30 November, 2018

Biiiirding In The Rain. Pt. 1, A Soggy Patch

Oh dear. Oh dearie dearie dear.
Right, this is an ever-increasingly long term summary of my varied amblings about the Patch. I need to get this posted before it stretches into December..

While the east winds persisted, the weather remembered how to rain and things are all a bit muddy.

Just because water was falling out of the sky didn't stop me from prowling about the Patch, though, with... Well, it could hardly get worse, could it?

And on the plus side for you, the rain played merry havoc with my deranged autofocus [I am never buying a camera that can't be focused manually again, btw, NEVER.], so there will be fewer pictures for you to tear your weeping eyeballs from.

Right, so.. I did, unsurprisingly, not find anything amazing. It was all usual suspects and not even a hint of that Blackstart to miss with the camera.

"Ho Ho Ho.
Now gimme a mince pie or I'll have you!"

Time for something rarely pictured on here;

Genetically Italian


So, to summarise, I've been checking what sheltered bits of inshore habitat I can find, interspersed with attempts to stay upright while looking for cowering sheltering birds on the sea. Coverage has been reasonable for me over a working week, with 4 out of 6 days, though I haven't had time to visit everywhere every time.

Let's just put a few photos up, shall we?


Flocks totalling >350 on Sunday, though I missed a thousand plus group*, which looked like Starlings, they were so densely packed. Drat.

The only seabirds about [Gannets excluded]
despite up to F10 onshore winds

Common Gulls 

Gotta love 'em

Blobs! Scoter!
Two groups around the buoy farm,
 totalling about 80,
though never in one shot at once


More sand on Oddicombe

Compare to this shot from a week earlier.

Yeah, reduced to sand level photos.. What am I coming to?

Worse to come! Yesterday, after said F10 southerly, I once again had a go at the Blackball roost, getting 1350+ large gulls, ~370 Kittiwakes, and ~60 BHG, plus at least 5 Common Gulls. Of perhaps more interest, the first four GC Grebes of the winter.


Gull roost density


Four GC Grebes

Be Seeing You...

[[*My razor-eyed Dad didn't.]]

28 November, 2018

Fast Post

The wind was working on a hoolie today, so I had to at least try the Nose. I found very little trying to pass - a scattering of Kitts and the odd Gannet - but there were a few birds on the water. Four GNDs [two in Hope Cove, two in the Ore Stone lee], two Razorbills, and a grebe sp. [medium size, slippery enough to be RN, perhaps], to be precise.

A blog post more extensive about the Patch [plus another one off Patch, with better pictures] will be coming, but events have been happening, so it's been delayed.


Looking into the wind!
Great Northern Divers
[Showing variability;
the left one is not a BTD!]


13 Turnstone

Staying put, not passing, those.

No sign of any Blackstarts [shock] or Eider. I moved past Meadfoot, which was more blasted than blown out - again no passerines! - before trying the Harbour [zip, more unexpectedly].

Meadfoot at low tide

Be Seeing You...

24 November, 2018

The East Wind Doth Blow, 2

Right then, finally the other stuff from last week.

So, Saturday dawned to a howling easterly, with mistyfog verging on sideways drizzle.

Scenic lumps of rock

Naturally, I was down at the Nose, where the sea revealed.. Very little.
Surely something was moving? Well, a 5 minute timed count gave 7 Gannets south and 2 north. Hmm.

Nice primary moult

A GND was in the bouncy lee of the Ore Stone, and another closer in in Hope Cove, again, though this time my attempts at photography were foiled by an interloper, which drove the diver off;

Der-dum... der-dum

The wind, which was on the far side of brisk and working on stiff, had brought up quite a swell, which didn't deter some mad Bass-hunters, risking life, limb, and the time of the RNLI.. They had a tent and a nice big fire, so I guess they were full-on rebels. That, or the TCCT has gone back to 'we won't even pretend' let alone 'annoy but not prosecute'..?

They are doing something, though;

Slash and burn
[then cordon off the deadly ashes]

Mow it flat, burn the big stuff, leave the cuttings. Ok.

I was also annoyed [it got a bit annoying], by this;

Pile of Clouded Funnel

Is this someone 'foraging' or just plain vandalism? [I sometimes have trouble telling the two apart]. I did find at least one shroom en situ;

A bit old and battered,
possibly Fairy Ring Champignon

A little earlier in time, I had another look at the Blackball roost, as I only had logic to believe there'd be nothing there in easterly winds, so Science demanded I check it.

I did find some birds, and in case you doubt [heaven forfend!], here are some blobs;

Plus the odd Herring.

Circa 240 Kitts and 30-odd Herrings only, but more than I expected. Nothing else, of course.

Oddicombe Beach

Note the sand level! Each of those steps is about 30cm, with the last - ie. the base - being well in excess of 1m thick.

Moving on in time.. A Monday afternoon look at Meadfoot - the wind having come around to north of east - was more full of scenery than birds;

Very pretty

Thatcher Rock

There were a few birds about, though again nothing diving visible in the mighty swell.

