31 May, 2021

Still Here. There. Well, Somewhere...

Despite a deafening silence I am still here. Just slightly deserted by the muse of late, is all.
I have been up to no good, so will have things to post, also some truly awful pictures and some not half bad ones. 

I leave you to judge which this is [SPOILER: it's not the latter...]


First of the year, would you believe.... At least three were bombing around Exminster this morning, with a couple of bigger redder things waaay off over the village itself [those first for Devon this year, too - slightly less surprising].

Far more - including horrors grainy and heathazed - will be arriving at some point, as I went on a quest to find yearticks see some birds I'd started to get annoyed by. I may have had varied success.

But I shall

Be Seeing You...


27 May, 2021

Getting Rained On For Fun. Pt. 2, And The Rest

After getting things done and suffering the consequences of all the fun on Friday [seawatching after a night shift...] on Saturday [Only birding of note being a quick detour around Powderham/Cockwood on my way back from a task, but failed to find anything fancy], I got myself down the Nose on Sunday morning [eventually...]

The weather turned downhill, and as I'd decided to Be Good and not spend the afternoon into evening seawatching again [I'm on days now...], I bailed before 1300. MB started up then and had ~2000 Manxies in 2ish hours, plus showy Stormies, and an actual skua [I still haven't had Arctic, let alone Bonxie...], so yar boo to him. :p

Before that, I found some birds in bushes when it was actually sunny - nothing unreported before though - and a few waders down on the Sole's wave-cut platform.

S/pl Turnstone threat displaying at a w/pl Turnstone
[out of sight behind rock]

Same time, but further left. 
How many Turnstones can you see?

Spoiler: There are 3 w/pl [all facing R at the 'front'] and 4 s/pl [one threatening the w/pl on the left]
[ One s/pl is back to us and shows no white, all other birds show at least a bit. Right-most w/pl is quite black and white on the head, but back lacks the bright chestnut of true s/pl]

So that's 9 in all! And only able to be counted from photos, as I thought I might have 8 looking at them with bins. Just goes to show. Also a Whimbrel, which I didn't get a good shot of.

Here's a nice bird which pitched up in a shower;

3cy LBB

Hunting cowering migrants in the North Side, I found these;

Solitary Wasp

Robber Fly!

You know the weather's nasty when one of these things takes cover...

I had a couple of looks at the sea [but of course];
From Glonk Corner I had 2 Gannets in 15 minutes
From Wryneck Bench I had 9 Manx and a Kittiwake in 15 minutes

Not bad with bins and definitely getting better as time went on. Oh well.
I got a text headsup from PD about an Osprey reported passing Berry Head [cheers!], but it didn't make it to the Nose.  [Probably either went through the Meadfoot-Anstey's cut or - if it was smart - plonked down in a tree by Lincombe Drive to wait out the rain!]

As I post this, the weather has finally remembered what time of year it is and it's become far hotter and even [gasp] sunnier. And there's a bank holiday weekend coming up.... So not actually 'getting back to normal' at all, then.!

Ho hum.

Be Seeing You...

26 May, 2021

Getting Rained On For Fun. Pt. 1, If You Watch the Sea For Long Enough...

It Will Start Watching You Back.....
Eventually something will pass by. This is known.

The day before had seen some serious seawatching from The Boss at Berry Head. Friday's weather seemed less hopeful, but stuff it I was going to the Nose!
Lots of rain meant TSWBCM would be working, and forecast strong SW to WSW winds would blow the lovely reek out into Lyme Bay. If it was gunky enough - and showers were forecast - who knows what tiny dancers might come in?

The nice thing about offshore winds is the shelter you get on the Steps. Makes seawatching a most genteel experience, with a gale blasting the rain past above you.
This wonderful effect evaporates once the wind gets past SW. Once S is passed, The Steps become increasingly blasted, until even a maniac wouldn't watch there [hard to see through the waves, you know....]

Anyways, I arrive and set up there.  Guess what the wind was actually doing? 

SSW to SSE, with vicious gusts around to ESE. Bursts of sunshine did not grant a let up on the constant rain, just some variation in the intensity of it. 'Showers' my ar posterior.

Fun times.

