31 January, 2021

More Of The Same. Sort Of.

Once upon a time, so the story goes, there was a land overflowing with birds and underflowing with BLEEEEEEEEEEEPing viruses, where birders could frolic freely and all was happy and joyful.

Yeah, yeah...


So, once more unto the weekend.

This time with added wind, rain, and - for a change - blasting easterlies.

But before that, on Monday afternoon, the Glonk and LTD were still at the Nose and feeling a bit posey.

Glonkus biscuitii

Glonkus maximus
[Yes, it is behind the Herring thing....]

Clangula distans

Ahem.  :)

Standard images out of the way, what else was going on?



Yeah, not a great deal, really. The very odd distant diver, paucity of visible Blackstarts...
Then Friday didn't change much at all.

The weekend proper saw a shift in conditions even further, so perhaps a seperate post? Yes, I think so.

Here, have another Glonk;

Glonkus lactotabulus

[White-winger primaries remind me of Milky Bars. I liked Milky Bars. ]

Anyways, 'worse' weather = worse pictures, so you've got that to look forward to, too.  :)

What does Mr Kestrel think?

"Wait, you said you were shooting for NQS...
Call my lawyer!!"

I'll get my coat.

Be Seeing You...

27 January, 2021

Getting Some Exercise

A day of half-decent weather last Sunday week [sorry] meant I took a stroll about the Patch and saw some nice birds. This goal was greatly aided by running into Bailey Sr. and The Murphys, who - in carefully socially-distanced natters - provided some very helpful gen. [Cheers!]

I may have had a Patch Yearlist on my mind, and certainly one of my local bogey birds: The Elusive-To-The-Point-Of-Pimperneldom fiend that is...... Dun Dun DUUUUUUUN  Marsh Tit! ::Thunder Rolls and Someone Screams!!::

Yes, really. Marsh Tit. 
Seen on Patch by me exactly once, during the double cold winters of nigh a decade ago, when an influx of inland species into the area saw all manner of Wonderful Things hit my chunk of coast, to my somewhat ambivalent [it was hard times for them] delight.*

Yes, so, getting on with it; my one period of exercise a day, taken on foot from home, took me to the south. Not all the way, by any means, but a fair distance.

A lone GC Grebe off Torre Abbey was my first on Patch of the year [I maintain, what's going on??], and dodging the cyclists up the water meadow boardwalk**, I found no sign of Grey Wags or Siskin [the former not that surprising, really]. The fish ponds gave Mallard and Moorhen [still no Coot...], but then, oh joy of joys, not far from the Gamekeeper's Cottage in Manscombe Wood, a rather vocal Marsh Tit [possibly with another]. WOOOOOOOOOOOOO  :D

There then ensued a Wild Bird Chase as I attempted to hunt down the 'at least two, possibly three' Bramblings with Chaffinches and Linnets, while low-flying Skylarks and Mipit, at least 33 Redwing, and other thrushes and assorted pigeon-y things tried their best to get in the way... [Oh, also all the civilians, their doggies, speeding bike riders, to be encountered on footpaths on a lockdown weekend when it isn't actually raining sideways.... ::Bright smile::]


Well, at least some birds were obliging.

Cirl Bunting
"C'mon mate, I'm sitting in a tree!"

Nice pose, shame about the light...

Cirl Buntings

Females, being slightly kinder

You may be wondering why all the Cirls? [Or not, they are lovely] Well, the big finch flock[s] - probably in excess of 400 in all, primarily Chaffinches and Linnets, but hard to count or even ratio as they kept splitting and combining - were very twitchy and even more mobile***. A female and male Brambling were there - yay - but getting an actual shot where you could see what they are... 
Drat and so on.

Chaffinches, Linnets, female Brambling
[No, really. Can't you see it??]

Slightly better, a comparison photo;
Stock Doves and Woodpigeons.

At least 16 of the former with several score of the latter. 
The shift in habitat from the core of the Patch [trading Private Property for rolling farmland, woods you can get into, wet bits.. ah, the joy!] helped assorted yearticks fall, though another and more thorough go on my way back again failed to find the Siskin flock. 
I did see this bird with some yellow on;

Little Egret.
Those feets!

Swinging by Haldon Pier on my way home, I was only able to find one Purple Sand [with at least 9 Turnstone] amidst a lot of disturbance, including two anglers right where they like to roost...

Not a bad walk at all. :)

Be Seeing You...

