31 August, 2020

Skywatching and Even More Moffs

Having spent August on days, I took the opportunity of the sunny weather [well, when it was sunny.. grr] to sit outside with my lunch. Work is adjacent to a minor flyway and a half-decent thermalling area, and so weather permitting I get half an hour a day to see what flies over. I can see a fair amount from inside, but sitting outside gives anything passing more time in-view, and less piss-taking at me staring at distant birds from co-workers...

Pre-amble aside.. In three weeks I saw exactly three raptors. [[Not exactly Batumi..!]] Only one was a Buzzard - on the 26th - which is a very good ratio for the site {or anywhere else around here}. One was a spp. - on the 13th, didn't look very Buzzardy, but the blimmin' thing went zooming through and didn't stop to soar - and one, on the 11th, which did stop to soar and showed quite nicely for a couple of minutes.
Also three Racing Pigeons. Wow.
And most notably, 5 Swift - which were feeding at treetop height and moved East - on the 26th. No white bits visible on the rump area of any of them though they were quite glidey. Light not super-helpful for fine plumage variations and I was most vexed by the whole 'no cameras on site or you're sacked' rule we have, I must say. Even though they were 99.99% likely to be Common; ie. in August [if it had been October I'd've been gnawing my arm in frustration...!] and to be fair, looked dark, slim, and pointy. Another interesting thing being this was the largest group of Swifts I'd seen at work all year.

Ok, enough of that, let's see some more Moffs!

Portland Ribbon Wave
[for the second year]

Rosy Footman

Silver Y Moth

This is showing so well because it is, alas, dead. [Living ones will not let you get this close]. I don't know what happened to it, normally a moth will last days before dehydrating [if I can't let it out], this one just appeared one morning as is. Maybe a spider got it but it escaped the web before succumbing?

Single-dotted Wave

Platytes alpinella

Agriphila sp.
[tristella / selasella]

Exapate congelatella??
[a lot early, but nothing else like it in my book..??]

Crambid sp., maybe lathoniellus?

Another crambid

Right, enough of this.

Be Seeing You...

[[It may be needed to restate that The Rule is that nothing is to be 'claimed' that is rarer than a Yellow-brow for land and a Long-tail** for seawatching. With a current average of 0-1 sightings a year, this one therefore cannot be named. ]]
[[**Used to be Sabine's Gull, but they're now rarer than LTS....]]

29 August, 2020

Ellen's Leftovers

Back to usual service, with a post over a week after the event. This was written over many days, as you may be able to tell...
[[I'd say 'getting on with it', but that won't apply for quite a way down, I'm afraid...]]

With Ellen peskily turning up midweek, I was once again vexed of a good seawatch. Fortunately, she felt like hanging around for a while throwing fronts about the place.

So it was that I was able to do another straight from work routine* [in the style of the classic Day Of The Sooties, way back when] on the Friday. Of course, this was afternoon seawatching, but the wind was most definitely blowing, squally showers were passing, and it was all very 'gwarra minus the numbers for a while.. Really!


But I get ahead of myself.

So, The Nose. Nobody else there [birding, anyway; assorted deranged fishers, attempted swimmers-with-seals-ers [reallly.....] and would-be wave-watchers, of course..].

At least it's a nice pose.

Spot the Balearic 1

Spot the Balearic 2

[It's an all-dark one, if that helps?]


Vintage conditions..?!?

And yet, note greyness in clouds and roughness in sea..

When a shower didn't miss

"Feed me feed me feed me feed me"

Only the gulls came even vaguely close enough for photos, really.. [Just look at that Balearic, FFS]

Half decent photo [nm the gull]


Yup, itsa gull

Shock terrestrial Kittiwake!
[compare size with GBB]

Another gull

Let's be educational... [Groan]

Shearing with Gannet 1;
show underside to wind and let it lift you.
This is towering.

Shearing with Gannet 2;
tip over into the wind and turn altitude into airspeed

Shearing with Gannet 3;
staying low to the sea to avoid worst of the wind,
use gained airspeed to glide in desired direction.

When impetus runs out, repeat step 1.
Depending on what you are, and how hard the wind is blowing, more or less flapping may be needed to pull this off. Most gulls need flapping in all stages, albatrosses none!
Likewise, towering extent and style [from a low gentle bank to way up and 90°+ to the sea!] ranges from the Big Shear 'skater going down a halfpipe' to the Pterodroma 'marble in hamster ball'!