Hit the numbers, boy;
In 7.5 hours from the Steps,

Manx  563
Gannet  276
Kittiwake  196
Fulmar  78
Puffin  7
Stormy  5
GND  3
Sarnie  1
Whimbrel  2
Purple Sand  5
Turnstone  3
Ringed Plover  1
House Martin  5
Swift  2

Let's break the Manx numbers down to hourlies [yes I take hourlies]
Kitts and Fulmars highest in hour 2, Gannets in hour 5

All the petrels were picked up in the outer fringes of the slick, during squally showers. The hordes of almost entirely Herring Gulls [no small gulls inshore at all] feeding inshore seemingly keeping them at bay [the weather wasn't nasty enough to let them risk it; gulls swallow them whole, you know....]
Herring Gulls
From up the Second Slope, you can see better the pattern of the slick; wind and tides and varying rain levels combined.
Pick a gull;
ID Challenge!

And more than just 'Well, it's a 2cy large white-headed gull, isn't it' !!

ID Challenge 2!

Is that a dark eye..?!?


SumPlum Turnstones

Count the Purple Sands!

I had a couple of visitors, and while you've seen Trouble, this little one is new;

Solitary Wasp

Also of note,

Common Vetch


Only the gulls and waders were close, and the weather was a right git [it was not fun at times...] but oh that wasn't bad at all! Would have stayed longer if I could, but life gets in the way, what can you do?

Be Seeing You...

24 May, 2021

Better Late Than Early..?!?

Clearing up last weekend; [I will catch up, I will catch up....]
After defying my head for all the fun on Saturday, it struck back with suitable vengeance. Not anywhere near as bad as it gets, but enough to keep me in when I'd been thinking of getting out.
However, as Sunday afternoon got old it relented, and having had a promising headsup* from The Teacher [who'd been seawatching again, with The Veteran, though not with much luck, let alone birds...] speaking of a goodly slick full of gulls at the Nose I resolved to get my arse in gear going. All that sustained wind, still showers coming along... 
Oh, I couldn't resist.

So I tooled up and walked [yes walked, in full seawatching kit; wasn't going to, but it rained hard as I left] over to the Nose** and was able to plonk down on the Steps by what was then late afternoon, and ended up giving it three hours into early evening!

Big boss squally showers interspersed with near sunshine on a good hefty SW to WSW wind, with a fair slick? Hmmm....

2cy BHG
[note edge of the slick, bottom right...]

Now, if it had been a month or two later, we'd be talking Serious Birds here, but still a touch early for all that fun. Nevertheless, I scored, and far better than I expected, let alone had a right to [[Though see **]].

HMS Prince Of Wales


Closer to, it's Trouble!

"Got any sammiches for a poor starving gull?"

Unfortunately, I only had a katkit, and she wasn't particularly impressed by my de-chocolated offering..
Fortunately, the birding was far better than my meagre rations.

In three hours from The Steps;

219  Manx
66   Gannet
76   Kittiwake
22   Fulmar
1    Roseate Tern!
5    Common Tern
7    Commic Tern
5    Sandwich Tern
4    Common Scoter
1    Puffin
2    Dunlin
1    Whimbrel
1    Swift

Plus that 2cy BHG and 2 LBB with the slick gulls

The Scoter

Nice close Manxies 

Afternoons at the Nose are aided by having the Sun behind you. It is hard to overstate how much of a difference this makes. Not only lighting up distant white Manx bellies, like here, but also not shining in your eyes and taking out half the view... [This is Prawle's major disadvantage] Even through overcast skies, the glare tires your eyes. [Unless you use a UV filter on your scope... :) ]

So it was ternalicious out there, as it sometimes is on Summer evenings at the Nose. I'd had hopes, and for once they actually came through. With interest! :D

It seemed things had shifted, and this odd year was taking a new turn. With repeated fronts coming through and a late / extended passage now blending into the early Summer season, what more would come by? One thing's for sure, there would be more seawatching!

Coming up..

Oh you know what's coming.

Be Seeing You...

[[* Pronounced and thus written as one word. C'mon, you know I'm right.]]
[[** Penance to the Goddess of Birding. She requires suffering from us Her devotees, and in exchange offers the hope - yes just the hope - of birds splendid and glorious. ]]

22 May, 2021

Old Skool At Yarner

An afternoon amble with the Folks about Yarner brought back many memories of primary school trips, when it seemed to invariably rain. A lot.
Despite the inclement weather [and inability to get out of it, thank you so much, don't they know we're unlocking??], there were even some birds, though getting pictures of the four whole spp. of warblers, or indeed anything else proved far from easy. Still, flycatchers are vocal things, and there were a few about and it didn't rain ALL the time. Not all.
Sadly this wonderful little darling was the exception.
9+ Pied and a single Spotted Flycatcher were mostly heard - just two of the Pieds really showed - along with a Redstart and group of Siskin. 

