30 April, 2021

Getting Back Out There. Part 3; Picking Up The Scope

Actual birding! Gasp!

After walking about with increasingly large rucksacks over increasing distances and roughness of ground, it was time for more.
The big scope had the dust blown off it and - albeit in rucksack, not over shoulder - carried about Exminster in search of assorted birdies.

Things did not go particularly well, as while there were assorted warblers on great voice if not sight, my attempts to find such things as Yellow Wagtail, Swift, Hobby, Garganey, Ruddy Shelduck, White-fronted Goose, Egyptian Goose, and even frickin' Cattle Egret [any one of the 40-odd...] ended in failure, despite being there all morning.

[Insult well and truly added when Someone Who Shall Not Be Named turned up as I was leaving and got the lot.... ::Cue; Muttley::]

I did see a passage migrant honest which I'm putting up as it's the closest best shot I've ever got of one, even though I can't name it;

Greenshank, too.

Also got my best ever shot of an Orange Tip;

Spot the butterfly...

Yes, really.

They are utter buggers. [Even Brimstones stop sometimes...]
Far easier to photo are pretty flowers;

See?  :)

In the afternoon I  did not go straight back for revenge as I'm not chasing a Devon Yearlist went over to the Nose, where I found sfa. I'd had hopes of Whimbrel lingering on the Lead Stone, or indeed Whitethroats, but nope. Zip.
Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs and standard finches.

[[Ho hum, hearken to the birder who despite not living by an estuary has had Osprey out his window again moan about not seeing good birds.....!]]

Even more to come, peoples, at some point hopefully within a week of the events depicted [you never know, might happen...]. Including photos of actual birds and maybe even seeing something for the first time this year on Patch... [Yes, he does sort of seem to be sticking after that Patch Yearlist.... gasp]

Anyways, I shall

Be Seeing You...

28 April, 2021

Getting Back Out There. Part 2; Wild Times

After a day's break to make sure things hadn't gotten worse - all seemed good* - I was off up out for a proper walk. Where else was I going but my favourite bit of t'Moor?

The White Moor Circle

I've shown you enough Wild Tor pictures over the years, I think. :)

The wind was brisk and toothy, but the sun was warm and the going - what with all this drought - was good. There was, to my slightly amazed delight, nobody in actual kilometres [plenty up about the Wilhay / Yes Tor, along Belstone, and at Scorhill, but very few 'away from the hot spots'] and I - trying hard to not do too much - spent two whole hours sat at Wild Tor with only the birds for company. 

Yeah, it was a terrific effort that; sitting about listening to Skylarks, watching the world not go by, and being driven slightly nuts by a very mobile Wheatear... ;)
Speaking of;

Spot the Wheatear

Ah, but the music of wind and Skylark......

Eventually I moved on, via Watern Tor and the pole bridge over Teign to Shovel Down. More Wheatears in the rocky and wall-y bits lower down; more confiding, though less Whinchatty.

"What's that?!?"

The Navy's.. Lost???
Messing about and seemingly playing S&R with a friend;


After the Puma nonsense at Vitifer, this seemed to be pushing things a bit, but nm. [Though this is now all three services in three consecutive wokkas...]

Earlier, I had a great start to my walk with;

A Red start to the day..

Up on top, a golden surprise;

Golden Plovers

There were 13 of them, in a mix of plumages, as you can see.

It was quite difficult to restrain myself from the temptation to go on and on; I did 17km but could easily have added another 10 on top of that. No, don't go up Hangingstone Hill, don't go to Cranmere, don't nip over to Fernworthy....


But my little pains are taking a long time to go away, so I have to try my best to behave.

[Yes, it does indeed suck]

Unlike being up on t'Moor, which was woooooooonderful!

Be Seeing You...

[[* I will stop going on about this soon, I promise. ]]

26 April, 2021

Getting Back Out There. Pt.1, Cuck-Who?!?

Business taken care of, on Tuesday I could have some careful fun and see how the assorted [hopefully now ex-] broken bits behaved.

Oh, what to do?

Light kit and a gentle amble about a triendly bit of Dartmoor, of course.


Well hello there, darlin'....

Showy Whinchat? Oh joy!  :D


A Cuckoo was far less accomodating, calling for two bursts and showing waaaaay off in the heat haze - I have a blob! - and as for certain Black and White Things.. Nope.
But lots of Willow Warblers and of course these things;


Green-veined White

Tiger Beetle!

Oh, but it was lovely to be up out again... :) 

Things did get a bit noisy, though, as somebody was having fun;


Two of these were alternating top cover and rescue/insertion manouvres.

There will be, as you may have surmised from the title, more to come.

Be Seeing You...

24 April, 2021

Sploosh! Went The Pog

Time off from getting stuff done on Sunday was well spent; out with the Folks on t'Moor! We went for an amble about Emsworthy, and while Cuckoos were notable by their absence, we did eventually connect with migrants other than the plethora of Willow Warblers.

