31 December, 2022

Temporal Issues

Due to Circumstances, you may well be unsurprised to learn that Backward Birding is a teensy tiny bit behind...

This is in at least part due to my busily trying to do as much birding as Life and my head will allow, with actually communicating about said events falling a distant 35th to all that. My now ex-camera [["Wait, what do you mean 'ex-'... You can't possibly me-" "I mean that's it, we're through. You're done. All washed up." "No, no, you can't mean that." "Oh, but I do mean that. You've been nothing but a pain in the everything and for far too long." "But... But.. Where will I go, what will I do?" "Frankly my dear... You're going to gather dust on that shelf."   "Nooooo........."   ]]

Yes. I went there.

No, I'm not the slightest bit sorry.


Anyways, my ex-camera didn't help matters.
I now have a shiny new camera, so woe betide anything that strays into my field of view.

[Sidetracked again [I blame the pills]]

Anyways, I am behind with much posting, so 2022 will wander into 2023. Not the first time, doubt it'll be the last.

You may at some point get a Highlights Post, but anyone who's been reading this thing [and has at least a part of their sanity left, so, er....  Yes, well] will have a fair idea what'd / 'll be in it.

Until then, here's a picture.


Inner Harbour. First of the year on Patch, too! [Gasp]

Happy New Calendar Year and all that, and I shall

Be Seeing You...

30 December, 2022

The Run In. Pt.3, Per- No, Wait, I Already Did That One, Didn't I?

When not off on wild shrike hunts or tarting ducks diligently birding, I've been equally diligently bashing the Patch in vain hope of yearticks finding something interesting.

Porcelain Fungus

Well, that at least more or less worked.

With a camera that was temperamental to say the least [I need to stop going on about it, but wait until a near future post...] and birds whose presence was even more so, this has been a challenge.
Though to be fair, even a new sharp properly-working camera would've been vexed by that dratted Scaup*

And what's the point of doing things the easy way? 
Count the Oyks
[The Block'eads too, if you like]


[It should be noted that events have caused this post to be markedly re-purposed from my original intent, which is why it may seem odd even by my standards]

Anyways, I've been all good and local [mostly on foot, too :p ] and been not exactly rewarded for it. A yeartick finally came along, showed very well for the species, but not to me as my head timed an attack to perfection [I'm quite impressed]. But hey, The Teacher got it [and before Stormy too.!!] so it's not all bad.

I'm not gripped.

Sorry, mustn't lie.

I'm not that gripped. Really. Honest.

Would've been 240, too....

Anyways, I have one more day.

What shall happen?

Be Seeing You...

[[* Ah yes, I owe you a post about all that. There are complications**.       I will get to it directly. ]]
[[** Technically there is a complication and a whole lot of indecision and so on.... Ahem ]]

28 December, 2022

Looking For Shrikes In All The Wrong Places. Pt.2, If At First You Don't Succeed... Fail Again.

Another day of potentially sunny [well, ish. At times.] weather saw me try again to find a lovely little shrike of my very own.

Forecasts and forked tongues and so on.

[To be fair, there was lots of blue sky, just not where I was....]

Anyways, I got rained on a lot for no shrikes.

Spot the shrike
[Oh wait, you can't...]

It was a bit damp underfoot

Itsa slug!

Worth a try and so on.


Bonxing Day, and a long overdue Day Out With The Folks.

We went to Fernworthy in the forecast promise of sunshine and light winds.



Oh we got rained on.

Yes, some lovely sunshine, and we had a nice lunch at the WWM clearfell [no shrike, obv., but it was nice] but then the rain opened up.

We had waterproofs and so on [Trust Not the weather, my dear, or ye shall be soggy] and the rain eased eventually.

Then it came back. With friends. And hail. These were Serious Squalls, warm[ish] moist vs cold dry[ish] air.

My camera misbehaved, so photos even more limited to its whims;

South Teign

Big Boss sammich

The Mallards had gone, with but a single Tufty visible on the Res. between the deluges.

Despite how that read, we had a rather nice time [well, aside from the weather], with the sunny bits made the most of.

Would have been nice to find a shrike, though.

Be Seeing You...

27 December, 2022

Looking For Shrikes In All The Wrong Places. Pt.1, Going Quackers

While tartily picking up other peoples' birds is all well and good, a proper birder has to at least try to find her or his own. Sometimes.

At the very least, one's Devotions to the Goddess Of Birding are required if you want to see anything other than the ouchy end of a lightning bolt....

Yeah, you think about that.

Anyways, with all the cold weather upcountry [ok, and here, but nowhere near as bad] it Stood To Reason that funky winter birds should be heading our way.
Like Great Grey Shrikes.

Which I need for the year.

And are awesome at any state of listing.

So, off to Fernworthy I did traipse.

