30 April, 2024

A Taste Of Spring

Still around, still behind with posting.

Here's something to tide you over until I get something like together;

The Dart Valley

A bit of an ups and downs weekend, but I inflicted a big down on the Other Place, so I'll spare you.

Ups and so on will be coming, honest.

Be Seeing You...

25 April, 2024

Title Needed. Pt.2, Tails Of the Unexpected

After doing rather well on Friday, I suffered some, er, temporal issues that resulted in my next foray being Sunday afternoon..

Ahem. Yes, er, well...

Anyways, it was a mix of the odd burst of sunshine, grey clouds, and a chilly NE wind. Naturally, I went up on t'Moor in search of summery birds.

[Obvious tactics, I hear you cry...]

[[What do you mean, 'that's not what we were saying'?!?]]

Ahem again.

Anyways, getting on with it;

I spent a good three hours [it was technically afternoon when I got up there] getting not a lot, and eventually stopped for a cuppa and a japflack [might have been sort of lunch] at a spot where I'd met a nice Spot Fly once upon a time.

No Spotflies this go around, but I did get a friend in the end;

"Flapjack? Hand it over, mammal."

Mugged by a Robin again. Plus ca change...

Also, and slightly less in your face,

Might have come closer, but mundanes just kept wandering by [anyone would have thought it was a not entirely rainy Sunday or something].

I decided to move a bit. Always keep your eyes down as well as up and around, folks, or you may miss something. Or worse, not miss something;

Oil Beetle!

This pic you should look at, they're quite wonderful up close.

Also looking down,

Lesser Stitchwort

Greater Stitchwort

Not sure about this


Oh yes, birds. Right.

Interesting Willow Warbler angle

A couple of yearticks were seen, heard, but far too mobile to shoot, and then it all got a bit Trippin' silly.

That sounded horribly punny, and indeed it was;





Getting even one to behave is rare.

Treeeeeeeeecreeepers are very cute...

..and are immune to gravity!

Yes, that there Treeecreeeper is hopping along the underside of a branch, no flapping involved.

Birds.   :D

Oh yes, and also not a yeartick but posing [a bit] for the camera;

Just one [of two present] very confiding Cuckoo.
Also very late in the day and under heavy cloud, or they'd all be much less grainy.
[Hey, we can't all afford £10k setups, you know...]

And I was within five seconds. Five.

But what can you do?

Anyways, I shall

Be Seeing You...


24 April, 2024

Title Needed. Pt.1, Slim Pickings

Finally dragging myself to the Nose at a vaguely respectable hour, I found I had the place almost to myself. Bit of a cold wind didn't help, I suppose, but well.

Something like a small fall had happened [nice popup overnight cloud] and there were double figures of warblers!

Ok, all but one were Willow, Chiff, or Blackcap. And the one, a Sedge in chuntery subsong, was NOT showing. But you never know. Other things had been turning up and it has to be the Nose's turn eventually, right?

Here's a few seasonal sights for you;

Early Purple Orchid


Common Carder in Bugle


After taking care of some business, I took a wander about Exminster in vain hope of a wader yeartick [a Whimbrel would have done...], though Reed Warbler was new and the Cetti's were their usual humourous selves... ;)
I then had a look off Cockwood, where I finally found said Whimbrel and the odd other thing, too;

Not making a bum joke.

Mini Gannet!

Twenty others in view, but no other tern species, alas.

You keeps at it.

Be Seeing You...

22 April, 2024

Spring Thing. Pt.3, Finding Your Own Stones. Also, The Whinchat Of Consolation

I needed a walk. And it was Spring, which gives you ideas. Ideas that go 'Cu-koo', among others.

Up onto t'Moor and off about a favoured area; Vitifer!  It was a bit windy, still [though slightly less than the day before], but there was the possibility of some sunshine, so you never know...

As well as Cuckoo, the thoghts of... Wheatears? Late Ring Ouzel? Early Whinchat? Only one way to find out!

The Heath Stone

Didn't expect that, did you?

I will get to this lovely standing stone, all its companions, and the interesting history thereof.

But first, where I was first;


Cuckoo 1

Cuckoo 2

I would apologise for awful pictures, but when the frickin' birds WILL NOT co-operate, what can you do?

