Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Another Red Letter Day!

Moorhen, 27/04/16 (Copyright TD Wright )
Blackcap, Seaton, 27/04/16 (Copyright TD Wright )
It was nice to actually walk around Seaton Marshes today without any bearded bullies dogging my footsteps and behaving in an aggressive and threatening manner. I won't let them frighten me off, also I won't stoop so low as them as their appalling behaviour is beneath me. I'm better than that. I'll stick to relating the facts rather than fiction, as I'm a decent human being and not as ruthless as some of these go-getters. But enough of them! They love all the attention which is why they do it. I saw the Glossy again today which flew to the South flood. Otherwise nothing new so I tried to photograph Blackcaps. When I've been through these shots I'll find a better pic to post! The Moorhen on the nest was taken from the path used by everyone so I didn't disturb it, it's just decided to nest in a convenient spot.
House Sparrow, Seaton, 27/04/16 (Copyright T D Wright )

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Glossy still here

Willow Warbler, Seaton, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Willow Warbler, Seaton, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Still lots of Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Whitethroats about too. Having seen our Glossy Ibis flying up high on Sunday evening I wondered if it was thinking about leaving us after its 6-months-plus stay. Yesterday morning I thought that was it when nearby Charmouth received an Ibis visitation. However, last evening it was back at Seaton Marshes! Or maybe we'll soon have 2 again...
Glossy Ibis & Shoveler, Seaton Marshes, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )

Recent Sightings ( and Heards )

Tufted Duck, Seaton Marshes, 24/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Tufted Duck, Seaton Marshes, 24/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
This Tufted Drake was a welcome sighting as we've not had many recently, even though the Devon Birds Atlas shows that they have increased their range in the County. Having grabbed these shots, I quickly fired off text messages to all the local birders so I suppose I should claim this as a self-find, given that text messages are now considered to be the ultimate proof of everything! I won't do that, however, as Peter Mason told me it was there when I spotted him at Stafford Marsh.
Anyhow, the birding hasn't been bad lately with increases in wader & chat numbers. I was especially pleased to find a Whinchat on Saturday 23rd at Cownhayne along the track which leads towards the Axe, as I don't think anybody goes there very often. This area has been quite productive for migrants this Spring, hirundines have lingered in numbers and I even had the Montagu's here after everyone thought it had gone. The field of muck by Colyton Water Treatment Works has also been used by alba wagtails and on Saturday held a male Wheatear. Possibly the most unusual bird I've had lately was a phyllosc by Seaton Cemetery though. I didn't see it particularly well, but its song was rather extraordinary. It had the structure of 'triplets', repeated in a rhythmic and repetitive fashion. A bit like the Quails I used to listen to when I lived in Herefordshire - "Quit-ker-hit,quit-ker-hit..."- except it was a warbler! I'm told that Siberian Chiffs sing like this - rather than 'chiff-chaff ' they add an extra beat or note to the bar - "Chiff-cha-chaff, chiff-cha-chaff...". We've certainly had more than one tristis over the winter, with AERG trapping & ringing one as well. I tried to record it with my mobile but it didn't come out too well, other louder bird calls drowning it out. I've been back a couple of times but no further hearings. Please let me know if you come across it. Happy Birding...

Monday, 25 April 2016

More Self-found Montagu's Pix!

Montagu's Harrier, Coly Common, 18/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Montagu's Harrier, Coly Common, 18/04/2016 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Montagu's Harrier, Coly Common, 18/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Montagu's Harrier, Coly Common, 18/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
It's Under the Blue Lorry!, Coly Common, 18/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Montagu's Harrier, Coly Common, 18/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Montagu's Harrier, Coly Common, 18/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Well, I may not take the best photographs but I certainly find the best birds. I've put a lot of effort in over the years to learn to separate the 3 main ringtail harriers. I remember my first Montagu's which I saw from the train on Worth Marshes as I arrived in Sandwich to stay at the Observatory back in 1987. I walked into the Obs., announced my news and several people rushed off to twitch it! Since then I've observed them many times at Dungeness and also at their East Anglian nesting sites. Once Pallids started turning up in Britain I realised I needed to get to know them too, so have twitched both the stunning male on Sheppey in 2002 and the ringtail on the Mendips in 2011. In 2014 & 2015 I then really got my eye in by visiting Lesvos ( where all 3 occur together ) and Portugal where Monty's and Hen were both present. All this hard work finally paid off on Patch on Sunday 17th April 2016 when a bird which might have been missed was quickly and correctly identified because I saw that it had a secondary bar on the upperwing, no pale collar and no 'little finger' i.e. 3 primaries at wing-tip.( I won't list all the other features as you've already no doubt been through all of them on Steve Waite's blog. ) Hen & Pallid both eliminated in seconds! And yet, even though I'd told people why it was definitely a Monty's and why, they still kept trying to call it something else! For some reason, people are claiming to have found this bird but really, I was the first person to say Montagu's so I've probably got more right than anyone to say it's my own self-find. Especially when others who knew nothing about it until I told them are claiming to have self-found it!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Chatting with the Locals

