27 February, 2020

Blackball. Er.. Wait. Where...?!?!?

It has been a little while.

I would normally make more visits to the Blackball roost of a winter, but the weather's been what it's been and when I have been it's been, well awful. Yes, always gulls, but often nothing else. [Shags and so forth don't count. {Sorry, but you don't}]

But on Sunday I gave it another go and was shocked to find some birds. What was less shocking was my autofocus throwing the toys out...

Behold all I was allowed;

Calmest the sea's been for a while

There were actual birds! Not just gulls, either. 103 GC Grebes is the highest count I've had there this winter, easily. Also 7 GND and 3 RTD, plus 3 scoter spp., which didn't have pale cheeks but I could get nothing else on them.. 730+ large gulls at 1745.
A couple of Guillemots and the usual Shags made up the numbers, with only a scattering of BHGs and Common Gulls. No Kittiwakes.

Lookit, blobs!

One of the GC Grebe rafts. No, really. 
Look hard...

Much better than expected.

[And this post much shorter than you expected!]

Be Seeing You...

26 February, 2020

Going On A Duck Hunt.

Being at least halfway serious about this yearlist thing, I frequently find myself going 'What can I get in this weather???". This quite a lot this year, must be said.

So, I saw repeated orange squares on a certain bird news map telling of 'possible Lesser Scaup' with at least a little interest. When it's too 'orrid for most other things, why not? Worth a go, never know what you might find, could be a certain now adult female???

So I gave it a go.

Ah, Slapton Ley....

Featuring dots ducks

Hmm, what is about then...?

Dufted Tucks

Scattered about the Ley in hard to be accurate numbers. Also a Pochard and at least 11 Goldeneye. Here's the closest one;

Yeah, bit worse than at Roadford...

Little Grebes 2, autofocus 0

Sudden yet inevitable gull

Only really visible in the air due to the chop. Couple of LBBs the best of them; not even a Med..

Blooming Alexander

Lesser Celandine

At least plants sort of sit still [the wind didn't help].

Let's see if there's anything LS-like about, shall we?

Well, not that much of a dark bill tip

Quite a mottled back

Still just Tufties.

Yup, no dice.

The Starlings put on a good show, though!

Worth a try, and always nice to be down there. Though that blimmin' 'hide' is still a cold windy far-too-open-to-the-birds-you're-supposed-to-be-hidden-from thing...

It's better than nothing, I suppose [but I still miss the old shoebox...]

And on that chirpy note, I shall

Be Seeing You...

24 February, 2020

Gulls. More Gulls. Even- You Get The Idea...

So, after having that glorious Glonk fly past me last Sunday evening, I went back at next opportunity - last Monday afternoon - to see if it was hanging around. I saw lots of gulls. Lots.

I've since been back a couple more times [because Persistence]. I've seen more gulls. Not quite just gulls [Gannets and Fulmars and Guillemots are around, too], but well. Anyways, I decided to combine the lot togther, so...


Lots of gulls.


Blah blah blah
Herring Gulls, assorted.

But you keep looking

And looking

I love the Lead Stone. If you're high enough up the Second Slope to see the far side, the gulls are dots in a photo, but if you're right down by the Sole, you only get to see half of them...

Or you try flight shots.. [Gulp]

Mix and match

2cy Common Gull

Same, blurry but look at the underside

Wotsit 1

Wotsit 2

Common Gull

Not a gull!

Not so low-flying
Cormorant, in breeding condition

Count the Grey Seals




Back to the gulls...

Just standard Herrings, but note the variations in structure especially. Look at the head shapes of the cute one on the left and the bruiser in front, the classic in the middle [and pose difference with the one to its left], and that one at the back.

Wotsit 3

Ok, ok, enough of the wotsits. They are all, of course, Herring Gulls. [Ooops,  Spoiler!]
No.2 being of particular note, being one of those very pale washed-out ones you can mistake for a first winter white-winger if you've never seen one before. [Though note actual darker and dark bits on outer primaries and tail tip - bit of a giveaway*]. I say that because the true glowing white flight feathers of an actual Iceland or Glonk are so ridiculously amazing that once you've seen one you won't forget it; like porcelain, they are. The effect is kind of like seeing Sprawks and then a Gos.