[[* Note that 'by me'. Reported from Cockington way, especially up at Occombe Farm, most winters. I've gone there often looking for them and failed constantly. Try it some time.  No, not being snarky, it's a nice walk.
{Ok, apart from either having to dodge maniac bikers in the woods or larger though usually slower [!] vehicles on the old Totnes Road... ;) }
But there are nice flowers and sometimes even nice birds, too. :) ]]
[[** Really. I'm used to 'No Cycling' signs being blithely ignored, but even an ounce of common sense says boardwalks and bikes don't mi- ah, who am I kidding??? ]]
[[*** I'd apologise for that sentence, but that would imply remorse... ;) ]]

25 January, 2021

This Weekend's News.

Due to Surprise Circumstances of an Eventful nature, my primary, secondary, and even tertiary plans for this weekend got kaiboshed. Stuff happens, as they sort of say.
As you may have guessed from the last post, I did get to the Nose on Friday afternoon and refound the Glonk, to my and everyone who's been [back] to see it's delight. :D

After said Events, I got back to the Nose mid Sunday morning, to find quite a few of the Usual Suspects about the place. They were all after not only Glonkus Spectacularus but also The Teacher's Blackstart, which had flounced around the South Side for him and his boys the day before. The former was better behaved than the latter, and in a white wings theme, the Med Gull I photo'd {down there} turned up and struck poses for Steph [go see her twitter for much better pictures than I can manage*].
I, you may be shocked to hear, didn't even touch my camera at either of them - or the LTD, who was still lurking out by the Lead Stone - so you will have to look down to old posts to see images of them. [Yes, it's definitely the same Glonk; same wing damage]

You won't be able to look anywhere at the Blackstart, as despite seven sets of eyes being deployed in the search, there was no sign; though with the howling frigid blast hitting the South Side, this wasn't much of a surprise.

Instead, here's a little bird behaviour for you and proof that my Patch does extend beyond the Nose. Behold;


What's that Jay doing in that Ivy-clad tree?

"Ui Awwigh Egh Eh Urhh Earghh"

Or; 'Why put acorns in the ground where any Badger can find them, or Cat or Fox find me, eh?'

Very clever.

I will put up last Sunday's post soon. Honest.
[I mean, it's not like you're unused to my slightly esoteric attitude to time... :) ]

Be Seeing You...
 [[* @BirdygirlDevon   She has a very fancy camera and birds like her. ]]

22 January, 2021

Glonk Twain

Said a certain gull to me at the Nose today;

"Rumours of my wandering off have been greatly exaggerated."

Doing That Thing again...



Female LTD still present, a lone GND off Black Head, plenty of assorted regular gulls - including at least 27 Common - attending the slick [love that rain]. And I even dodged the massive hail showers... :)

Oh yeah, also this;

Continuing the Bad Sprawk Pictures theme..

This darling was soaring right over me. At least..... right up until the camera came out, the minx. 

Back to the main event.

Glaucous was a Trojan,
dontcha know.


I do have a proper post all ready to go, seeing as I went out and had some fun last weekend..  but well, it's going to have to wait now, isn't it?

Oh dearie me.

Be Seeing You...

19 January, 2021

News From The Nose.

When not swanning about further afield...
The Glonk seems to have definitely gone [wonderfully definitive language, there], but the female LT Duck is still on station. Things remain very quiet on the sea, with the diver and grebe shortage continuing.
On shore, slightly lower Blackcap and notably lower Chiffchaff numbers. Firecrests are about, but any wintering YB Warblers are keeping a low profile. Also, still no joy on Operation Blackstart. :(
Here's a possibly unwell Guillemot, close in off the Nose on Monday afternoon;
Held this pose; tail up and splashing with feet, and didn't dive in my sight.

Yikes! Underwing shot!
No sign of oiling etc.

Of course, it could just be an odd acting Guillemot. Plenty of them on the Ore Stone ledges at the moment.
Let's have something Spring-y;
A longer post to come as I have actually been out for some slightly longer-reaching exercise..! [Shock]
Be Seeing You...

17 January, 2021

Patience, Persistence, And Helpful Weather.

All these things are useful when looking for tweety birds.

For example; patiently waiting a week, wherein the weather shifted - most especially the wind direction - and some weed had a chance to grow. Thus, when persisting with looking for Purple Sand at the Real Living Coast [I suppose, seeing as the fake one is toast, I ought to stop with that one...], a new Friday gave new results.

To whit; six adorable li'l Sandpipers Purple foraging along the weed line and sat upon the boulders... :D Also a Turnstone and a couple of Rockits.

Purple Sandpiper

Two more.

