31 January, 2022

Why We Bird

Why do seemingly rational people go swanning off to cold dank bits of winter countryside - risking life, limb, and laundry bill - in the name of birding?

For this.

Sunday, 'somewhere in Devon', and while normal sane most people were tucked up in their homes with warm drinks, a couple of birders were out in the cold, windy wilds* in the company of;

Spirit Of The Moor



Hen Harrier on a wall!

Chilled, precipitated-on, out well after dark [!]... Ecstatic!

Be Seeing You...

[[* For reasons that should sadly be obvious, no specifics... ]]

30 January, 2022

A Little Moor

After all the nonsense chasing things about the Exe on the previous two days, I spent some of Sunday messing about up on t'Moor.

I didn't walk an enormous distance, and I didn't see what I was hoping for [say a nice Woodcock flushed by somebody else?], but it was nice to be up there, despite the hordes of 10Ts all over the place...

Indeed, it was quite quiet, birdwise, with only one raptor and one wader [a Snipe, flushed by your truly], 3 Skylark and a mighty 5 Mallard on Venford Reservoir*. Yes, Venford, for it was the Holne Moor area I was ambling about, and I sat for a good 90 minutes overlooking the back of the Venford compound, from whence Woodcock have been known to fly, when loose dogs go gallumphing about. And there were very loose dogs around [of course....], but no Woodies. Drat. [They may well disagree on that point, of course]

Venford's backside

But you deserve a bird, and one did pose quite well for me;

"Keep down, he's got the camera out!"

Mistle on a wire. :)

Yes, this post is this short.

Be Seeing You...

[[* There were other birds.]]

27 January, 2022


I went into the weekend with yearticks and vengeance on my mind. Appropriately, it was rather nippy.

The Exe area caught the focus of my attention, from Dart's Farm [ok, technically the Clyst, I suppose] arcing down to Powderham. Having given it a good go at the start of the month [with rather mixed results], I needed to go back and get everything I'd missed on my wild swan and goose chases....

Hmm, where to begin?

Spotshank, third bite.

Not bad? Yeah, not bad viewing at all. :D
This off the Goatwalk, after v.2 on Bowling Green and v.1 from Turf!
[When they show, they show...]


Not only Spotshank showing nicely,

Avocet, Turf

Not a yeartick, but so wonderful to see so close.

Flushing Machine
Marsh Harrier

I had had a few birds in particular on my mind, escapees from the first day's attempts.

Many were... Recalcitrant.

The Great White Egret which has been lurking about the area avoided me totally, and the Ruff proved quite ridiculously hard to spot, with a vigil from the Middle gate finally getting it on the second day - in flight! - while the even more elusive Merlin proved just that.
The Pink-footed and White-fronted Geese, and even the Glossy Isbis [which I scoped close to the railway path from the towpath; on the other side of Exminster!], all already yearticked, all showed to me, though. 

As to those bleeping Egyptian Geese, which had caused me such grief on the 1st.... Well, they were perhaps even naughtier. Eventually I used the whole 'double back twice' trick to catch a couple out, right off way way at the back of Powderham Castle's grounds. Vengeance!
So way way back they were, that even I won't inflict blobs on you. Aren't I considerate? 

Instead, some other sights;

Not the big white bird I was looking for...

Brian's grandson was into Sepultura
[yes, this was the most interesting thing at Dart's..]

Much prettier than a Gyppo

It was good to see the odd familiar face around and abouts, too. Most notably cooing over the Spotshank off the Goatwalk.

After that, we have one day to catch up on. In a radical shift, I decided to stop chasing yearticks in particular and put some time in up on t'Moor [where, of course, assorted birds do lurk...]

Until then,

Be Seeing You...

25 January, 2022

TreeFinch III. I Happened To Be In The Area...

Having things to do in the vicinity, I happened to wander by a location that must alas remain nameless, where I found an awful lot of finches with white bits on.
Super Bright Brambling!
Thought that wasn't doing too badly, then...

Not quite as camouflaged
as you think you are...

Wow! Right? I was on one side of a lane, this little beauty the other. Couldn't believe it.

At least 25 Brambling with a flock of well over three times as many Chaffinch, down into a brassica field and up into surrounding trees in glorious habitat.