Small wasp

At least there's one thing in focus...

Lady's Bedstraw

Ok, two things.

So, enough 'pretty' pictures, on with spherically-stored woven thread numbers.

Things started far better than the sunshine [ok, yes, sun in gaps in the clouds, but still] implied, with first bird in the scope being a Balearic! Not a bad opener. Things then got a bit silly, as the good birds kept coming and made me wonder a) what the bleep had I missed in the morning?!? and b) what else might be out there and could I last until dark??

As it happened, it wasn't quite like that either way. Lots of spp., including plenty of good ones, but no numbers. Odd? Well, time and date relating to weather; plenty brought up into the area, but only the stragglers left to pass.

What can I say? It's been an odd year all-in [and I don't mean that dratted virus, either].

So it was that I felt like past times at Porthgwarra; sitting in a right hoolie but with waterproofs not needed as the big showers missed, while a fairly steady set of good birds trolled by. Main difference being the lack of vast streams of other birds; down there you'd get rivers of Gannets and Manxies, plus assorted gulls and so on in the thousands an hour on a good day, with the funky stuff in amongst them.
[Try doing proper timed counts and a) not get distracted when you hit a Cory's at minute 7!! and b) actually get them all when there's 3 to 8 streams at ranges from right under your feet to a couple of miles out...].

Imagine 'gwarra with the flood gates shut to a trickle and you're on the money. Also, you're much lower down, so birds can hide in troughs, but you've got far more depth of field in a scope view.

As the weather 'improved' - I got rained on! - the good birds dried up, and then so did the nice ones. After a quiet hour, I considered stopping at 4 or so, but then a little flurry of quality made me give it another hour.. Zip. What can you do?

Gannet 204
Kittiwake 109 [8 juv]
Fulmar 15
Manx 54
Balearic 10 [all in first hour]
Sarnie 5
Med Gull 1 [adult]
LBB 17
Arctic Skua 2
Pomarine Skua 1 [1443, dark, chasing Kittiwake]
Bonxie 1 [1400, chasing Gannet]
Long-tail 1 [1319+, battling the wind and doing quite well for the sp.!]
Great Shearwater 1 [1326]
Cory's Shearwater 1 [1326, following the Great; nice comparison view and brought on the 'Gwarra thing :) ]
Large Shearwater sp. [1423, probably Great]
Shearwater sp. [1317, probably Sooty]
Wader sp. [1552]

Common Dolphins 1+, 1 sighting
Harbour Porpoise 1-4+, 4 sightings

A 4 skua probably 5 shearwater watch is not bad going at all, especially for an afternoon well after the main action.
[I cannot help but think about Francis this last week... And once the teeth stop gnashing, wonder what could have come to the SWBCM??]


Be Seeing You...

[[You can stop laughing now]]

[[*It should be noted that I never leave valuables in my li'l car. Except at work, as the car park is behind assorted protections such as razor wire, cameras, and an actual security patrol {they really patrol, 24/7... It's shocking, I tell you}. ]]

25 August, 2020

Those Hippos? Still Trouble

Yea and on the Sixth day did the Backward Birder crack and go to see the Dawlish Warren Melodious Warbler, and lo! It was a right little git to him.

While he did See it and indeed Hear it, too, it stopped showing like youtube star right as he arrived and thereafter skulked and scuttled about like nobodies' business, to the Vexation and Woe of all unfortunate enough to be present.

But it was not quite fast enough to entirely evade his camera, and so the poor readers of Backward Birding would be assailed, afflicted and assaulted by the horrors that ensued......

I see you.

Flycatching in a Willow. Yup.

"I spy a tasty fly!"

Evidently binocular vision is not required for high speed flight in blowing branches against small agile prey.. Birds, eh?

Fly; Exit, pursued by Melodious Warbler

Wonderful pictures, I'm sure you agree. Also it seems likely the last ones of the bird! [Wow]


Yeah, helpful it was not. Having promptly hidden on my arrival, it showed after about half an hour; popping up just too briefly to be photo'd [autofocus was just locking on...I think it's been learning from the Stonechats... Grr]before flying across to the Wood where it stayed visible [ish], mostly in the Willows, very mobile and flycatching, before vanishing.

