Saturday 25 September 2010

A Patch Wryneck At Last the title I have gone for, but I could have equally gone with...

"****!" or "I Still Can't Find a Wryneck", or "Semi-Retired Birder Trips Over Wryneck On Way To Seaton Marshes Bird Hide", or "Elderly Birder Taunted And Harassed By Wryneck Whilst On A Pleasant Outing To Seaton Marshes", or "Wryneck Interferes With The Osprey Show", or "Patch Birders Learn Of Patch Wryneck Via Shetland" etc....

No, I'm not bitter about having spent the last month in the field looking for Wrynecks without even getting a whiff, when one is sat waving at passers by early afternoon on the busiet reserve in East Devon!

So how many ways could you get wind of a Wryneck on your local patch in East Devon?? Via a phonecall from someone on Shetland is probably ranked quite low - but that's how it happened! Whilst Bun was booting sibes from a rocky geo on Shetland yesterday afternoon, his pager bleeped with news of this Wryneck, which prompted him to send me this short text...

"so you've finally found a Wryneck then"

My response contained words that on here would look like this: ****

It could have been alot worse though - I could REALLY be hating Wrynecks right now as I dipped this one on the first attempt. My clocking on time for work was nearing, and it was nowhere to be seen in the howling northerly wind - all was looking rather grim so I returned home. Just as I put the milk in my tea, the phone rings.... "Wryneck's back!"

I went back to the hide, and twenty minutes later - just as the sun came out - so did this beauty...

Digi-scoped from a busy hide, in a rather awkward and cramped position (me - not the bird!)

I also took a few snaps with the Lumix...

Scoffing ants

And here's one pic four times, variously cropped...

The oringinal - zero cropping

Just a bit of cropping

Quite a lot of cropping

Viciously over-cropped!!

However much I hate them for not popping up in front of me - they are probably the most beautiful grey/brown bird on this planet, with Nightjar being maybe the only contender?

That's my weekend birding done, it is someones birthday very soon and celebrations are called for! I did sneak a quick hour out this morning though. Black Hole Marsh was rather barren (just a couple of Green Sandpipers and Shanks, and six Dunlin), but just around the corner...

Always good value!

The Marsh Harrier was still over Colyford Marsh and eight Bar and twelve Black-tailed Godwits were hiding in the saltmarsh on the Estuary.

What a glorious morning - I hope everyone has a good weekend :-)

Friday 24 September 2010

Raptor Bonanza!

The Osprey was fishing again this morning on the Estuary. I've not heard back yet about its ringing details, but it looks like it is going to turn out to be a Swedish bird! It certainly isn't from Scotland - which is what I think we all just 'presume'.

From the Farm Gate sometime between 9 and 10am, a Marsh Harrier appeared from the south and spent about half an hour perched on the ground in full view, which was nice....

My third of the year

For the rest of today I have been stuck behind this computer - something I am going to have to get used too! Mind you, I did get an interesting e-mail drop in my inbox...

Remember this post here....

I spent a night Storm Petrel ringing at Hartland Point. We caught six of them, and one was already ringed....

"Storm Petrel 2648806 was trapped and ringed at Gwennap Head (Porthgwarra, Cornwall) on 22/5/09"

So, not an incredible recovery - in fact only a year and two days between captures - but still, always fascinating.

Lastly, after I posted yesterday, with the photos of the Western Conifer Seed Bugs, I went upstairs and there was one in the bathroom sink!! It IS an invasion!!!!!

Thursday 23 September 2010

Our Colourful Osprey

This is going to be a pretty busy post! I've dusted the moth trap off and have news of a bird that nearly sneaked through unseen, as well as what I've mentioned in the post title...

I have done very little birding over the last two days. Yesterday morning, just from the garden it was clear there was some pretty impressive 'vis mig' underway. Meadow Pipits were streaming through, and in half hour I also logged singles of Tree Pipit, Grey Wagtail and two Siskins.