Admire the Willow Warbler serenade, be wound up by yet another invisible reeling Gropper, go looking in vain for Wheatears, and stake out a possible passage Ouzel site, that's what.
Where things changed, and a bird was Good. Sort of. For about ten seconds.

Not a Ring Ouzel

No Ouzels [shock] but a Whinchat of Consolation will do, I think.

[Possibly Devon's first of the year?   Could be?  Maybe?]

I did have one find, while sitting about watching Distant Soaring Buzzards and No Members of the Thrush Family At All;

Who's a pretty beetle, then?

Eventually accepting the inevitable, I headed off north in search of a theoretical chance at open ground raptors [again, you have to put the hours in]

Before that;

Stone row
[with minor Victorian
Keepng eyes down as well as up [it's an all-round exercise, being out birding]

Early Dog Violet

"Come and have a go
if you think you're
hard enough, mammal!"
Devil's Coach Horse Beetle. Don't mess.

So, to that bit from up there;

Stone Row
[no well-meant

And the other way

Time for too many words.

The stone you can see up there on the skyline is [as you may have worked out] the one in the first image. This is, it is believed - and I agree - the actual Heath Stone. The one marked on the OS is a stone in a boundary wall near Fernworthy entrance and very unlikely to be the one mentioned along mediaeval routes and perambulations and so on. That said stone is visible to anyone coming on to the Moor from Chagford and is on the route to join the Moreton-Tavvy road is pretty good evidence. [The official one is in a dip, btw. Just try finding it without GPS I dare you]

Who believes? Try in here;

More hut circles and pounds than you can
shake a trekking pole at. While fully complete for the
time of writing, there are later finds naturally not included.
But as a guide to the prehistory [and history, tinners included]
of the Moor, there's still none better.

Ok, yes dear pedants, those stones aren't mine and I didn't find them. Wasn't even my first visit. The title's a reference to The Other Place, where I may have gloated let the people know about a nice early Whinchat on the day.


I have more up to date news, though no more gripping photos [oh, but I was so close], but they shall have to wait until the next time.

Be Seeing You...

18 April, 2024

Spring Thing. Pt.2, Pesky Waders

Another day, another too late start, but the promise of spring-plumage Wood Sandpipers got me off out down southwest.

Oh look.

It was a bit overcast and a lot windy by the time I got there - kudos again to The Teacher - and the birds got a lot more elusive than previously [see his twitter], but eventually, 3 Wood Sand, 1 Ruff, 1 Dunlin, and 5 Cattle Egret were visible [with aid of some height]. At least 4 Teal were about the Marsh, but no Garganey that I could find.

Bad pics [I blame the wind];

Shelduck, Dunlin, Wood Sand, Ruff

Cattle Egrets

With all the wind, and now the threat of rain, I decided to give the sea a go.

In 30 mins, 3 RT Divers [all together], 2 Cormorant, and 19 Gannets went by North.
Yes, counting Cormorants.

I took a meandering route home, but despite getting back into blazing sunshine [it was only horrid over there.. natch] I was unable to find anything noteworthy. Ah well, you tries, you does.

Those Wood Sands, though [spring ones are rather fancy]. [[And getting Ruff at last... Ahem]

Be Seeing You...

17 April, 2024

Spring Thing. Pt.1, Pesky Warblers

At last the weather had gotten bored with raining all the time and something vaguely like sunshine was appearing about the place.

Also, a Spring passage of summering species had started up.

Naturally, a deranged yearlister starts getting ideas...

The Teacher, having the benefit of one of those school holiday things, had been out the day before and used the Dread Power of The Artefact ::Ominous Chanting:: to Summon a Gropper from the depths of cover to perform in full view for him, while he was sat down having a nice spot of lunch [after seeing assorted Redstarts and Pied Flies and so on].

This seems to happen to pretty much every birder with a camera, phone, or sketch pad       Except me.

The next day, then, and due to an entirely unrelated series of completely accidental and in no way associated occurrences, I happened to find myself sitting down for lunch at pretty much the exact same spot. Funny that.
The sound of reeling Gropper that I'd triangulated to that area may have been a factor, and I like to think a more significant one.

