Wednesday 14 March 2018

Wheatear, Weirdo Rockit and New Marsh Harrier

With rain belting down outside as I write this, it's hard to believe the view from Beer Head late yesterday morning was this...

Looking back towards Seaton and Axe Cliff

It really did feel like spring, and this was emphasised by the joyous sight of my first Wheatear of the year, a cracking male. With the clear skies it didn't stay around long, in fact it didn't even allow me to take the annual 'first Wheatear of the year' ropey record-shot!

Other birds present included a male Stonechat, and a flock of 11+ Rock Pipits with one of them looking like this...

It proved surprisingly elusive in seemingly short grass

Interestingly Bun remembers seeing (presumably) this bird here last spring, which backs up my thoughts that these were all petrosus birds, and I guess local breeders. All eleven Rock Pipits showed heavily streaked underparts and dull olive upperparts, with no hint of any pinkness anywhere to be seen. Compare with Tim Wright's photos of a recent Colyford Common littoralis HERE.

This morning I had just under an hour out at Black Hole Marsh with local wedding photographer Matt who wanted to have a play with my Nikon Monarch scope. There was plenty to look at with a drake Gadwall on Black Hole Marsh, the Greenshank on the Estuary and a Marsh Harrier showing for most of the morning .

I haven't seen our lingering Marsh Harrier for about a week now (has anyone else?) and photos of this morning's bird shows it to be a young male. Presumably with the extent of cream on the crown it can only be a first-winter, despite the amount of grey on the bird's upperwing...

Worth clicking on this pic to enlarge it so you can see the extent of grey

And yes, that's a Water Rail it's carrying...

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