Friday, 8 January 2010

Bittersweet Birding.

A really good days birding today but at a cost I reckon. Lots of great birds to look at but almost all of them displaced by the extreme weather and seemingly desperate for food. Hundreds of Redwings were conspicuous on any piece of frost free grass or soil, squabbling over the smallest morsel. Such a shame. The freezing conditions are also responsible for our patch mega, the Bittern. A dawn raid by four of us was a great success with a couple of superb flight views. A few birders from further afield arrived a while later just as a heavy snow shower hit. I was pleased to hear that they were lucky enough to get a flight view too. It would be nice to see the Bittern out in the open, perhaps it will stay a while because the weather doesn't look like improving soon, but I do wish it were here in happier circumstances.

The great Seaton Bittern twitch 2010. 
Here (right to left) Steve, Ian M, Brian, and Gav (Don't ask what he's doing coz I have no idea!)  enjoy the freezing wind and driving snow.

During our time at Black Hole Marsh we also saw several Woodcock and a Jack Snipe, which was a welcome patch yeartick for me having not seen one last year. As well as Bittern and Jack Snipe I managed another five patch yearticks today, Cetti's Warbler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Velvet Scoter and Eider. The latter two have been offshore at Seaton Hole for several weeks and I've only just looked at them, that's commitment for you!

After the morning's excitement I decided to take Rex for his walk over the cliffs to Beer, and Jubilee Gardens in the hope of seeing a Firecrest. I didn't. I did have a nice surprise though. Jubilee Gardens faces south and is sheltered from the northerly wind allowing the sun to warm the ground sufficiently for a partial thaw. On all the exposed areas of lush green grass there were  plenty of the expected Redwings, but also a Lapwing and this...

There it is, there! Just behind the dog-poo bin and to the right of the Meadow Pipit.
A Golden Plover!

It was quite approachable considering I had Rex with me and when we were too near it just casually flew around us and landed again a little further off. It appeared to be quite fit and well and I saw it catch and eat several big juicy worms. Definitely the best views of Golden Plover that I've enjoyed. I took a photo of each side of it, like so...


Back on the estuary Steve had re-found yesterday's drake Goldeneye. He was a bit less distant and wasn't diving much either, so he got well and truly digiscoped. Properly this time.


..And with an only slightly less dishy drake Shoveler,
one of several which have had to abandon Seaton Marshes.

So all in all a good days birding BUT I would have been happy not to have seen any of these birds today if it meant that they could feed and generally do what they do, where they usually do it. Here's hoping for some Atlantic weather and SOON!


Dean said...

Well done on all the patch year ticks Karen and what a cracker that Goldy is.

Davina Wydegirth said...

I think Gavin is trying to get his ridiculous hat out of the shot.