Far more confiding.

Despite getting absolutely lammed on far more than the weather anywhere else implied [it got silly; torrential rain here, blue skies there and there and there...] we still had a not that bad time at all. Even allowing for getting back to Trendlebeare and finding the car park full of coobeasties... [A certain LBD has this, er, issue with pretty much anything on 4 legs. She's got a very big bark for such a little dog.]

 Be Seeing You...

19 May, 2021

Bashing On

Saturday Saturday... What was Saturday..??
Oh yes. 
I dragged myself down the Nose, despite my head muttering dire threats, and gave all I could find a good turning over.

[It should be noted Thursday involved work - and much grinding of teeth - and Friday no real letup from the latter if not the former]

Things were not a patch on the previous weekend, but the Nose was not birdless and sometimes things strike poses for you;

Hello there

Sexy legs


Speaking of legs...

S/pl GND!

The gratuitous feets sticking out the back is a very simple way of picking a silhouetted [or indeed non-silhouetted] diver from Cormorant or Shag at range.
This otherwise gloriously summer-marked bird slightly spoiling the Majestic look by flying along with its bill gaping open like it'd just flown the Atlantic or something...


A rather put-upon bird, pestered by all and sundry...


Struck a pose. Had to be done.

Spring Squill

Still a passage of hirundiness moving through, and in bursts of reasonable numbers but of all the exciting things singing the previous weekend, only 2 Whitethroats and a lurking Garden remained.
The first Bush Cricket of the year was singing at LookOut, but of course invisibly so. 

Looking to sea, small gulls had reappeared, with a 2cy Med Gull loitering off the outfall, joined by 2 BHGs [adults]. At least 3 Harbour Porpoise were feeding to the NE, first seen in a little while. Gannets and Kittiwakes were offshore in small numbers, but the Whimbrel was the only passage wader I noted.

The day was not, however done, as I had some Fun With The Folks to come!
[Yes, that's "Next Time, on Backward Birding"! ]

Be Seeing You...

17 May, 2021

At Last!

I've been very out of sorts in recent days.
The prime reason, I suspect, is something's been lacking, missing, not there when it should be.
Or rather, 'they'.
Until now.
Just before seven, my prepping for work was wonderfully interrupted as right outside my window [I like living up high], there were 5 Swifts screaming about the rooftops.  [Yes, only 5...]

That's two weeks later than '20 and '19 and three weeks later than '18.......
I was starting to seriously worry that they just weren't going to be coming back.
Anyways, now, at last, and stuff the weather, NOW it's Summer.
Be Seeing You...


As promised, here are pictures of assorted insecty type things from the mostly sunny Sunday, seen while looking for all the tweety birds that were stuffing the bushes and mostly hiding like little wotsits [or sittting in the very top of a tree, then flying off when I tried to get a photo...] in my last post.
[And yes, this is Sunday a week ago, but you're used to that by now, I'm sure.. :) ]
Holly Blue
 I really like all the blues. :)

Beetle 1
Beetle 2
Beetle 3
 Annd we have to have some purdy flowers;
Narrow-leaved Vetch
Common Mouse-ear
 All very purdy.
Coming Soon to a blog near you;
More Bush-bashing
Getting Old Skool at Yarner
Better Late than you'd expect
[Exciting, isn't it?*] 

Be Seeing You...

[[* Trailers exist as unique features and cannot be held as examplars of posts. Entertainment value may go down as well as up. Reality cannot be expected to conform to expectation. ]]

14 May, 2021

After The Fall

As well as some wet and windy weather, Saturday also saw a fall of migrants all along the coast. The Nose was no exception, but lacking viewable sheltered cover, little of it was visible. The next day dawned far drier and brighter, [quite vexing those hoping for more seawatching, mind] and my, weren't the bushes busy? Both PDs were present and the three of us had lots of fun, both trying - usually in vain - to see what we could hear, and making sure all of us connected with everything that was about [the little darlings couldn't even sing for any length of time, could they?]

