Tuesday 31 December 2013

So it ends..

Well I didn't manage to update weekly like I said I would, mainly because there was nothing to update with. I drew a blank with Rock Pipit, couldn't even find one on Beer beach but I suppose it being Christmas week didn't help, folk everywhere! Still there is an addition to the final tally because I forgot to add one last time, that one being this..

No.144 Goldfinch

So that's it. 144 it is. Not as many as I was hoping for but not bad considering that it was really only a nine month list.

I don't know when or if I'll be back.

Happy New Year everyone.

Monday 9 December 2013

Black Redstart and I've Started So I'll Finish

Well it's been a while hasn't it? Truth is, I've not been on top form health wise since the end of the summer and over the last couple of months it's really all I can do to go to work each day. I've been doing a tiny bit of birding, looking around the yacht club from the car and the odd visit to Seaton Marshes but that's about it. What about the photo year-list? Well, 'it's not over 'til it's over' and luckily I've saved some photos that didn't quite 'make the grade' earlier in the year. But before that visual treat here's a few snaps of the gorgeous male Black Redstart that has been knocking about around the harbour area for a week or so.

I haven't seen anything of note at Seaton Marshes but it's not that surprising since last time I visited I was greeted by this...

What the ****?!

The birds weren't amused.

Anyway back to the list, and here we have straight from the cutting room floor, as it were....

No. 128 Buzzard

No. 129 Green Woodpecker 
( It is one. Honestly!)

No 130. Bullfinch

No. 131 Gannet 

No.132 Greenfinch

No.133 Jay

No.134 Jackdaw

 No. 135 Skylark

No 136  Lesser Black-backed Gull 

No.137 Linnet

 No.138 Little Grebe

No.139 Peregrine

 No.140 Yellowhammer

No.141 Kingfisher

No 142. Common Scoter
 (Yes, really)

No. 143 Stock Dove

Will it end at 143? I hope not because I'm determined to get Rock Pipit on there at least. Don't know how I've missed that one! Mistle Thrush is a possibility too.

I'll try and keep the blog updated from now on (even if just once a week) and hopefully I'll start to feel better soon too. Although having said that a diagnosis is a fair way off as I don't get to see a neurologist until February.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Not a Caspian Gull

I couldn't get to see the Caspian Gull which Steve found on the estuary this afternoon which is a bit of a shame because it was obviously photographable. One I'm probably going to struggle to get on my photo yearlist I reckon. By the time I could get out the tide was in and there were no gulls on the estuary. I went for a look on the beach and there was precious little here too. I took a few snaps of this Herring Gull making off with a nice slippery meal.

Friday 13 September 2013

Lesser Yellowlegs

Yesterday when the Lesser Yellowlegs turned up at Trews Weir in Exeter I was working all day. Today I wasn't due in work until 2pm, so this morning I was eagerly awaiting news of its continued presence. I've seen  just one Lesser Yellowlegs before, a couple of years ago at Meare Heath, on the Somerset Levels but it was very distant and my attempts to photograph it a dismal failure. When positive news did come through I immediately began getting ready to leave, even though the weather was rainy and pretty dismal because I didn't want to chance waiting another day. It was then that I received a text from Bun saying something like: "Would I like to go for the Lesser Yellowlegs tomorrow?" Tomorrow!!? I replied that I would like to go today and was in fact ready to go. Bun concurred. When we arrived at Trews Weir there were only two others watching the bird, so definitely my kind of twitch. It was showing quite well too!

Lesser Yellowlegs
I was spoilt for choice again when it came to choosing photos but these are my favourites.


Tuesday 10 September 2013

More From Beer Head

I spent a lovely couple of hours on Beer Head this morning, I didn't see anything new but there were lots of birds around. Just as I arrived I got a text from Steve telling of a Pied Flycatcher. I rang him and got directions to its favoured spot but when I got there there I couldn't see it but there were a lot of dogs running around, so I wasn't that surprised. I was half expecting it to show up somewhere else on the head but it didn't. There were still four Spotted Flycatchers in the hollow and lots of Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears too. The bushes were a bit more productive than on my last couple of visits and I saw about a dozen Chiffchaffs and three Common Whitethroats. Hirundines (spell checker on blogger doesn't recognize the word hirundines and suggests crunchiness!) were constantly streaming through, hundreds of them, mainly Swallows and House Martins but I also saw at least one Sand Martin. I did manage to add a bird to my patch photo-yearlist though....

