29 September, 2023

At The Nose. Pt.2, ...And The Goddess Smiled

Sunday. Ex-hurricane Nigel came sweeping in, with strong blustery winds, a really big swell, high temperatures, and not much rain.

I did not get there early.

I did not carry lunch or even a flask.

I did not drive over there to maximise time on site.

What I did do was get there, with a Big Scope, a bottle of water, and a katkit*, and enjoy a hot date with Nigel a seawatch for seven hours.

The Teacher and The Veteran had the same idea.

Together, well, we saw a few birds.

Just one or two.

"Big shears... thousands of 'em!"

[A joke about Mr Caine complaining about skuas being thrown at him has been deleted]

A few, especially later on, came in close. Though this is 'close for the Nose' not 'so close you're getting pics like Pendeen'. So a kilometre or so.
Most were way way further out, along the horizon in a feeding frenzy covering 30° of view [nice having a tripod with numbers on it]. Numbers in the thousands certainly, '10,000' had been quoted at Froward and I see no reason to doubt it!
Eventually the big groups dissipated, with the northernmost coming in and passing closer to the Nose as they moved off south. Closer is still Big Shear range [roughly 1.5 to 3km, and they were mostly 2 or more], but that's enough to ID with a sustained or good view [refer to The Artist's piece on Long-range Large Shearwater ID]

As it happened, a handy containership - in for pilot - helped out;

Yes, big swell but no rain

NYK Venus

Let us zoom in

Note the Gannet, extreme left,
for scale

Just one or two

Maybe 'river' is a better term?

The pointy end

You may note a few Balearics in amongst the big throng.

A closer Bal, at less than half the range;

Going behind the Ore Stone

Quite a few Arctic Skuas, too
[left, with juv Gannet going away]

Now, those numbers.

I did not count the distant masses, and they weren't technically passing the Nose. I did count everything that did - four clickers on the go! - and while I didn't have time to individually ID every bird in that stream up there [which lasted a few minutes only] I did count them and made as many IDs as I could.

So, here it comes [be sat down, Devon seawatchers, this might sting]

Glonk Corner, 1030-1730

Cory's Shearwater                              96
Great Shearwater                               273
Large Shear sp. [~80% Grt]              855
Sooty Shearwater                                6
Balearic Shearwater                          158
Manx Shearwater                               32
Shearwater sp.                                    1
LT Skua                                              1
Pomarine Skua                                    8
Arctic Skua                                        54
Skua sp. [A/P]                                    1
Common Tern                                    17
Sandwich Tern                                   12
Gannet                                               585
Razorbill                                            16
Kittiwake                                           818
Black-headed Gull                             46

That's 1224 counted large shearwaters. Even with Pendeen the Monday before, that's putting another order of magnitude on my life total.

I'm trying very hard, even now, not to get VERY rude [I tend to turn the air blue when exposed to really good birds. It's a thing.]

I wasn't the only one suffering vocal issues, The Veteran was pretty much reduced to "Phenomenal", The Teacher to "Once in a lifetime"

[I must quietly hope not. Addressing the Goddess of Birding all I can say {after Thank you!} is "Please, Lady, I want some more!"]

It was wonderful, amazing, all the superlatives you can think of. Days like that are the reason why you turn out again and again over the ::cough:: decades. It was like the Day Of the Sooties at Berry Head, only drier [oh I got so soaked, but so worth it]

It was so good both the Teacher and myself dragged ourselves straight from work on the following Wednesday for a hot date with Agnes [For Science!]

What happened?

That tale will also be told.

Be Seeing You...

[[ *Knockoff of a certain wafery chocolatey bixit - only the Dark version, please - made by a supermarket favouring orange; half the price but [after the original's switch to crap cheaper 'chocolate' coating**] just as good and now seemingly discontinued. Due to Life frequently sucking.   Anyways, it was my last one, I'd been saving it. ]]
[[** Yet still they're now twice the price they were a couple of years ago. Oh no, no profiteering here.***]]
[[*** Yes, yes, getting on with it. ]]

28 September, 2023

At The Nose. Pt.1, So Where's All the Good Stuff At?

