Thursday, 30 August 2012

No Seawatching For Me

This week has seen two outstanding days of sea watching, for Devon and the patch. Gavin has been present when most of the stuff has flown past, so read his accounts of the sea watching antics HERE. Monday was the best day, and I only had chance for an hour out so headed down to Black Hole Marsh. Wednesday was the next best day, but I had a meeting in mid Devon from 10am so had no time for sea watching at all! Typical isn't it - if only Tuesday and Thursday were the two wet and windy days then I would have seen lots!

The numbers of Long-tailed Skuas have been the biggest surprise, with the patch scoring three this week. Again, Gav has a good write up of this on his blog, and although I missed all of these, I am more than happy with the two I've seen over the years. Actually, out of all the rare/scarce birds I've seen on patch, the adult Long-tailed Skua that graced the sea over Seaton Bay back in May 2006 for some reason has stuck in my head more than anything. I can still picture it now, and recall the exact chain of events and the expletives that were uttered! What a beaut.

Ok, so what have I seen this week...

My hour out on Monday at Black Hole Marsh did prove worthwhile, as a juv-type Garganey appeared in the middle of the lagoon amongst 60 or so Teal. As soon as I found it I sent some texts out as this species is a bit of a patch rarity, but before all the texts had sent, one bird out of all the c300 birds on Black Hole Marsh took off and flew low north...the bloody Garganey! Sodding typical. The in flight views though showed it was a male.

Also on the marsh was; 43 Blackwits, 42 Dunlin, 24 Ringed Plover, ten Green Sands, eight Common Sands, three Lapwing and the Spotted Redshank and Tufted Duck still.

On Tuesday I had a whizz round many parts of the patch, including Colyford Common and Marsh, the Estuary, the flood opposite Axmouth FC and Black Hole Marsh. This revealed a decent selection of birds - excellent for the Axe to be honest; three Lapwing, 26 Ringed Plover, one Knot, 44 Dunlin, four Snipe, c25 Black-tailed Godwit, nine Common Sands, 14 Green Sands, one Spotted Redshank, three Ruff, one Turnstone and a Kittiwake!

The Kittiwake didn't look well at all, and is still present today so it isn't looking good for it...

It doesn't look too bad in this pic though

On Wednesday morning, before I headed off for my meeting I had chance for a quick look over Black Hole Marsh. One of the first birds I saw after I got in the hide was a small stint with the Dunlin and Ringed Plover over in the 'Solitary Sand corner' of the marsh. It was soaked wet (there was very heavy rain) and remained distant and I had to leave for my meeting.I had to leave it as a 98% Little Stint!

Whilst away, it was confirmed, so on my return at 14:00 I quickly dropped in for another look. It was closer, but the weather was still dull and awful...

..hence this crap photo!

Again there was a good number of birds on the marsh including two Turnstone, and the Ruff and Knot still.

And that brings me to today. I was down Black Hole Marsh early again (yes, I am determined to get Spotted Crake on my patch list!)...

Very tranquil compared with yesterday!

There was a bit less variety on the marsh, but the Little Stint and three Ruff were still present, and a few more Blackwits present - 44. Still no Spotted Crake though!

Later on in the morning, a quick look around other sites in the river turned up the Garganey again. It was on flood water opposite Axmouth FC along with a load of Mallard and c20 Teal. It could be quite elusive at times in the long grass, but I'm pleased to say at least three other birders managed to twitch it successfully.

And to complete this post, on 7th August I saw two colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gulls from the tower hide. One was 0.AA8, and the other L:AP8...

Looking suitably monstrous - I do love Great Black-backs!

Well I've just heard back from Bruce Taggart - and it wasn't a channel-hopper as they usually are. This bird was ringed on Looe Island, Cornwall, as a pulli on 25/6/11. This is the first sighting of L:AP8 away from Looe.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

A Summary Of The Last Week

Well I didn't leave you waiting quite so long for this blog post!

Jess and I have had a week off, and during the week we enjoyed some nice trips out, like...

Bath - the first time I've been here...

Stunning place!

Dartmoor...

Most of these photos were taken around Dartmeet, except for Venford Reservoir at the top

And several trips to Black Hole Marsh...

A 'must visit' for any holidayers in my opinion!