Three or so hours of very little followed, before, with only Keith and a passing crew on their way home from cornish seawatching still waiting, some calling and a zip away as a raspberry-blowing finale.

In there somewhere...???

Rock Rose.
Showing much better

Sunshine. Check.
'Sun-loving' Warbler. Fail.

As the evening wore on, KB and I had had enough and went to look at the sea. There were birds. Including a few Manxies and some terns among lots of gulls and Gannets. Far away but still easier to see.

This, that, the other
Gannets, assorted gulls, the odd Manxie
[That's 'Elandra Denali' on the horizon. Yes, as seen from HN]

It was, as they say, better through scopes.

Enough nearly timely posting, usual service will be resumed soon.

Be Seeing You...

24 August, 2020

Pits And Bieces

Well, I think that title's funny...

So, assorted things.


When a Swallow strikes a pose, you just have to.


Woodpig and juvenile

Woodpigs are birds, too...

Pied Wagtail

Why? Because.

No, they haven't taken the benches away from the Downs
[that would if not make sense, at least be consistent]

I have no idea, really I don't....

Yeah, my Dear council.... Block off, close, remove, destroy, fell. These are the only words they seem to understand.

Change the topic. Oooh! How about;


Another spider!
Spiders... :)

Fuchsia and Honey Bee

Escaped Dragon!

Horse Chestnut,
heavily infested by Chestnut Leaf Miner

Speaking of moths....

Dingy Footman

Oh no, not more moffs.....

Well, actually no. Not more moffs.

There will be more moffs, but not in this post. They're going to get one all of their very own.


So for now, I shall

Be Seeing You...

20 August, 2020

Wait... How Long?!?!!!

Life, weather, chavs.. These are some of the pathetic excuses reasons why I've been neglecting the Patch - well, the Nose anyway - recently. And by 'recently' I mean for far too long. Yes, high summer is the worst time to be there due to very low likelihood of seeing anything interesting outside of seawatching conditions. Which we haven't had recently when I can get there. But anyway, I finally dragged myself there at a reasonable hour, found it - fishers aside - quite quiet [at least at first, only two cars on double yellows] and even found the odd migrant. I even got a halfway decent picture of one.

Ok, you can pick yourselves up now.

I suppose I ought to start with the advert;

Things Are Looking Up
[or 'Wowzer, Those Feets!']

Things Are Looking Down

The pictures do not do those feets justice. They were shining bright eggyolk yellow! I do love a nice Willow Warbler. [Ok, yes, I like all warblers. {Even Garden Warblers} ]

Now then, same area, few minutes earlier;

Blob bird

A more typical photo, when I can even get the thing in view...


Surprise gull!!

[I'm soooo eeeeeevil]

This long-winged thing stood out with a white bum contrasting a neat tail band and very pale head with 'black eye' smudge, behind a nice chunky black bill. Then it flew right over me, I got this one shot and it was gone.

Can you see why I said a norty word or two when I looked at the picture [ok, actually a bit beforehand..]?

[[All together now; "It's aaaaaaaaalways a Herring Gull!"]]

I will now stop being mean to poor readers and instead show them things that are easier to look at.


Hemp Agrimony


Nice pair.. [graooooan]

Vegetation on-site much safer [!] [yes, despite all the vandalism] than off-, as the council have been at it again..

IMD by the Nose

The only area I could bear to photo. Every local verge and green space [bar a few patches of 'butterfly areas'] has been mown to mud repeatedly and of course, the cuttings left on.


Different eyesores

What a beauty...


Grey Seal is unimpressed. "Wake me up when you've got ten of 'em..."

Just taking a swim to the Ore Stone and back..!!

Three endurance swimmers plus support boat. Despite their towing bright buoys behind them, the rib was necessary to stop a powerboat [which wasn't going that fast, either] running them down.. FFS, does nobody pay attention any more?

Hello gorgeous...

Look up, look down, you'll see so many beautiful things.

Like the first waxcap of the season.  :)  This one is Nitrous Waxcap; pale, fairly crowded - for a waxcap - gills, and stem darkening towards base are good signs in picture {smell is even better in field}, as is the date [Meadows tend out later], though the way the stem thins towards the base is a Meadow indicator. As you can tell by the Bracken, 'twas dinky!

And on that lovely note, I shall

Be Seeing You...