Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Firecrest Quest

This morning I took Rex for one of my favourite winter walks from Seaton Hole to Jubilee Gardens in Beer. It's a good choice for several reasons:

1) The steep climb up to White Cliff is extremely good for the Gluteus maximus and the quadriceps, as well as being good cardiovascular exercise, thus allowing for my continued ample consumption of cakes :-)
2) This strenuous exercise also causes me to be lovely and warm by the time I reach the top, no matter how cold the weather.
3) The route throughout it's entirety has been thoughtfully tarmaced, thus allowing me, my designer dog and slingback shoes to remain mud free even in the wettest of weather.
4) Best of all there is a pretty good chance of seeing one or more Firecrests (definitely one of my favourites), which overwinter here each year.

There is however one major drawback. In any weather conditions apart from persistent rain it's busier than Seaton Town centre!!! I most often go when it's raining funnily enough.

Here's a picture of the path just entering Jubilee Gardens with Beer Beach in the background. The shrubs to either side of the path here are a favourite haunt for Firecrests as are the large Holm Oaks in the gardens themselves.

Today I was fortunate enough to get really good views of a Firecrest in one of the said Holm Oaks, it was feeding in the canopy but eventually came down to branches just feet above my head, there may have been a second and there were also several Goldcrests. I got out the s3, waved it in the right general direction in customary fashion and pressed, I got one shot and the viewfinder went black. Words appeared - "Change the batteries!!" Doh! I always carry a spare set in my bag but I had taken them out on Monday because the bag had got really wet and then forgotten to put them back! For the record, and your amusment here's the shot I got:

Stunning no?

Not to worry 'here's one I made earlier', last year in fact on Beer Head but it's a good excuse to get some more milage out of it.

This is what it should look like.

There was a lot of ivy in flower and this was being visited by many bees, look at this Honey Bee (well I think it's one) gorging itself, pollen sacs a-bulging.


I could see a distant flock of Scoter on the sea but couldn't make out the Surf Scoter among them from so far away, it was there apparently, so I popped down to the yacht club to look at it. The sea was flatter than of late and the sun obligingly slid behind a cloud for a few minutes allowing me good views of the flock feeding on crabs. You've probably already seen Steve's stunning shots of the Surf Scoter, but that's not going to stop me showing you mine, they're a little on the naff side!

Surf Scoter to extreme left, really!

Quality close up!

While looking out to sea from the house this afternoon I could see that they were much closer. I rushed up to the yacht club with my scope thinking of getting yet another quality close up. I was just in the nick of time to see a motor boat speeding in towards the harbour and the flock of Scoter flying out to the horizon. Pants!

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