Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Good Day On Patch

First of all, I must just thank everyone who's phoned/texted/emailed/commented/tweeted/facebooked me regarding the Nikon video. Hopefully I have got back to everyone, but your kind comments really do mean a lot. It will be interesting to see what this all leads too.

And now to the patch, and today is the first time in what seems a long long time (well the whole of this autumn!) that I feel like I've had a good day on patch. A really good day.  Although the rares I am so yearning for never came, or a Yellow-browed still, I have seen a really nice and varied selection of notable birds.  And this is how, where and when...

Black Hole Marsh for half an hour from dawn didn't show anything new, but everything that's been around was here and I noted;

65 Canada Goose
1 Barnacle Goose
3 Water Rail
2 Grey Plover
5 Dunlin
1 Curlew Sandpiper
1 Little Stint (not the pale bird from a few days ago, a new juv)
1 Ruff
1 Common Sandpiper

I know many of you would have sighed at reading Barnacle Goose in that list, but it was the first time I have seen it at such close quarters, although I wouldn't be surprised if it roosts on Black Hole Marsh every night with the Canada flock. Whatever it's origin, there's no doubt over how smart (and cute!) it is...

Beer Head after this was disappointing bird-wise (just a few Chiffs and Goldcrest, a few more Robins and Song Thrush but very little overhead), as was a walk from here to Branscombe and back with Jess and Honey late morning to mid afternoon.

A mid afternoon whistle stop tour of the Estuary was much better though, as the gull flock at the top end of the river included two Yellow-legged Gulls. Both were distant from where I was viewing, but easy to pick out nonetheless. October is the best month of the year for non first-year Yellow-legged Gulls on the Axe by a mile, a good blow usually produces a few (plus the odd Caspian Gull).

You can't see much detail on the adult Yellow-legged Gull in this photo, but you can see it's large size and heavy build, yellow legs (they were brighter than they appear in this dull photo), darker grey mantle (if you look VERY closely!) and almost clean white head.

The above second-winter Yellow-legged Gull (right in the middle of the picture) was an absolute beast. The mantle colour was a bit darker than this photo suggests, but look how big it is - and it was so long winged! Typical moult stage for a second-winter (lots of grey) and the head area looked perfect with that grey smudging around the back and sides of the neck.  This photo shows the mantle colour better...

And then this evening, the cherry on top - and what a cherry it was!  Twilight Tim has seen a Turtle Dove a couple of times in the Colyford area over the last week and a bit, but it's not been pinned down. I was at the Bridge Marsh gateway, and after checking the Egrets and ducks on the marsh, I almost didn't notice the brown lump next to me as I was walking back to my car...

I'm so glad I did! At first it was raining, so the poor thing looked a bit bedraggled...

But eventually the sun peaked through the clouds allowing it to dry up...

What a bird, and as you can see showing ridiculously well! Only my second ever on patch following my overdue patch first on 13th May 2012.  It remained here for about 25 minutes, allowing six others to get to see it which was nice -  always nice to share a good bird.  As can be seen from my pics it's a first-year bird with a mixture of juvenile (plain dull orange-brown) and adult (bright orange and black) feathers. I wonder if this is the last one I will ever see on patch though?

So nice to finally have a decent day here - lets hope the rares start flowing now...


  1. Really sad the decline of the Turtle Dove Steve, you're first autumn record. Rarer than Wrynecks in the autumn now !

    1. Hi Perry. Yes very telling isn't it, such a rare bird. Still here today so might go back for seconds tomorrow!