Getting pictures of said lovelies proved even harder - oh shock - so you get but a taster;
Chestnut fringes and pale legs
One of four Whitethroats on site  :) 
Much more mobile, sneaky, and indeed vocal was the Lesser variety. One [but possibly two], from both the Top Meadow and Second Slope [south cover]. Patience led to seeing as well as hearing, but no chance of pixels, unfortunately. Likewise the 2 Sedge - in subsong - Reed - in more like proper song - and 2 [plus another on IMD] Garden. 
One of the two or three Willow - also with some singing - did pause in the wrong place, though;
Not the most obvious, but look at the legs
The inevitable Blackcaps [11] and Chiffchaffs [6] made up the remainder of the 8, yes 8 spp. of warbler present *. Not bad, eh?  :D

At least 6 Wheatear were about the shore, from Quarry to South Side,
"Get my over-the-shoulder, will you?"
I never said they were all close...

Speaking of the Quarry...

A female, so not the same as the day before;

Saturday's bird: nice male

Note clear contrast! Male looking like a super-marked Greenland-type Wheatear, while the female could almost be mistaken for a well-marked female Stonechat [Autumn ones are tricky in that regard].

Overhead, a continuing trickle of Swallows - with a surprise Sand Martin [!] with one group - continued, but no Swifts or anything else seen.
The sunshine brought out the insects, and I've got enough that going to put them in another post; you have some in-focus efforts to come. [Gasp]

Having prepped for Seawatching II; The Cold Front, rapidly shifted on the day to 'oh well, might as well go see if there's any sign of that Cuckoo', I got far more than I expected! Not a bad [long] morning at all!  :)
Be Seeing You...

[[* These totals are mine and include walking to and fro from Home, btw! ]]

12 May, 2021

Sea Watching Again

It didn't start well.

An unfortunate technical problem* saw me arrive at the Nose a good 2.5 hours later than desired....

Worse, those who'd actually got out of bed had had of all things a Cuckoo! This would be a first for the Nose for me - not to mention a Patch year tick - so extra pain. Even worse, the BLEEPing thing pulled a Houdini and no further sign....
Silver lining, if you could call it that, was the very small amount of actual seawatchy stuff I'd missed, aside from a handful of Puffins [and of course one was very close...].

Having brought my kit down, I wasn't going to be put off by the swift abandonment of the place by most of the watchers [and there were 4! That's vast crowds by modern Nose standards...]. I sat down resolutely on the Steps and gave it 4 hours, only giving up when the wind got too easterly and the birds had seemingly taken the rest of the day off.

In that time I surprisingly managed to see a few things... Even more unusually, a couple of the Nose's finest were with me for much of it, which was very helpful picking up the assorted sneaky waders trying to get by without being noticed.
Seawatching view

Right. What can you see here? Well, aside from gulls, there's that thing right of centre. Long neck, feet sticking out the back, strong downsweep in the flight action.. If I said it was summer plumage you might even work out that it's a GND. Which it is. Going south, because reasons.

Numbers, compare and contrast to Monday;

Manx, 41
Gannet, 153
Kittiwake, 28 [6 2cy]
Fulmar, 51
GND, 1
Puffin, 3
Common Scoter, 15 [two groups]
Whimbrel, 1
Purple Sandpiper, 13
Wader sp. [probably Dunlin], 20+
Sanderling, 1
Swallow, 15
Yellow Wagtail, 1 [in/off calling right overhead!]
Swallow, 15

One of the scoter was just slow enough to catch in another awful photo;

Just about to vanish behind the Ore Stone

Note much tubbier body and thinner neck than any Cormorant or Shag [other long-necked all-dark birds in area].

When the shifting wind and dropping passage kicking me into leaving,  I took the time to try to find that Cuckoo on my way out. As you already know, Cuckoo fail but Whinchat win, so silver linings.

A nice Wheatear was also about the place.


Another notable figure was the return of an old 'friend'


Now a 4cy and still going strong, despite the duff wing. :D

While she can be a pain when I'm trying to give the Rockits bits of sammich, it's good to see she's surviving.

On that cheery note, I shall 

Be Seeing You...

[[* That would be 'I turned my alarm off in my sleep'.... Oh dear. ]]

10 May, 2021

Sea Watching!