This morning, the Osprey entertained me for half an hour whilst I was parked up alongside the Estuary. It was nice to finally see it settled...

What a top bird!

After this morning's views, I can reveal some surprising news regarding our Osprey - and I cannot believe I haven't noticed this before today. It is colour-ringed! And looking back through all of everyones photos - it (well obviously) always has been! I took these flight shots today...

And let's have a closer look....


In the field, the only one you can really see when it's flying is dark blue, but from photos it is clear there are four rings. I have sent the details off and will update as soon as I hear back.

Now time to feature something on this blog that (some say) haven't featured enough lately...

I've had one of my moth traps out over the last two nights. On Tuesday night I caught 43 moths of 11 species, and last night trapped 24 moths of 12 species. One of last nights moth was a new species for the garden..

A rather moth-eaten (no pun intended...or maybe it was!) Copper Underwing

The fulls lists are as follows, Tuesday night:

23 Setaceous Hebrew Character
6 Square-spot Rustic
3 Lesser Yellow Underwing
3 L-album Wainscot
2 Snout
1 Garden Carpet
1 Shuttle-shaped Dart
1 Large Yellow Underwing
1 Large Ranunculus
1 Common Wainscot
1 Silver Y

There were also two Western Conifer Seed Bugs in the trap, vermin...

You can read more about these non-native beasties HERE

Wednesday night:

7 Setaceous Hebrew Character
5 Large Yellow Underwing
2 Lesser Yellow Underwing
2 Square-spot Rustic
2 Vine's Rustic
1 Light Emerald
1 Dusky Thorn
1 Copper Underwing
1 Large Ranunculus
1 Angle Shades
1 Black Rustic
1 Snout

Lastly, Tim White has become a regular fixture besides the Estuary over the last few days - and he has taken some excellent snaps of the (quite blatantly colour-ringed!) Osprey. There is a link to his blog 'Colyton Wildlife' on my blog list to the right.

Anyway a couple of days ago he snapped another ratpor that flew high over the Estuary...

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Osprey (Again!)

Driving alongside the Estuary at midday, and low and behold there was the Osprey! It soon caught a fish and flew off up river...

Always a treat!

Also a one legged Common Sandpiper by the tram sheds!!!

Monday 20 September 2010

Quiet Skies

I was planning to hit Axe Cliff early this morning, and I did! But a ten minute watch by the car showed how wrong I was!

With good visibility, only high cloud and a light sw wind, I thought the 'vis mig show' today would be good one - but in reality there was next to nothing. I guess the rain in the night may have had something to do with it!

Instead I gave Black Hole Marsh a look where one Lapwing, four Ringed Plover, 30 Dunlin, two Greenshank, two Redshank, one Green Sandpiper and two Yellow Wagtails were on show. Am still waiting for the yank... (with Spot Sands turning up everywhere at the moment, I do hope it is one of these and not 'just another' Pec!)

Continuing the wading bird theme, the Estuary today has shown 15 Black and (a locally good count of) nine Bar-tailed Godwits.

The Osprey so far today has been seen fishing twice, although the second time it gave up without a meal. I presume that was because of the pack of corvids chasing it...

my second hopeless photo of a locally scarce large raptor being chased away but our local bullies in a week!

I did go back up to Axe Cliff, booting the fields for a Lap.... I did get a Bunting that wasn't at all Yellow.... but it was just a Reed!

Everywhere I went today gave me the impression that no migrants at all made land-fall during the night. So I was very surprised to find a Redstart at Lower Bruckland Ponds late morning - my first ever here! Two Yellowhammers in small trees near the lower pond were also a LBP's first for me. Still no Wryneck though...

Friday 17 September 2010


An Osprey has graced our Estuary today, Fraser first spotted it over Black Hole Marsh mid morning.

At about 13:30, whilst driving along the river with the old man, all the Gulls started taking to the air, and in it drifted from the hills to the east...

Sorry for the photo overload - there is more too!

