Sunday, 16 November 2014

A Weekend Off (and another game of spot the birdy)

... this weekend didn't feel like a weekend off. The 6 am starts to count the starling out of the roost are really starting to hurt; however, it does mean I get to be out in the best part of the day. On Saturday I headed down to Prawle and spent a couple of hours seawatching, by which I mean I was distracted by a pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins - which handily brought in a large flock of gannets, kittiwakes and gulls. Luckily enough, a pomarine skua flew right into scope whilst I was staring, otherwise I'd have had nothing new to show for the shift. On the way back to the car I managed some quick snaps of buntings and stonechats, then back to the Ley to catch the starlings as they came back in. There were approximately 50000 birds, but they came in in bulk, making estimation difficult; to make matters worse, they decided to drop in down the far end of the Ley.


Stonechat

On Sunday I headed down to Strete to find where the birds had dropped in - driving slowly along the beach with the window down to pick up the chattering. By 0715 they were all up, rewarding me with a brief display in the morning light before disappearing over the hill (I'll upload one of my videos as soon as I can cut them to size, I promise).
After watching the birds, I drove down to Torcross to check out the ducks... nothing doing - so I headed back, glancing at the beach as I went... 

"Hmmmm" said my brain, "that's too little for a cormorant".
"But, breakfast." said my stomach.
"Way too little," my brain recounted "Spin the car around blondie..."
I sped up to quickly get to the Ley car park, where I could wing the car around, and belted back to Torcross. I noted the position of the bird as I passed a second time and, after re-parking the car, quickly headed back to where I'd last seen it.
"It is small..." the brain chimed in again, but not a diver.

The bird was about 50 meters away now and I finally stopped to look through my bins.
Winner, black-necked grebe. Breakfast time.


Black-necked grebe

After breakfast I ran back down to the reserve. The rain had really raised the water level and I was hoping that a few little birds would be driven out of the reeds. I wasn't wrong. Over the course of the day I saw no less that 3 cetti's warblers, and even managed clear shots of a few. 

First up, my most acrobatic of individuals, see if you can spot it. Answers on a postard (... or in the comments box).


Spot the warbler

Rare moment of visibility


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