Bad for Crossbills
[the trees aren't keen, either]
but good for Great Grey Shrikes

Spoiler Alert.
I found no shrikes, great or otherwise.

I did find something of interest,

Zoinks! Thatsalotta Mallards

Just part of a mighty flock of at least 125 [no estimate, proper count done three times :p ] very twitchy Mallard. Cold weather movement from somewhere!
Also 6 Tufted Duck and a Cormorant - which are more like normal numbers - and no grebes, with ~70 Herring and 11 LBB arriving to roost late afternoon. [No, no Glonkus maximus seen this time]

I got around a bit, here's some scenery,
Looking over North Teign
towards Cosdon Beacon

The Grey Wethers

I suppose another bird is not out of order,


Lovely to be out, even if the felling was right in the wrong place and a long detour ensued... [Notices of felling everywhere, but no indication of where was closed off. {Which would be helpful} Why can't they put a map up? 'We're felling here, plan ahead to avoid insane detours'...???]

So, shrike attempt was a bust.
I wasn't giving up, though.

Hmm, where next to try?

Find out, in the next exciting episode of... 
'Tom Sees Nooothiiiiiiiiiing!'


Be Seeing You...

24 December, 2022

The Run In. Pt.1, Persistence

The second part of that catchphrase; it is something you need a lot of, Patch birding.

[Unless you live somewhere like Spurned or Fraggle Rock...]

Since our little excursion to Exmouth, four out of five days have seen me at the Nose in some form or other.

This has included everything from proper Seawatching to a flying visit - on account of twitchus interruptus - and in varied weather conditions, to say the least.

Some interesting oddities, such as a December Manxie and a north-bound Redshank, aside, there's not been that much to tell and zip of it new for the year.
A worn and moulty subadult Med Gull gave me a start on the Thursday, looking patchy grey and white above with milkybar white primaries and black-free pointed wingtips..... Until it plonked down on the slick and I got a look at the red bill and black eyemask, anyway!
A diver sp. in the Ore Stone channel got me even further, but was far more elusive and remains unresolved.

Also unresolved are my camera issues, with it frequently refusing to work at all, and when it does, doing so in a very limited way.

[[Stop cheering]]

Yule, sunrise.

One day...

Pretty, annoying clouds

Monday, time to seawatch!

Big SE swell

Gulls, assorted, on

Blackening Waxcap

Yeah, even the macro's stuffed...

I ought to put some seawatching numbers in, but I just can't find the energy right now. Maybe they'll turn up at some point [but don't get too worried about them, no great shakes. The Teacher got a Pom - likely wintering? - but I didn't]

Be Seeing You...

23 December, 2022

The Run In. Pt.2, Issy The Wheatear

[Fifty points if you get the reference.]

The Solstice was marked by an inevitability.

This being that I would be right down the very bottom of the Nose, down by the Toe, when news of the Isabelline Wheatear's continuance would be put out.
[This paralleled nicely The Teacher's learning of it's finding the day before at the same spot*]

I'd been there to not see the sunrise - and indeed much else beside a couple of Purple Sands - but you have to put the hours in yadda yadda- leg it back up the Slopes....



The Hunger drove me, of course, and there is No Power In The 'Verse that can stand between a birder and a Glorious Bird. Oh no.
[No points for getting that -500 if you don't, though.]

Anyways, a not entirely short trip the The Backwater later and...

Turned his head at the wrong moment.

Rule 1. Find the twitch.

It's right there..!!

C'mon it's right there. No not the frickin' BHG... Yeeeesh.

Ok, ok, fine;

Can you see me now?

Isabelline Wheatear

[Which, yes, looks quite a bit like an Isabelline Shrike. I'm sure there's a story]

So purdy

Considering how crocked my poor camera is, those aren't that bad. [Let's not discuss the 150-odd I erased...] For better shots, see anyone else who turned up's social media.

He** spent much of his time waiting for the big stupid animals to get off his boardwalk - a favourite hunting perch - with the odd bout of Mipit-menacing for kicks.
Speaking of pipits, a Wapit was also present, but seemed able to elude every single camera while still being seen by all present.

Lovely bird, right there, nobody misbehaved [Terrible Things were apparently promised to anyone who stepped off the boardwalk on the bird's side. Nobody dared risk it.***]. This is How Things Should Be.

[I may Be Using Too Much caps lock.]

[[I may not care]]

Happy Happy  Joy Joy

[For once unironically  :D ]

Be Seeing You...

[[* Where was I when the Issy was found? Far far out of reach.     Naturally. ]]
[[** Black lores = male. About the only difference between sexes. ]]
[[*** This is right and proper. Also, the Issy would come very close if you waited quietly. ]]

19 December, 2022

The Challenge

One of those titles again..