It spent about fifteen minutes fishing north of Coronation Corner, but every time it went in, it came up empty taloned...
An action shot!

I'll upload a video I took of it failing to catch a fish later, it's taking too long at the moment!

The Osprey then flew south down the Estuary, flushing every Gull as usual...

...then went into one hell of a dive, and came up with a fish! After a bit of struggling, he/she got some power going and flew off north west towards Colyford...

That's dinner sorted!

Hopefully this one will stay....

Rewinding the day back, I was meant to lead a birdwatch on Beer Head this morning for Seaton Visitors Centre Trust. Dad and I were there at 9am, and our group were soon ready to leave....all three of us! (and yes that does include Dad and I!)

It was beautiful up there this morning, the views just stunning....

You can just see the harbour wall of Portland Harbour in this photo, and that's 'The Verne' to the right...

And this is the first time I can say I've seen Dartmoor from Beer Head, I've labelled the three Tors you can make out...

Bird-wise, it wasn't all that bad either!

Two female-type Redstarts were most notable, with singles on the top of the Branscombe slope and in the Coastgaurd Lookout garden. At least seven Yellow Wags included three amongst the sheep, and other grounded migrants included: 3 Wheatear, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 5 Blackcap, 14 Chiffchaff and 2 Goldcrest. Overhead there were literally thousands of hirundines feeding - including at least three Sand Martins. Several hundred Meadow Pipits flew west over, proving it would have been a good morning for 'vis-migging'. Also one Clouded Yellow seen.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

A Big Fat Patch Tick

...and I mean that literally!

About half an hour after I received a text from Ian Mc this morning, I was stood in the corner of a certain field up Beer Head alongside Dave Helliar with our scopes lined up... another half hour later and BINGO...

Up popped the Corn Bunting, and spent the next five minutes on view amongst a dozen or so of its yellower cousins. It didn't stay settled on any one branch for long though - hence why I have no photos! And when it disappeared after this five minute view, it didn't show again up until when we both left (40 minutes later).

I have to say, I don't think it is as 'grotty' as Gav made out! It's a smart juvenile sporting a rather stripey face with a great big honker and a pair of lovely pink legs! What's the saying...'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. One thing it certainly is though is FAT! I swear I saw the entire hedge compress when it landed on top!

To prevent this being a photo-less post, from something big brown and (ok, a little) bland, to something small orange and (very) beautiful...

Small Copper

This was a welcome distraction at Lower Bruckland Ponds from my continued failure in finding my own Wryneck! I could list all the places I have looked for one today....but shan't!

Actually whilst butterflies are in my head, I've seen three Clouded Yellows on patch within the last five days. I've been meaning to mention these over the last few days but keep forgetting!

Last night, I had a moth trap out in the front garden. Total waste of time; 8 Setaceous Hebrew Character, 2 Lesser Yellow Underwing and singles of Large Yellow Underwing and Flounced Rustic. All I want is one of these....

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Making Peace With Wrynecks

It seems as though the birding Gods ingested the unhappiness I mentioned on this blog yesterday about not being able to see - let alone find - a Wryneck.

A midday visit to Waggs Plot was where my luck changed a little, as after twenty minutes of looking this beauty flew up from the bank beside my parked car....

That's more like it!

After this view, it dissapeared into the hedge and went missing for another ten minutes, before showing again a couple of times in an adjacent garden....

...more distantly though

Now time to find one :-)

I haven't done much other birding today, except for a rapid sweep of the Estuary where two Knot, six Bar-tailed and 16 Black-tailed Godwits were on show...

Four of the six Barwits - a decent number for our Estuary

Monday 13 September 2010

Here They Are.... There They Go....

'Hello And Goodbye' and 'Blink And You'd Have Missed Them' were two other options for this post title...

Finally the Glossy Ibis from the Otter (well 18 of them) decided to come our way - unfortunately though they didn't stop!!!

