Wednesday 27 May 2009

Arctic Explorers

Sorry, this is going to be a boring photo-less post. But today I've had two patch year ticks, so I just had to write something....

Colyford Common this morning showed six Whimbrel, three Blackwits and two Dunlin on the scrapes. The main highlight was an adult Arctic Tern which came in from the north, flew low south over the main scrape, then continued south down river. Karen saw it a little while later over the Yacht Club.

Before work at 13:00 I spent 40 mins sea watching from Spot On. I was hoping for a Stormie or two as I've seen them close in before during spells of heavy rain, but no luck today. An Arctic Skua west at 12:40 was year tick number two, also saw masses of Manxies, seven Kittiwakes, a few Gannets and three commic Terns all west.

Sunday 24 May 2009

A Patch Tick

I was keen for a lie in this morning, but a phone call from Phil at about 07:20 shattered that.

At first I couldn't find them on Blackhole Marsh, but after some guidance from Phil I clapped eyes on my first patch tick for a very VERY long time. A drake Red-crested Pochard!! In fact there were two of them, but I only saw the female when they took flight and headed off up the valley. About half hour later they were back, this time on the river from the farm gate where they were distant. I still tried a photo or two though...

A proper non-debatable genuine patch tick!

Phil saw the drake sat out of the water, no rings. They were flighty too, seemed easily spooked... blah blah blah.... Basically because I saw them and the fact they are a patch tick they are as wild as any UK Red-crested Pochard can be!

Also on Blackhole a single Ringed Plover.

Friday 22 May 2009

Serious Birding

Birding is a's my hobby. I do it because I love it, and because I really REALLY enjoy it! So when enjoying your hobby becomes a bit of a job then it's just brilliant!!!

Last week, the Forestry Commission got in touch, asking for 10 - 15 surveys to be carried out on a SSSI on the Devon/Somerset border. My answer was obviously a BIG FAT YES!

Due to the poor weather last week I couldn't start it til this week. It's a lovely place, and I've been tasked to concentrate on three species in particular: Curlew, Nightjar and Dartford Warbler. Here's a few site photos...

Looking south

Looking east

Looking north

The Dartford Warbler bit looks like it's going to be well easy.... because there ain't none! Well don't appear to be anyway! Nightjars I'm looking forward too, and the Curlew bit is great. I watched a male Curlew perform several display flights to an impressed looking female yesterday morning. Top stuff!

There's plenty of other bits and bobs here too. The most numerous bird was - rather surprisingly - Willow Warbler! 43 in all, 39 of them singing males! A Cuckoo kept me company during most of the survey too.

Other than this over the past few days I've been working (in the real world - Co-op!) and feeling very tired!

Monday 18 May 2009

Recently I Have Been Mostly...

...missing year ticks! And as I'm year listing that is the wrong thing to do!

I don't work earlies any more (starting at 6am), apart from a one-off last Saturday. Last Saturday was also the first day of decent sea watching weather for ages! Not long after my working day began I was gripped with news of two Pom Skuas past. I thought that would be it, but a few hours later a text that simply read "Cory's west 09:40" made me want to lock myself in the freezer back up! Gripping!!! But a SUPERB record for the patch, and am so pleased it was sighted elsewhere.

I sea watched Sunday morning, but it was rubbish so I packed it in just after 7am. Just after midday I hear from Dawlish that they'd had some skuas passing from mid to late morning. So at 13:00 I go back and did a two hour stint. It was better, plenty of Manxies and Gannets, 18 Kitts, a few auks, six Sandwich Terns, but no skuas and no year ticks! Sunday night I helped lead a Devon Wildlife Trust group around Axmouth. Ten minutes in and I learn that I've missed another Pom. Grrrreat! I did see two summer plumaged Turnstones on the estuary though which were nice.

This morning, I thought the best way to make sure I miss out any more Poms would be to go ringing. So I did, Colyford Common with the Axe Estuary Ringing Group. I did indeed miss another Pom, one flew west just after half nine. Ringing was ok though, we caught three summer migrants. Two of which were these....

A Chiffchaff - and my hand!

And the third one was this....

A Swallow - but not my hand!!

To make sure I continue to miss all and any patch year ticks I'm going to Plymouth shortly, and won't be back til late morning tomorrow. Tomorrow's going to be a good one, I will put money on that!!