Brent Geese!

Those two flew north out of the Bay.

Rockits safer on the road than the beach!

Best photo missed, though [oh, what's new] as having just taken some nice wave shots, I was turning away as I put the camera back in my pocket- and froze as I realised there was a bird sat on the sea wall, not ten feet from me.. 2cy male Blackstart! Yes, close enough to age and sex with barenaked eyesight!
Of course I had to try to get the camera on him, and of course the mere sound of the lens extending was enough to make him fly off..* I will be back and I will keep trying.

Back to the scenery..


Like I said, a good swell. This is more than an hour after a not-very high tide, too.. :)

Definitely a bit pretty

Winter thrushes keep flying over, not all at night now, the weather is actually feeling cold - a proper bit of car scraping Weds morning; first one this winter - and I continue to search for something that is both interesting and willing to be photo'd.

You never know.

Be Seeing You...

[[*Ok, I doubt this was actually audible over the crashing waves, but it seemed to be what did the trick..]]

23 November, 2018


Interrupting your wait for the rest of the last week's posting for an urgent piece of news;

The Artist completed his sprite-trick yesterday, a fact I learned only after dark*. This being of particular interest as I have a long and painful history of dipping Hume's Warblers - most messily a hat-trick by The Fleet a few years back.... - and so, with an actual Lifer on the line, I was quite keen to see it.

Thus it was that I got up far too early this afternoon and saw to my surprise [I was expecting a 'no sign'] that it was still around. Cue 'Yackety Sax'.  

Arriving to the Joy that is Berry Head's car park [wait, you paid?!?!? Yes, I did**.] I then scuttled down the road, past the Warden's hut - nearly being run down twice by cars full of Suits - and found the spot with the big Willow, which as I suspected was the 'Budleia Gate'. And nobody there. Cold wind, leaden skies, passing traffic... Oh Bugger.

In there.
[Big Willow on the left]

Then I heard that chewy little call, which had so tormented me over in Dorset [I'd heard it, a LOT, but never seen so much as a glimpse of the bar steward***]. But no views. Oh not again...

But then, as if by magic, there it was, silhouetted in the big Willow. Bins up, YEEEEEESSSS!!!!! I got all those little Hume-y features [wing bar, legs, upperparts, feather contrast, super, the lot]. Right, picture!

It waited until I'd raised the camera, then flick! gone.


Four minutes later, there it suddenly is again, I actually get a shot away.. It's out of it.

I wait longer, as the gloom rises and lightning flashes on the horizon [it was quite atmospheric] and finally a bird pops out and starts going over the Hawthorn right by the road, the sticky-up one.. I try again and actually get hits;

Calling constantly

Not, of course, the Hume's. This is inevitably [with small green things] a Goldcrest. Here it is again;

Nice fringes

But this should give you an idea of how impossible it was to hit something of similar size and even greater speed, three times further away, with intervening greenery. I don't feel too bad at not getting it; after all, people with far far fancier gear than me, in better light and having more time, failed too.

Various other woodland species of an expected nature were also present, and of note, beware horrific roadworks on the Ring Road, AVOID.

Anyway, despite the travails on my travels, I am grinning like a fool.

I got it I got it I got it!!


Be Seeing You...

[[*There was a headlight bulb. It did not behave. I was unamused.]]

[[** Due to time pressing; the onrushing Dark aided by great big thunderclouds.]]
[[*** It got silly, I had three tries at that bird, and two of those had me tracking it by call through the dense vegetation... Yes, this is a species I had a well-earned grudge against.]]

20 November, 2018

The East Wind Doth Blow, 1

So, a nice blasting easterly wind does no favours, really. Ok, it might bring in pretty little eastern spp., but so far these keep missing N and S of the Patch. Tut.

This post is not about said Patch, that post is to come.

Right. Saturday. After all the nonsense you will read about up there, I was determined to do some birding with actual birds, weather be damned.

It may have occurred to regular masochists readers that I've yet to play my Fieldcraft vs Fieldfares this year, and indeed it has been weighing upon my mind. So... I went up to Holne, ambled over Mardle way and did just that. There was mistyfog, visibility was not good, and thus it was the Great Game on the 'Oh Come On...' setting. Ie., by the time you can see them, you're inside flush distance...

And yet.

Redwing in the mist

 And yet.


And yet.

Mistle Thrush


There weren't huge numbers - at least that I could see - with maximum in sight at once counts of 3 Mistle, 9 Fieldfare, and 15 Redwing. As well as the usual suspects - including no less than 4 Snipe - and the inevitable Woodpig hordes, I also found.. Yes, you guessed it; fungi! :)

Possibly Cedarwood Waxcap

[still looking]

Yellow Brain
[but not growing on deciduous wood,
 so perhaps
Dacrymyces chrysospremus?]