Saturday - and yes, I'm going in chronological order so you'll have to be patient for the gloating - and I dragged myself out of bed and wandered over to the Nose.
[Perhaps I should have been up before dawn and driving far far away, but I - again lacking any prescience - hadn't checked ANY national bird news. Yes, really.*]

So to the Nose, where it is the time of year to be checking bushes for who knows what beauties that may be lurking therein...


Also a fair few Chiffchaffs. Not exactly a Vireo, but better than a kick up the arse, at least.

Erse, you say?


Two, three


Kudos to The Veteran for that last one, btw.

Wheatear: "Yikes"


Also being all sexy overhead;




Garden Spider

Ivy Bee

Loads around

Sometimes one poses

A bit of seawatching with The Irregulars gave me 2 Balearics and 3 Arctic Skuas, also passing [and much easier to photo] were

36 Canada Geese


Well, there was always next time, right? And with ex- Hurricane Nijel the Destroyer Nigel on the way, who knows what might turn up?


Be Seeing You...

[[* No, really. Don't forget, luddite here. Also I was a bit knackered and a lot distracted.  Yes, I twitch, but I'm not {that} obsessed.**]]
[[** For those less-interested, a handy passing ex-hurricane deposited a variety of ridiculously rare american birds, some of which were even reachable by me {just}, on our shores ]]

26 September, 2023

Watch This.

Well, events have overtaken this here post, but I'm pressing on, so let's just pretend we all don't know what's coming up within a week of these events and enjoy the fun as it was at the time [and as I say - possibly too many times - it was rather a lot of fun]
So, to the last-but-one day of my Autumn hollyday....
After far too long a gap, I Headed West [not so] Young Man, and-

ran straight into roadworks from hell.

An entire hour [NOT hyperbole, either....] later, and [thanks also to the Thing] two hours later than planned, I got myself to Pendeen Watch.

Just in time to catch a frisky squall, which made a fair attempt at my bumbleshoot.

Well, this seemed good?

Then I learned I'd missed 123 Great Shearwaters.

[Comment Deleted]

Then I got my eye in and realised just how many Cory's were milling about out there.

Cory's Shearwater.

Oh goody.

Out there.

Zoomed in 'a bit'
[Manxies, just outside The Rocks]

Another Cory's

A few passing seabirds

A few more

Nice photobomb

Arctics, inside The Rocks

I had rather a lot of fun. Exactly how many big shears were out there...? Well, easily three figures, but I was VERY good and only counted ones I was sure were passing. And then a couple more I'd caught on camera aiming at other things.!
So 51.

44 Cory's Shearwaters, 6 Great Shearwaters... and one 'Cory's' with a skinny look, greyish head, not that prominent a bill, and rather a lot of white in the undersides of the primaries....

I didn't get proof, and nobody else [is telling] that they picked it up, so we'll leave it there.

Also a Sooty [I missed another quite horribly, trying very hard and still not getting on it] and 14 Balearics, with an hourly Manx rate of ~510 [at least until passage died off in the mid afternoon].

Skuas were mostly Arctic, with 29, a lone Bonxie a much-appreciated [well, not by the birds] addition. Auks were something I counted [as opposed to Gannets, Kittiwakes...] and in 6 hours 1990 Razorbill, 5 Guillemot, 1 Puffin, and 1 auk sp. [big scope, good light, used to IDing at range, folks]. 18 Sarnies, 9 Arctic Tern, 1 C Scoter, 1 Fulmar [oh what a contrast to Down SouthEast!] and 4 or 5 phalaropes - two on deck just off the rocks and 3 [or 2 and a switchbacking settled one]  passing.

Also, a couple of Choughs turned up and zipped by calling

"You'll never photo me-

I then displayed an utter lack of prescience and gave up a mere 40 minutes or so before a couple of Sab's went by St. Ives.

