30 December, 2021

Honk! Pt.4, Twiiiiitchin' In The Raiiiiin [With Added Pretty Things]

I'd meant the day after my trip off upcountry to be a quiet one, taken up with getting Important Things done. [It was the day before the day before, after all]

Ho ho ho.

A headsup from the Teacher had me cursing life, the universe, and pesky gooses - in no particular order - before grabbing my gear and making tyre tracks for Exminster. 

Well, Bean Goose is a good bird in Devon. [Even if it's 'only' a Tundra*]

Of course behind the Candas...

A very nice classic Tundra Bean, despite not behaving and the light being awful.

Eurasian White-fronted Goose

Sort-of hanging with it was yet another White-front. 

Almost textbook

That 1cy Pale-bellied Brent Goose was with the Darkies. Stood out very nicely when you were looking right at it...
Less amusingly, it was the only juvenile on show, which is not good, to say the least.

Better were these three Pretty Things;

Whooper Swans

Always a pleasure. :D

Also a pleasure to run into assorted of Devon's Finest, several of whom I hadn't seen since BC!

Be Seeing You...

[[* Taiga would be a FFD and oh boy, wouldn't that be a day. ]]

29 December, 2021

Honk! Pt.3, A Day Out [Vexed By Geese]

Time for some fun.

Sunrise to sunset in Zumerzet, one of the classic winter days out.

Yeah, I went there.

Avalon and the sky was fire and Starlings. 
I missed getting camera on the latter [too much cooing] but the former was slower to fly off for breakfast;

Sailor take warning.

I tarted about Ham Wall, north and south of the Line, then headed over the road to Shapwick, where Noah's caught the attention for some reason...
Picture time.
First up, a couple of Marsh Harriers;
Male. 2cy
Female. Adult
Striking a pose.
Of interest, perhaps, the first of these latter two pics was taken by zoomed camera, the second by photoscoping.
The traditional GWE;
Der-dum... Der-dum...
[I thought that was funny, anyway...]


That cleared area of reeds has just produced 63 Snipe, flushed as myself and that chap you can just see walked [opposite ways] along the path there.

Upon returning to Platform1, I encountered several of Devon's Finest, a couple of whom have featured in a pic on this blog in the past, and one who I'd chatted to only the day before [by the Otter]. They were busy looking for at a Water Pipit, which was unhelpfully hiding behind a wonderfully well-placed 'Sand Martin box'; right front and centre in the way of said Platform. [Yes, high intelligence from the RSPB again..*] **
Spot the Water Pipit!
Spot the Kingfisher [!]
Over the road, Noah's was covered in Wigeon, but not a lot else. 4 whole Pintail, for example....
Noah's Lake
1cy Marsh Harrier
I heard a few Cetti's, even saw some - including two having a 'discussion' which I was within a second of getting on record.. - and saw a single low-flying Bittern. These along with multiple GWEs and Marshies, but not a sniff of Beardie [though others did have them, they're tricksy].
Covid had me having lunch on a windy bench, which then turned out rather well as not only did a very nice Sprawk bomb by, but then I heard a rather musical honking sound off up-Sun [of course]. Was that an arriving party of Whooper Swans???
I got a bit excited - as I well might - and went in search of a visual...

And on and on.

No wild swans to be seen.

A party of Greylag Geese had appeared on the Lake, though.

Oh no.
No, no, no,no,no.......

There were lots of nice if unlucky trees for me to bang my head on as I headed back, muttering 'Greylags don't sound like that, they don't...'.

Moving on, we come to everyone's favourite concrete bowl.

All the salient features of the area

Yes, rather than stay on for the evening bunfight the Starlings get at this time of year [yeeeesh], I got out before the hordes arrived and swanned off up to Cheddar Res. to seek out 'proper' RCPs and a reported Scaup.
It was its usual self; cold as BLEEP and the birds are always on the other side... Wonderful. [No snark, I rather like the place]

Red-crested Pochards

Well, 3 out of 5 is middling.

There were a whole and amazing 27 Pochard [probably more than in whole rest of SW right now...]


Tufted Duck

Screwup aside, it was a lovely day out.

