Friday, 8 March 2013

The Aftermath

First of all, I would just like to clarify my rant yesterday.  Reading the comments on here and on Twitter, it would appear at least a couple of people got the wrong end of the stick.

Not at all was my rant about non-birders using bird hides, or me wanting to be the only person in the bird hide.  What the EDDC have done on the Axe is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. And to be honest, I wish they'd promote it more - you wouldn't believe how many people in Seaton/Colyford/Colyton don't even know what is on their doorstep!  Our reserves and hides should be enjoyed by everyone - as long as they are respected.  With the way our world is going, the environment is becoming less and less of a priority, so the best thing 'we' can do is to get as many people interested in the outdoors as possible - especially the younger generation.  Personally I think if everything stays as it, in 100 years time there's going to be serious issues - just where is the next generation of birders/naturalists??

Anyway, before I go off on another rant (two in two days!) I just want to simplify what I meant in yesterdays rant... 

I had a problem with being made to feel like I was doing wrong, and being a nuisance, for wanting to look at birds from a bird hide. That's it.  Maybe I should have just written that - so I apologies if I have mislead anyone. 

Ok, that's enough of that, so what about today.

Well this morning, my sulky and grumpy self drove out to Brascombe to look over the sea, as the conditions were pretty good for some sea scanning...

The sea could have been flatter but the light was brilliant

For the last couple of months on this blog you would have noticed how I have sulked and grumped on about how poor the sea has been.  Well I was thrilled to see a sea busy with birds this morning! Delighted! Over joyed! Although I wasn't, I was too busy being sulky and grumpy.

350-400 auks made up the numbers, with most far out to the south east. Nine Red-throated Divers were expected, but the three Great Northern Divers weren't.  Big divers have been scarce this winter, so to see three together quite close in was brilliant - they just oozed dominance and supremacy!  I know that sounds stupid and dramatic, but they really did!

There wasn't that much flying over the sea, but for one major highlight.  At 8:45 I picked up two Avocet flying east.  I've seen huge flocks of Avocet, I've seen Avocet chicks, I've had Avocets virtually walk over my feet, but this was the first time I've seen Avocets on a sea watch off the patch. And these were honestly the best Avocets I've ever seen!  They just looked fantastic as they slowly made their over the vast flat sea - really delicate and elegant. What a sight!  

I then moved on too Beer and Seaton Hole, where two Gadwall flew east and four Great Crested Grebes were feeding close in.

The sea hasn't just given me ornithological action today, off Branscombe I had several brief views of a Porpoise (later also seen by Ian M), and off Seaton Hole a group of 4-5 Bottle-nosed Dolphin moved distantly west.  Bonus!

This afternoon, I spent an hour or so looking in the valley. I was hoping to notch up our first Sand Martin with all this low cloud, but not yet.  What I did notch up though was far more 'valuable' than a Sand Martin to the patch year lister!  

The scope came out the car to look through a group of c20 Pied Wags opposite Axmouth FC, hoping for a White. No White, but a Water Pipit was a right bonus!  This species used to be a regular winter visitor on the Axe, with mid winter counts often in double figures, sometimes greater than 20. Sadly, and for reasons unknown, this is no longer the case - it's a right winter rarity. This species is still just about annual though, with March/April being the new peak time.  It was feeding on the left edge of the main scrape amongst the Pied Wags, and I watched it for about ten or so minutes before it wandered into longer grass at the back of the scrape.  It's still in winter plumage, no trace of any pink tones. Also here; 10 Meadow Pipits, 37 Black-tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper.

After this, a look along the Estuary, surprise surprise, revealed now three Avocet. Nice to know our river valley enticed the passing two in from the open sea, and I bet they were thrilled to see one already here!

So all in all, I have had a fantastic early spring/late winter's day out on patch. Several amazing sights and even a year tick to top it off!  Right I've got to go now, have got to find something to rant about....

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