29 October, 2020

The Right Wrong Day

[Apologies for the retread, but the story needs it.]

Protecting shoulder vs. chasing tweety birds... Ah, the torture. 

It had a twinge at me on Friday evening, so with the forecast not completely ideal, I reluctantly scrapped plans for Saturday at the Nose.

I got some things done and perhaps inevitably it felt fine [this is still under medication, of course]. [It could well be argued it felt fine because I didn't mess it about trying to hold a brolly in a gale...]

Next day, Sunday saw me up at 'yeeeaaaarrrgggh....' o'clock and on site and set up within half an hour of sunrise. The more westerly wind and less epic rainfall made this quite easy. Probably too easy; you should have heard the norty words aired when I saw just how much blue sky there was...

The weather in a picture.

Then as you can see by that there photo, the great big showers starting muntering by, and things looked up. Also I actually looked at the sea and saw just how much was out there..!!!
It may well be noted that many great seawatches happen in this sort of weather; sunshine and big nasty but discrete showers. Oh, and a good wind, too! [For one example, the Day of The Big Shears at 'Gwarra a few years back. Very similar weather.] The wind wasn't exactly a howling gale, but it was in the right sort of direction and it got friskier as the day went on.

Clickers were grabbed and donned in haste and were very needed. I looked at my Kittiwake one after ten minutes and it said 329!! [This is quite silly numbers for the Nose, though nothing special for Real sites.] Also donned in haste were waterproof trollies, and was I glad of my bumbleshoot when the first shower scored a hit, I can tell you.

Getting back to the birds, eventually [well, really straight away, things were easing off by 0730] passage slackened; a torrent became shower-related surges, finally becoming a trickle, enlivened not long before I gave up by an extensive feeding event ending.

In five hours [all passing birds, going South];

Gannets. 389
Kittiwakes. 1149 [also, at least 30% juveniles, possibly more*]
Auks [mostly Razorbills, note on Guillemots below].  202
Pom Skua.  2  [juv 0818, dark morph 0910]
Arctic Skua.  4 [v. gingery juv's 0823, 0824, light morphs 0906, 0927]
Bonxie.  1 [0906]
Manxie.  1
GC Grebe.  1 [into Bay]
C. Scoter.  2
Common Gull.  16
BHG.  19
LBB.  6 

Cetaceans were also on show, though not after the jet skis appeared at ten.. 
0730 saw at least two grey dolphins heading north; they looked quite Bottlenose-y, but I didn't get a good enough view to rule out Risso's [yes, I've seen them off the Nose. Once. So it's possible]. Then just after 0930, 3+ dolphins headed out SE into Lyme Bay; dark patterned backs with big scythe shaped fins and blunt front ends; White-beaked!! They even had some fun in the bow wave of a dredger trawler heading Brixham-ward at speed. :D  Closest inshore I've even seen them [and that's 'for White-beakeds'; they were well outside the Ore Stone].

Guillemots back on the Ore Stone and foraging locally, so only offshore clearly passing birds recorded above.

Guillemots on the Ore Stone

Time for a bad photo.

Ok folks, let's play;
What's that bird??

Is it;
a) A Herring Gull. It's always a Herring Gull [look up]
b) 1cy LBB [it's a bit dark for a Herring, also pointy wings]
c) One of the Arctic Skuas he's claiming he saw.
d) One of the Pom Skuas he says he saw.
e) A Long-tailed Skua he won't say he saw as he wants to see if it's ID-able from that awful picture.
f) A Nighthawk. [Just about typed that with straight fingers...]
g) Trick question, it's a bit of gubbins on the lens!

Answers on a postcard....


But star bird and biggest woohoo moment was that wonderful Shortie;

Yes, this one again

For those who haven't looked down at the previous post, it was trying very hard to come in/off and being given merry hell by assorted gulls...

All that wings!

Took it 18 minutes [yes that long]  but it made it in the end.  :D

A few from a little earlier;

A moment's respite

"Mine! Mine! Mine!"
"Oh bugger off..."

SEO adroitly sideslips out of the way,
Herring Gull: "Mi- Where'd he go?!?"


Ok, ok, enough long range owl pics..

Short range pipit pics!


"Got any sammiches?"

Common Gull

So cute.


Even more so!

Eventually, the SWBCM woke up and put out a rather desultory slick..

Well, it gave the gulls something to do, at least

Didn't even get a Med Gull.

Oh well, it was still far more fun than I expected and that was before Shorty dropped by.  :D
I also found some more things on my way back up, but they'll need a post of their own. :)

Be Seeing You...