Be Seeing You...

[[* If the lot in Devon are bad, at least they've never installed blinds backwards. Seriously, go to Ham Wall, turn towards the Tor View 'hide' and you'll see three new blinds, with benches on the duck side... I.. I.. I can't. ]]
[[** Quite why anyone thinks bank-nesting birds will choose a horribly exposed box is beyond me, but what do I know? ]]

28 December, 2021

Last Few Days On The Patch

With interesting weather - and never quite what's been forecast - as well as All That Festive Stuff I've been about the Patch since the Honk series [which is still ongoing, btw].

Star bird was of course my Christmas pressie from the Goddess of Birding, that lovely biscuity Glonk.
If only it'd stuck around... ANY other day and there would have been anglers at the Nose, trawlers coming inot Brixham, and everyone could have filled their bootses.
Ah, She giveth as She pleaseth and taketh as She pleaseth....


Great Northern


They aren't supposed to do that...

ID That Diver!
Go on, it's easy...

South-west's Biggest Chumming Machine

We've had some rain. :)
SWBCM attracts all sorts of things, including;

All gullses Great and Small

The last of my three sort-of-in-focus Glaucous shots.

Also looking seawards,

Harbour Porpoise

Been in evidence inshore in recent days, including the Nose [this photo of Brandy Cove] and off Blackball on Monday.

Monday saw me actually getting out to check the Blackball roost for the ah, first time this winter... [Shame]
The weather was a bit unhelpful, with bands of drizzly rain not helping the visibility, let alone light levels.

Looking over Blackball Rocks,
Petitor Point on the left.

Totals before all vis. lost at 1640; 21 GC Grebe, 1 GND, 19 C Scoter, 2 Razorbill, 20+ Kittiwake, 2 BHG, 600+ large white-headed gulls [90%+ Herring]. 
Almost something really good roosting, as a/the Pom Skua [adult light morph] came in about 50' up, close inshore, seemingly following a line of GBBs, only to turn back eastwards before it got to the pier... Drat.
That would have been first roosting skua [definite], though 2 years ago a Pom harried pre-roosting BHGs and skuas have been seen passing by early doors on roost counts in years past [I've been checking] and the odd 'dark thing' has been seen offshore that looked suspicious, but no proof of non-laridity has ever been found [by me, The Boss watches the roost now and again, so he may know better].

Today I went back [having lost the day to my head, joy] and in clearer if less feisty conditions, I counted [again at 1640]; 53 GC Grebes, 1 Razorbill, 76 Kittiwake, 29 BHG, 1050+ lwhg [90%+ Herr]. Also ~20 C Scoter flew by eastwards but didn't come in.

Speaking of low-flying scoter;

In brighter if not better light...

22 C Scoter around the Oyster Beds, with a female-type Eider there as well on Sunday.

Inland, small parties of winter thrushes are about, the Lincombe Wood Song Thrush has started singing, there's still no YBW [arg] and these are out with the garlics;

Winter Heliotrope

Days to go on the Patch Yearlist and I am keeping at it, with 150 tantalisingly close...

Be Seeing You...

27 December, 2021

Honk! Pt.2, The Bit I Forgot From Pt.1 [Also Most Goose Spp.]

After leaving the Otter, I made a small stop-off on my way home. Spare coffee to drink and so on.

I just happened to drink said coffee while being freeze-dried on Powderham Bend bridge, up on tiptoes [another architect who needs a clip 'round the ear...] scoping the oh-so-helpful goose flock.


"What'll we do tonight, Brain?"


Five flavours of geese!

Can you see them all?

Course you can't! But they were there, the Pink-footed Goose joined by 480+ Canada, 165+ Brent, a Snow, and a Bar-headed.
[I never said they were 'good' ones! :) ]

The more clear-thinking [or perhaps cynical.. Ahem] may be wondering about that first shot. Yes, they did indeed fly a bit closer at one point, and as a lovely wonderful dog-walker about-turned they didn't flush before I could get in position to take a pic or two.

Getting the birds to all behave
was another matter


Behind the Pinkie, would that be a ['the'] juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose?
[You will see more of this wee darlin' in a not too distant post, btw]

Coming up; another day and time for some more fun. Oh yes.