As I have gone on on about ad nauseum, I'm chasing a Devon Yearlist this year. Every area is different, but for Devon, you can generally expect to see about 220 species in a year of birding. That's wintering, summering, residents, and expected passers-by. Beyond that, you're going to have to start making the real effort, hunting unusual birds and, yes, filthily twitching other peoples' finds. [Seawatching should be taken as read ;p ]

So it was that I swung by another part of the Patch on Saturday morning, bright and before sunrise, to pick up The Teacher and No.1 Son before heading to Exmouth in search of one of the less expected yearticks..

And another challenge immediately arrived, as it had rained a bit overnight. Said rain had hit all that cold ground [on account of all the cold weather the last couple of weeks]. Cue black ice. Cue many many accidents [no injuries I know of, thankfully]. Cue many road closures....

After a long and winding road, we arrived to find a rather nippy Phael Park and... Where's the bird? Or anybirder else?

Oh, there they are, and 'It was here 5 minutes ago...'

[Where have I heard that before?]

But a little largely green bird creeping through leaf litter Mousey-style in a park with many large trees is... Interesting to find.

Spot the birdie;

Olive-backed Pipit

[If you know...]

A few admirers

Also a nice Lucombe Oak [TurkeyxCork fertile hybrid and something of an E Devon specialty]

Back to the Star.

Blends in nicely,
doesn't it?

Easy once you get your 
eye in, right?

Yup, very easy.

Locked on to the next
teeny wasp....

Cheered by our success, and not suffering too much hypothermia, we stopped off at Cockwood Crossing on the way home to see if the reported Goldeneye was feeling helpful.

Tide's up, then

Spot the Goldeneye? Good luck, we couldn't!

Waders including Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwits were in the distance. Closer-to, 5 GC Grebes, 2 RB Mergansers, but little nearby due to the efforts of these two, who paddled over from Exmouth and made sure to flush absolutely every bird they could see...

Going after the Teal

This is why we need a trained Saltwater Crocodile* at the Warren. [Likewise, a trained White Shark at the Nose :) ** ]  'Wildlife Area. Do Not Enter.' is all very well [if they actually used signs] but 'Trespassers Will Be Eaten' works a lot better than 'Trespassers Will Have Absolutely No Action Taken Against Them, Do What You Want'

You know I'm right.

Be Seeing You...

[[* With a woolly jumper, obv.s ]]
[[** Also, if Greenpeace would be so kind as to protect our coldwater coral reefs with those lovely boulders, we'd all be so grateful. Or just, again, the powers that be could actually enforce 'no dredging' zones..??   No?    Really?? ]]

11 December, 2022

Keeping At Keeping At It

With the dread combination of Days and That Time Of Year, birding has been rather limited.

18 Fieldfare over East at work, Thursday lunchtime, was pretty much it until today, when determination to try to prise something from the Patch's icy grasp got me out of the door.

Ok, maybe not 'icy'...

Looking SE

Looking S

The Real Living Coast in the foreground, there.
No Sandpipers, Purple, though [??] Only these two,

Spot the Turnstones

And this rarity [for the site]


Birds on the sea were limted to a couple of GCGs off Livermead and a GND off Thatcher Point, with a scattering of Guillemots.
This included one in the Outer Harbour,

"I knew I should have taken that left turn..."

As I climbed back up the hill, a Sprawk almost posed nicely

Cocked his tail like a Blackbird
on landing, which I've not seen before

Earlier, a Shag was a bit better-behaved [but only a bit]

Move your head back, you git...

Even earlier, things got a bit misty at the Nose,

Someone's set the effects machine
to 'Pirate Ghosts' again...

Despite seemingly interesting conditions, only a couple of Chiffs and Blackcaps could be found in the bushes, with a Song Thrush stuffing its beak in full view possibly a migrant [The Teacher reported almost certain migrants in his garden], as were the couple of Mistle Thrushes on IMD

Of course it's a Mistle,
it's right on top of the tree!


A Kingfisher flew in and vanished below the South Side, doing almost as well as the Black Redstart, which was completely invisible...

There was no sign of the Black-necked Grebe of the day before, or the large numbers of birds on the sea [though a good thousand gulls were offshore, mostly chasing one scallop dredger.!], so perhaps they were all off nursing their woes [or possibly hunting down a certain ref and var team and [CENSORED FOR LEGAL REASONS] ]

As has been noted many a time, just because there coulda woulda shoulda be a load of funky birds*, doesn't mean there will be.

Back to work, happy happy joy joy.

Be Seeing You...

[[* Just one would have done.        ]]

07 December, 2022

The Grind. Pt.4, A Bit Nippy

No, I can't think of anything more orignal.

With it being That Time Of Year again, my time was somewhat curtailed. My head misbehaving really didn't help, either.

But I was determined to get out at least once, batter the Patch, and maybe just maybe find something wonderful.

Or at least something.

