Monday 6 October 2008

A Patch Tick!

I enjoyed a nice couple of hours birding at Beer Head this morning. First of all, here's the moment the sun broke through the cloud - it soon disappeared again though!

My new desktop backdrop!

Grounded migrants were at a premium, with just six Chiffchaffs, five Blackcaps, a Goldcrest and a Stonechat. Mind you, I didn't spend all that much time looking in bushes because despite the low cloud and occasional drizzle, all the action was in the air. My totals for 08:00 - 10:00 were: 2 Merlin (1 west over the sea and 1 gorgeous juv on the head, it even spent five minutes perched on a fencepost giving excellent views), 21 Skylarks, 32 alba Wagtails, 835 Meadow Pipits (a very good Beer Head count), 2 House Sparrows, 206 Chaffinches, 1 Brambling (my first of the autumn, a nice male too!), 68 Linnets, 12 Goldfinches, 6 Greenfinches, 1 Sisikn and 2 Reed Buntings. Also quite a few Swallows and House Martins but as most were just milling around I couldn't be arsed to count them! I always carry my camera with me when wandering around Beer Head, so if I do bump into a mega I can at least take some 'digi-binned' record shots (holding the camera up to my binoculars). I tried this technique with the Merlin today, good to see that it does kinda' work!

The coolest species of falcon on earth!

Went along the estuary early afternoon, hoping that the Marsh Harrier Karen and Ian had seen this morning was still present, but no luck. I did see a Ruff, 9 Dunlin and 9 Lapwing. There were lots of Gulls present for the first time in a while, but the only notables were a couple of dark mantled and rather hefty Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


The wind had picked up a little by now, so I thought a look over the sea would be worthwhile so I went to the Spot On Kiosk. Alas there was very little on the move! A first-winter Common Gull was feeding close in, I tried stringing it into a Ring-billed but failed miserably.

At 14:39 I just happened to be looking through my bins towards the harbour mouth when I noticed a small Gull alongside a Herring Gull flying around the corner from Dorset. I lined my scope on it..... CHUFFIN' HECK...... SABINE'S GULL!!! I got straight on the phone as it hadn't even passed the harbour mouth (which is at the extreme east end of the beach). It flew in towards the river over the yacht club and disappeared behind a row of houses for me, at which point Karen stepped out of her house and had it fly literally right over her head! It flew back down towards the sea shore and continued flying west. It remained REALLY close in, and was about to pass me....I knew now was the time to get a pic! I didn't want to faff around with my scope, so time for some more digi-bin'ing! I got just ONE photo of it.....and this is it....

A BEAUT! Both a patch and find tick too....

It remained really close in but continued to head slowly west along the beach, occasionally landing briefly on the sea. It seemed to go as far west as Seaton Hole where it headed out south but soon landed on the sea next to a Great Black-backed Gull (little and large if ever I've seen it!). After a few mins it took to the air again and came back really close in, it flew back east to the harbour entrance, circled over the Yacht Club once then flew out south east. Must have watched it for about half an hour in total, Bun and Ian McLean also got to see it....WHAT A BIRD!!! It is probably still in the bay somewhere, I only lost it because it landed on the sea.

Time for work, what a day!!!

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