Whinchat, Seaton Marshes, 20/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Whinchat, Seaton Marshes, 20/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Nice one Bun! I walked all the way from Colyton via Cownhayne, Coly Common and Black Hole yesterday ( the bike needs repairs ) but the best new birds were all at Seaton Marshes. The cluster of Wheatears had moved to a distant fence visible from Merchants lane so I saw those but no pics. This stunning male Whinchat was just about snappable but here's what they show like on holiday...
Whinchat, Lesvos, April 2015 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Whinchat, Lesvos, April 2015 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Great to see wherever you are. As are Redstarts. I got a call from Phil that a female Redstart had been seen from SM Hide. I couldn't see that but found a second one, an immature male! Tim White and Clive + missus were about so I beckoned them as, although they were now on the female, it was very distant. It was now getting dark and my own attempts to photograph it were not too successful...      
Common Redstart ( honest! ), Seaton Marshes, 20/04/16 ( Copyright TDW )
I didn't have my scope either ( no bike, see ) and started to worry that it might be a female with some orangey-red on the breast. Fortunately, in TW's photographs it's clear that the bird is a 1st-Summer male as it has the crown-markings albeit faintly plus it has a paleish wing-panel reminiscent of samamisicus or BlackRed but acceptable for an immature male Common I think. So I called correctly in the first place! Anyhow, it's not very often that anyone can see Wheatear, Whinchat & Redstart at SM at the same time. But we did it last night . A team effort from the locals plus one 'Upcountry Intruder' ( = Yours Truly! ). I wonder how long one needs to live here before becoming a Local?

Monday, 18 April 2016

Crazy Sunday Afternoon

Montagu's Harrier, Colyford Common, 18/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Montagu's Harrier, Colyford Common, 18/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
When I noticed a visitor had written Hen Harrier on the board at The Lookout I asked around but people suggested that it was just the Marsh Harrier that's been around. Bumping into Phil, he said we ought to check out Coly Common anyway so off we went. The first thing that happened was that Phil spotted a Red Kite over Bridge Marsh. Excellent! I got it in my bins but then a ringtail harrier flew into my field of view. I quickly suggested to Phil that it looked more like a Montagu's to me! Much haste then ensued, as Phil had his camera ( I didn't have mine - D'oh! ) and grabbed some shots. We then got messaged by Tim White who'd got the Kite from Tower hide. " Go on, then. Tell him about the harrier" said Phil, so I fired off a quick message to Tim only saying Monty's as Phil was sending a group text to everyone else. Hope we didn't leave anyone out... anyway, the bird then showed on and off until quite late; so this morning we all hoped it would still be around and so it proved. The Kite too...and I had my camera. More pics later!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Glossy Waving

video
I'm glad that my scintillating videos have been so enjoyable to many of you who chat to me down on the Wetlands. Even though I only have a 5-years-old Nokia mobile and a 20-years-old Kowa scope my videos could be worse. Here's a clip of our Ibis waving its wings in the air like it just doesn't care...

Learning From Photographs

Blackbird, Seaton, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Blackbird, Seaton, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Blackbird, Seaton, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
One of the helpful aspects of buying a DSLR has been that on reviewing my shots for the day I often notice things which weren't apparent at the time. This Blackbird seemed like a normal adult to my myopic naked eye but when I checked these pix I noticed how brown its tertials and primaries were, which makes it an immature ( 1st Sum? ). I should probably carry it with me all the time but it's the eternal quandary - scope or camera - that's convinced me to have a basket fitted to my pushbike. If weather allows ( my camera's not waterproof ) I can now set off with all my gear in tow. Of course, there's still the problem of whether to have the DSLR out and switched on, ready for that all-too-brief opportunity to grab a decent image. So there will still be phonescoping. And phonescoped video...

Monday, 11 April 2016

Glossy Still Here

Possible Pheasant, Seaton Marshes, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Glossy Ibis & Shoveler, Seaton Marshes, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
I popped into Seaton Marshes today. Still Willow Warblers around Borrow Pit but not too much happening. At least the Glossy's still with us but I've not seen the GW Teal for more than a week now. The Ibis flew in to the lagoon from somewhere up near Tower hide so still ranging around...

