Saturday 7 October 2017

Axe Cliff Vis Migging and Harvest Moon

This blog post is a day late, but wow yesterday morning was so so enjoyable. Under beautiful blue skies and in the cool early morning autumn air it was exhilarating watching an impressive westward passage of passerines over Axe Cliff.

The view from my favourite vis migging watch point on patch

I usually count absolutely everything I see whilst vis migging, with a notebook in my pocket and clickers hanging off anything and everything they can. But yesterday morning due to the lack of wind, birds were flying past on countless different lines, which basically made counting impossible.  Although most the finches were passing just off the cliff edge, there were flocks of bird passing a quarter of a mile out to sea, and even more up to half an mile inland! There really were thousands of birds though, it was an epic watch with the most numerous species (in order) being; Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Chaffinch, alba Wagtail, Goldfinch, Skylark and Greenfinch. The species I counted included; 25 Siskin, 21 Reed Bunting, 6 Starling, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Dunnock and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker should really read ex Great Spotted Woodpecker, sad but it did give me one of my vis migging life highlights. I heard a swoosh, and out of no where an adult Peregrine powered into a Great Spotted Woodpecker (that I hadn't seen previously) right in front of my face! The noise of the Peregrine stoop was incredible, but then came the thud, followed by a squawk from the Woodpecker and then a explosion of black and white feathers that slowly floated to the ground.  Amazing. Sadly though both lost out. The Peregrine dropped its prey deep into the undergrowth and could not retrieve, and the Woodpecker would not have survived.

Although overhead was super busy, the fields at Axe Cliff were unusually quiet with a couple of Stonechat and a couple of briefly grounded Reed Buntings the best.


There was a bit more movement down the cliff edge though, with a trickle of Goldcrests and the odd Chiffchaff making their way west through the vegetation. Sadly no Yellow-browed Warblers.

A quick look over the valley afterwards produced a lovely juvenile Marsh Harrier over Colyford Marsh that circled up and rapidly flew off north.  Today, although  I haven't been out, a Cattle Egret and an adult Yellow-legged Gull have been seen from the Tower Hide, along with a report of a Bittern. Gripping.

In a rapid change of topic, I'm sure you all are aware by now that Thursday night of last week gave us a spectacular display of the Harvest Moon. I took a few photos at around 11pm, and as I missed the moon rise, took one of the 'moon set' at Axe Cliff in the morning. All photos with the ever impressive Nikon P900...


What I found even more impressive came the following night, with an almost full moon lighting up a sky full of clouds. Amazingly the following photo was taken from my back door at 10:30pm...

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