31 December, 2018

Before I Hit The Hay

I feel I ought to stick at least something else on.

No, as you may have guessed, I'm not out celebrating the turn of the calender. It should be noted that I did go out earlier [a'Bunadh was involved, It was very good. :D ]

To me, tomorrow means resetting all those scores to zero, so off we go with the madness again. ;)

I'm still not sure where I'll be, though the chances of me chasing a Devon [ie. a serious] yearlist are pretty much nil, what with my annoying work hours. Ah, to be able to work on demand or swan off as and when... [Or even to have to at all, eh You Know Who You Are? ;) ]

But before we get to that, there is the small matter of 2018.

I sort of eventually chased a Patch Year List and I can reveal my total as 153.  My scandalously incomplete records say that my last serious attempt was in 2011, when I totalled 145.

Thus I kicked assorted behinds and am delighted.

Having for the above reasons neglected everywhere else, I only got 214 for Devon and 221 for Britain, though that did include an expletive-deleted Hume's Warbler at long bleeping last, and of course this chap;


Hey.. Was that a Review of the Year????!?

Shortest year's review; New World Record!!!

Be Seeing You...

[[Yes, all the posts I owe you will be coming in January. No, really. Honest. Cross my heart and hope to Tick a Willet!]]

Drat. Again.

Very quick one, [yes I know I have lots to post on and I will get there eventually].

I've been making an attempt to get over the line on that Patch Year List thing.. This has brought the odd moment of joy, most notably as a good 11 miles of yomping yesterday culminated in a 'I might as well have a look as I'm passing' check of the normally ridiculous Torre Abbey trench pond, which gave a shock;



All the rain pushing the wood ducks off the rivers and onto 'safer' waters, it seems [with one at Thurlestone last week, also]. This female was very cautious, keeping close to cover and well away from passers-by; seeming to be very torn between 'flee!' and 'all these other ducks aren't scared at all so should I be?'

And there I was hoping for a Coot...

[Didn't find one]

As you may see from below, it seems this here duckie is a little more rubber than I'd have liked. Bugger and so on.
Oh well, what can you do... [Where's my eraser??]

Be Seeing You...

29 December, 2018

Patching Near And Far. Pt. 2, In The Sun

[Posted with minor temporal irregularity]

Right, lots of Patch bashing in rain, fog, gunk, and latterly actual sunshine [what is this strange bright thing in the sky???], ensued for me after I'd sorted Festive Business. Then the Traditional Perambulation. Then some actual sunshine while doing Stuff [nothing wrong with taking the scenic route, after all; that last post down there was taken 'on the way to get petrol and go to the supermarket' - that's a scenic route ! ;D ] and also while being a Responsible Birder checking his Patch.
Posts split due to number of bad pictures that need including. Also my inability to quickly put together posts.*

I suppose I ought to start with some nice blobs, seeing as how it's the most interesting thing going - at least to the wider world - and involves a cross-Bay connection.


Well, you know how I have this habit of posting blobs that I claim are scoters off by the Buoy Farm? Well, I was having a look at them only two days ago [that's the 27th] - once the Sun had moved around enough for them to be at least theoretically not silhouettes - little knowing that at that exact moment, The Artist himself was doing the same thing from his Patch far to the south. Indeed, I reckon we saw the same head-up wingflap, from a bird whose tiny blobby picture I shall now post;

High definition image
[you can clearly see the odd scoter out, right?]

Posing in formation

Of course, they weren't all keeping nicely together, as a few were actually dotted about in twos and threes

At least you can pick them from the gulls, right?

I should apologise for that. Though did you really expect the kind of pics you get from proper birders like Mr B? Reallllly?

Views far better through an objective bigger than a coin...
[I could post the shot I have of two more who flew in from the North and landed closer off Meadfoot, but that would be wrong. They are, despite the shorter range, even worse...]

Total scoter around the Farm was 20, plus those other 2. These being 21 nice Common Scoter and 1.. You think those shots are good enough proof? ::Tries not to laugh too hard:: Me neither...

One day.

Let's see something pretty to cleanse the optical palettes;

Inner Buoy Farm 
and Some Headland or other

There are times, living here...

..when I'm not sure I can take it any more.

My poor poor eyes, to see such horrors...

Perhaps I ought to behave, too.

Ooh, I do have some more proper news, this time with decent photos;

Sandpiper Purple

Another of the at least 10 along
the Real Living Coast

Roost photos taken from respectable distance

Also in the sunshine;


::Sucks up gut::
"No really, I'm a Caspo!"

You think that one's bad, try this;

"I'm a smith"

You had to have nasty Herrings inflicted upon you. It's in my contract. Anyway, as my gull pics go, those aren't that bad. [The photos, not the gulls]

Autumnal Moth

Didn't see that coming, though, did you?

Right, still to come in Part 1; lots of birding in the rain. Also funguses and flowers.

Then, What I Did Up On The Moor. Spoiler Below**

Be Seeing You...

[[*You would think these things are knocked up in five minutes. Think again.]]
[[**SPOILER: I covered 10 miles of prime habbo and didn't see a single Grouse. Indeed, for a lot of the time I didn't see much at all...]]

27 December, 2018

Off For A Splash

Saturday. I should have been getting on with things, but the forecast said sunshine, and the only sunshine for a fair while, so I had to get out in it.

