28 January, 2020

Go (North) West! Pt. 1, The Birds

Yes, split it into two posts, as there are too many pictures to properly stick in one without messing up the flow.

So, here we have the interesting bit, where you see the pics of birds I managed to get and scoff at the birds whose pictures I didn't get..

But let's open up with some gratuitous showing-off;



Eyeing a light aircraft, btw

"No mate, I'm looking at you"

2cy GC Grebe

Ok, to the geese. The vast numbers of pics I took didn't come out as well as they looked on BOC, but nm, eh?

Yes, I resorted to digiscoping, which doesn't work well

The best individual shot, the one with some white at the bill base.

One, two, three, four.

Getting all four to stick their heads up at once proved impossible, at least with camera in hand... Never mind shooting across a reservoir while maintaining some fieldcraft [those geese are twitchy], they wouldn't stop moving except to feed with their heads down. Or hide.

Without scope.

Two on land, two on water

Ok, ok, enough already

Four Pink-footed Geese, 2 and 2, with 133 Canadas and that Canada x Farm Goose hybrid thing. Also 2 Goldeneye [you may have noticed :) ], 3 GC Grebes, a Little Grebe, 2 Shoveler, a scattering of Wigeon and Teal.

Let's look at smaller and closer [isn't that right, Dougal?]

Goldcrest action shot!

Finally my first Green Woodpecker of the year, and a Common Sandpiper along the shore towards the dam a way. Other assorted woodland and farmland spp. as you may expect.

Onwards towards the north!

After the good ones in Fremington Pil had snuck off while I was getting back to them..

Glossy Ibis and Spotshank having proved mobile,
here's a Redshank

I moved on to get a decent view of the main estuary. Found a nice spot [Mr Taylor's bench] as the sun westered. I could hope for a Spoonbill [no sign of either Isbis or Spotshank, of course], or just see what came by;

BHGs, lots of them!

The odd Common Gull mixed in

The usual spp. on the mud - including a nice Barwit close to Fremington Quay, which I was unable to photo due to Mundanus Interruptus at the usual most inconvenient time, but hey, you know what they look like, right? - with fading light and range making things hard to photo. But the scenery was ridiculous in the dusky sunshine.. :D

In the pink..
Another Redshank.

Sunset Spoonbills

Actually moving!

So, with a final surprise yeartick, the setting Sun pointed out it was time to go...

I'm looking at the birds. Really.

I took a slightly scenic route back, hoping for something nocturnal [Woodcock? Barn Owl? even a LEO???] , and was shocked to actually get a nicely pale flypast.. Tawny Owl. Drat.

They are the Buzzards of the night, so variable. Oh well, worth a try.

Anyways, it was a great day, I hit all my targets and saw, well, not just this [I mean, those Goldeneye!!!!] but also the scenery you'll be seeing in part two.

Not that pictures really did justice.

Be Seeing You...

27 January, 2020

Rolling The Dice

I like to think I am a fairly risk-averse person. I try to calculate and consider, rather than just blindly jumping in.

That said, sometimes you just have to take a risk.

Sometimes this results in success, sometimes that horrible feeling of icy 'water' filling your footwear.....

As shall be seen, there was a bit of both [as you'd expect when rolling dice; you'll get 1's and 6's] over two days of chasing yearticks, both new and old, near and very very far indeed...

Let us begin, as you may be shocked to expect, at the beginning.

Haldon on Saturday morning was sunny and not as cold, let alone icy, as I had feared, looking at the forecast. Though it was colder outside my own little Happy Valley [which was a good 3° warmer than nearby locales]


When you sit tight and stay quiet, birds come to you. Of course, often from up Sun, but you can't have everything. :)


I was after Hawfinch and ready to put time in if needed, which was good as I ended up staying there until the early afternoon.

One probably [I was feeling careful] flew away from me as I approached, and at 1146 I heard some 'sic!'s; probably only from one bird... And that was it. Yeartick yes, satisfying, no. What can you do?

Nope, Exminster

Keep at it. That's what.

Exminster was slightly flooded, but that's why I keep wellies in my li'l car.

After I went back to get them..