How many can you see?

A few closer-to.

I couldn't stay long, but I will be back, oh yes. Lovely area.

Also of note, was this;

Not in a garden, either.

Be Seeing You...

24 January, 2022

At Last; The Moor! At The Last; A Glonk!?!

With a post-work weekend again, and most cheery from all the Hawfinchy Goodness, I resolved to get some proper country under the boots and chase yearticks in an amusing manner.

First up was Yarner, where only Marsh Tit was new for the year, but it was worth a try and always a pleasure to be there.

Then on to the main course, Fernworthy!!

I spent all the rest of the day [and a bit more] ambling about inside and out up on t'Moor proper. This was my first 'out there' for far far far too long, and while I didn't stray far [there were hordes of bods out there. Horrible, horrible scenes and 10T's, too... Oh the humanity.......] I did find a nice field of view to sit down and see if any yearticks felt like cruising by.

They didn't.

Thus is usually the way [don't be fooled by recent successes with HH's and so on, normal service is sfa over a Buzzard, my dears]. But You Never Know. And the looking is worthwhile in itself.

I ended up stalking the gull roost along the south shore, finding a nice close point where they weren't bothered by me. I'd have liked to be up higher; say on the road lookout where I wouldn't have to go wandering far from my car in the dark, but not having an x-ray camera and knowing I'd need photos [which nobody else has, it seems?] if what I was waiting for was real and appeared.
Following that reasoning, I got a bit cold in the pinkies, needing them bare to use said camera at short notice.

But, well, look at it;


Spot the gull roost.
Or not, just look at it!

It was rather lovely there, though the cold was quite toothy, and as the roosting birds present at 1605 [~270 small gulls - about 90% BHG with Common - with 69 Herring, 7 LBB, 2 GBB] were joined by groups of mostly ~20 almost entirely Herring Gulls at a time, coming in along a sort of standard line up the Teign valley but making wildly different final approaches, the scamps.

Anyways, at 1651, with perhaps 500 gulls now present* and just as I was thinking I'd been right to be sceptical [there was this very pale immature GBB, you see...], what should come cruising up over the dam?

Yup; Glonkus humungus interiorensis.

I have the awful low-light photos and everything.

Flying Glonk

Floating Glonk


Waiting for the tentacles to attack...

Tall trees

Now, before anyone gets any ideas about expressing dislike for the second image...
Let's see; 1) First location sheltered by second. 2) Wood is a very green material, and growing it here is infinitely greener than importing it from how many carbon miles away? 3) Conifers are a valid habitat themselves, and species I need not name like them quite a lot, don't they? 4) Look at all that carbon sucked out of the air. 5) Hmm, how many jobs, how much economic benefit, comes from this? 6) I like conifer plantations, even when they've been felling while the ground's soft...
I could go on, but you I am sure have got the idea.

Let's go back to birds.

Female Goldeneye

While the Goldeneye stayed close to the north shore, the reported BN Grebe was not visible to me anywhere, though in the morning a redhead Goosander was. Otherwise the usual scattering of Tufties [3] and Teal [6] with the inevitable Mallards [41].
Land birds were the usual expected spp., with the Moor itself quieter than even a winter's day would expect,

That's Cosdon Beacon,
over there.

[Though the vast hordes - including a group of 21...?!? - might have had a little to do with that.]

It was lovely just being out there again, and that was before a white-winged wonder lifted over the dusky dam.

Be Seeing You...

[[* I must admit I did not keep proper count of incoming birds, being concerned that while noting down numbers I'd miss a sneaky incomer. Hindsight would have involved a clicker. ]]

21 January, 2022

TreeFinch II. Oh, You Beauties.

Friday. [Last Friday, that is..]
Sun, few fluffy clouds, light wind. 
Peg it straight from work!

SomewhereinDevon was not as quiet as a weekday should have been, but I didn't care that much because as I rocked up to That Spot, look who's sitting up in the sunshine...

Spot the Hawfinch


Yes, I had the scope

At least 2 showed on and off for 50 minutes, rarely sitting in one spot for more than a minute or so, but often flying then looping back. I'd taken lunch and something to sit on and so did just that, thoroughly enjoying myself - once I'd got the pictures!