Wednesday 13 May 2009

May + Rain = Waders

It's quite a simple equation, but is so true. May is my favourite month for waders, simply because anything that does turn up is usually in stunning summer plumage. And today, thanks to this morning's rain was no exception.

I wasn't out in the field til 09:30, but a beach wander was very rewarding. A Sanderling was with three Ringed Plovers in front of the Yacht Club, but best of all, just west of Spot On Kiosk was a lovely summer plumaged Turnstone. My first this year. And here it is....

See.... what a corker!!!

The day then got even better, when at about 11:30 Dad phoned to say he had got a "yellow-legged Sandpiper" at Colyford Marsh, which he thought looked like a Wood Sand. I zoomed off down there, actually hoping that it was going to be a Lesser Yellowlegs, but Papa was right. This is the first spring Wood Sand I've EVER seen on patch, so still a quality bird. It was lovely, but moved about too quickly!!

What a beautifully patterned bird!

Also here were twelve Dunlin, a Lapwing, a Greenshank and a couple of Whimbrel.

So, in conclusion... I LOVE RAIN!!!!

Friday 8 May 2009

It's Been Ten Days...

... since my last patch year tick! I could understand this if it were Decemeber, or July....but it's May!!! Today though I managed to break the trend as my year list stumbled up to 154.

During a sea watch from Spot On Kiosk 07:45 - 09:10, seven Sanderling brightened up my morning - our first of the year. Three flew in and landed with two Dunlin, they allowed me to get a few snaps of them snoozing before they continued on west. Then another four came winging past west with one Dunlin about twenty minutes later. Here's the first three...

Taking a well earned rest I'd say!

The full totals of my sea watch are as follows: 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 5 Manxies, 2 Little Egrets, 6 Common Scoters, 1 Ringed Plover (on beach then flew west), 13 Dunlin, the 7 Sanderling, 16 Kittiwakes and 18+ Sandwich Terns. Also a Wheatear arrived in/off.

Tonight four more Sandwich Terns and Manxies flew west. I haven't seen anything else of note today though, plus I've missed a Cuckoo - by minutes!

Thursday 7 May 2009

At Last!

Yes, at last some local patch birding worthy of a post!! No photos though I'm afraid!

This morning I tried a sea watch 06:30 - 07:30 from Spot On Kiosk. It wasn't too bad, with the totals being: 4 Great Northern Diver (two during my first scan, one about five minutes later then the last at 07:20ish), 13 Manxies, 3 Little Egrets (in/off), 18 Common Scoters, 6 Kittiwakes, 2 Sandwich Terns, 12 Whimbrel and 54 Dunlin (in/off, my biggest flock of the year so far). Swifts were really on the move too, streaming west over the sea throughout the watch.

I finished work at six, and after dinner went back down to the seafront. 18:30 - 19:00 was brilliant, solely due to a manic passage of Dunlin! 252 flew west just offshore/along the beach in this half hour, but from 19:00 onwards no more. I was hoping for something in with them, but could manage nothing better than four Ringed Plovers - they were in the first flock too! This is a super count for the patch, but I can only wonder what the count would have been if I'd have started the watch earlier? Not much else passing, just ten Manxies and a Kittiwake. I managed to fluff a probable good'un though (at 19:30), it was a large raptor that had just arrived in/off but dived straight into cover as soon as I got my bins on to it. Flipping annoying! It landed in trees up the slope towards the golf course, maybe it will show in the morning?

Another interesting thing about these Dunlin is that they were really on the move. At about 19:20 I walked half the beach, bearing in mind I'd just seen 252, there was only ONE grounded!

Monday 4 May 2009

A Trip To Plymouth

Been quiet on here of late hasn't it? Well that's because I have done zero patch birding. Thurs/Friday last week I visited family in Surrey, I worked all of Saturday, then Sunday and this morning have been visiting Kym in Plymouth.

It was 17:00 yesterday, and Kym had settled down to do some work, so I decided to wander off to a certain cemetery which is about a five minute walk from her house. I had delightful views of the Woodchat Shrike, which has been here a week now. It spent ten mins perched up here....

See it?

If not, then this may help....

It's there I promise!

Ok, that's enough teasing, let's have a look at it properly. I'm well pleased with the following shots...

Nice bird!

It stayed in view for about an hour out of the hour and ten minutes I was there for. So it was well worth it.

Ok, back to normality now. Am working this afternoon, but the patch has my full attention again... mind you, that Crested Lark at Dunge.... NOT A CHANCE!