With a lack of people away from the canal, the birds were showy;

Grey Wag

A very buffy warbler flycatching from a hedge
and not calling was of course a Chiffchaff

Snow Goose surprised at 'close' range
[no rings, no hybrid features but nm, eh]


Better Barnacles view, too

Even the Redwing were close

Glorious, isn't it?

Mirror calm

Ah, yes, that 'flooding' thing...

Quite a current running, there.

I was looking back in that one, having come through the deepest section - after I'd met a couple who'd got through the other way. Wading through flood waters is not usually advisable, and worth a long detour, but when you've seen it's ok..? Hmm. So, yes, that risk.
Alas, either the water levels were rising [as the tide fell] or they'd just been very lucky with stepping on tussocks, as while I carefully took the route they'd taken [which they'd been kind enough to spell out for me], I got double-topped. Twice.


Still, I got to see the Canadas hiding where you can't see them from the canal, so..

Yup, itsa Canada Goose

I saw more Canada Geese.


Being now rather more than a little soggy, that was that. Ok, I did squelch up the bridge to look over Powderham, but nothing in sight.

I'm starting to feel like Charlie Brown.

Be Seeing You...

26 January, 2020

Breaking News!

[[Yes, yes, I know I still have posted anything from last weekend...]]

Surprise find this evening here, with an actual real live moff!!

Didn't expect that [though with the unseasonably warm weather, perhaps not a total surprise]

Here it is;

Bloxworth Snout

Must have been hibernating hereabouts. Poor thing should have stayed in bed, though...

Right then.

[And yes, I will be posting posts of bad pics of 4 Pinkies and better pics of other things soon. Honest]

Be Seeing You...

21 January, 2020

Quick News Update

I was very naughty over the weekend, out both days chasing poor innocent little birdies all over the place.

This is just a quick post - albeit two days later than it should have been as it took this long to go through the pics - to put a little news out there in case anyone doesn't know / does care;

So the sharp-eyed among you may have noticed a crew did the North / West Devon bit on Saturday. They reported some good birds, and amongst them was a Pinkie at Roadford Res.

Ho hum, went I, remembering last March.

So on Sunday I defied the icy roads and went over. After scoping through 133 Canada Geese [including a Canada x White Farm Goose hybrid!] I found it. No, wait... Them!

Family party of four: 2 and 2.

Looks like last winter's bird came back and brought the fam along, too!

They were right over the other side, of course, and even after getting as close as I could, they were still distant.

Pink-footed Goose
[adult, with touch of white about the bill base]

More to follow in proper posts [yes, including four in one picture, you doubters], but maybe not until Thurs or Friday...

I also went further north, and while the Isbis* pulled the same trick on me I'd seen it do to an unlucky couple the last time I was up that way [pose as you drive in, but fly off before you get back on foot with the  camera etc.!], I decided to roll the dice and lugged the Big Scope over to Mr Taylor's Bench, where, as the Sun set and in defiance of all probabilities, my reckoning that Spoonbills might appear at the mouth of the distant but visible Caen proved...


Correct! ::faints::

A shocking and rare sight indeed; two Spoonbills moving at the same time.......

More also to come, including far too many shots of the scenery.

[I also got out on Saturday, as alluded to earlier, where while at least one Hawfinch sic'd at Haldon in the morning, the afternoon's wade about Exminster failed yet again to find Gyppos... But did find a few other things]

I suppose that should be it, 'tis supposed to be quick after all.

Yachts at Turf

Be Seeing You...

[[*For reasons I cannot explain, I think of Ibises as Isbises...]]

17 January, 2020

A Weekend Of Contrasts

After finally getting that dratted Scaup on Friday [woohoo], I resolved to keep the momentum going by trying to hoover up some more wildfowl that I'd missed out on the weekend before [and the one before that, too].

However, with more Things to Do, it was a flying visit to Exminster, to yomp down the towpath / levee as far as needed to find some naughty geese, then back home for lunch.

It was supposed to be that. The weather was not ideal, and the birds were feeling very difficult. But I persisted.

This photo has a name;
"Bloody autofocus!!"