On my way in, I surprised a party of deer at close range. They made it longer range by the time the camera got working,

Exit, stage right

Roe Deer. About 15, I reckon.
Also Crossbills and Siskin, but no Redpoll this time.

Utter result!


Be Seeing You...

20 January, 2022

If At Second You Don't Succeed, Resort To The Dark Arts....

Once upon a time there was a most scwewy duck.

He'd taken a long winter holiday, far far far from where his kind were normally wont to spend the times when home was frozen solid. He'd also done it with a couple of thousand of his cousins.

After two cold and wet dips, I was rather annoyed with this little git, technicolour dreambird though he may be. Thus, when given the opportunity to enlist the aid of the Teacher, No.1 Son - and of course The Artefact ::Ominous chanting:: - I was only too happy to give it another go. 

As you may recall from a post closer to the time the Dark Arts did their work and the Baikal Teal was duly seen. Eventually. Hiding in a crowd. Then in the open but tucked up asleep. At range.

We didn't just see a lot of Teal of two species at Greylake, and we didn't use all our daylight there, either. Oh no.

You see, after Greylake we went down the road a way [being responsible twitchers and freeing up space for others] to a little spot I'm quite fond of stopping by at on my way home from a winter's trip up to zumerzet.

I speak of this place;

The Mump!!!

View from;

Hmmm... tempting, right?

Glasto's version.
[You will note the Mump is dead in
line with the chapel on top]

But what birds were we looking at?

Well, while we were scanning, I was regaling the Teacher with all the lovely things I'd seen from up there in times past, such as Whooper Swans,
One and seven Whoopers in front of lurking Mutes...
And of course the famous Common Cranes,

2 Common Cranes
[yes, the grey blobs....]

Such is the Power of the Artefact ::Ominous chanting:: .......

Works on Roe Deer as well

Before all this high-altitude fun, we were, as you recall, being played les buggeures risibles by a certain Baikal Teal.
Yes, this guy on the front left;

Sleeping beauty...?

By the C of dry grass. Compare with Eurasian Teal to the right.

A couple more Greylake views;

Greylake summed up in a picture?

Spot the Baikal.


The fun kind of twitching. At last.

Be Seeing You...

18 January, 2022

Getting Very Soggy While Actually Seeing Some Birds.

There are certain inevitabilities.

One of which is Devon yearlisters finding their way - with quiet shame or brazen boldness - to Saltram. For this is where, upon a teeny tiny duckpond right by the gift shop [and I am not in any way kidding], may be found the county's only Red-crested Pochard.


Sometimes she's out at Portworthy mica dam, looking at least a little respectable.

Also they have there flying toy trumpets and other things besides. It's worth the trip. Even to Plimoth.


I got very rained-on, mostly while looking for a reported Quantum Bird [I did not, of course, find it, despite a very nice local telling me exactly where it sometimes is*], but I got most of what I wanted and now you're going to get something scary;

Mandarin in the rain.

Red-crested Pochard in the rain.

Ring-necked Parakeet not in the rain.

There were also nice waders and river birds - 7 Greenshank and 6 Goosander notable - but I'm not inflicting photos of them on you. Better birds make worse photos. This is known.
Tiring of being rained on, I headed back east, with vengeance on my mind. In this case, revenge was served in something approximating sunshine, as the weather giggled and cleared as I approached Slapton. I wasn't looking gift horses anywhere at all, and enjoyed actually sitting in the open [albeit cowering out of the icy blast of a 'west' wind] to finally have some lunch while scanning the sea. Didn't need to do any Bunting Hunting as after only a few minutes of searching, I'd caught up with my target;

Snow Bunting on the beach.

A nice grebe or the other would have really put icing on the cake, so naturally I didn't find either. Nor a nice Bittern as I departed homewards, but hey you can't have everything.

Then it was time to see about another, most definitely scwewy duck....

Be Seeing You...

[[* Though of course not its velocity]]

17 January, 2022

TreeFinch I. Out With The Folks.

An actual sunny day shocked all and sundry and saw me out for an amble with the Folks. They suggested we go to that nice bit of SomewhereinDevon. I'd been planning to go there myself for...  Reasons and so was delighted to say yes, what a good idea.