Alas, I did not have an Artefact of Dread Power ::Ominous Chanting::, though I'm doing my best to imbue the Big Scope, it only really works on seabirds so far.  

Thus it was that while I got one brief glimpse of Gropper-in-transit, I did not get a lovely view of a reeling bird, let alone any chance to photograph said. This is over a period of about 50 minutes.

Oh well. One day.

I took the chance to do some skywatching, seeing assorted soaring Buzzards and so on, but then the Gropper decided that was enough for a mid-day reeling session and shut up.

I went a' wandering and found a few things. Some of those things were quite showy, some very avoidy, and some took a good hour and a half of waiting before they'd allow a picture.


Not a Gropper

"Yeah, I'm much prettier"

Flight shot

Distant mobile warbler

I did mention other birds, and have proof!

Redpoll on the deck

The closest of at least 
13 Buzzards up 

Staphylinus sp.

Obilgatory Panaeolus sp.

Brimstone, Orange Tip, and Holly Blue butterflies were on the wing [mostly Brimstones] but none felt like being photo'd.

It was fun and frustration in near equal measures, but them's the breaks.

And oh, to see Dartford Warbler again


Be Seeing You...

[[*Note strong contrast between barred secondaries and inner primaries. Also, this is as close to an angle as you'll see in a soaring Buzzard's wing, and is largely an optical illusion caused by the carpal joint. They use a shallow straight-winged v. to soar.   No, I'm not letting it go.]]

15 April, 2024

A Quick Tease

I'm still here, despite my attention being rather diverted by my succumbing to the Other Place, and to show you all here's something you haven't seen There;

'Somewhere in Devon'

Heh heh heh...

Proper posting will be along directly.

Be Seeing You...

10 April, 2024

Eekwend Oundrup

Three[ish] days, one post.

There would have been more, but indecision, apathy, and especially my pesky head got in the way.

Getting on with it;

Sunday Sarnies

Saturday Stock Doves..

.. and Spider!
[Tetragnatha montana]

News of a Short-eared Owl at Exminster had me dragging myself out and over there despite my head's complaints. No sign of any owls, of course, but those 6 Stock Dove were nice, and a few waders and wildfowl were still knocking about. Also hirundines, with 11+ Swallow, 6+ Sand and at least one House Martin chopping about in the teeth of the 'fresh' wind. I rather suspect any SEO present was hiding behind the largest solidest piece of scenery it could find. A passing Marshie failed to put it up, though did show nicely

La Marsh Harrier

It was disappointing to see that exeter council have removed all the gates on the canal tow path, allowing cyclists [and, say motorbikes...] to zoom along freely [as one did, only just missing me]. Their replacement to enforce the law and protect the public? Single posts with little 'No Cycling' signs on them, carefully placed to the side of the path to allow free movement.
Compare to their attitude to drivers of enclosed motor vehicles [closed roads, raised parking charges, removed parking areas, concrete barrriers, cameras...]


Forcing  myself out for a Patch Patrol on Sunday, I was detoured by gen from The Teacher who was seeing skuas at the Nose.

I wandered over and, while I didn't get any skuas, I did see a few Sarnies and GNDs

16 Sarnies south, a single GND south with at least 5 on the sea [samples of both above], a diver sp. [probably another GND] north, and a steady trickle of Gannets, Kittiwakes, and the odd Fulmar. A few Manxies were mostly waaay out; I got on 3 south and 1 north.

More interestingly, before joining the Teacher at the TSWS, I was fortunate enough to see a Black Redstart being flushed from the Sole cliffs by a cockapoo [loose dog, in other words]. Woo! None seen at the Nose for a fair while, so this is presumably a migrant from parts further west stopping off en route to the continent. [Well, that or the wintering population got VERY sneaky, or moved somewhere we don't or can't check? Hmm.]

Also on Patch,

Rockit demonstrates posing

Seven Spot Ladybird

Yellow Archangel,
with red ant sp.,
and Black-horned Gem?

On the plus side, I did a little baking, which went down very well with the family. And I did get out and have hoovered up a few more yearticks - one a nice sticky one - so, well, we persevere.

[Don't talk to me about frickin' Hoopoes, though.......]


Be Seeing You...