Sunday 14 December 2008

A Few Bits and Bobs Today

As soon as it was light, which wasn't until almost 8 o'clock this morning (I'll be glad when we get past the winter solstice) I popped up to the Yacht Club. First I had a quick look over the sea and it was rubbish with 13 Common Scoter and about the same number of Wigeon and that's it. Then I decided to have a look for the Black Redstart which Gav had found yesterday afternoon. This didn't prove much of a challenge as quite a few birds were making the most of all the debris washed up by yesterday's flood, including said Blackred. I got my scope out and took some photos like so:

You can tell it was a bit chilly this morning.

It was very cold and I didn't hang around too long, on my way home though I had a brief glimpse of what I thought must be another Black Redstart near the slipway. I had just left the other one right down at the eastern end of the harbour, but obviously it could have been the same one. Later in the afternoon I returned to the harbour and took a few snaps of some of the birds which were still hanging around feeding on the debris, including the second Black Redstart, this time I got a better look and it was definately a different bird because it was a male, a young male I think. Although it had quite subdued colours it had the beginnings of a dark face and an obvious white panel on black wings. Unlike the morning's female it was very flighty and the only piccy I could mamge was this very distant, very noisy, drive by effort with the s3.

The Second Blackred, A Young Male

I also took some snaps of other birds including these:

Common Sandpiper, there were two of these in the harbour today.

In the top right corner of this photo you can probably just make out a nice diesel slick, (courtesy of yesterday's sunken boats) which this bird was feeding perilously close to.

This is the first one of these I've seen in the harbour, (yes, I probably haven't been looking hard enough). It is also an obvious gap on my house list - perhaps I should have rushed home and scoped it from the bedroom window.

Late morning I walked the dog in the Mare Lane area of Beer, where Bun has seen a Merlin recently. I didn't see this but there were lots of birds around, including Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Yellowhammers, Chaffinches, a Brambling and a pair of Stonechats. I won't bore you with another Stonechat photo, but this one should get your pulse racing:

Control yourselves! Actually I thought I ought to give Dunnock a bit of 'airtime' as we caught 17 of these at last weeks ringing and I didn't photograph one. This one's obviously trying so hard to look his best too!

While wasting my time photographing Dunnocks I got a text from Phil saying there was a tristis type Chiffchaff at Colyton sewage works. Fortunately I was already 'under orders' to go to Colyton and fetch Martha's wages from the pub. So after dropping off the dog and picking up my wellies I popped over for a look. I trudged through the muddy field, waded through the flooded gateway, stumbled over the slippery stile and not a Chiffchaff to be seen!! Well, there was a very cold wind, so they must have been sheltering somewhere. I was just getting back in my car when I spotted them, they were actually inside the works compound in some bramble patches and also feeding on flies on the walls of one of the large filtration beds. They were frustratingly distant and I could only look at them through some chainlink fencing. I did spot one which looked very different though, it was very pale, (it really stood out) with no disernable yellow or green in the plumage and a hint of a pale wingbar. It's difficult to be sure at the distance though. I tried my best to digiscope it through the wire fence. Here are the results, two of the pale one and one regular one for a comparison:

Pale Chiffy

..... and again

'Normal' Chiffy

And finally, back to the harbour for an update on yesterday's boats:

This was one of the two boats which were completely submerged. It was finally recovered today.

I wondered how a boat as substantial as this one succumbed to the floodwater, when other lesser craft didn't. Today that all became clear. When the boat surfaced I could see its name emblazoned along the side, and the front, oh and the back. What is that name? Sea Seeker?, Viking Warrior? Ocean Reaper? No it's.... Wait for it... Missy Moo-Too. Yes really! Missy Moo-Too!! Obviously a 'self-inflicted sinking' due to extreme embarrassment. :-)

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