Stopping off at Hayle to delay the contraflowed torment.
Not too bad a call [as I didn't - no psychic powers again - know about the Woodchat at Marazion...], and well,



Common Sands

Close up!

Why did the Sun
have to go in....

Got a biggun!

"Ok, there's no way
he can swallow that?!?"

Nice size comparison, there.

Yes, that fish is
inside that bird

Speaking of birds and fish

Look! Up in the sky...

Osprey, exiting Stage Left,
pursued by half the Crows
in Cornwall....

Pendeen Rockit

And the traffic wasn't too bad, after all.

Even had a flyover Tawny Owl on the right side of the border [A30 between Sourton and Okie junctions]

I'd doubled my day record of counted passing large shearwaters [and put an order of magnitude on ones actually seen], had a bunch of other nice, good, and great birds.


Be Seeing You...

23 September, 2023

So, The Nose

Couple of days, couple of watches.

Not ideal conditions, but well...

Little Gull!

A second winter, I reckon, on account of the paler underwing coverts and hint of dark at the very primary tips.


Compare to BHG

Note fog bank and slick

What else got in the way of the camera?

The other white-winger

Painted Lady

Ok, the numbers and so on...

Two 2hr watches from Glonk Corner on consecutive days,

16/9, 0920-1120;

Sooty                      1
Balearic                 135
C Scoter                  4
Gannet                   24
Raz                         4
Med Gull                1
BHG                      10+
Swallow  N              9
H Martin    N           2
Siskin    N              95+

17/9, 1535-1735;

Cory's [N, 1706]      1
Balearic                   4/6
Arctic Sk                 4
Arctic T                   1
Sarnie                      7
Little Gull                1
Med Gull                 1+
BHG                       12+
Gannet                    68/9
Kittiwake                172
Raz                          1

Lack of overhead passage. Of note, Chiff and B'cap numbers in bushes reduced by >50% compared to previous day.

The Sooty was with the Balearics in a big early movement [largest flock was 69!], of which I only caught the tail [I believe 498 were counted off Dawlish Warren.....]. The Little Gull came in to the slick and looked like it was hanging around, but departed as soon as I took eyes off to get the news out. Drat.
The Cory's went N [to roost??] very close in for a big shear. Going the 'wrong way' I didn't catch it early enough to get the camera out before it was heading away and far too camouflaged against the sea for me to see it - rolling low over the waves as they do - through my viewfinder as it went offwards... Double drat.

The birds have been out there, just needed some weather.

My last but one day off had weather, NW to be precise, and I had a Plan.

What would come of it?

Wait and see.........

Be Seeing You...

22 September, 2023

Arabella II The Revenge!!

Oh dear oh dear oh dear...



Somewhat scarier were the large numbers of black horrors zipping about t'Moor;


are all different

Devil's Coach Horse Beetles!

But I am perhaps getting a little ahead of myself.

One of my yearly objectives, and in particular for my little end of summer hollydays, is to get to Fur Tor.

You know, this place,

Fur Tor!

I had the place to myself [well, myself and the Ravens and the Wheatears and all the hirundines passing by.. oh and His Majesty's Finest, who were getting their dakka on {That latter may have something to do with the former, also why I had to take the scenic route to go around Merrivale Range} :) ]
On Cut Hill,
looking back

Fur Tor.
Just inside Okie

20km rather than the usual 18, with an enforced summiting of Cut Hill for 'good' measure.

Worth it for the solitude, though!

I mentioned Wheatears... I saw 9. Woo and so on.


Like the name says

Actually at Fur Tor

Proper posing

Heading back up Cut Hill,
wait, what's that...??


I made a large detour left* to avoid flushing this little darling.

Round-leaved Sundew

Immature Black Darter..

..a male

Hirundines over Sandy Gate

It was wonderful, up there.


Be Seeing You...

[[* Right would have put me in Merrivale Range, of course.]]