Canada and Brent Geese were easy to find and in numbers. I, however, was looking for others; three Barnacle Geese, two Egyptian Geese.. [And perhaps one Snow Goose...::mumble mumble::]

After a whole lot of looking and getting blasted by sideways drizzle, I eventually was in the right place [about where the Bluethroat was.. ::mutter::] to see the Snow Goose fly in and sort of pose. On the far side of the railway line...

Spot the Snow Goose

You think that's bad?

Spot the Barnacle Geese!

Two heads are better than none..

[Yes, went there. No, not sorry]

This after far too long stood trying different angles. While I was doing that, The Artist happened by and told me he'd had a GWE fly right over him at Powderham... [Birds like him.] Useful gen, and we'll get back to that.

Anyway, I eventually concluded no Gyppos were with this lot, so I worked back up, re-checking all the goose groups I'd gone through on the way down.

No Gyppos.


I did see a few things closer to;

A vocet

Muscovy Duck

One of eight hanging about the Turf Hotel; I don't know if they've acquired them or if they'd wandered down on their own bat from somewhere or other.

One lone Brent came close..

Ditto Red-breasted Merganser


So, that was that.

Home? Well yes, but via Powderham Castle, Cockwood, the back of Starcross, indeed anywhere along a theoretical flight path a GWE might have decided to pitch down.

Did I find it?

Do I sound like I'm gloating?
Nope, I sound like I got soggy for not even a Cattle Egret! Don't know-sorry- didn't know where they were hiding. [CE have taken up at the Railway Saltmarsh, it seems]. The GWE had done a turn somewhere, or just found dead ground [not hard, they can vanish into tiny drainage ditches, after all]. It's still around, though. As are the Gyppos.

Drat. I'll be back. Insert cliche's of your choice, peoples.

Home. Munch. Out.
I had business in Town, and was now running very much later than I'd planned. Still had just enough light to check the Real Living Coast, where despite frisky seas 6 Purple Sands and 2 Turnstones were to be found;

Sandpiper Purple

"Got any sammiches??"

Nothing even slightly non Shorm-like on the choppy seas. Game Over For The Day.

After an enforced head break, I was able to get out on the Patch Sunday afternoon, and so went once again looking for things on the sea [a bit windy for land birds, despite all the surprise sunshine]

What a difference a day makes.

The sheltered side of the peninsula had the birds;

Great Northern


Glowing Gannet

Now for something less welcome.

Lazy scum.

Words fail, they really do. I can understand - while feeling disregard towards - people for whom closing a gate is just too much effort, but to actually batter it down??
[This comes after the council have taken away* the cctv camera put up to stop fly tipping, vandalism and so on, of course]


Moving on..

No Wallcreepers


Look very very closely...
Spot the Red-throated Diver!

Yes, right in the middle... You can see it's a pale-backed diver with lots of white on the throat, stretching well back towards the nape. No, really you can.

In between taking the scenery shot and the diver shot, the Sun had suddenly vanished behind a bank of cloud and the light level crashed. Very irritating, not that at those ranges I'd have had much better to show, I admit.

But yes, like decloaking Klingons, they suddenly were everywhere; RTDs at last. At least 4 from Petitor to Watcombe, couple of probables further north. Also 5+ GNDs from Petitor to Hope's Nose and at least 4 GC Grebes..

I have more like that last shot, but even I'm not that cruel. So instead let's have some scenery.

Looking up the coast

Looking East

Longquarry Point, Black Head [just] the Toe of The Nose, and the Ore Stone.

The Longquarry Hole

Gratuitous Head Shot

Sub-glacial deposits 'head', that is! Though the ice sheets never got further south than touching the north Devon coat, it still got pretttty cold, and freeze-thaw shattered rocks in soil deposits [known as head. Yes, really; Geology has some interesting terminology] still survive in places. Not to be confused with raised beach deposits, which are also frequent about the Patch's coastline [eg. at Hope's Nose]. Head tends to be more jumbled angular bits, while beach material is, well, beach material; pebbles or cobbles, usually rounded and often well-ordered [some at HN is in herring bone, even].


Why? Because.

Persistence strikes again.

Be Seeing You...

[[*Well, it could have been stolen. I wouldn't be shocked.]]