No. 127  Great Tit


This male Wheatear stood out a mile, it was massive!
A 'Greenland' Wheatear probably.

Male Yellow Wagtail still in his full summer finery alongside a more typical autumn bird.

The Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears (as can be seen in the previous photos) had taken a liking to some fields that for some inexplicable reason the farmer has sprayed with weedkiller! The photos look more like they are on the African savannah! These fields were on the more sheltered side of Beer Head and were teeming with insects even though all the grass has died.

Spotted Flycatcher...Again!...
No blog post would be complete without one recently it would seem...

Monday 9 September 2013

One That Nearly Got Away

I didn't think I had much chance of getting Garden Warbler on my patch photo yearlist. I've seen a few in the past couple of weeks but just haven't been quick enough with the camera. Bun let me know that there were two on the track leading to the Beer cemetery fields yesterday afternoon. I went over there straight away but again came away having only had a brief glimpse of one. As soon as the rain had cleared away this lunchtime I went back to try again. Luckily I saw one almost straight away and it even ventured out into the open for long enough for me to get a shot. Just the one shot mind... and I very nearly missed it too!

No.126  Garden Warbler
Trying its best not to get on my photo yearlist.

And a couple of photos I took on Beer Head yesterday morning when not seeing any Garden Warblers....

Yet another Spotted Flycatcher
It seems to have been a good year for them.

Still lots of Yellow Wagtails amongst the cattle.

Monday 2 September 2013

A Little Blue Gem, and an Unusual Orchid Site

I've been wanting to see the beautiful little blue gem that is the Marsh Gentian for several years now and just haven't had the opportunity to go looking for it. Yesterday though, we had to go over to Winchester to take a few things for Martha which we didn't manage to fit in when we moved her a month ago. This was the opportunity I needed as our trip coincided with the Marsh Gentians' flowering period. It was also my birthday so I thought I'd treat myself! It was only a small detour to take in one of the Dorset Heaths and look for the Gentian but I didn't have a lot of time to spare. I was getting a bit worried therefore when at the first site I checked I drew a blank after around a hour of searching ( it's easier to dip a plant than many people imagine). At a second site I was much more fortunate and spotted a couple on my first scan with the bins. They were much more diminutive than the photos I've seen had led me to believe but their vivid blue colouring makes them reletively easy to spot, even from some distance. Close up they are simply exquisite!

There's just the one in this photo but you can see how they stand out.

I love those green spots on the inside of the trumpet.

Marsh Gentian

On our previous visit to Winchester four weeks earlier we stopped off at the services on the M27, not for the usual reasons though. We'd stopped because I wanted to look for an orchid which I'd never seen before (well while flowering) and thought that I remembered reading somewhere they could be seen here. They must be well away from the actual services, I thought. Perhaps I'd have to go into the surrounding woods? But no, they were right there! They were next to the car park, the petrol station and even beside the pedestrian underpass which goes right underneath the motorway! Most people there were obviously totally oblivious to them but they noticed me alright, the nutter taking photos of the underpass! The orchid was Broad-leaved Helleborine and here it is...

Broad-leaved Helleborine

Very pretty flowers when seen up close.
These were further inside a wooded area on site and were much more robust than the ones scattered around in the more open areas...

...although these had much more colourful flowers, probably due to having more light.
This one was right by a footpath.... as was this one...

Not your typical 'orchid country'

Last Wednesday whilst on Beer Head with Steve and Ian M an Osprey was spotted circling just offshore before flying off west. I got a couple of shots of it but in all the Marsh Harrier excitement on Thursday I forgot to post one. I was back on Beer Head this morning hoping to get Garden Warbler for the photo year-list (a bird I've got a feeling I'm going to miss out on) but it was very quiet apart from three Spotted Flycatchers in 'the hollow'.

Osprey over Beer Head

Spotted Flycatcher

Finally, if you were to come into my kitchen at the moment and try to look out of the window you'd see this.....

I really must clean it off, it makes me cringe every time I see it. I actually witnessed the impact and the Pigeon flew off seemingly unscathed. It didn't even hit the floor first!