Sunday morning saw me neither bright nor particularly early [thankyou saturday's brain] but out in the rather frisky NE blast wind, which is more than most, it seems... [ :p ]
Things got off quite well, with a few Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush flying about over the inner part of IMD [not usual here at any time of year]. Then they got even better, as the oh so cheerful sound of a Siberian Chiffchaff calling away like nobody's business filled my ears. :D
Alas, it had chosen the bushes by the raised section of the coast path [the 'new' path, as the old one is, well, on the cliff edge and now runs behind houses and then along the road] to loiter in, and the inevitable group of mundanes with yappy dog almost instantly appeared...
[Camera probably wouldn't have behaved, anyway..]

I hit the Nose, finding the misTrust had destroyed even more valuable warbler habitat in the name of.. Well, whatever it is that goes through their heads. [If they'd actually bash the bracken, stop people riding motorbikes* **, and maybe even prosecute somebody for the ridiculously overt eco-criminality that goes on there, I'd be FAR less sarcastic about them] They had so helpfully piled much of the mess and dead trees over the Top Dell entrance, so I re-cleared it. I still have a thorn tip in one finger - through leather gloves - from that, so it's a sore point. Ho ho.
In said Dell I found.. A Chiffchaff. Nice classic regular flavour.

But it's the trying.

Further down, the Blackstarts were hiding and a few light gulls and Gannets were messing about in the breeze. A Razorbill was on the sea.
Oh well.
Here's something unseasonal;
Though exactly what
it is, escapes me!
Parrot Waxcap,
at last!

Around to Meadfoot, where a GCG and a GND were eventually located, close to the Mew Stone, with another Razorbill. No loitering gulls of interest, again no BR.

Ho hum.
Fiery Milkcap***

The Harbour had 6 Sandpipers Purple - 5 foraging, 1 roosting - and eventually 8 Turnstones, right on the Inner slipway.
From there, 2 more each of GCG and GND were towards Corbyn's Head, the former taking advantage of the much calmer lee seas [as were 15 Common Gull amongst the Herrings and BHGs] but no sign of the earlier Eider which The Teacher had Summoned with The Artefact ::Ominous Chanting::

I did encounter Firecrests, but as they are a rare and vulnerable breeding species, I'm not allowed [under Pain] to reveal where. Even the one that showed at eye level, maybe 6' in front of me. Sorry.

Most of the Turnstones.

Sandpiper, Purple

Sandpipers, Purple

London Bridge
[bit rough out there.!]

I also learned that BTP is seemingly now a table-service bistro chain, not the wonderful [slightly and glorious for it anarchic] coffee shop with food it used to be. Shame. Coffee's still good, but, well...


So, a morning of ground covered, some stuff seen, some annoyances suffered [no, taking your van away does not make parking a caravan at Meadfoot legal, mate], and despite the friskily cold wind, I managed to get quite warm.!

Be Seeing You...

[[ * Yes, really. I have proof. ]]
[[ ** Just repair the entrance. One {ok, not-so-little} bike-proof gate would do it. ffs... ]]
[[ *** The name's not for show. Anyone 'foraging' this species will be very sorry... :) ]]

04 December, 2022

A Brief Interlude

Monday afternoon saw me shamelessly chasing after another little birdie on someone else's patch, which had been helpfully located the day before.

Nice thing about being on Nights, those weekday moments :)

Anyways, I didn't get a great day's sleep [ok, morning's] so it wasn't too hard to get up and down to Clennon for early afternoon. 

It's a bit scenic there.

Main site of attention was a little drier, though,

Lots of cover.

Lovely habitat for lurking warblers, wouldn't you say?

The combination of bright sunshine and fast-moving birds means you're getting no pics of either of the Siberian Chiffchaffs I saw, and propriety means you're not getting one of The Veteran, who I also encountered!
Bit out of range for him [at least these days, he's done more twitching than you've [INSERT CLICHE HERE] ], he was on his way out, but turned around for another go, as he'd not found the YBW yet!
Alas, the brightly-coloured Siberian wanderer eluded us - that day it was only seen first thing by BoBa - but we did good birding, and quite a few things were seen, heard, or both!

Gadwall, 2

"Sammiches or death!"

This very confiding Robin attempted to mug us for food, but as we had nothing, had to settle for using The Veteran as a perch.!

As well as the 2 Sibe Chiffs, at least 8 regular-flavour Chiffchaffs, a Cetti's Warbler, and a very large very mobile tit and 'crest band, plus wandering Goldcrests and small tits. Water Rail and at least 4 Little Grebes were vocal, but no Kingfisher show for us ["It was here 5 minutes ago.."] nor were any Snipe lurking in sight.

They've done quite a bit to Clennon since I last properly wandered about the place - the whole 'cycle racetrack' thing was a worry - and it's turning out quite interesting [though the council's plans for the marsh football and rugby pitches may put a dent in future Isbis sightings...].

Be Seeing You...