Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Pigeon Snubbing, A Nice Grebe And Lap Overload!

I poked my head out the front door at 6:30 this morning, and knew instantly it was going to be a good Pigeon day. But any one who knows me will be shocked to hear I spent all morning IGNORING them! Every time I glanced skywards, Wood Pigeon flocks were flying west. Don't ask me how many.... 'cuz I didn't count any of them!

And why this shocking behaviour from me!?? Well I've been longing for a flat calm English Channel to scope over, and this morning I had just that - nothing was going to distract me!

Before dawn, I had a quick check to see if the
Long-billed Dowitcher was still with us - it was. I sent a few texts out, then hot-footed it over to Branscombe.

I was here by sun rise, and can prove it too...

That boat has been moored up out there for a few days, seems to have moved on now though

After I took this pic (or the series of pics this pic was in - I should say!) I started scoping the sea. Literally the first bird I saw was a Red-necked Grebe flying head on - RESULT! It kept flying towards the beach, and landed just offshore, though a little to the west of me.

Now, if I was more prepared, I would be posting some stunning digiscoped images of it. But I had left my Nikon in the car, so had to run back for it. When I'd returned, the bird was still there - in fact EVEN closer, but it was now diving constantly, and always re-surfaced where I wasn't expecting it too. ****!

In the end, I gave up, and just took a couple of hand held shots with my Lumix....

The original

Cropped a bit

Cropped a lot - but you can still see what it is!

Soon after I took these snaps it took off and flew west - I didn't follow it all the way though so am not sure how far it went. Red-necked has always been my favourite species of Grebe, and today's view was easily the best I've had of one on patch. Well worth the early start :-)

A Red-throated Diver was the only other bird worthwhile of mention on the sea. There wasn't much more flying over it either, 07:20 - 08:30 gave me:

3 Great Northern Diver E (together)
5 Brent Geese W
4 Shelduck W
4 Common Scoter E
2 Auk sp. E

I had a look around the sewage works after this, and saw two Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest and a Treecreeper. Any other birders planning to visit here, beware of this...

Yes I know, it's only a Pied Wag, but it sounds like a Waxwing! Ok so it doesn't 'trill', but the pitch and quality of its call is just spot on for Waxwing - it stopped me in my tracks when I half-heard it!

My next stop was Axe Cliff, where I continued to ignore Wood Pigeons. I didn't ignore the flocks of Starlings flying over though, just in case there was a real Waxwing in with them!

I had only got to my second field, when a flock of Skylark that had taken off from the next field showed to have a couple of Lapland Buntings in with them! My first on patch this autumn - which is pathetic considering how many have been knocking about the county/country.

After a few minutes of having some distant flight views, they landed back in the same field they had originally come up from. A short while later they were up again, flying around, this time much closer and calling too. At one stage they both flew north past me very low - at which point one showed itself to be a very well marked bird, so presumably a male?

About 15 mins later, I was a couple of fields nearer the coast, and another Lap Bunt (or one of the same?) flew west over calling with half a dozen Skylark. It circled around for a short while before flying back east.

Hopefully they will hang around, and allow some 'on the deck' views.

The Whooper Swan remains, an adult Med Gull was on the Estuary, and after a phone call from Phil early afternoon, I saw a flock of 12 Brent Geese on Colyford Marsh. I counted how many were juv's - but have forgotten! It was either six or seven.

The 'Dowi' has proved very popular, with lots of cars and birders there mid morning. It's a busy and fast road though peeps, so take care. After seeing photos of the Weymouth bird, and talking to someone who saw it, it certainly appears to be the same bird.

So, it's been a a thoroughly enjoyable morning of patch bird for me - in glorious autumnal weather too :-)

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