Each visit to Black Hole Marsh showed the cracking juv Spotted Redshank (stunningly depicted here), and average numbers of the more usual wader species (for example Friday showed 24 Blackwits, 17 Dunlin, six Snipe, five Green Sands and a Ringed Plover). Teal numbers increased as the week went on, with a surprise Tufted Duck also present on Friday...

A very distant and underwhelming Tuftie in the rain

A mid afternoon wander over Beer Head on Thursday is also just about worth mentioning, as singles of Yellow Wag and Whitethroat were noted. Sadly not the Wryneck I was hoping for though.

After my Hoary Footman success of Sunday night, I put the moth trap out again on Tuesday evening. When I woke up Wednesday it felt pretty chilly out, so I knew the trap wasn't going to be fully loaded - I was right! Amazingly though I managed another first for the garden - two in a week! This was a very overdue and predictable one though...


Canary-shouldered Thorn

I was back to work today, and typically Beer was almost sinking under the weight of grounded migrants this morning!

Monday, 20 August 2012

A Catch Up

And I'll try and keep it as brief as possible...

Early morning visits to Black Hole Marsh on Tuesday and Wednesday failed to reveal the biggy, but the Tuesday visit did show; 28 Teal, 25 Blackwits, 23 Dunlin, 11 Common Sands, four Green Sands, four Ringed Plover, two Lapwing, a Whimbrel and a Wheatear. On Wednesday it was slightly different with; 28 Teal, 24 Blackwits, 24 Dunlin, 15 Common Sands, 14 Green Sands (my biggest count of 2012), nine Ringed Plover, two Gadwall, a Redshank and a Snipe.

The two Gadwall

The Dunlin flock right in front of the hide!

Another look over Black Hole Marsh on Friday (I was a 'Guide in the Hide' for three hours) showed lower numbers of everything, but an adult Med Gull was my first in the valley for several weeks.

I've done a bit of sea watching since my last post too, although a twenty minute watch on Wednesday morning was the only one worth talking about, as a Balearic and 24 Manx Sheartwaters flew east.

That leaves me with today to mutter about. My phone was busy this morning, with Beer showing good numbers of grounded migrants. So I decided it would be a great idea to take Jess for a walk around the Beer Cemetery Fields :-). Lots of Willow Warblers about, along with four Spot Flies and a nice male Redstart. Sadly no shrikes or rare warblers though.

And now for moths! Although the total of 134 moths of 35 species wasn't very impressive at all, some of the species were...

Best of all was a new species for the garden, there were two of them in fact...

Hoary Footman - ok it may not look great, but they certainly made my day!

These represented one of the four species of Footman in the trap, with the other three species being Buff, Common, and this...

Male Four-spotted Footman - one of my favourites

There was also one of these...

Crescent Dart

Two of these...

Iron Prominents

And four Silver Y, including this very black individual...

The blackest one I've ever seen!

I will not leave it so long until my next post I promise!!!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Mostly About Things With Wings

Well what a few days!

I'll start back with last Friday, when I enjoyed showing Vic Tucker, one of the authors of 'Where to Watch Birds in Devon and Cornwall', around the patch.

The main destination was Black Hole Marsh, but apart from 27 Dunlin, two Ringed Plover and 18 Black-tailed Godwit it was quiet. The weather was stunning, and Vic requested a look around Lower Bruckland Ponds - so that was where we went next.

Before we arrived I jokingly remarked how we could be on for a Lesser Emperor, as a couple had been seen in the country the previous day. Ten minutes into our wander and a stunning male Lesser Emperor flew past us! Amazing!! The second for the patch, I've found them both, and both in exactly the same place - and I mean EXACTLY the same place! I was standing on the same edge of the same pond on 16th July 2006 when a male Lesser Emperor whizzed past.

We only saw it for about 30 seconds, before an Emperor chased it off. Pleasingly though, within the next few hours it was seen another four or five times by others in roughly the same spot. No photos I'm afraid as it moved so quickly!

On the lower couple of ponds, it was nice to see c10 Small Red-eyed Damselflies. The larger ponds don't look suitable at all now due to the lack of surface vegetation, but it's great to see they are hanging on where they can...

My first for a few years - mostly because I haven't tried hard enough!

Rewinding the day back a little, I had a moth trap to go through - and it was crammed full! There were 241 moths of 45 species in the trap. 31 of these moths were Willow Beauties, with Riband Wave, Brimstone, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing and Dark Arches also represented in double figures. The highlights for me were...