[[* With birds passing at all ranges and a lot of sunshine about, ageing everything was always going to be problematic. A count of 'the next 20 age-able Kittiwakes' gave 11 juveniles, which could indicate a lot passing just then, more young birds passing inshore than offshore, or possibly actually more passing because there were more.... ::gasp:: ]]

26 October, 2020

Get Shorty


I think I might have been the only person in Devon daft enough to try seawatching on Sunday.

You see, my shoulder gave me a little gyp on Friday afternoon and so I decided to be cautious and not go toting big scopes around - or indeed fighting bumble shoots - and so kiboshed a planned first proper seawatching trip the day after. It did rain a whole lot*, and my elders and betters scored a bit but not a lot at BH, so mayhaps the right call?

I certainly didn't think so when I dragged up at first light on the day to see skies clearing to sunshine even as the sun rose... [There may have been naughty words uttered, such as I dare not repeat in public...]

But I persisted [Number Two in the Holy Trinity of Birding, remember?] and when I got down to The Steps [nice to have some west in the wind], actually looked at the sea and saw what was passing... And how much of it... Well, I went 'Oooooh'. The massive showers and increasingly frisky wind helped, too. 

But I cannot wait to fully write it all up [I need to find some more zero's... :) ]; I had to share this.

It took the poor thing 18 minutes [1035 to 1053] to get through the gauntlet of deranged gulls, but finally - after being driven back, aside, and even up up up... - this wonderful clockwork bird [they do fly so mechanically] got in/off.

" FFS, I'm not a Buzzard!!"

Just look at that beauty... :)

Short-eared Owl.

All those wings.

This is mid morning in a phase of, as you can see, blazing sunshine. Yes, quite windy. Also gbfo squally showers knocking about [I did mention the four figure passage? You'll see... :) ]

But still.


And... This very day I hear a SEO has been seen at the Nose, so my hopes that it managed to find somewhere secure to roost seem to be confirmed! :D

Anyways. SEO. In/off. Hope's Nose. On camera. Joy.


Be Seeing You... 

[[* This may be something of an understatement..!]]

25 October, 2020

One Two Three Four

Last weekend spent being good and staying about Patch [mutter mutter big fat reed warblers... mutter mutter] delivered the odd surprise amid a scattering of passing [mostly] migrants, but no Bluetails down this way. [Yet.] [[What?? I can dream....]]

What to post? Four species caught on camera. Perhaps exactly where ought to remain at least a little misted in obscurity [what with all the scum out there], but getting all four in one day on camera is a rare thing.

The inevitable.

The classic silhouette.

The moult centres.

No, not the standard pose.

All four birds hunting. :) 

I quite like these, despite the dodginess of the actual images. The Sprawk's classic soaring pose in particular - the 'Flying T' - is very nice to get [now all I need is a good one of a Gos doing its version.. ha ha..]

Despite favourable wind directions [well, theoretically favourable] and not awful weather, a lack of spectacular rarities, or indeed spectacular numbers of passage birds. Not to say things were awful, with steady continued movements of now mostly finches. Sunday saw more larks coming over, well into the morning, with the highlight undoubtedly being three Woodlarks, contouring 'south'* and right over me like musical woodpeckers :D [the silhouette and flight action is very 'pecker-like], while at least a dozen Skylarks were in/off out of Lyme bay [over from France??]. 

Other flyovers mostly the expected common everywhere species, enlivened by the local Goldfinch mob [well over 60 when fully assembled - try calling passage birds with them about!] and seasoned with a few Patch scarcities like Siskin and the winter's first Brambling - one passing South from IMD with two other finches [which could have been Bramblings but just as likely Chaffinches] below road level, so nice rump view - mixed in. Of note on Sunday were several small groups of Robins - low enough to clearly ID, too - going north and quite possibly arrived from over the Channel?

Non-birdy things;

Acteris schalleriana

Little moffs often flush from vegetation, rarely do they pose for a photo afterwards!

Several of these turned up again.
I'm starting to suspect it is a
'darker, more obscurely marked' 
[to use the book's words]
 form of Paignton Snout

Less mobile sightings;

Fairy Inkcap

Giant Polypore

Cyclamen, growing all over the place.

Work failed to deliver more notable passage [unsurprisingly, I think the good burst was Storm Alex-related], though Grey Wagtails have definitely taken to the roofs with the resident Pieds [and probable albas]; seen and heard most days. One notable lunchtime sighting was another Hornet, which on Tuesday hummed by close enough to make me slightly nervous.!