[*Yes, Kumlien's - and even more Thayer's - have dark{er} primaries, but not like that...]

Enough about gulls and so on. For now.

Coming up, an aside about the Patch, a Wild Duck Hunt, and an actual half-decent seawaaaaatch! [Shock..]

Oh, you're all just gnawing your fingers in anticipation, aren't you?


Be Seeing You...

20 February, 2020

Meanwhile, On The Patch...

The odd thing has been occurring.

This is an assortement, of well, mostly random pics taken on Patch. Apropos of 'Oooh, lookatthat!'

Getting on with it..


 Fresh out on Monday. :)


Exposed verge by busy road - not where you'd expect to see them.

Not so Blackbird

Primrose at the Nose


Close up

Red sky in the morning.. run for your camera!


Very Blackbird

That's it.

Coming up, a post full of awful grainy shots of common [and Common] gulls, as I returned to Hope's Nose looking to see if that Glonk was still around.
[You can probably guess how it worked out..]

Anyways, that will appear sooner than later I hope..?

Be Seeing You...

17 February, 2020

Best Record Shot Ever!

Better even than 'Osprey inna tree', I give you what flew south past Hope's Nose, Sunday at 1744;


Can you see it? Just below the middle. It's flying right, and has its wings raised, so all you can really see is the body [a bit], but mostly the underwing coverts contrasting with the raised primaries, standing out shining white.

Given it away?

Only a frickin' 2cy Glonk!!!!
[That's a Glaucous Gull, hatched last year]

If I'd been looking through my camera ten seconds earlier instead of my scope, you'd have an insane full spread wing profile of this beauty. But life isn't fair, so you get this. With the dusk, the wind, and the mood said camera was in, I'm amazed I got anything, really..

[[Pedants; Observe the white primaries raised; no Med or leucistic Herring has that pointed shape, only Glaucous or Iceland 1st winter. Observe the shortness of the hand and especially the breadth of the arm, no Iceland shows that. Thank you. Also, I. Saw. The. Bill. No Iceland, Med or leucistic Herring has a bubblegum pink spear with neat black tip!]]

Here's some less fancy gulls;

You get the idea?

But, what was he doing there so late?? And watching from that odd spot?


I had Things to do on Friday. Then Saturday I had to go off doing things too. Yes, in all that rain. It was fun.
Sunday, I had plans. Plans involving getting there not tooo early, but early enough that I'd be on station when it cleared and the hoped-for exodus came.

Plans which met reality - which doesn't care if you believe it - and well, I ended up walking to the Nose [in a spirit of self-flagellation] late afternoon and plonking down where I was out of the wind [ish] and in view of both flyway and slick. Second slope.
Ok, plonking down after I'd fended off a very over-friendly border collie called Bob, but that's another story.

Gannets flying about and a few gulls in attendence to the SWBCM;

Bye-bye Dennis


Unfortunately, head-on gulls. In fading light. Not easy.

How many spp. can you see?

Herrings - obviously - GBB, BHG, Common Gull... any more..?? That dark one in the middle looks very 2cy LBB, doesn't it?

Eventually, they started breaking off and flying past [presumably to roost somewhere*] and gave me a shot at better pics. Ho ho.

My evil possessed camera decided it wasn't feeling helpful, so it got a bit blue-tinged. Especially when it pulled the old 'I won't even take a picture' routine.. Grr.

Gulls with dark bodies and contrasting pale heads.
Note dark bills and wide primary windows.
[Compare with ID Challenge 2, say]

Left bird again,
note size compared to the Herring on the right;
it's a 2cy GBB

Always another Herring

About the same range as the Glonk

Speaking of, I of course jumped up and raced after it, but gulls, especially good ones, fly far faster than Backward Birders can run, and though I stared hard into the blast, I couldn't see any sign of it heading south, it had gone into the Bay. Too late to do more than roost, I suspect.

So, when you are reading this, it's probably at Broadsands, or Brixham [they like the oil jetty and the fish market upper roof] or maybe even Torre Abbey!

You never know.
[Worth a look, it's a stonker!]

Light stopped play;

[Still blowing a hoolie, though]

Be Seeing You...

[[*Though with the wind, I'd have expected them to go the other way to Blackball; nice and sheltered, unlike all of the Bay???]]