Black Arches - a stunning moth

Magpie - common yes, but still a looker!

Marbled Green - caught four of these

The Fern - there were three of these, all resting on adjacent walls

Mullein Wave - a coastal species

So Friday was a successful day! What about Saturday then...

Well Jess and I decided to go west from Seaton, and we ended up here...

Jess and the entrance sign to Bystock Ponds!

The main pond - looking lovely

So, what is it we were looking for...

'in action!'

Well it wouldn't be found here, although we did see this...

A Terrapin!

After a bit more walking, and some useful directions from Chris Townend, we got to here...

That looks more like it!

Nearly, just a little too large....

Bingo! We saw at least five Small Red Damselflies - amazingly a first for me!!!

And on the way back to the car, we saw a couple of these...

Common Lizard

And that brings me to today, and the end of this post.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

0.AA8

From this...

Taken on 6th June 2010 at Crevichon, Guernsey - thanks to Paul Veron

To this...

Taken by me on Tuesday 7th 2012 on the Axe Estuary!

This Great Black-backed Gull has spent most its time in Guernsey, not being seen away from here until 7th June 2012 when it spent a couple of days at Calvados, France. It was back on Guernsey on 25th July 2012, but this was the last sighting of it before it 'graced' us on the Axe this week.

I am still waiting for details on another colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gull also seen on Tuesday, and have seen another colour-ringed Black-headed Gull this morning.

Also on Black Hole Marsh this morning; 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Dunlin, 10 Common Sands, one Greenshank and one Snipe. Still waiting for that mega....

Monday, 6 August 2012

A Little Bit Of Everything

The water levels on Black Hole Marsh came up over the weekend, with very little mud on show for the weekend visitors/birders to look at. The day before though, last Friday, there were two Wood Sands viewable from the hide looking superb...

They well still be around, just hiding somewhere else!

This morning, the water levels were a bit lower, enough for 14 Blackwits, nine Common Sands, eight Dunlin, three Ringed Plover, two Greenshank, one Lapwing and one Snipe. Also two Gadwall still here.

On Saturday night I had the moth trap out in the back garden. Although nowhere near a massive catch, 88 moths of 35 species was certainly an ok haul. Only one immigrant, a Silver Y, and new species for the year were...

Ruby Tiger

Red Twin-spot Carpet

Crescent Dart - an annual species for the garden

Had a net up in the front garden this morning, a run of birds in the first hour included two juv Bullfinches and two juv Greenfinches. Compared with last year both species are obviously well down on breeding success - but maybe this is a sign there is some late hope?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A Rather Autumnal Update

I'll start with this morning, and Black Hole Marsh was lovely. Mostly because this juv Wood Sandpiper was still present...

It spent most of the time miles away - thankfully though it did eventually come close!

Also an obvious increase in Blackwits, with 27 all looking superb. Otherwise waders were represented by; two Greenshank, four Green Sands, eight Common Sands and six Dunlin. Non-wader highlights included my first Yellow Wagtail of the autumn, feeding with Pied Wags on the marsh (quite vocal it was too!) and two Gadwall still.

When I got back home this morning, I was greeted by this on the front of the house...

My first Jersey Tiger of 2012

Yesterday, all I had time for was a quick look along the Estuary mid afternoon. Nothing of note, although this gave me a bit of a fright...

Yes the one on the wood - looking a bit Caspian-ish...

For a time I thought I could have a first-summer Caspian Gull, but it wasn't. In fact when it landed in the water in turned in to a very bog standard-looking Herring Gull!

The previous day, a look along the Estuary revealed my first juv's of Great Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls of 2012. I was a bit hesitant of the YLG first because it had some notches around the tips of the otherwise black tertials, but everything else, especially size and structure (it was a hefty thing!), spot on...

Gav had possibly another two later on

I had a colour-ringed Black-headed Gull on Black Hole Marsh on 20th July, and have just received the details for it. It is always interesting to read a long list of re-sightings on colour-ringed birds, but it was equally interesting to read that Black-headed Gull white TNAR was ringed only a month before I saw it! On 19th June 2012 it was ringed as a second calender year male on Przykona Reservoir, Turek, Poland. And it was next seen by me on Black Hole Marsh!