28 July, 2020

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Pt.1

Those of you with longer memories [or the tendency to look through blog archives] will recall I am of the habit of spending the odd summer day sat on my behind on Prawle Point, listening to the cricket*, and watching whatever chooses to fly or swim [or indeed sail] past.

Such a day was Sunday.

I spent 8 hours up there, only stopping due to impending bad light [yes, that's a cricket joke] after stumps. The weather was a lot less showery than forecast, but far less sunny than it could have been, and I saw faaar more than I expected.

Star Event at 1705, when, after having a quick look at a distant yacht ['Good Time'], I was scanning slowly back east and my jaw hit the floor as a huge black mass came out of the water at 45° and backflopped down, great white flippers at its sides...  HUGE splash.


 :O  Easily 2km out, probably more, but that didn't stop me trying the camera.

Thar she blows!!
[Sort of]

Pure flukey chance I caught a bit of splash, right at the edge of a shot. [I couldn't see anything through the viewfinder, so just aimed at the right area and hoped...]

'Good Time', uncropped at full zoom
[that's a rain line behind it, btw]

The title starts to make sense; The Good being what I saw, the Bad being my awful attempts at photos.. The Ugly... Well, earlier in the day;

Wonderfully eco-friendly.
Part of a 25-strong horde

Typical jetscum**

I think they need a new name, too. Jetski implies the 80's style scooter-sized things. These are effectively ride-on powerboats; car-sized engines....

The Humpback wasn't the only cetacean out there. Twice I had groups appear and be scared off by them, and as the first were frickin' Pilot Whales [at least 3, heading W, and close in for them!] I was.. Rather ticked off, shall we say?

I may have vocally regretted the paucity of great big White Sharks when you want them.. Or convenient WWII mines [maybe not, shockwaves and all]. Certainly imho there oughtta be a law against 'em. They waste carbon, are a danger to other water users - especially anything or one swimming - and pretty much spoil the enjoyment of anyone that isn't them.


Back to the Good;

Second group was a good-sized pod of Common Dolphins [at least 7], seen coming in from SSW, but which sharply turned away [I saw them turn!] when again the sound of engines announced incoming...

Much later, 5+ Harbour Porpoises were hunting fish off the Point at about 1km distance, working slowly W, with 20-35 attendent Gannets.  Wonderful sight, with synchronised attacks above and below, just like on tv!  :)
Quite a lot of fish off the Point all day, with Manxies often pausing to feed; stalling beautifully*** before making shallow dives! :D

More will come in part 2, including proper passage numbers [yes, I saw birds, too!] and a few better photos. Also equally bad ones, possibly worse.
::Shrugs:: Whaddya gonna do?

Be Seeing You...

[[* Fortunately, Prawle's famous EM blackspot doesn't extend to LW; Test Match Special is a Wonder of the Modern World. ]]
[[** In service of fairness, there are at least 5% of riders who aren't older, less physically active, caucasian males. {Ie. The sort of MLC who in previous decades would buy a Harley and become an organ donor...} I cannot speculate on the proportion of second home owners among them, due to Science.   Ahem. ]]
[[*** They rear their head right back - this shifts centre of gravity as well as air flow very quickly {both important in stall mechanics} - to turn flight suddenly into dive without losing too much speed to get any depth. Very neat. ]]

27 July, 2020


I took a late afternoon/early evening trip to Exminster-Powderham, sacrificing the chance of dragons for less heat, a better sun angle, and fewer bods. Met a few birders anyway [I need to stop thinking alike...] and exchanged socially distanced gen.

Everything very green and overgrown, with height required to see anything at all on the deck, and even then, perhaps as much as 90% of water fringes were hidden.

So, a challenge. Bu I had a flask and an eccles cake, so I wasn't going anywhere in a hurry! :D

Scenery, then some nice blobs for you...

Curious heifer



Very green

 Never mind spot the birds...
Spot the water!

Blob 1, Wood Sandpiper

Blob 1 plus Blob 2,
[back right] Common Sandpiper
[[note white 'notch' standing out]]

Blob 3, Little Ringed Plover

Blob 4, Marsh Harrier
[note yellowy cream crown and chin and clean brown plumage]

All [where possible to tell] juveniles. All very elusive [also present were 2 Green Sands and an s/pl Blackwit, but I got 0 photos] with the dead ground, aside from when the ComSand went to sleep in full view, and the heat haze didn't help either, but what can you do?

Photo something more obliging, of course;

Grey Dagger

Why can't I find moffs like this at home??


[You can thank me now for no into the sun shots of things on Exminster itself, btw]

Be Seeing You...

24 July, 2020

I Just Happened To Be In The Area..

Last Friday I just happened to be in Exeter with some time to kill, and rather than go covid-baiting in the shops I took a wander down by the canal. Quite a way, as tends to happen when the feets get going..

I was hoping to see some nice odonates, with White-legged Damselfly and Banded Demoiselle of particular interest, what with not getting many [or indeed any] pictures of them, as you may have noticed.

It was rather warm, despite a nice breeze, and the hordes were out, but I persisted, and eventually saw a thing or two. First up, an educational dragonfly, which was defending an angling bay on the canal;

Black-tailed Skimmer

Wait.. whaaaaat?? You may be asking. You see a dark dragonfly with a blue abdomen and a v mark...
But look closer... That thorax is olive, not black. Those eyes are blue-ish jade, not blue turning grey, there is still the hint of a yellow costa, no black patches on the inner hindwings, and are those touches of orange spots down the abdomen sides? [They are]

Mature BTS acting in an un-BTS mode [should be basking on a nice exposed path and jinking about the place]. It wasn't alone, either. I counted another 6 doing the same thing. Not one actual Scarce Chaser from the overflow to the swing bridge. [Yet, we can hope for the future!]