I was on Axe Cliff looking for Lap Bunts when the call came in that they had just flown east over Beer Head. I wasn't in the best spot, but soon picked them up in the bins flying north east into the river valley. But almost as soon as I picked them up, I lost them....

I hot footed down to the farm gate to scan over the river valley, no sign of them here, but did have a nice surprise in the form of a cream-crowned Marsh Harrier...

Eventually the Crows chased it off northwards - bloody things!

Black Hole Marsh also drew a blank for Ibis. All that I noted here were singles of Knot, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, two Little Stints and a Barn Owl that finally appeared to go to roost at 08:40!

He/she obviously approves of the new hide under construction!

A few more scans over various bits of the valley suggested the Ibis didn't pitch down, and a message that has just come over Birdguides confirms this.... they just circled over Dungness in Kent!! That is incredible - what speed have they been flying at???

I'm pleased to report Meadow Pipits have started, with a decent passage over work yesterday morning in the sunshine. There seemed to be fewer this morning...and by the way...I never did find a Lap!

The only other bird I've seen today that is worthy of mention was the smart Hobby over Lower Bruckland Ponds mid morning.

A bird that really isn't worthy of mention is Wryneck - as however much I look for one - I can't bloody find one! I even went to see one that has already been found (Waggs Plot), but it didn't show for me. Although I think they are stunning birds....I am beginning to really hate them!!

Thursday 9 September 2010

The Tide Is High But I'm Holding On

Nice to see plenty of water about this morning, the valley always looks more appetising when it is flooded. This was Colyford Common mid morning...

Lots of lovely water!

When the water levels are like this it is always a good time to look at wildfowl; 91 Teal and nine Wigeon were on show today at Colyford Marsh. Also two Greenshank, a Ruff, the Knot, four Green Sands, one Water Rail, eight Meadow Pipit, one White Wagtail, six Wheatear, three Sedge Warblers and two Whitethroat on Colyford Marsh/Common.

Nicely posed, not nicely lit!

On Black Hole Marsh, six Little Stints, two Curlew Sandpipers, seven Dunlin, one Green Sand and one Greenshank with a Yellow Wag over.

Seaton Marshes produced four more Wheatear and a Whinchat. I gave the Lumix a go on a distant Kestrel...

Not bad at all considering the distance - I do love my camera :-)

Still no Wryneck for me! Where should I look? Maybe this fella might know....

...I think I'm going nuts!

Tuesday 7 September 2010

The Frustration Of Patch Birding!

With Budleigh sinking under the weight of Glossy Ibis, and many other sites being inundated with scarcities, today has been highly frustrating! I have walked, pished, scanned, booted, and stomped so many bits of habbo today...I know there is a Wryneck out there somewhere with my name on it, but WHERE ARE YOU!??

Black Hole Marsh first thing this morning showed it was nearly full of water again! There's still plenty of waders here though, with a Knot new in...

As you can see - it was tipping down with rain!

The six Little Stints from the previous night were still bombing about the place, with a Curlew Sandpiper, two Greenshank, two Green Sands and two Blackwits making up the rest of the notable waders list. On the Estuary the single Barwit remains, and I shall mention the 14 Common Terns that flew south here yesterday afternoon during a rain shower.

Axe Cliff revealed the Dotterel still and I'm pleased to report I finally got some snaps of it....

What a peach of a bird! I kinda like the bottom photo best, even though it is more distant

The most numerous migrant today has been Wheatear - I've seen loads, with some everywhere I went. Other migrants I've seen include three White and two Yellow Wags at Axe Cliff and three Spotted Flycatchers behind Beer Cem...

Here's two of them, one in the sun and one not!!!

There was a slight improvement in the day when a Spoonbill was found on the Estuary. Early afternoon I was enjoying it from the road side opposite Seaton Marshes hide...

Always good value :-)

I have a horrible split shift tomorrow, so probably won't have any time for birding. Maybe that is wise as I need a re-charge....