Before that, the Little Black Dog got a surprise, as what she thought was a shallow patch of water by one of the boardwalks turned out to be deeper than she was: Sploosh! Swimming pog... 
We had some fun fishing her out, as she's not a penguin and can't jump from a swim. Poor thing.  
[You can see the grin, can't you?] 
Still, it gave the benefits of a free bath [without wrecked bathroom] and teaching her to stay on the boardwalks [very helpful with the muddy bits encountered later on!]

Much of the ground was very dry - unsurprising, seeing as we've had little or no rain for an age - so it was unexpected to find the wet bits so wet.  Go Dartmoor bogs!

Hamel Down and Honeybags Tors in the distance

Migrants included lots of Mipits in mobile groups;

On wall

On Bracken

On Hawthorn

Flying about Mipits proved harder to photo, as did the 2 Wheatear that came over late on. Oh well.

Wandering about looking for birds is all well and good, but I find you often do better sitting and waiting for them to come to you. Like the 3 Marsh Tits that passed by as we were scoffing flapjacks, or indeed this little chap;


He even had a sing for us as we admired the view from the memorial log.  :)

Also of note;

Chaffinch with bling
[can't make any of it out]

It was a very enjoyable time for all. Especially Tilbury - though winding up looking like Gnasher from her surprise bath - who really didn't want to leave. [She's been quite bereft of moorland escapades, what with the dratted virus..]

Is it wrong to wonder about corners turned?

Be Seeing You...

23 April, 2021

Aargh, Bugses Up The Nose?!?

Sunshine does help bringing assorted arthropods out to play, and sometimes I can even get pictures of them.

Very common hoverfly sp.

Beeeeetle sp.

Even more common
hoverfly sp.

Fleeing from Miss Miller

Honey Bee

Dung Fly
[Didn't know it was that bad there...]

Neriene peltata?

Yup, that's it.

Be Seeing You...

19 April, 2021

Twoo, What A Surprise!

Saturday was a surprising day, more so than expected [though you could very well argue that an expected surprise isn't...]. Having many important Things to do - indeed said Things are ongoing as I type right now in the most un-bloggily middle of the day! - I haven't even been to the Nose [tut] so have no right to expect to get anything funky.

Nevertheless, ears at least have been kept open and when the gull alarm went off big style Saturday evening - at 8 or so, no less - I was quick to try to see what the fuss was. Cue: gulls alarming and converging on Black Head [that bit on the left in the sunrise photos I post now and again]. Building kettle over the far side, and some Crows going along, too. Hmm, now that ain't gonna be no Buzzard!*

Careful scanning eventually acquired the victim, as something Not Gull*** rose up above the trees, circled a bit and dropped off northish.. Oh, that's an Osprey!!!

It stayed mostly below the horizon, but could be tracked as it headed up the coast by the circling entourage. Not a hope of a photo, though [I've yet to get one behaving well enough; ok, apart from the eye level flypast one, but that pinned me to the spot in WOOOOOAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!, so really also counts as un-photographable!].

Not content with that, later on as I dragged myself off to bed, I had turned on my balcony light to scatter the soaked worms [as the Blackbirds have been FF for three weeeks now, and others are right behind them] in amongst the planters, when, with hand reaching for the handle, I realised there was something there and froze...
Tawny Owl!!!!
It looked at me, I looked at it. I backed off soooo slowly... Got camera, came back, still so slow... and it just sat there, looking all around ["You'll be lucky to find anything bigger than a slug up here, mate"].
Totally ignored me.
That's my balcony light reflected there
"Heeeeere mousey-mousey..."

Sizing up the birdbucket?


There are loads of Tawnys here, right noisy buggers they are, too. However, aside from the odd incautious juvie, or getting flushed by fireworks, you just don't see them. 
I've only caught one perched on my balcony once before and it was gone the second I moved [because pics or it didn't happen...], so this coolest of customers - even the Robin isn't that unafraid! - was such a treat.


[No apologies]


Be Seeing You...

[[* Yes, I know; despite my mantra that 'It's always a Buzzard!', sometimes it isn't. But those are so few and far between - this is now 4 Ospreys from Home in 8 years, with Buzzards more than daily** - that the point is fair, I think. 
More relevant to the post, gulls behave one way towards Buzzards when nesting; alarm and see it off but only to a few hundred metres at most. Having everything within a kilometre or more converge is very unusual.]]
[[** As they say; 'Do the maths'... ]]
[[*** By silhouette and especially flight action. Ospreys, it should be noted, can appear rather like Herring and especially GBB in size and shape, but the similarity at range and nasty angle of view is dispelled the second they flap. ]]

17 April, 2021

This. That. The Other.

I've been meaning to include lots of things and not got around to doing it. Flowers, spiiiiiders, moffs.
It won't do.
Rather than make serious effort and go through them all and post in something resembling an organised or even sensible manner, I'm just going to meander through my photo archives and stick some pics on at near random.
Diurnea fagella
A very well-marked and green-tinged one.

