'BoobyGannet'!

Here's some nice cloud,
forget those horrid grainy gull shots

ID test 1
ID Test 2

I never promised hard ones. ;)

What?!? More?!!?

Look, up in the sky!

Actual pretty gull shots 
- will wonders never cease?

Gulls vs ants!

Ceiling Spider!
Proliferated this month

First gulls, now a spider.. heh heh heh


This juvenile Bullfinch turned up in a neighbour's garden after some rain last week. The report of a 'baby Sparrow acting like a mouse' had me interested, though I wasn't expecting what I found [That being a Jay, of course.. ;) ]
Once ID established and finch-friendly seed put out - neighbour already has a very impressive bird bath -  I snapped a shot of the poor thing, looking a bit under the weather. Glad to report it's recovered that healthy glossy look over the weekend, and I can report it successfully flew off on Wednesday, having finally decided to stop running about like a Gropper!

And finally;

Swallow-tailed Blackbird

Th-th-th-that's all, folks!

Be Seeing You...

[[*That's what these are** - the light was much better than the photo quality implies, and their bodies stood out nicely contrasting to their black wings when they banked - naturally, my camera never decided to work for those seconds..]]
[[**Other visits have produced other bats, including bigger ones. Exact - or even vague - species will of course require a detector. Now, is this above or below DSLR in the wish list?]]
[[ID Tests; 1, a very vocal juvie Buzzard, of course! 2, a Home Tick! Linnet. :D ]]