Be Seeing You...

26 December, 2021

Honk! Pt.1, A Sunless Solstice [With Geese]

As per standard, not a sniff of the Solstice Sunrise at the Nose [one day I'll see it!], and indeed all day. I saw a few distant sunbeams in the early afternoon, but general grey murk was the Rule.

The sunrise itself was marked for me by a party of 10 Ravens passing by*. With the help of the Big Scope I did more counting, with 262 Guillemots on the Ore Stone, 61 Gannets fishing inshore of said Stone, and 3 Kittiwakes with them. 2 GNDs were on the sea and all four flavours of raptors put in appearances.

It being a day to celebrate, I decided to go twitching geese.
[Normally a recipe for Madness, but that's the past and I wasn't chasing a yearlist this time]

I also hadn't been to the Otter for an age and was curious to see how far they've got with the unshackling of the river and de-farmification of the restored floodplain.

But mostly I was after these;

European White-fronted Geese

Multiple White-fronted Geese

Quite a lot of
White-fronted Geese

Now, all the reports say '34 European White-fronted Geese' but counting them? Not easy with rushes to hide behind [never mind their friends!] and ditches to duck into. [[Who bothers to, after the finder?   Me, that's who.]]
Being patient, getting towards persistent, I kept at it; counting and re-counting one way and t'other and eventually caught all 35 in one pass.

Wait a minute....


That's not right. 
So I kept going and after assorted 32s and 28s and so on got two more 35s.

Was I hallucinating or is there another one?
I'd love to have a photo of all 35 in one shot, but with the scenery and the range I can't [yes, they were too close... Oh the iron-y.....]. That ditch you can see; always at least one in it, head and necks visible when birds looking up, through scope, but not on camera screen.**

I suppose it doesn't make a great deal of odds either way, to be honest.

After a wander upstream to look at the other WIP bits, I headed to the hide for a little lunch.

Or rather, to where the hide was. FFS and so on.
All I can say is I hope it's going to be replaced, and not by something the RSPB's brainless 'architects' designed....

But the platform it was standing on is still there, and while I'm not tall enough to get a decent view, there was at least a view. Also, I was out of the rather toothy wind, and nobody wandered along to annoy me, so I got to go through gulls and ducks and so on in peace.

Gulls. Assorted.

Gulls, more.

The light wasn't ideal, but if you're interested in gulls you know what I was looking at and if not, you won't care. o:)
While on site I went through all the visible wildfowl for vagrants and found exactly nothing - not surprising - though I did count a not inconsiderable 370 Teal [that's an exact count, btw] also 5 Shoveler, 2 Goosander, 6 Brent Goose, and a lone Lapwing. Plenty of other spp. about, of course, with Redshank, Little Grebe and Fieldfare just 3 of them.
Let's have something a little closer-to to end with;

Dirty Curlew

That Lapwing

Did I mention how much the Otter rocks? Views like this are not uncommon and worth the price of streams of mundanes passing as you try to bird. Also the reason for said views. [Parke and Dippers anyone?]

Right, enough of this, on to Part 2 where- well, you'll see.

Be Seeing You...

[[* Yes I do and one comment will get it posted and then won't you be sorry :p ]]
[[** This paragraph tracks to me, but probably not to anyone reading it cold. In other words; I could pick them all through the scope, but not photo the whole flock at once, see the whole flock through low-zoom camera, but not see when all were visible; and probably not resolve them all at that magnification either. Clearer?]]

25 December, 2021

Merry Glonkmas!

Breaking News:

Glaucous Gull at Hope's Nose. Again!

Slightly less good than last year, as the big lump saw me pull my camera and promptly buggered off Southwards...

But I got a couple of shots as he went, and while he's markedly browner than last year's bird [and definitely a 1cy and so not the same] he's still [having caught paranoia about his browny tail and checked Olsen & Larsson carefully] in the Glonk range.


Glonkus ginormicus

Yup, a biggun.

