Thursday, 17 October 2013

Patch Year Ticks Harder To Find Than Four Leaf Clovers

It really is getting annoying now!  There are so many possibilities when it comes to potential patch year ticks at this time of year, so so so many. Several being highly possible too - I mean come on, how rare is Pochard!?  Neighbouring patches and other sites along the south Devon/Dorset coast are getting birds left right and centre that would be additions to my 2013 patch year list - but they just aren't coming here! 

Saying that, the last two days have seen an improvement in the birding.  And tomorrow looks like it may be quite good too...

The strong wind and heavy rain that I woke up to yesterday morning ensured my first stop of the day was Seaton Beach for some sea watching. The conditions were a bit too inclement though...

Pants visibility

I knew the front was going to move through quickly though, so at 10:45 I was back here, and half an hour later exactly the same view as the above photo looked like this...

What a difference a few hours make!

It was actually very annoying that the weather cleared through so quickly because when it was cloudy and still a bit grim, birds were passing. As soon as the big yellow thing came out passage dried up and the viewing conditions became horrendous.  In 45 mins I logged:

12 Common Scoter
7 Brent Geese
1 Balearic Shearwater (very dark bird which seemed to be lingering below a feeding flock of Gannets)
2 Arctic Skua
1 Dunlin

Where was my Little Gull? Sooty Shearwater? Rare Grebe? Eider??? many possible year ticks!!

I had a couple of trips alongside the Estuary too - with the first one showing a nice (presumed) fourth-winter Yellow-legged Gull by the tram sheds...

Sorry for the poor quality pics - it was chucking down with rain!

The Yellow-legged Gull on right with two Great and one Lesser Black-backs and two Herring Gulls.

This was actually a really interesting bird (I know very few of you will agree with me!).  The head streaking and pale washed out yellow legs wouldn't be right if this was an adult Yellow-legged Gull, but the bill shows this bird isn't an adult - with a dark smudge.  Other pro-Yellow-legged Gull features that helped rule out a weird hybrid (which actually never entered my mind) were long winged appearance, small white primary mirrors, narrow white tertial crescent, mantle colour, overall structure, bill size and head shape. 

Another look along the Estuary a few hours later showed the Yellow-legged Gull again (now north of Coronation Corner) and two Brent Geese...

Can we have a goose other than Canada or Brent PLEASE!!

And now to today. Axe Cliff was my first port of call this morning, I was hoping for some good vis mig but it never really got going. Best of all was my first Ring Ouzel of the autumn, which was amongst several Blackbird, 10+ Song Thrush and a Redwing.  A few Chiffchaffs were in the bushes too, with three Stonechat and three Reed Bunting also present.    

After this, a look from the farm gate showed the Spotted Redshank still on Colyford Marsh and a stunning Marsh Harrier sat out in full view preening - nice!  

Lastly, a quick visit to Lower Bruckland Ponds showed a surprise diving duck! Was it a Pochard???......

...was it heck! Yet another Tufted Duck, you guessed it - not a year tick!

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