As this came after I'd utterly failed to find even a sniff of Blackstart, it was doubly welcome. Also, patient scanning from the End Of The Line gave the first Patch GND of the year. [Very overdue]. Easier to spot, a Razorbill with the Shags in the Outer Harbour;

Finally, a seabird that knows how to pose!

My happiness is such that I post so promptly [For me, that is. Still had to wait to upload photos....]. Please do look down at my - week old, yes - post down there to see a couple of nice pictures, though.


Be Seeing You...

15 January, 2021

Walking Around After Birds

And so we get to the Dread Lockdown of Lockdownyness, wherein nobody can have any fun and ten meeeeellion bods wander all over everywhere you are allowed to go.
Love that coronavirus...
So, what news from The Patch?
First of all, getting straight to what you really want to know; it seems the Glonk is no longer hanging about the Nose. I saw what might have been it waaay off to the north with gulls about a trawler on Friday, but it's not been anywhere near close. 
The LTD is still present, though; now more likely at the north end of the Lead Stone than the south. Also present, on and off - and actually posing for once! - was this;

Mediterranean Gull

Woo. :)
Space issues save you from any more distant gull shots. [[Say "Thankyou google's extortion!"... ]]

Long-tailed Duck

Still not playing ball. 
Also feeling bashful, this one dashed past me while I was trying to photo a Firecrest and landed in the same tree! Said 'crest shut up and hid sharpish and no surprise, though the visitor had others on her mind...

Spot the Sprawk! 
"..No, the question is WHERE am I?"
"You're in the pine"
"Wha- no!... Why do you say that?"
"...I can see your tail"*

Notable absences, possibly weather-related, are divers and grebes - though one** was visible from the Real Living Coast on Friday - and no Purple Sands found there. This latter [and inded the former, for that matter] probably due to sustained onshore winds and the loss of shore weed [no weed = no inverts = no reason to be there, after all].  21 Turnstones were about the Harbour - 13 in one group were passed by another 8 flushed from the D-Day ramps by yachties - as well as this lovely little lady;


Not an easy species to see on Patch :D  Coastal records in winter make up the entirety [as the only inland fresh waterbodies are - like Cockington Ponds - not exactly suitable for 'proper' wildlife...] so this made up for my 'no divers, no Purple Sands, one very distant grebe' results of a full peninsula walk.
An ongoing mission [thinking casually about Patch Year Lists and so on.. ::whistles innocently:: ] is finding where the Blackstart/s is/are. There will be at least one, probably more, somewhere about the inner Patch area; the fun is finding said location amongst the vast arrays of rocky bits, built-up areas, gardens, rooftops, and so on where one might decide to stay...

Good times. 

Latest Spring Thing;
Leucojum sp.
[Presumably Spring, given the date]

Be Seeing You...
[[* Yes, that's a Scary Movie reference....]]
[[** I have awful blob photos, but space issues save you from the Horror.***]]
[[*** I will stop going on about this after this post.     Probably. ]]

13 January, 2021

Running Around After Birds

Right then; the second and third of the month and year.

[ This is that distant time Before back to work and indeed back to Lockdown III The Revenge's Revenge ]

Both days had a similar structure; starting near then heading off further afield, chasing things I'd seen before, mostly very recently, but hey, that's what the first few days of January are all about, right? :D

Having to ration photos [at least until I get to erasing photos from old blog posts; there's a lot of awful blobs totally un-needed on here, to be fair...], means I shall try to keep this brief.

Day 1;

Started at Goodrington and Clennon - walking from former to latter, thank you - where I met both that Scaup and The Artist. It was a bit icy first thing and interesting underfoot, but even better on water as I found a colour-ringed Block'ead..! Notably present included a lovely Muscovy Duck at Clennon ;) and absent were both Kingfisher and Snipe!
Having lugged the Big Scope around, I couldn't not have a look at the sea, and was jammy enough to get eye on the lurking BT Diver - if you look at MB's twitter from I think the same or next day, you'll see a pic [top right] which was pretty much my view! - but not the wintering Pom Skua.

Scaup, 2cy

Black-headed Gull with bling

Also while we're on the c/r bandwagon..

C/R Blackwit 1

C/R Blackwit 2
[note slipped white ring on right leg]

These two being present while I was cooing over this feller;

Green-winged Teal

Showing very well at Matford Pools while I munched christmas cake [whatta lunch :) ] and ignored the slight case of rain.

There then ensued more rain and another go at the Wild Goose Chase. This went better than last time;

Nine [that's NINE] Barnacle Geese

Not eleven. Nine. Definitely just nine.


