31 December, 2019

Inevitable End Of Year Post...

Because it seems to be that way.

A year marked by me definitely not chasing any lists, despite a somewhat accidental Glorious First [I didn't start out trying, but it went so well I just rolled with it]. A year also marked by a paucity of seawatching, with poorly-timed weather and work adding to the loss of my Spot. [Don't dis the Spot, every seawatcher's got one]. Of course, Real Life got in the way in various manners to remind me that birds are fun but..

Turning away from that and back to why I'm here.

In a year when I saw not an awful lot of spp. [118 Patch, 218 for Devon*, 234 for Britain], I did get a few landmarks - well in listing terms anyway.

Devon ticks like That Screwy Duck and what seemed for a long time to be the year's Star Bird - the wonderful DW Stone Curlew - were outnumbered by a late and gratifying flurry of Lifers, including very-overdue's like Western Bonelli's Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo, wait-long-enough's like the Little Bas Bustard, likely-to-turn-up-eventually's like those wonderful Boobies, and full-on-whisky-tango's; yes, that pipit special.

Come on, Paddyfield Pipit is a bird only people who've got 'Pipits and Wagtails' or have burned far too much carbon have even heard of!?!!

But there, in a slightly muddy, rather windy field on the scrag end of cornywall was not only the showiest pipit this side of the Hope's Nose Rockits, but a free bonus Lifer wandering around right next to it..! Cessation of Wonders and all that....

Also some pain; head and shoulders above being the Bluethroat - that one hurts still - with it only beaten by the loss of my seawatching spot to the cruel sea. Yes, that's erosion and nothing to do with me, but well... Count the seawatching posts. :(

 Twitching isn't just about the birds, and even when you fail, or succeed on a technicality [BWT, I'm looking at you] it can still be if not fun then not so bad. After all, the craic of a good twitch is one of life's lesser known joys. Whether it's birders you've not seen since the last one, local mates, or utter strangers from anywhere.

Wandering away from birds [gasp], I got a little more serious with the butterflies, culminating in two wonderful days [eventually] with the Duke and Heath Frits. If only they'd been in Devon, eh?

Definitely in Devon - indeed right by the Patch - was the amazing Red-veined Darter extravaganza. With bonus Scarce Chasers, to boot!

But Star Bird of the Year, wildlife moment of the year, happened not that long ago at all. I even got a few photos - awful and out of focus though they were - which goes to show how my priorities are shifting.
Not that much though, as this was me being me; wandering off alone thinking I might see a bird based on logic, reason, and sheer stubbornness persistence. Amazingly it worked**.

But anyway. Here again, a tiniest taste of a bird who [this gender, anyway] is scarcer to me than Stone Curlews. Indeed, I've seen as many Brown Boobies as I have adult male Hen Harriers.

Hen Harrier
Laughter Tor


A few other shots from the year..

Stone Curlew
Dawlish Warren
[IL strikes again!]

I am legally obliged to put a horrid gull or four in, so getting it over with;

Caspian Gull
Pontworthy Dam

And the traditional 'Worth More To Me Than  x As It's On My Balcony!' bird;

House Sparrow


Powderham Marsh

Flyd Piecatcher

Duke of Burgundy
Cerne Abbas

Heath Fritillary

Long-tailed Blue

Red-veined Darter

Western Bonelli's Warbler

White Stork [and 'friend']

Long-billed Dowitcher
[in classic pose]
Bowling Green

Brown Booby
Kynance Cove

Paddyfield Pipit

Last and not quite least;

That Screwy Duck
Blue-winged Teal

Missed a lot of things out, of course, this was just a quick scan through the vast amounts of dross pictures I've taken. [[Oh dear, what can I do?]].

Anyways, time presses [it just won't let me pause it, you know, no matter how nicely I ask...] so that'd better be it.

The Great Big Reset Button is coming, and tomorrow is a brand new start. Ah, the joy of the Feral Pig you want to see [just the one, on the 1st!!].

[And yes, I know I have a backlog of posts again.... I've been distracted due to going out having fun / staying in suffering]

[[And no, I'm not doing a Top Ten Fungi of the Year, contrary to dire rumours expectations]]
[[[Though it is an idea..... ]]]

I shall, no doubt,

Be Seeing You...

[[*Yes, I got almost half of them on 1/1....]]
[[**I freely admit is almost always doesn't]]

Nasal Fungi

As inevitable as xmas muzak, sooner or later a Hope's Nose / nose pun had to appear....

This is the collection of fungi I've photo'd at the Nose in December. Collated for your torment and woe amusement and interest.

Velvet Shank and Coprinus silvaticus

[I do know what these are, just cannot place the name right now..]

Colour variant Turkeytail?

Crimson Waxcap

Slimy Waxcap

Meadow Waxcap

Heath Waxcap

Nitrous Waxcap

Butter Waxcap

Yellow Stagshorn

Yellowleg Bonnet?




[ID's may be improved at some uncertain future date]

Be Seeing You...

27 December, 2019

That Screwy Duck II: Tom's Revenge

Once Upon A Time, there was a thcwewy duck [say that in Elmer Fudd's voice], who was a right little so and so. Not only showing up in a very inconvenient place to get to, but hiding for most of the time, too.

