Thursday, 11 May 2017

That's More Like It!

As the date gets nearer to the 13th (mini-Waite due date!) I am trying to get as much sleep as possible, so this morning with no wind to tempt me out I thought I'd sleep in. So pleased I didn't in the end though!

Dan J from Sidmouth texted me at about 06:20 to say he'd just had two distant Skua sp. east. Knowing there were at least two skuas in the bay was more than enough to get me up! 06:50 - 07:50 from the Spot On Kiosk produced (flew east unless stated);

11 Common Scoter 
2 Great Northern Diver (see below!)
7 Manx Shearwater
2 Balearic Shearwater (east with 4 Kitts at 07:38)
1 Pomarine Skua (GET IN!!!!)
4 Kittiwake

Three major talking points in the above list. And of course I'll start with the Pom. After five Arctic and two Great Skuas this spring, what a joy to finally see a Pom. Always a rare bird here. It was a stonking fully spooned pale-phased adult, and flew east at 07:10. I've had them closer but it was close enough to see all plumage details and that impressive spoon!  It was nice to watch it chase a Manxie around for half a minute or so too, always amazes me how different a skuas casual migrating flight action is compared with their flight action when in full chase mode, and how quickly they switch modes.

The Balearic Shearwaters were a real surprise, a proper rare spring bird on the patch, and I'd say Devon. It's usually mid summer onward when they appear - but sometimes we don't get many at all in the whole year.  However by a long long way the smartest bird(s) of the watch were the two Great Northern Divers. OH MY WORD.  Annually we see GND's flying west past here in spring, often they are in summer plumage but usually are distant. Not only were today's two both in full summer plumage, but they were also both settled on the water not that far out. Each time I scanned over them I couldn't help myself from stopping and having another gawp - incredible patterns and colours on these amazing plumaged birds. I've no pics I'm afraid as the sea was too lumpy, but flipping heck I won't forget these two beasts for a while. Absolutely stunning birds. And they stayed there for the whole hour.

After the sea watch a quick tour of the valley sites showed a singing Willow Warbler on the Borrow Pit (my first on patch this month!) and on Black Hole Marsh our fourth Avocet of the spring. It was rather oddly upended like a feeding duck so this is the only photo you are getting...

I promise that is an Avocet!

Before today I've done well missing patch year ticks recently. Last night Sidmouth Clive had a Cuckoo fly towards Seaton Marshes from Black Hole Marsh, but there was no further sign of it. And on Tuesday a Ring-necked Parakeet was seen by three different people in three different places in Axmouth during the course of the day. Ok I know that's a bit plastic but for me it would be not only a year tick, but a full fat patch tick too! That's presuming it didn't have any dodgy rings or any other anomalies.

It's been so nice to see the local breeding birds doing so well in this pleasant weather. I am seeing lots of fledglings about, and many adult birds being busy...

Song Thrush Black Hole Marsh

Sedge Warbler Black Hole Marsh

And I keep seeing Hares up Axe Cliff, with two up there on Tuesday morning...

A Hare up close for a change!

And I think that's about it for this post. Well except for the breaking news from the bookmakers that the odds have been slashed for baby Waite being named Pomarine...


  1. Definitely deserved Stevie! I did an hour and twenty minutes in the end, in two bites. Flocks of 6 and 22 Common Scoter the highlights, so not my day for jammy timing. Maybe tomorrow...

  2. Thanks Gav! If all being well with Jess tonight I will have until about 07:30ish tomorrow before having to leave for work. Hopefully that will be enough time to pull out a Turnstone. Or better...

    1. Well Stevie, did you pull out a Turnstone? I did! Mind you, I almost didn't see it with all those skuas in the way!! ;)

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