We didn't see one species of finch often seen in trees, but we did see several others, some of them very well. We also saw some Famous Names, who were unfortunately waiting in vain, and so who shall remain Nameless to spare their blushes.


We didn't cover a lot of ground, but it was all very nice and while spread out and usually mobile, we did connect with the following as well as the expected woodland species;

Mr Crossbill

Crossbills mostly mobile or behind the trees you could see well, the scamps. No large groups seen, my highest visual count was 6 and most were ones and twos.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, female.
With pine cone wedged into tree fork.

I'd call that tool use, myself.

These birds don't need tools to get into cones

How many Siskin can you spot?

Not just Siskin, though.

Siskin present in several groups, the one pictured the biggest with at least 30 birds. Half a dozen Redpoll with that group, and another group of 11+ seen elsewhere earlier.

It was all very pleasant and genteel and while nothing super spectacular showed up - though that big Siskin and Redpoll band weren't bad at all, despite being right up in the tops.. - a good time was had by all.

Be Seeing You...

15 January, 2022

It's Happened Again

What is it with all these white-wingers?

I finish a day out looking for and mostly not finding yearticks [plus actually getting on t'Moor! woo] spending 45 increasingly cold minutes on the edge of a reservoir on said t'Moor, watching gulls try to sneak in past me, and then the gull I've convinced myself doesn't exist [there's a pale young Geeb which looks quite glonky in certain pictures...] comes cruising in with all the unstoppable inevitability of the Juggernaut.

White Wings!

Glonkus interioralis

Handy Herring helps show primaries!

Considering these were taken well after sunset - it showed up at 1651, the scamp - I'm amazed I got anything.

I'll write a longer post about all sorts at some point. I did see other things and have some half-decent pics. No, really.

So I shall-

Oh, you want to know which reservoir??

Fernworthy. Gull roost is right in the middle, not by the dam [that would be helpful], so you'll need to walk east along the shore from the main car park, or be verrrrry tall to see over assorted trees and things from the perimeter road. Or have a huuuuge low-light scope from said car park's foreshore.

Good luck!

Be Seeing You...

14 January, 2022

If At First You Don't Succeed... Dip Again, But Get Soaked Doing It.

Both near and far, it was a bit hard yards...

Two different 'Black Redstarts' [I've seen no pictures! 😜 ] in four days gave two rain-soaked dips. Long walks and much standing about in the rain, soaked dips.
At least I caught up with the Artist's pet Glossy Isbis* before the first one..

Spot The Isbis

Yes, it's by a sneaky bit of dead ground.

I got some exercise, at least, but other than that, only soggificated.
[No, no more pics. Too soggy]

Now, tarting up to zumerzet twice in 5 days for zero Baikal Teals [though that guy over there ::points:: got it on the Saturday], was a little vexing. ::Understatement falls through floor, basement, and heads core-wards...::

But it wasn't all awful, as the first one included running into a certain chap from up that way I'd not seen for an age. Socially-distanced chatting kept on until dark, when we were evicted from the hide by the owner!

"Oi, git orf moi lahnd!"
[Night mode, no flash!]

BLEEPing autofocus locks onto the reeds 20' behind the Barnie, of course. This gorgeous wraith was right outside, looking in at us, head a' bobbing!  :D
The second involved flooding, windshear, and..... Bridgewater. AAAaaaaaarrrggghh......
I will speak no more of it.

A taste of the experience;

One of these ducks is not like the others...

Eurasian Teal.
Demonstrating proper posing.

I took my failures' advice and resolved to;
a) Find my own zogging Blackstart
b) Employ the Dark Arts to Tick The Baikal**

Oh yes, one Blacksoak day, I was down the Nose beforehand and scored a BTD flyby - think the same bird went by BH - and even got 'photos'. Which I threatened you with earlier. So,

Yep, that bad

It looked a lot better through the scope. [Which would focus properly through the rain, for starters...]

Right; coming up, better news and better photos.


[[Oh yes, and that includes what I did today. Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha.....]]

Be Seeing You...

[[* Yes, that's deliberate. No, I don't care. ]]
[[** To the tune of Stop The Pigeon. I felt very like Dick Dastardly - post splat! - Saturday evening in particular....]]