Thursday, 31 January 2019

A Foray to the Exe

Having seen the Bowling Green Marsh Yellow-browed Warbler last week, I knew how ideal it would be for Dad to see. So yesterday after a hospital appointment, I took him out for his first trip to the Exe since his stroke in October last year, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.  The Brent Geese must have heard he was visiting as they treated us to some superb fly pasts - probably about 6-700 birds in total...



The Yellow-browed performed equally well, with some exceptionally close view of it feeding alongside the road right down in the stinging nettles.  The very first view we had of it was pretty special too, as it flew low down the middle of the road right past us.  In this single flight the Yellow-browed went from bushes near the entrance of Goosemoor to roughly 80m the other side of the Bowling Green hide - presumably taking it from the end of its feeding circuit back to the beginning?  

Excuse the very frustratingly positioned vegetation in the below photo, which looks horribly like fishing wire!...



There's been plenty of reports of this bird having a dodgy right eye, it was pretty much fully closed whilst we were watching it.  Sadly it evidently now has problems with its left eye too, being half-closed. Poor guy, I don't rate his chances much :-(

I'm almost embarrassed to say that this trip out saw my first visit to Goosemoor.  A lovely reserve with several excellent vantage points...



And it's clearly a great place for Greenshank...



A truly wonderful and very very special afternoon out for me.  Great to be able to start repaying Dad for all the weekends he took me out birding when I was in my teens...


Sunday, 27 January 2019

Macro Mandarin

Enjoyed a family day out to Dartmoor today, despite the brisk north west wind.... Well that's how I described it to my wife early this morning when I suggested we should go to Dartmoor today - blasting freezing cold wind originating from the centre of the Arctic circle would have proved a far more accurate description!

Due to this wind it was an in-car picnic and sheltered spots-only visit to Dartmoor. Our first spot was one of my favourites, Steps Bridge.  Am sure I'm with most people when I say I much prefer a woodland in the spring/summer, when the air is full of bird song and you're surrounded by nothing but luscious and vibrant colours. Saying that though there is something quite charming about the winter woodland, monochrome colours pretty much everywhere you look as the natural world re-sets itself for another busy season...



Something that could never be described as monochrome however was the highlight of the walk around Stover after lunch...



This was one of the six Mandarins that we saw, with this pair being the most obliging...



Here's a few more of the handsome drake...



This female was also fairly showy, among the Mallards in the prime feeding spot...



There were no Goosanders on the lake whilst we were there, with Tufted Ducks being the only diving ducks present...



Other than the usual Dippers, Siskins, Marsh Tits, Nuthatches, etc, that was it on the bird front today.  However I always leave Dartmoor looking forward to my next visit...

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Lapwing Quiz; The Results

So here's the original photo, which I gave people 15 seconds to look at before making their guesstimates of how many Lapwing are on the shingle island...



A total of fifteen replies gave answers varying from 226 to 900. And a quick calculation of these revealed the mean answer to be 496, which is precisely 29 less than the correct answer of 525...



Thanks to all who got involved with the fun and well done to the closest two; @hjwright99 with 521 and @alexmxck with 520. You win exactly nothing, but hold your heads high....well unless you cheated of course!

I took this photo on Saturday when there were at least 1,500 Lapwing on Black Hole Marsh, it was completely crammed full of them...



Along with a Greenshank, about 30 Snipe and 26 Dunlin...

Roosting Dunlin


Off the beach there's still four Common Scoter, plus yesterday a group of five Red-throated Divers flew west whilst I happened to be watching (well chatting to Roger actually!). I have been checking the gulls on the Estuary whenever I've had the chance, sadly no further sign of Gav's Caspian with nothing else of note either.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Count the Lapwing!

Just for a bit of fun...

Clicking 'full screen' (the disjointed square that appears in the bottom right hand corner once you've pressed play) will help a lot ...




Tweet me or leave a comment with your estimate. Photo taken today at Black Hole Marsh.


Sunday, 13 January 2019

Lyme Regis

An enjoyable family wander around Lyme Regis this afternoon revealed the lingering immature drake Eider distantly off the Cobb...



And 13 Purple Sandpiper feeding along the shoreline off the eastern end of the sea front...



Just a pity the sun wasn't out!


Friday, 11 January 2019

Who's Nicked Our Cattle Egrets?

Wasn't a bad sunset over the Axe Estuary last night...



I was there to check the roosting egrets, and came away feeling surprised having not seen any Cattle Egrets! Looks like they've all gone to Abbotsbury. Two adult Med Gulls on the Estuary were as exciting as it got.  Saying that I was surprised to see a distant Starling murmuration, albeit a small one (a mini-murm!) over Seaton. It turns out they are roosting behind solar panels on a house roof near the Orchard car park...



Today, during a local wander to get little Harry to sleep, a female-type Black Redstart was showing well along the sea front...



Other recent little snippets of interest from me include a lingering Greenshank and four Shoveler in the valley, up to three Common Scoter, Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes settled offshore, and a pair of Blackcaps in Mum and Dad's front garden.

Maybe it's a good time to be reminded that in roughly eight weeks Wheatears will be here!