Sticking the bill out for us

I couldn't make out that bill on boc, so getting the nice 'bubblegum dipped in tar' pattern is a little relief, as while it looked lovely and biscuity when it popped up right in front of my astonished eyes [over the slick, 50' max.!!], looking at the hurriedly-shot-into-the-rain pics [taken as it cruised off] made it look a little Nelson-y... 

Anyways, headed into the Bay at 0915, so probably in Brixham Harbour right now.

Go on, what are you waiting for??


Merry Christmas everybody!

Be Seeing You...

23 December, 2021

More Of Something

I went into a split day with things to do and got them done.
I gave the Nose a go early doors for form's sake and on land found very little as per expected, but you have to keep at it. Fortunately, one of the first of my finds was the Teacher [with his boys], who I caught on the First Slope. We wandered down together, as four sets of eyes are much better than one.
What was on show?
Close GND
Another, slightly less close

Not a GND, rather far away

Of course the interesting one stays right over in Brandy Cove.. This is a -throated Diver, looks quite pale through the drizzle, but had a strong dark line down the neck sides..?? Also dark in front of the eye and pale on the ear coverts. But clearly slight of head and fine-billed and quite pale-looking.
The more I think about it the less happy I am with it. Having wavered repeatedly, I'm going 'diver sp.' and hoping I see it again, closer-to!
Totals between Thatcher Rock and Black Head were [including flypast] 4 GND, 2 RTD and that sp. I had to leg it earlier than I'd ideally have liked, and of course after I went another RTD came by.
While we were both looking, 18 Common Scoter were about the oyster beds and a lone adult male flew by South.

The afternoon saw a drastic change of scenery, with a nice amble about a Dartmoor edge valley with the Folks. Coffee and flapjacks may also have figured.

Many splats, no Dippers

Marsh Tit
Feeling bashful

Pearly Parachute

Very unlike the Nose, with nice big lumps of Granite sheltering us from the toothy wind. Small parties of winter thrushes were moving over at canopy level - mostly heard and no chance of pics - and a nice Grey Wagtail was too mobile in too little light to get anything really usable on it.

It was all very pleasant, despite the weather trying its best to rain on us [it failed, and seemed quite put out about it].

As you may have guessed, surmised, or already know, I'm off for my hollydays now, so expect a little more stuff. Possibly even within a week of the events depicted happening [gasp]. I've already been swanning off getting back into the fun stuff, with trips near and far for mostly the pure joy of doing it.
Which is such a joy itself to say.

I shall indeed

Be Seeing You...

20 December, 2021

Batch Pashing.

Friday saw me giving the Patch another going-over in hope of something interesting.

Springs eternal and all that, you know...

The Nose was cold and blowy, and Hope's Nose was even worse... [[Groan...]]


Playing les buggeures risibles with assorted tit bands got me very little until the First Slope, when while looking through about 15 LTTs, a Firecrest called behind me. It didn't show, of course, but then neither did a couple of Blackcaps who tacked at me while I was looking for the Stripey One. Lower down, a handful of Redwing with at least one Fieldfare were in amongst the Sloes along the Rock Path; meeting them at less than 15' was interesting for all concerned.

If only birds showed this well...

This was as good as it got, so I headed around the coast, heading the other way to the previous weekend.

At the Harbour, the high tide [by the time I got there] revealed a few Sandpipers Purple roosting in their two spots. Ten in all. Count them if you don't believe me;

Site A

Site B

I found no Turnstones [a bit odd], but quite a few of these;

Pied Wagtail

Quite easily identified on the ground. [Especially when they practically wander up to you..]

Offshore, my attempt to find a nice BNG to grip the Teacher failed, as only 3 of the GC flavour were on offer.

Built like the Roadrunner


Itsa Cormorant

Finally, it has been brought to my attention that there have been no horrid gulls on this blog for many many posts.
Clearly this will not do at all.

In a nice case of timing, here's a view with something which caught my eye;

Lovely larids...

I'm sure you know which one you're about to get an eyefull of.

Yeah, that one...

[Poor thing tried to escape, but was unable to gain any altitude, being weighed down by what's sold as chips around there...]

A curate's gull, if you'll excuse the pun.

And on that wonderful note, I shall

Be Seeing You...