Right, got a little carried away, there. Also running slightly behind, but that's hardly shocking is it? Anyways, only one week ago...

Bank holiday Monday rained. Shocking. A fast-moving frontal system actually turned up when I could get at it and while it was inconveniently late in the day, it couldn't be overlooked.
Also meant I could have a lie-in!  :D

So at a very early afternoon I took my kit down the Nose, buffeted by a very frisky strong wind. Said wind proved rather irksome, being squirrely and shifty from SE to SSW, and meaning there was no real shelter from it anywhere. I tried at my spot by the Heap, but only lasted an hour before tiring of being not just sand- but gravel blasted..! It was so dry that there was a vast amount of loose material lying around for the wind to pick up and throw, you see. Not fun.
So I pulled back to the Tower, where even there I wasn't out of it, but at least sheltered from the main force of the wind and finally suffering an un-buffeted scope. The main downsides of the Tower are being actually on a path, close by the main drag [poorly-trained dogs, oiks, etc...], and most of all the 40° view... Not ideal.
But most passage was well out, so not the end of the world.

A bit hard to photo, though.

Every so often, however, something came by closer to.



Two Arctic and six Sandwich Terns came through, all inside the Lead Stone, so quite possibly an undercount. The Sarnies announced themselves in their usual noisy manner, which is why I had time to get camera out and ready!

I think 'tis time for some numbers;

In 5 hours:

Manx, 767
Balearic, 1
Stormy, 1
Puffin, 1
Gannet, 165
Kittiwake, 9 [4 2cy]
Fulmar, 43
Sarnie, 6
Arctic Tern, 2
Whimbrel, 2+ [heard]
Swift, 3
Swallow, 6

Manx hourly counts make for interesting reading;
19 - 25 - 127 - 414 - 93

Guillemot and Razorbill passage not counted as usual, due to the Ore Stone colony affecting numbers [399 auks counted on the ledges at 1325].

For an afternoon front, it was far better than I expected, and I didn't even get rained on hard!

Woo and other comments.

With weather seeming to have shifted, things looked promising for the coming weekend, too.

But that's another post.

Be Seeing You...

08 May, 2021

Regular Service Will Resume

At some point in the near future.

In the mean time, here's an out of sequence post from today, as I feel a very small gloat coming on.

[Not least due to gratuitous Cuckoo-missing at the Nose today....]
But vengeance is occasionally mine, and it was with just a liiiiiittle satisfation that a careful check of the quarry - in case said Cuckoo was feeling less bashful. Hah. - on my way up after some more [told you this was out of sequence] seawatching gave me this;*
That's not a Wheatear!
Corkin' little Whinchat, cowering from the wind and sideways dizzle.  :D

Actual proper postage will occur at some point. Suffice to say both days were better than they had a right to be.

Be Seeing You...
[[* Don't you just LOVE my abuse of punctuation?? o;) ]]

05 May, 2021

Twice More To The Nose

In a move made twice as shocking by its utter predictability, I again made early-ish morning visits to the Nose over the weekend.
Unlike weekdays, I met sundry assorted birders, and sundry assorted birds. :)
Also sundry assorted insects;


"It'll stop in a minute" said Pete. He was amazingly right and I even got this. Irony is ironic that way, after what I put up from Exminster...

I'm not complaining, look at him!!!!  :D

Also the posey Wall threatened earlier;



Same light, very different butterflies! These were within 2' of each other. The books say males are darker, with the diagonal sex brand [special scales with lurrrve pheromones, designed to be wafted at females] but you don't normally see sex differences quite so clearly.

Speckled Wood

Adela reaumurella

Ground Beetle sp.

Swallows have been trickling over, and Sunday saw the first Swift of the year for me, seen feeding from my kitchen window, though sadly only for a few minutes.


At least 2 or 3 present both days.

Three is the number of singing male Whitethroat now confirmed at the Nose - two on the South Side are differently marked - though no further sign of Lesser [or Whinchats for anybody who isn't a teacher....].
The two spp. of warbler and three of finch are busy working on the next generation, and Razorbills have been seen on the Ore Stone - or rather in, they using the fold-caves on the upper right section - as well as hundreds of Guillemots. [Yes I am going to take a proper count when light and scope permit].

Rather mobile

But things were set to change. Strange things on the horizon [they call them clouds...] and the threat of.....



Be Seeing You...