Having found the Barnies at Exminster, I worked onwards down the Exe and environs, seeing This and That, as you do. Wound up at Cockwood Crossing, watching Herbert the Slav. :)
Slavonian Grebe

Day 2;

Started at Brixham harbour, where the Iceland Gull was asleep exactly where it had been on the 25th - so see that post for a picture - and the Tystie was being naughty amongst the yachts again. However, this time I got a better photo. Slightly.

Black Guillemot, 2cy

After running into The Teacher [yup, new nickname] and having a socially-distanced natter while waiting fruitlessly for the Iceland to do something interesting, I then shamelessly relocated south, hitting Slapton Ley at both ends - with Beesands in the middle! - in search of more duckies.

The birds were hiding on the seaward side of the Ley, in and out of the reed fringe, and so views, let alone photos, were a challenge. Patience and the Big Scope eventually let me find the male Ring-necked Duck - though I couldn't pick the reported female - and at least 9 Goldeneye. 
Beesands was very quiet [I checked in case the other RND was there, {or even a Bittern??} ], and became totally birdless when a frelling kitesurfer decided to use it! He met the side near the hide at speed, which shows karma can be very swift sometimes, and had to pull his kite out of the willows, then swim it back. [[If anyone in authority is interested in prosecuting him, I have photos]]
Back north, Ireland Bay had more ducks at slightly better range, as well as the usual Firecrest in the usual place :D No Black-necked Grebes at all, though.
Token picture;
Spot the Goldeneye!
[female, btw]
Nice close views, right?
In lieu of photos from there, here's the star of Clennon ;)
"Is that The Artist?
Here's my good side!"
Muscovy Duck

All fun and games. :)

Be Seeing You...

10 January, 2021

Saying Goodbye To 2020 With Style. And Snow.

It is a matter of principle for me to do certain things at least once every year. One of these is walking to Fur Tor.

Certain Things made this quite difficult in 2020, and Events conspired to make matters harder. So it was that I found myself with a very much now or never trip up onto t'Moor on the 31st...

Ice was forecast, but the day was meant to be sunny with light winds and maybe a brief shower or two. 

I went for it.

Aside from some odd patches of snow on the roads - none at all anywhere else..? - the trip out to Postbridge was simple, and aside from a slightly frosted car park, it was all systems go in bright sunshine and blue skies, interspersed with the odd light shower. Of snowballs [those little raindrop-sized balls of snow, like soft hail; actually very nice to be in].
While standing water had frozen over, it was 3° - same as at home as it happens! - and quite warm in the sunshine. Down side being that the ground was not hard frozen, so under the scattering of snowballs and hoar frost, a thin ice crust overlaid very much liquid water and mud.... Dangerous walking! [Well, dirty walking, with many squelchy surprises...]
Interesting, and quite promising, really. Would it be like this all the way up?
Let's look into the future;
Heading out, looking SW from the Northwest Passage.
Departing snow shower to the left
Nope! :D 
But I didn't know that then.
What I saw was this;
Almost August?
On the way. Looking back towards Postbridge.

Up a bit higher.
The Waterfall.
Plenty of water flowing, and just a light dusting of snowballs stuck to exposed surfaces.
It took a lot of walking and climbing to find anything like 'proper' snow.

The Northwest Passage.
[Same location as first photo]

Maybe an inch of snow up on Cut Hill that seemed to be mostly accumulated snowballs. Enough to hide the path and make things interesting [when you don't know what you're putting your feet down on and how far said feet are going to go, it slows you down a touch..!]. This is why we take a stick up there, though. :)
The odd snowball showers which passed through were more fun than anything, it was very warm in the sun and the only problem I had was my glasses steaming up!
Fur Tor!
I arrived in a snow shower - first actual proper snow - so this is taken on my way back from my lunch spot. With the wind, such as it was, in the N, and wanting some snow shelter to have lunch, I had to head to my alternate picnic site on the tor, away from the main outcrop.
Let me show you the difference between snow and sun;
With the snow shower exiting, stage left, and blazing sun entering, stage right. :D

Looking across the Grumblies to 
Tavy Cleave, Hare, Sharp, and Gt. Links Tors

How's that? As per usual, pictures do not do it justice...
I was not alone up there, though. People everywhere [you'd almost think it was half-decent weather on a holiday or something?], and not just people [you saw the Raven, right?] 


Found me while I was munching lunch. I have no idea why they [at least two present] were still up there, but 1cy birds, so maybe learning the hard way? Whatever, I couldn't not leave about half a pork pie up there in little bits for them..