As it happened, I got cloud and the odd burst of rain, but forked tongues and so on.
There was the odd second or two of the bright stuff, I suppose.

Where to go? Here;

Dartmoor in Winter.

Who needs fancy galleries? That is art.


As anyone with an eye for the weather, or indeed the title of this here blog, may have surmised, it was a little damp underfoot. Not epic, by any means; you could get from Vitifer to Sousson's without waders, for example.

It did make it quieter than you'd expect for a holiday weekend - which was no bad thing by my reckoning, of course - so I had some hopes for finding something, or even getting something to, if not find then go past me. There were indeed Crossbills, though vexingly mobile, with groups of 16, 12, and 13 plus 3 seen in flight. A Snipe was flushed by somebody else - seen across the valley as it twisted to new cover - and the best bird I actually caught staying put was this;


In the usual spot - the most reliable [especially in winter] place for this sp. outside the Patch.

Three spp. of raptors were overhead, though none of them were Buzzard [didn't see one all day, this is moderately shocking]. Much more fun, and better images, were inevitably found on the deck, with - yes you guessed it - a few fungi to be found. My hunt among the conifers for a group I've yet to photo [Spikes] was a bit of a failure, but I did find a few things, some new, some not so.

Hit it;

Orange Spot

Lichen and Sphagnum Moss
[Doesn't just grow on trees, you know]

Cedarwood and Goblet

I think these are Palomino Cup

The ubiquitous Dung Roundhead,
plus Drab Bonnet

Yellowleg Bonnet

Curry Milkcap

Orange Milkcap
[younger ones more orange, but less photo-helpful]

Slippery Jack

Velvet Shanks

And finally, time for some trees! You hear a lot of bad things about conifer plantations, mutterings about monocultures, 'deserts', and so on. While true monocultures aren't exactly things of nature, a lot of the supposed wastelands are no such thing. Yes, to a Human wandering through the dim, it seems like not much, but most of the life is either high above in the canopy, or beneath the feet. I've said before about looking up and looking down, remember?
Also, chunks of conifers are quite handy for nice species like Crossbills and Goshawks [providing at least an amount of protection for nest sites, for the latter, for example], not to mention how popular they [or at least their edges] are with species such as Tree Pipit, Redstart, Nightjar..??

I've heard it said that there are two kinds of Europeans; Romans and Barbarians*. Romans find walking in large expanses of woodland unsettling, especially conifers, while Barbarians love them. I'm sure you have worked out which one I am :)

I can hear Crossbills...

A tree is for life
not just for Christmas

Nasty mono bi tri er, quadculture?

Anyways, it was a nice amble.

In blog news, a probably far too long multi-day post should be coming soon to a screen near you. It will be all Patch-based, as I finally got moderately into chasing that Patch Yearlist thing. I also got quite soggy and did far too much wandering about for little result. But hey ho what can you do?

Be Seeing You...

[[*Exact labels may vary]]

23 December, 2018

Life, The Universe, and Seawatching

Yes, a rather philosophical title, and indeed a rather philosophical mood on the Solstice, as I ambled down post-sunrise to do a little hopeful seawatching from The Steps.

Sun peeks out from behind stonking great shower

Or Step, as it turned out.

You see, erosion happens, and indeed had very thoroughly happened to my pet seawatching spot. The whole shelf I rest both feets and - more importantly - tripod on was now lying smashed and broken down below...


Grass clumps along former surface,
brown staining where there was rock...

But enough of my woes [for now]. The wind was west enough that I wasn't blown away, so I made do a couple of metres further along.

And there were birds. Auks [about 50/50], Gannets, and Kittiwakes were moving in reasonable numbers, with little pulses of Fulmars, too.

In the two hours I gave it, I also saw 3 GND, 2 RTD [adult and 1w together] - all divers went into the Bay - and 2 Bonxies.

Cue blobs!

Great Northern

I have shots of the other two [the RTs were outside the Ore and the Sun was out], but I'll show some mercy.


Typical scope view of distant bird;
"Skua! Looks like a Bonxie."

Speaking of blobs..

More Guillemots than last week
[How many can you see?]

275+ on ledges alone.

Closer to,

Gannets feeding to the NE

Quite close in, at times

Not just Gannets, either

"You're never going to swallow that"



"Mine!" "Mine!"
"Mine! "Mine!" "Mine!"
[More seriously, observe primary tip variation]


Black-headed and Common
clustered by the outfall

Surf's up

Before we get to pretty things seen up close and almost in focus, some more badly-shot seabirds;

Looking back from IMD,
a Razorbill posed and got photobombed by a diver!
This bird wasn't in Hope Cove 20 mins earlier, and it sure doesn't look like a GND to me :)
The Raz may be a black and white blob, but you can see the distinctive capped appearance of an adult in w/pl [also the thick bill - facing right]

Right, prettier stuff.

"Is that flapjack?"

Striking a pose

Velvet Shanks going well

H. reidii

Blackening Waxcap
[no kidding!]

Heath Waxcap
Getting on a bit

Parrot Waxcap

Nice slime selfie there..!

You know what I haven't put up here for a while?

Lovely fine quartz veining


Brachiopod bottom left
[darker, on edge of brown sandstone],
coral top top right
[darker oval of very top of small coral head]

Heh heh heh

For those of you gibbering into your mince pies at the geo-horror, here's that Blackstart again to help you feel better;

Ain't he adorable?

Be Seeing You...