Raptors on Patch

Blackbird, Seaton, April '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Osprey, Axe Estuary, April '15 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Well, the wind and the rain were not pleasant yesterday so I spent some time in hides. From the Tower I had my first Whimbrel of the year then noticed a Marsh Harrier up by the A3052 bridge. I think it was a new one as it looked a bit different to last week's bird, having much more obvious pale patches on the underwing and a more contrasting upperwing with the coverts more pale brown than the flight feathers. A Peregrine mobbed it which provided a nice size comparison, suggesting this was a male MH as it was quite small. On my way round to have a closer look at it from Coly Common I stopped by the Field Centre and helped the people there to spot it. As we were looking at it together, local man Peter Mason said "What's this other bird then?" I looked across to where he was looking and was delighted to see that his bird was an Osprey! Another first-of-the-Spring brought about by the shift in wind direction to the East; this was turning into a terrific afternoon session. Before I could text the other local birders I received a text from I Mc, who'd got it from the Tower that I'd vacated. It headed up towards Cownhayne area last we saw it, and a couple of House Martins amongst the Swallows added to the flow of migrants. I got a soaking cycling home but it was well worth it. I've used an old Osprey photograph above for those people who just like to look at the pictures. You know who you are...

Thursday, 7 April 2016

White Wags

White Wagtail, Colyton Water Treatment Works, 06/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Once again I have to apologise for the poor photographs but maybe I'll delete this post once I'm sure all the locals have read it! Cycling home last evening along Cownhayne dodging the muck trucks I was delighted to see at least 2 White Wagtails among the Pieds. They were a bit flighty and that field is quite big, plus some of the birds were nipping over the road a bit. A Song Thrush joined them out in the open but otherwise it was largely corvids that were enjoying the 'feast'. Anyway, the above picture at least shows the grey rump and contrast between black nape and pale grey mantle.               
White Wagtail, Colyton WTW, 06/04/16 ( Copyright TDW )
This pic shows the paleness of the flanks & breast-sides. I also had a Sandwich Tern fly down the estuary again at 18:15. That's about all I can add for yesterday.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Yet Another LRP

LRP, BHM, 05/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
video
Apart from Swallows and Phylloscs, I couldn't see much about yesterday but got a nice surprise in the form of a new Little Ringed Plover on Black Hole Marsh. No DSLR but I took this bit of phonescoped video towards dusk which isn't too bad. If you want to see my proper LRP shots, scroll back a few posts to my ones from Lesvos!

More Nestbuilding

Blackbird, Seaton ( Copyright T D Wright )
Blackbird, Seaton ( Copyright T D Wright )
The Blackbirds are at it and the Mallards already have ducklings on Black Hole Marsh! The Kestrels at Seaton Marshes must be ready to rear as they were mating yesterday. I tried to phonescope them but was just too late...                                                                                                                            

Kestrels, Seaton, 05/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )

Monday, 4 April 2016

Sparrowhawk Shots

Chaffinch, Borrow Pit, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
That bright green rump really stands out this time of year. He needs to watch out for this fella though...        
Sparrowhawk, Seaton Marshes, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Sparrowhawk, Seaton Marshes, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Sparrowhawk, Seaton Marshes, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Backlit I'm afraid but I couldn't do anything about that without flushing him. My best SparHawk pics so far though...

A Sandwich is Better than Nothing

video
I couldn't summon up the enthusiasm to cycle over to Beer for the Ring Ouzel Phil Abbott found yesterday but well done to him. I got as far as Tower Hide though - albeit without my DSLR - and was satisfied with my first Sandwich Tern of the Spring. I grabbed this video clip through the scope before it flew off and a couple of people saw it at least, including 2 in the hide who'd never seen one! Nice... Anyhow, Saturday proved that it's often productive to be active late in the day as I picked up a Marsh Harrier from the bike passing over Tower Hide and dropping into Axe Marsh reedbed. I'm told it's still around today. Earlier, I'd enjoyed a superb gaggle of Willow Warblers at Borrow Pit...                                                                    
Willow Warbler, Borrow Pit, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Willow Warbler, Borrow Pit, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Willow Warbler, Borrow Pit, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Nice view of primary projection in above pic.                                                                                         
Willow Warbler, Borrow Pit, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Willow Warbler, Borrow Pit, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Willow Warbler, Borrow Pit, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Willow Warbler, Borrow Pit, 02/04/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
And nice big bill on this one. More please!