Whelp, that'll do for now I think.

Be Seeing You...

[[*Technically they were going WSW at the time...]] 

19 October, 2020

Moor Fun. Part Two; Look Down, Look Up

 Following on from all my fun with the Ouzels up the Avon, I met up with the Folks for another amble about that fungal wood we'd been to only two weeks before.

Again an afternoon of gentle meandering with a coffee and rations break was the order of the day - this time said rations being gingernuts baked by yours truly - and we took a different route, not least due to the different wind direction.

But before that, while I waited at the rendezvous* ["Like you taught me, get there early"**], I did like it says on the tin. Looking up got me three Buzzards, a Raven, and a nice pinky Redpoll. Before even that, looking down saw me say a careful "Hi there" to this little gem;

Brown Rollrim

Lovely little fungus, sitting there by a car park. Easy to miss, probably just as well...

Much later, as we were leaving, I showed it to the Folks - with the immortal line "Would you like to see a deadly fungus?" - and after they'd duly noted it, Dad looked up and spotted something a little larger. Also more mobile.


This cracking hot air balloon went right overhead! :D

I'm sure there's a joke in that, somewhere...

In between the two, we encountered more birds - though nothing spectacular - and fewer fungi, but including some nice ones.

Yup, here we go again.

Fly Agarics!

If at first you don't succeed and all that. :D [Try going away from where the hordes go]

Ashen Knight

Violet Webcap

I can't ID this, 
it looks a bit like a few things, 
but always ruled out by crucial detail[s]

Russula farinipes

Ochre Brittlegill

R. luteotacta

Charcoal Burner

Black Milking Bonnet?

Leopard Earthball

Common Earthball

Aniseed Funnel

Grey Milkcap

Soapy Knight

Once we found a nice spot for rations, and the LBD was distracted by a chew [always useful to carry a few :) ], we had encounter of the day [non fungal], as a couple of Roe Deer - well spotted by Dad - made their way up past us. Her Horribleness was fortunately [for our ears, never mind the poor things' nerves] utterly clueless. 

All in all, another lovely amble. :D

Be Seeing You...

[[*I went there straight from Shipley. Well, I did when I could get out of the car park... ::sigh::]]
[[** Yes, The Wire. :) ]]

16 October, 2020

Moor Fun. Part One; Fieldcraft Vs ...Ring Ouzels?!?

It is, you may recall, the time of year when I am oft to wander up on t'Moor to test my fieldcraft [or lack of it] against winter thrushes. Usually these are Fieldfares and Redwings, freshly in from parts northerly, with a Ring Ouzel as a rare treat. But well, times and opportunities do change. More recently, I've been frequently out with the Folks for afternoon ambles. Why not do both?

Rejoicing in the effects of prescription drugs*, I went tarting about after birdies on the Moor, then went for another fungus hunt with the Folks. There was also coffee and ginger nuts and it was Good.

Enough spoilers?

No? Ok, how's this;

Mr. Ring Ouzel

This was up the Avon by the dam, where 15+ had been previously reported. I reckon I had 12+ on the day; 11+ up Zeal Gulley and another down by the bridge early on. Also Mistle Thrush [plus 3 more by Black Tor] and Song Thrush with the Ouzels, a Dipper lower down the valley, and a late Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

More Ouzel fun!

Looking very pale in the sun

Basking in the sunshine

"Vun! Two! Tree! Tree Ring Ouzels, ah-ha-ha-haa!"


I had successfully applied a little fieldcraft and got quite a bit closer than the road-bound twitch [and my effort only meant one bog and one stream crossed; such wimps!]. As you can see from the pics, the Ouzels were utterly unbothered by me. 

"Oooh, yeah, that's the spot!"

Of course, I wasn't really that close;

Looking over Zeal Gulley to Avon Dam
[no zoom, no crop]

Right, from further away;

Looking from the road;
How many Ouzels can you see?

Also of note;

Butter Waxcap

This Mipit struck such a pose...

Aside from the odd bout of antisocial behaviour in the car park [or indeed from a clueless tog with a lens the size of my leg {no joke} but no idea about birds] it was all very lovely. Even with the odd bout of rain. :D

Coming up, Part Two; in which we do the same thing a different way.


Be Seeing You...

[[*The sorts that are entirely safe to drive or operate heavy machinery** with; ie. not the really fun ones. Only slightly disappointed with that.. ;) ]]
[[**Technically this is the same thing, of course.]]