This turned up in the first week of March.

Double-striped Pug

As did this.

Second week of April for this beauty;
Two-spotted Quaker

Wintering spiders. Very hard to ID without capturing them [and even then..] which I'm loath to do. So here's a couple from the files.


Spider plus lunch

Would you like to know more? 
No? Spiders are scary and bad?? 
For shame.....  
Oh well, here's something pretty to calm your nerves then;


Wood Spurge
More fun, involving ::Sci-fi announcer voice:: Insects From The Noooooooose will be coming, next time on 'Backward Birding'!
 [[Oh dear]]
 Be Seeing You...

15 April, 2021

Something A Little Different

Non-birding news - something you don't usually get here - and I got a surprise text from the NHS this afternoon; would I like to get a hole stuck in my arm?

Would I???
::Looney Tunes style Exit-so-fast-he-leaves-a-Tom-shaped-cloud!::

Much earlier than I expected - half an hour later peoples, so in every sense! - I found myself with a sticker from the Nurse [first time for a verrrrry long time] and I can't not show it off!



[[Ok, now my arm feels like someone's taken a cricket bat to it, but hey....]]
I am morally obliged to make sure than anyone reading this who hasn't yet been vaccinated does so when they get the chance. C'mon, lookit at the funky sticker!! :D

What passes for normal service here will resume 'shortly'. There will be moffs.


Be Seeing You...

13 April, 2021

Black And White Things

Took a trip straight from work on Friday, getting some gentle ambling in as I try to work myself back up.
[Also unable to keep away from certain birds before the trees come into leaf....]
So, to a wood somewhere near Dartmoor, where I went a' hunting. It was far more overcast than forecast, though less rainy. Reasonably quiet, which was nice, but oh, for some more sunshine... Ah well.
Why all the weather moaning? Well, sometimes, you see, little birdies feel showy but in an unhelpful manner, such as, say, clinging to the underside of a branch;

Lesser-spotted Woodpecker

Well hello there... :D


Likewise...  :D

Awful light, not great angle, but you can just see atop their wee bonces; the male's red and female's lack thereof. The sun did come out, but oh, no woodpeckers in view when it did. ::Mutters::

"You try building your house with your face, mate."

To put those into much better light [yes, that is - you will be horrified to learn - possible], I went a' wandering elsewhere and managed to not only find but even point the camera at a Pied Flycatcher! Cue worst fly shot ever [I dare you to beat this!];

Yes, it is.

Silky white underneath, black cap, full breast. It is a Pied Fly. Really. He even started singing.
If the frickin' autofocus hadn't unshakeably locked onto twigs ten feet towards me, you'd be far more impressed...

Oh well, we can but try.
Speaking of birds being trying;

Name that phyllosc!

That time the camera ignored the twigs... [More or less]
No, it wasn't calling. Yes, I did get far better views. After last last bit of nonsense, I'm sure you can easily identify this one, can't you?  :)

Even closer to;

Leaf Miner in Bramble

Isn't that wonderful?

Be Seeing You...

11 April, 2021

Target Practice

Spring Things from the Nose. :D

Speckled Wood,
fresh as a daisy!



Rockit posing

Never too many Wheatear shots

Right? Right.

Ok, time for threatened promised phyllosc nonsense;

Willow Warbler

Note the long primaries lit by the sun - long enough to cross above the uppertail coverts - and very two-tone colouration.


Yes, closer and better light angle [and different angle of shot full stop], and yes this looks long-winged for a Chiff, but that's an optical illusion as right primary tips artificially extend 'left' primary length. [Those are never going to cross]. Also far more homogenously coloured and a much dumpier, more compact shape [a very Chiffchaff feature vs longer-looking Willow*].

No, those aren't anything like ideal images, but they are far more demonstrative of what you usually get out there.

Speaking of;

From today!

So which is this? First glance shows a very strong contrast between upper and under part colouration; good 'first thought' for Willow. Those primaries clearly stick out well from the tertials - you can see a lot of flat feather showing there; very good for Willow**. What you can see of the head shows a strongish marking, with a contrasting dark facial surround; also good for Willow. The bill looks quite long, too [again, better for Willow].

Right next to it was this one;

Collecting nest material!

A much better photo, yes [and you may wonder, as I do, why one sp. seems much 'easier' to photo well..?]. This bird is far more evenly coloured, above vs below, with a plain face [though a strong supercilium for a Chiff] and note the lack of long primaries and shorter, 'spikier' bill. Also much less 'bright' looking than usual Willows [though some of those can be very grey, resembling Hippos...]

Be Seeing You...

[[* You see a similar effect between Marsh and Reed Warblers; more a consequence of how they hold themselves than actual structural differences.]]
[[** Chiffchaff primaries usually seem to continue evenly from the tertials above them.]]