29 April, 2019


Before I finally finish the Easter frivolities, time has been passing and I even did a little birding. Though not the birding I'd intending, as once again that pain in my neck [ho frickin' ho] got in the way of my intended jolly on Saturday. Then a Saturday Night Special [possibly a Saturday Evening Special?] screwed Sunday, in true added salt style.


So I decided, looking at the forecast, to exercise my frustration and go sulking about Exminster in the [forecast] rain. Thinking at least it'd be quiet and maybe that Garganey might feel showy for once..

Oh come on.

Crossing the Haldon Hills in rain, I descended into warm if not balmy sunshine.

Thank you Met Office.

It did, to give them their due, rain a bit eventually, but it was a long hot claggy time [I was expecting rain, remember?] until then.

I did find a drake Garganey, which did tart about in the open [can you feel the walls of reality shake?], but riiiiiight at the back of Powderham Marsh. Great through a scope, not so much for little cameras.

The Little Gull was still there as well, and showed better, even flying around. As did my first Hobby of the year - at least until the Lapwings noticed it... ouch - so not all bad. Warblers all about the place, with seven flavours [though not including Willow?!?]. Much more heard than seen, of course.

Generally, things are settling into Summer mode, with very few non-Shelduck waterfowl and a scattering of waders. Though having said that, I was surprised to find a group of 87 Blackwits on Powderham over the tide [such as it was]. Also a Greenshank and a small wader that looked horribly like one of 'those' Dunlin. You know, the odd lone Dunlin you find in Spring or Autumn which doesn't look 'right' and gets you all paranoid about other things. Things from far away. It's always just a Dunlin, of course. But you can't be a birder and not at least wonder [and check it carefully].

Anyway, let's see some 'pretty' pictures. And some awful ones, because range and heat haze and frockin' drizzle..

Also two Whimbrel

Did I forget them? Found them by Lions' Rest, late on.

You deserve at least one 'yes that's what he says it is'. Getting to the other lot;

Little Gull and Greenshank

The Little Gull spent a long while feeding along the mud, like it thinks it's a Green Sand or something..?? [A Com Sand turned up, laughed so hard it fell over, then flew off]


Flying like a Com Sand

"Oh wait, I am a gull!"

Small wader sp.
[it's a Dunlin!*]

Yes, that's the best shot I got. It lurked by the pylon - ignoring the Blackwits when they flew back to the Exe - and generally tried hard not to pose in an easily photographable location. Oh well. It was just a funny very small Dunlin with an all-white belly and a straight bill and sandy fringes and a nice cap and a Sanderling-y feeding style...*


Small wader sp.-sized plovers

Don't know what those are, how many present, or what they were doing.
[How many can you not see in that?]

The Egyptian Goose!

Yes, you would show better....

That bleeeping Garganey...

If you can see it,
it's a Blackcap

The lone posing Blackcap - I caught it preening - with everything else, all the Reeds, even the Sedges, hiding. I blame the crowds...

Change the topic.

Something that did not only fly past but do so in a manner my camera was not offended by;

Climbing out of Exeter Airport.
Verrrry carefully.

Observe the double winglets and engines almost stuck on the leading edge of the wings. Yes, this is a 737MAX; one of the smaller ones, which are not grounded [that's the big 8's]. It came by in a wide shallow climb** and so showed quite beautifully from the viewpoint. This is barely cropped, btw.

Closer to, and also showing well;

Oak Bracket

Herb Robert

Growing right next to

Shining Cranesbill

Also flowering..


Germander Speedwell

Bush Vetch

Garlic Mustard


Looking up, and indeed all over the place;

Sand Martin

Mostly Sand Martins above, with a few small groups of Swallows and House Martins moving through.

Recap service will resume presently.

Be Seeing You...

[[* Ok, so the outside possibility of Semi- Sand may have occurred, but come on, odds here???]]
[[** I don't think I need to say more...]]

27 April, 2019

Long Hot Weekend. Pt. 3, In Between; The Insects!

Nothing like High Summer weather [and it got to 25° here in sunny shelter, which is more like August] to bring out the bugses.

In between the major blog features, I met a few on Patch, and I think they deserve a little post of their own.

Holly Blue

Very rarely do you get one posing like this on a sunny day!  :D At most you get ones like in the last post - wings shut tight.

I'd been chasing and trying to get a Holly shot for a fair while, but finally this one did [while I was laden with sweet things for the Folks, of course!]. This is why we use a pocket-friendly camera and try not to forget it, I reminded myself. :)
I harbour the fond dream of one day finding a Brimstone which will do something like this....

Closer to Home;


The sunshine brought out loads of bees, with my building proving very popular for what I think are assorted mining bees. It got to the point where I had to keep all the windows closed to stop them coming in - like this poor thing [which was successfully freed].

Outside, it transpired that something of a war was going on...

Bee sp.

Creamy of head, orangey of abdomen, long of antennae. Red Mason Bee, mayhaps?

Presumably the same

Better lit

Ok, you get the idea

However, it wasn't all just sitting on a warm wall, oh no. Any bee that stopped moving was immediately a target for any other passer-by, who flew up, grabbed the rester, and tore it bodily away!

Not just the same species, either, anyone was fair game;

Buff-tailed Bumblebee
[I think] 
Minding her own beeswax...

...only to be viciously assailed!!

And yes, the bee ripped the much bigger bumble right off...

 GoT's got nothing on my Wall! [Ahem]

After all that drama, I shall

Bee Seeing You...

25 April, 2019

Long Hot Weekend. Pt. 2, Yarner!