So I went and I saw enough to Devon Tick the BLEEP, but it wasn't exactly satisfying.

Now, that duck was expert in being a pain, but he didn't know everything. After all, what time would be safer for him to be tarting about in the pool right next to the lane than first thing on Christmas Day? When everyone is either asleep or otherwise very busy?

You can see it coming, can't you?

He didn't.

::Evil grin::

1cy male Blue-winged Teal


Now looking far more obvious, at least when side on. :) Indeed looking quite lovely even now, with those pale fringes and now very orangey flanks and developing blue bonce with white crescent. Not that they really come out on film, here. [You can't have everything; he kept well hidden from the gate].

Lurking in the Snipe-y bit

Less white showing above the bill on his left side

In the shade;
appreciate that schnozz!!

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Backward Birder. :D

Barring freezing annoyances, there's a fair chance he'll stick through the winter, maybe? If so, yearlisting maniacs will be in for a treat when he's in full plumage. :D

How did I do this? I got there early [just like you taught me*]. After first views - too dark for photos! - I sauntered down to the beach, skipped a few stones, before returning to get shots with actual sunlight.

The Sun.

It was lovely, having Mansands to myself as the Sun rose.

Eventually other people appeared, of course but hey, what can you do?

Also caught in pixels;

All 4 Gadwall, 2 of 5 Tufty

Regular flavour Teal

Roe Deer

Herb Robert


Yup. Out.

Mistle Thrush

Later in the day - which was of course mostly spent with family - a perambulation of beaches was made in company of a certain Horrible Little Black Dog.

Don't go 'Awww...',
she's barking at the waves. Each of them in turn....

Aside from the usual spp. in the usual areas,

Grey Wagtail

it was rather quiet; the sea being notably bird-free [a few gulls and 2 Gannets aside]. Eventually, I picked up a grebe sp. from the Downs. Wrong shape for GC and def. not a BN, it was alas too far off, in too much chop, and not enough light [badly timed clouds..] to be certain what it was. :(

Oh well.

Still, a very good day. :D

Be Seeing You...

[[*The Wire, B) ]]

26 December, 2019

Rainbow Time.

The Solstice was marked by lots of rainbows. You need two things for rainbows; sunshine, and rain.

Both were present in quantity...

Soooomewheeeeere under the raaaiiiinbooooooww
[Have I already done that one?]

::Celestial Voice::
"The GND's there"


After the Sun finally put in a show, I was Good and checked for land birds [a Chiffchaff and a couple of Blackcaps] and then had a look at the sea. Ok, I was looking at the sea from before sunrise, and so didn't miss a couple of divers passing into the Bay. The first was in the twilight and no camera joy - which is a shame as it was a big 'throat with a thigh patch* - but the second was not quite fast enough;

Great Northern Diver

Not exactly close, but closer than the one by the Buoy Farm it flew past.

Much closer to;

Slightly better view..

Variable light...!

Multiple GNDs in one shot.. Gasp!

At 0930 there were at least 11 GNDs between the Nose and Petitor Point, plus another by the Lead Stone and that one by the Buoy Farm. Added to the 58 The Boss had from Brixham** at about the same time [which won't be the same birds] and you get a fair few divers in the area!

The day before, only 8 GNDs total from the Nose, but better pictures;


Another GND

And another...

This last stayed irritatingly far out; irritating as it's pretty much s/pl! Glorious bird.

Even more impressive numbers present of bigger and also frequently wet things;

Grey Seals!

How many can you see?

Try again on Sunday;

More seals

The grey one was particularly vocal
[possibly going "Ohh, my back..."]

Ten on Saturday, which seemed pretty good, then the next morning that was slightly beaten; with in addition to the hauled-out animals, two brown youngsters close in by the outflow and a grey adult out in the cove, there were at least 16 present on Sunday. Not bad!

As the tide rose, many hit the water, but others seemed to appear, so there might have been more than 13 hauled out first thing [hard to tell with rocks and bigger seals blocking the view]

Block head

At the outflow,
53+ present on Saturday

1cy Shag,
The Mounds, Sunday

Minus head... While the first thought is Peregrine, the utter lack of blood, and the soaked through body in swim pose makes me wonder if it might have been bycatch - caught at the decapitation point on a line or in a gill net, say - discarded onshore..?

Ore Stone Guillemots
Photo'd on Saturday

With the Big Scope on Sunday I counted 471. Yes, I lugged it down.

Also on Saturday, a lovely show;


Hunting low over LookOut, and let me sidle up and take that [and a dozen others I won't pester you with]. Pity the low winter light was behind him, though.

You're probably now wondering about fungi - after all, this year no post is truly complete without them - and you'd be right, I have a few.

But they're going to get a wee post of their own! Yup, another one..!

Be Seeing You...

[[*I am aware there's been sightings of a large RTD with a BTD-like patch in the Bay this year, and as it was not ideal light for viewing, I'm not specifying a colour of throat]]
[[**Yes, yes, he's much better than me...]]