Lilac Bonnet

Panaeolus acuminatus

Panaeolus subfirmus

A couple of those look quite similar, but were in very different locations, and did look a lot further apart in the myceleum [ahem]. For example, the Lilacs were under the canopy of these;

Classic line of Beech

Yes, I also found the time to get all arty again.. [oh dear]

Love that Moss

Bracken burgundy in the mist

Neon green shoots

It was rather wonderfully peaceful up there.. Can't think why a gunky cold windy morning in November might be, but there you go.

Utter contrast on my way home, as I popped into the local OOT supermarket [by necessity] and found the kind of horrific bunfight you'd expect on the last full day in December. WTAF, as I thought, while queueing to get in...
There wasn't even anything feathered in the car park.

Life. Birds.

What can you do?

[[Give me a nice Rare coming to my feeders for a day or three? lolololol]]

Assorted gubbins from Patch will be coming soon. [For a given definition of 'soon']

Be Seeing You...

14 November, 2018

Patchy Post About The Patch

Hmm, that title needs work.

Right then, assorted reportage from the Patch to come, with various pictures, mostly of reasonable quality.


I've been doing a lot of stomping about in the wind, looking for poor little birdies cowering out of it. Success has not been spectacular, as you will note by the lack of any wonderful rarities [still dreaming], or indeed wonderful anythings. I've also been looking at the sea on and off, with an actual whole hour of near proper seawatching on Saturday morning. [Gasp] Due to a nasty mix of apathy and stubbornness, I've not been off Patch at all since, er, the last time you read about down there.

Anyways, We'll start with the important stuff; Seawatch!

Saturday first thing I was over to the Nose, on foot and lugging a scope, even. Only the Li'l scope, as I had plans and there are limits to how much can be dragged carried. Also, the usual expectation that there'd be very little going on.

Sunshine on the right,
big boss squall on the left

Interesting weather, with my decision to just hunker down at the Mounds [I didn't have full kit with me, after all] nearly proving unfortunate, as that squall up there hit like a train [it came from behind me] with a 90° kick in the wind and sideways hail to boot..  Without the sixth sense to weather that seawatchers develop quickly or get pneumonia - and a fast draw on my old brolly - it would have been ugly. As it was I was almost blown over... Ho hum.

In the edge of that thing, though, was a gloriously spooned light morph Pom, which my camera did at least try to hit, but it was flying low and I got the swell, more swell, and one dark blob. Rats.
Also passing south, a nice GND, and from timed counts, rough hourly rates of Kittiwake [500], Gannets [200] and auks - 90%+ Razorbill - [300]
What looked like a Bonxie was out in the gunk at the edge of another shower, but that was it.

Two more GNDs were on the sea, one in the lee of the Ore Stone, and one in Hope Cove;

"Crabs are yummy"
s/pl adult
[few white feathers by gape]

Time for some arty gulls;


All atmospheric

I then lugged the scope about the Patch, looking for other sheltering seabirds, but found none. [All down at Broadsands!]

Dropping by the Nose on Monday, I found two GNDs, of which again one was photo-willing, and not the one there two days earlier;

"No, no, I moulted 
reallly quickly!"

Great Northern Diver

I am obliged to provide at least one awful shot of horrid gulls [as opposed to arty shots of obvious gulls], so here are three sat on the Lead Stone;

Less said the better

Speaking of horrors at the Nose, I noted with dismay if not surprise, the TCCT's latest attempt at environmental sabotage;

Wait.. mowing?!?

What's up, you ask?
1. Waiting for the invasive Bracken to die back before acting, instead of bashing it.
2. More importantly, leaving the cuttings!
If you want a proper wildflower meadow [and I assume that's the excuse for destroying all those Whitethroat nest sites], you have to take the cuttings away - low nutrients being the idea, especially on limestone. Ideally, of course, you graze it. You know, like they used to at the Nose...

This is not just an issue there, though. Same thing's been done all over Stoodley playing fields, despite all the signs about how they're going to restore it for flowers, insects, bats.

Getting on with it,

Monday I also checked the Blackball roost - as you may remember from my last post - with lots of ordinary gulls and nothing sexy at all. At least that I could see.

Time to turn the gaze inland. Firstly, a shot I really should have posted earlier, but a nice reflection of their continued presence;

Conifer Seed Bug.
Look at that proboscis...

They're still popping up in November. Hmm.

Plume sp.
[I now have a moff book, 
but apparently Plumes are micros..?!?]

Burnet Saxifage,
still in flower

Tessier in the pink

And in the red.

Spot the Acer

It's a fungal time of year, so behold;

Yellowleg Bonnet

Armillaria ostoyae?
Jelly Rot


Let's have some birds!

Woodpig flock density

Hiding from the rain

Lots of the big fat ones about, with flocks mostly in the 'few score' to 'hundred plus' range.

"Hold on a sec', got to get ready"

Striking a pose

Gotta love a Blue Tit. One of a band of nine - all Blue.

Ok, I think that's everything.

Wait a minute.. I'm up to date! Aaargh, what's going on?!?!?

Be Seeing You...