Sunday morning saw me finally able to head over to deliver festive baked goods, which were well-appreciated, and after a pleasant garden morning, we decided to take an afternoon toddle about Yarner. Because, well Yarner!

The Folks were up for looking for birds, and I wasn't about to say no to a Flycatcher Hunt :D

It wasn't as frenziedly busy as I'd feared [I think most people were on the beach!] and while the birds were mostly feeling elusive, with brief views at best, it wasn't all like that.

Pied Flycatcher

Showing the others how it's done. :)  I really like this shot; it may not be technically all that [let alone really sharp], but the pose is so Pied Fly and the black and white flycatcher against blue blue sky and green leaves is just. well, right. 


Uncropped picture of
overhead Pied Fly,
subspecies australis


Nothing else feathered felt that showy, but here's a couple of insects for you;

Holly Blue

And in the light

'Vast' numbers of Brimstones on the wing - I use ' as this is for today, historically probably still low - but not a one of them posed even slightly..

Wood Ant with Woodlouse!


Glorious trees

Ah, Yarner.

Though on a less bright note, some chainsaw-wielding vandals have hacked down the three beautiful Hemlocks - which weren't hurting anyone and have been there for decades - on the slope above the Yarner Brook. There's removing non-native conifers and then there's emplacing one monoculture in the name of removing another, ffs. [Yes, this is another argument for another time]

But that aside it was glorious. High Summer weather with early Spring foliage [ie. you can actually see the birds! Sometimes.]

Be Seeing You...

23 April, 2019

Long Hot Weekend. Pt. 1, Migrants And Migraines

Good Friday started out very aptly, with - despite the clear sunny weather [which usually means everything flies right on over] - some actual migrants at the Nose and nearby! Getting them on record proved harder, but still it was a good morning and worth dragging up for.


Hordes present, chiffing and chaffing and very mobile, then this little beauty pretty much sat and posed. No Willow Warblers, though, and the total sylvias managed to just surpass the Chiffs. Blackcaps mostly, of course

This one has just driven off a Garden Warbler,
 which I'd been carefully stalking...


Oooh, wait.

That's not a Blackcap!


Two of them :) 
Also a steady trickle of Swallows north along the cliff line.

Goldfinch behaves for once

Greenfinch less helpful


You could tell it was a sunny bank holiday, as the mob were out in force, even early doors. I can't help but wonder at the following;

The Shallows, Hope's Nose style...!*

So, two guys perched on rocks. Did they wade [swim?] to them, or were they there all night??
Also; one big wave... ::winces::

[They did survive, and when the tide fell could walk back with dry feet, but still..]

Blackbird in Blackthorn


Home again home again to bake festive goods, with another raid planned for the afternoon. Then my head intervened.

So, cut to Saturday, when stuff to do meant an opportunity to also do some hot sunny people everywhere urban-ish birding.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Don't see many of these in the Harbour.


House Martins were moving north along the coast - both following the cliff line Swallow style and further inland. I heard two different groups pass over Tessier in ten minutes.

Lots more flowers coming out, but I think I'll put them together in a separate post - as they need a bit of looking-up - at some point in the [hopefully] near future.

Coming up; getting out and about, with the Folks and without.

Be Seeing You...

[[*Ok, we don't have ravening White Sharks here but some of those Mackerel can be vicious! ;) ]]

18 April, 2019

Gratuitous Tit Shots

As if I could resist this entirely factual title.

For all of you coming in off goggle, I would apologise, but come on.....


So, my skygarden regularly attracts at least two [as in seen in at once] each of Blue, Coal, and Great Tits. The two House Sparrows and at least two Robins and four Blackbirds are also in daily. Sometimes violence occurs, but usually only of the token 'threat posture makes submissive bird flee' nature.

All of the above are well able to cling onto the fat feeder cage, with all but the Blackbirds able to tuck into the filled coconut also [that's the one on the feeder pole, the other in the Hawthorn is open to all and sundry - the sundry being mostly Magpies..]. Greenfinches are less often seen, narfing sunflowers seeds, and a couple have realised there are a tasty variety in the mix feeder, too. The Magpies can attack the fat feeder, but only if the pole is in the right position for them to make an approach flight. If the Nuthatches and GSWs are still coming in, they're being very sneaky, and the Goldfinch flock still seems to be ignoring me, despite my now toting Niger and other such goodies with the sunflower hearts in the mix feeder.. :(

Of note, and an indicator of something, is the utter lack of Blackcap. You will recall in past years how evident they tend to be!

Right, a 'few' shots;

I love Blue Tits

Blue Tits love fat

They're wonderful little birds

Flight feathers and fluff

Hmm, is that a brood patch?

Taken some time later, but looks like the same bird

Eyeing up the peanuts

At last, proof this isn't the ringed bird

Appearing very white headed from this angle

I did use the word 'gratuitous' up there, you can see now that I wasn't kidding! :)

Not just Blue Tits, though the Coals are faster than you'd credit, and the Greats invariably hide!

Coal Tit
[through sunny window]

Posing in my Lazarus Spruce*

Great Tits always hide..

.. or at least pose inconveniently.

Note the different nape pattern to Blue Tit, there; teeny grey blob versus the extensive grey-verging-white of Blue.

And to give a non-tit;

House Sparrow

Male and female still regular, I hope they're breeding somewhere nearby [though not in a Swift nest site!]

Right, pics be done.

Be Seeing You...

[[*My Blue Spruce, which suffered 100% needle loss after an horrific aphid attack, has sprouted forth green shoots in defiance of all tiny virus-carrying bar stewards. I have that precious gift of hope that maybe it might just survive. Maybe.]]