Thursday, 14 November 2013

Monster Monday, Tick Tuesday and a Wasted Wednesday

Monday was something else - birding from my back door felt like birding on the east coast!

Annoyingly I had to work for a few hours Monday morning, but on my return home, looking out from the kitchen I was astounded by the numbers of thrushes.  The weather was dreadful, with very poor visibility, but this made it.  Large flocks of Redwings were dropping out the sky, landing on nearby trees for a few minutes, then flying off again. Flock after flock after flock. Other flocks were flying over much higher with out stopping, and only visible for a few seconds as they came under the low cloud. I saw about 500 Redwing in less than half hour, along with at least ten Fieldfare - my first of the autumn.  

If this wasn't enough, a Black Redstart appeared on a house roof just down the road from our back garden. This is my second one from the garden, but my first anywhere on patch this autumn. I watched it for about ten minutes feeding, before it dropped down into a back garden and out of view.  

What exciting birding!! And whilst drinking tea in a warm and dry kitchen! :-) Really reminded me of my Spurn days, when I could stand in the door way of 'Dun Birding' and watch migration in action.

Late morning I popped out for a look along the Estuary but learnt of the Little Gull movement at Portland - a species I still need for the patch year list! I went straight to the sea front and spent most of the rest of the day sea watching. I watched 11:25 - 13:05 and 14:00 - 15:10, and unbelievably saw NO Little Gulls. Portland witnessed a record breaking passage with 1500 of these beautiful small gulls passing the Bill and Chesil Cove, and Seaton Bay had none. As every minute passed the wind dropped and weather improved, which I think was our downfall - I reckon they were just too far out by the time they'd reached us. If I had started seawatching at 8am though, I think it would have been a different story. Or maybe if I'd gone to Branscombe.

Forgetting about Little Gulls, it was a surprisingly productive sea watch. The conditions during the night before must have been perfect as the conditions during the day certainly weren't! This is what went into my notebook from the two watches:

2 Brent Geese
20 Wigeon (hard to tell proper passage though as lots of birds from the valley were on the sea)
32 Teal (same as above!)
1 Shoveler (fem - may have come from the Estuary)
3 Pintail (eclipse drake and 2 fem west with Wigeon)
c100 Common Scoter (flocks flying both ways so hard to count, 60 biggest flock)
2 Velvet Scoter (two flew west in a flock of 24 Common Scoter)
1 Red-breasted Merganser (fem west)
2 Red-throated Diver 
2 Balearic Shearwater (flew west together)
3 Mediterranean Gull (flew west together; ad, 2nd winter and 1st winter)
c30 Kittiwake (no obvious passage, just birds feeding, plus a juv out of the Estuary)
1 Pomarine Skua (juv flew east, but appeared to drop down on sea)
2 Sanderling (both singles close west)
45 Dunlin
70 small waders sp. (presumably Dunlin, a 40 and a 30, but too distant - couldn't eliminate White-rumped Sandpipers)
5 Curlew
1 Bar-tailed Godwit

So as you can see, not a  bad haul for here. I was disappointed not to get a stand out bird - although I may well have fluffed a couple. A Common Scoter flock flew in to the bay and they were all just Common Scoters, but when I saw them again several minutes later flying out of the bay they had two other ducks with them - not Scoters. They looked like aythya's, and one had grey on the mantle. I couldn't see any wing bars (but they were mega distant) so am hoping they were 'just' a pair of Pochard and not the gripping blocker Phil has on his patch list...

I finished the day with a look up the river valley. Two more Med Gulls were the best, although the Starling roost was nice to watch. We've had up to 4,000 roosting in the valley for at least a week or so...

And here's a short video..

Tuesday dawned, and despite the fine conditions, I just had to look at the sea again. This time I gave Branscombe a go. I wasn't expecting it to be anything like Monday, but I did manage something I hadn't the previous day - a patch year tick!!  My totals were:

4 Brent Goose
2 Pintail (flew west)
8 Common Scoter
1 Black-throated Diver (flew west)
1 Red-throated Diver (flew west)
70 Kittiwake (west)
30+ auk sp.

So a pretty underwhelming year tick yes - and you could say an over due one too, but I think 'real' Black-throated Divers are actually pretty rare down here in Devon. It's taken me 11 and a half months and about 125 divers to see one this year!

My overwhelming thought of Wednesday was of disappointment. With the first frost of the autumn and bright blue skies I just had to go up to Axe Cliff for some vis mig action...

Sadly the vis mig never really got going.  I was hoping for a strong Wood Pigeon migration, but in the end saw less than a thousand. They were going in all directions too, probably due to the lack of wind.  Singles of Brambling, Reed Bunting and four Lesser Redpoll were the best of the little over head migration, with another five Reed Buntings on the deck amogst 10+ Yellowhammers and c80 Linnets.

And now we're on Thursday, but I've not had chance to go birding today. Hopefully I'll go for a wander somewhere tomorrow as the weather looks like it's going to be nice.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfull video, shots and article, greeting from Belgium