Time was pressing, and my decision to head back sharpish proved very propitious, as even as I left the Tor, a proper snow 'shower' hit. This lasted the next hour and dumped a good 1.5" of snow, which I would discover extended right down to at least Bellever. My trodden path up and almost all the markers I'd left [rocks and bushes etc. cleared of snow*] were buried, and visibility was rather reduced in it, too. Good thing I knew the way, eh? [To be fair, I was never even slightly at risk of getting lost; it was harder to navigate when I went up in 30' mizzle that time.].

The need to be back well before it got dark [and potentially snow-covered roads started freezing?] and my camera getting a bit damp stopped me taking too many shots on the way back, but that isn't the same as none;

Snow depth

This is one of the rocks at the waterfall. You remember them from up there, dusted in snowballs?
Tip to basket on that pole is 2.5"; that's a lot of snow very fast for Devon.

Looking back north
to the waterfall. 
[The grey sky is another snow shower]

As you may have surmised, I made it back ok, though I did ping something jumping the last watercourse; on takeoff my leg gave out on me and I only got half as far as I expected... Fortunately, that was enough to get a hold of the far side and pull myself up without falling in [Hooray for deeply incised water channels]. Better, while I found my car covered in snow and getting out of the car park was a little entertaining, the roads were fine.

Oh, but it was wonderful up there. 

When I could see it.

Be Seeing You...
[[* At a couple of points it's quite easy to end up coming out of an area well off from where you want to be and have to re-orient. Not helpful when you're on a clock. So I took precautions; I may be {rather} nutty, but I'm not daft. The one exception was the little cairn that marks the south end of the workings path, which I'd put back upright and was visible**.]]
[[** Unlike the Northwest Passage cairns, which had been thrown down again and I for once hadn't re-righted; due to needing at least an hour, assuming I could find the stones under the snow... If they'd been up it would have made getting back a little easier for me and a lot easier for anyone who didn't know Cut Hill well. THIS is why I put them back up whenever I pass in normal weather, and will cheerfully and vigourously express my displeasure if I ever catch whoever knocks them down...]]

06 January, 2021

The Inglorious First

In which I began a New Calender Year with the firm resolution not to go chasing yearlists or any nonsense like that. Not even trying. Or casually looking for yearticks. Or 'just trying to get better views'.
That lasted a whole day, which is quite good for me.
Getting on with it..
After all the fun I had sending 2020 off with a Bang [I will post about this, but I need to sort through some very white photos], I needed to recuperate [and heal] and so it was quite a good thing I wasn't up at first light. Also, my usual Start To New Year List of getting Tawny Owl at 0001 was gratuitously massacred by not only the cruise ships all sounding off at midnight [ye gods, those horns are loud], but the Local Yokels decided to start their fireworks at 2350, for some insane reason....
My last bird of 2020 was a Tawny, which called right outside my window at 2341, so at least it ended well.

Anyways, I only ventured outside in the afternoon, where on Patch patrol I saw the Glonk was still on duty at the Nose; annoying the local gulls and delighting the local birders, and the LTD still there [and still staying out by the Lead Stone]

Glonkalicious baby, yeah!

But it couldn't last. So, the second and indeed third saw me toddling about areas near and far.
Now, I'm still not chasing a yearlist, because that would be daft.
I might give the Patch a hard go. We shall see.
Anyways, the thing about yearlisting, even when you're only keeping count, is that it gets you out there. [[BTW, this has been written about before, at length and in far more fluent style, by several other far more famous and skilled bloggers; notably those resident on the Axe, Wanstead, and west Dorset...]]
The listing bug is a persistent little thing, and any form of ticking things off helps relieve that nagging itch [[[this is getting a bit off target...]]]. Ahem.  
Try again.
Looking for things, seeing them again, ties you in to the cycle of the year [The wheel turns and so on], over and above the satisfaction of finding things, successful searches. Using learned knowledge to predict what might be where, maybe finding them, maybe not, maybe finding something where you didn't expect it - learning something new! - is all part of the joy of something that is, to me at least, a lot more than an exercise in comparative numerology.

Ok, burble over.

In very concise terms, in the first three days of January, I racked up as many spp. as I once did in one [I do rather regret not trying a Glorious First. There's always Next Year. {And my Devon2022 Maximum Effort Let'sYearlistLikeDeadpool.... Uh oh} ], visiting sites in the Bay, the Exe, and Down South.

As for details... Yes, you know what's coming. Another post.

[[Stop groaning]]
I will
Be Seeing You...