What are up the canal as high as the bridge to Double Locks are these;

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Not to be confused with..

Blue-tailed Damselfly
Or, of course;

Large Red-eyed Damselfly

There's damselflies on them thar slime mats...


Further down, I found a likely spot [once I was finally clear of the hordes] and waited. A single White-legged Damselfly jinked over, settled, got buzzed by an Azure and vanished. That was it. Slightly better luck with these two;

Banded Demoiselle

Banded Demoiselle

Green tinge to the wings makes separation from Beautiful [brown tinge] easy. Note the obelsik position, used in hot weather.

Male in obelisk

[As opposed to the Obelix position, in which they carry a menhir...]

[Oh dear]

Wonder why they call then Banded...

Demoiselle means 'utter poseur', btw.

Speaking of posing..
teneral Azure Damselfly

This one had me going for a moment [or two]. Only when I got home and saw the pictures on a big screen did I go.. 'ah..'

Green-veined White

The Munch Bunch


Wild Teasel


Common Comfrey

Common Knapweed 
plus Harlequin ladybird

White Dead-nettle

We are legally obliged to show some gulls, especially as I spent some time - both ways - checking the overflow mob for anything interesting..

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Que-est que c'est?

2cy gull sp.

Hmm, what's this monstrosity???
The closest thing I could find to a decent gull, that's what. Always sat at an angle [it turned as I moved, the rotter], it's at least got the odd interesting feature to practice on, anyway...

Back to a bird that knew how to behave.

Grey Heron strikes pose

Right after I took this, a couple on a 2person kayak went right through that reflection [which is why it isn't mirror-perfect] and the heron didn't even twitch..

Despite the WLDs defeating me again, I think a few of those pics make the long amble in the blazing sunshine worth it. [Getting a free icelolly from HC helped, I must admit :D ]

Be Seeing You...

20 July, 2020

How Lunch Became 20km..... Or; Oh My Poor Feets

A sunny slightly windy day in July and yours truly, having found and photo'd lovely Southern Damselflies [at a site classified on account of how endangered they are] relocated to a favourite and, more importantly, easy to get at tor.

This one;

Sourton Tor

If you take the scenic route up, you can pass some [not very old] archaeology;

Hmm, now what is this?

Answers on a comment. One of a series of ~10mx3m rectangular features, cut into the slope. Gap in the centre of downhill side.

Carrying on..
Once you get up to the top, you see the point.

Up on top

A fair decent view

Now, where's that stork...??

No storks, of course. 9+ soaring Buzzards and 2 Ravens.

Closer to..


Ickle baby Wheatear.....

After more than an hour sat on my behind, watching the world go by, I decided I ought to stretch my legs. Said legs felt ok, so I followed a well-used way south along a handy track, thinking I'd just go for a bit until I felt it, then angle back up the hill to the Loaf. Which is actually what happened, but with a lot more distance than I'd expected..

So, an amble in pictures;

Great Links and Arms Tors

Nice lump of grannit

Great Links, closer to

Legs still fine, so I kept going. Lovely day and all. Rather than cut down and up the short but steep way, I went 'round the back to the Dunna Goats and approached Great Links from the East.

On Higher Dunna Goat
[yes, really]

Lots of tors off in the distance, including Fur, Great Mis, Cox and White.

Spot the path to Great Links

Looks simple, yes? But that's peat bog, rather cut in the past... [Note the horizontal lines, which are old cutting faces]. Still, onwards!

Looking back from Gt. Links
towards Sourton

You can see the sea three ways from Great Links, but the view doesn't photo that well, and I've put plenty of landscapes up already. Let's look closer-to;

English Stonecrop

Right, not going back the way I came, so 'go East, young[ish] man!'. Over the Rattlebrook is,

Bleak House
[no idea why it's called that.. Lovely spot! ]

Spear Thistle
and bumblebee sp.


Dunna Goats and Great Links
from Green Tor
[Bleak House down in the dip]

Time for some bog-hopping, though the top of the fearsome Amicombe Hill is quite grassy [if you can get to it...].

Kitty Tor

Right on top of Amicombe Hill. Often seen, rarely visited.

View from the flagpole

Yes Tor and the Wilhay - which for once looks higher - and Exmoor waaay off thattaway.

Now, I perhaps ought to show you which path you take from Kitty Tor to get to Branscombe's Loaf [as opposed to several wildly different locations...] but that would take away all the fun of trying to follow my footsteps, now wouldn't it?  :)


Cairn on Amicombe Hill

A low mound covered in Bilberries, easy to miss.

Common Frog!

Another one!

Branscombe's Loaf

Yes Tor and Wilhays in the background.
I've told you the Branscombe's Loaf story before, so let us move on a touch to a nearby spot with a view.

Enjoying the view

Feet much happier once stopped, this time!  Note Meldon Reservoir [a bit low] on right of picture.

Then it was just down down down, but we need something purdy to end with, so here's

Creeping Forget-me-not

I certainly went the long way around, but it was a good walk [one minor detour aside] and great conditions for it; dry enough to cross bogs fairly easily, but damp enough to keep some give in the ground.

Be Seeing You...