Tuesday, 30 August 2016

More waders at Black Hole Marsh

There's not a great deal to report from today. The Turnstone from 28th didn't reappear but there are now 3 Knot & 2 Ruff rather than the previous singles of each and more Ringed Plover have also arrived. The 2 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Little Stint remain and show very well at times near to Island Hide.

Knots are often difficult to get close to on BHM so it was nice when one showed well from Island Hide in the evening. One of the Ruff obliged in a similar fashion:



Monday, 29 August 2016

Water Rail showing rather well (plus blogging background)

Water Rail is a species that's fairly difficult to get close to on patch despite them breeding here so it was nice to get some decent views of an adult and a juv this evening. There were 4 birds on view at once briefly, but only one of them posed close enough for a photo or two. There are lots more pics to post but it's already gone passed 3am so they can wait.

Reflection photo taken in the last of the Sunlight & the 2nd photo taken shortly after Sunset.

Patch update 28-08-16:
Similar to the last few days - 2 Little Stint, 2 LRP, Ruff & Knot on Black Hole Marsh. A Turnstone was new in but not present in the evening (likely on the estuary due to tides). Decent numbers of Yellow Wagtails around Black Hole Marsh and Seaton Marshes (perhaps 50 total - couldn't have an accurate count), along with 5 Wheatear at the latter site.


Steve's recent post about 'Why Blog?' got me thinking about the journey of this blog. It started off as posting a few pics as & when I could get out but over recent years has become more of a photo diary / update of what's around the Axe patch here. From a personal aspect, having a blog and 'needing' to keep it updated with content helps me maintain motivation to get out and look for new things. At the same time it provides people with an update as to what's around and also provides them with images to look at. The visual aspect of blogs is often a major attraction and I particularly like watching video on other blogs - although video footage is something that's largely been missing from my page here. Capturing motion of wildlife seems to give that extra something that still images can't provide despite often being simply stunning in their own right (not talking about mine here!). Something I must work on more...

Another aspect of blogging is being careful not to post things which people may not want to read even if there's perhaps something you want to say; I've been (slightly) guilty of this on a couple of occasions - it can come across as awkward to the general reading audience even if there was no intention for it to do so. One of my main aims is to inspire an interest in nature amongst other people so I try to centralise content around what I think people will be interested in. Of course this needs to stay within my window of knowledge/experience. For instance I personally like Steve's gull ID posts, as real birds & their variation gives a different perspective on ID from what you can get from a book. However, as much as I like reading such posts, it's not something I would attempt myself as it's not something that suits my skill set i.e. I don't have enough experience with gulls yet.

A couple of (distantly) previous posts have been related to the photography side of this birding blog i.e. techniques and benefits of certain camera types. Interestingly the post -- HERE -- (opens in a new window) about bridge cameras vs DSLR cameras has been one of the posts with greater media engagement. I must apologise for having still not written a part 2 to this, but below is a taster of what part 2 will include. This Wheatear image shows an uncropped photo taken at ISO 4000 on a DSLR and the inset pic in the top right is a close-up crop of a section of the same image. Although bridge cameras can offer much bigger zoom (focal length) capabilities, the data from RAW files from a DSLR allows for significantly more flexible handling of images. More to come...

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Nightjars - Another successful breeding on patch

The patch Nightjars have once again bred successfully! Earlier this year 3 adult birds arrived/returned; 2 males & 1 female. One of the males seemed to leave after the first week or so, perhaps realising that a 2nd female wasn't coming. There were two breeding pairs at the site last year and a total of 8+ birds of various ages during the Summer (discernible from pics) so although this year didn't quite live up to 2015, it's still good to report that the pair had a single fledgling.

Here's a pic from last year:

Patch update 27th:
Black Hole Marsh is still doing fairly well for waders with 2 LRP, 2 Little Stint plus singles of Ruff & Knot through most of the day. Approx 30 Yellow Wagtails are still lingering around Seaton Marshes (unless it's birds constantly filtering through), and another 30+ were over Black Hole Marsh towards dusk. They dropped in from quite a height so this may well have been new arrivals rather than the same flock moving around - hopefully we'll find out in the morning!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Bird of the Month - August

I didn't do a 'BOTM' for the last couple of months so the Dalmatian Pelican has now lingered at the top of this page for much longer than was originally intended. BOTM for July would have been the Collared Pratincole at RSPB Ham Wall but I didn't get around to making the header - it was nice to see one of my pics printed in The Guardian though.

The BOTM for August is a pretty obvious choice - Least Sandpiper (both of them).

Click  -- HERE -- for video footage and pics of both Least Sandpipers.

Patch update 26th August:
- I had a quiet time at Seaton Marshes mid-morning with just a scattering of Yellow Wags and 2 Wheatears.
- The people that went to Beer Head had another fruitful morning with some decent counts of common migrants.
- Steve Waite had a possible large Egret species fly over Beer Head this morning but it wasn't relocated unfortunately. He also had a Marsh Harrier over Colyford Common at midday.
- Tim Wright & Phil Abbott had 5 Little Stints drop in at Black Hole Marsh mid-evening; a good count for here. It was a good job Tim checked the group otherwise they may have been assumed to be Dunlin - a small flock of Little Stint isn't something we're used to here. I saw them shortly before Sunset, after an unsuccessful search for a Wryneck (or anything else unusual) around Lower Bruckland & Axe Cliff areas.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

SPOONBILL on patch + Yellow Wag pic

Having not seen a Spoonbill on patch since March 2013 I was pleased to find one drifting high over Black Hole Marsh mid-evening on 25th. Spoonbill is a pretty decent bird for this patch, especially in Autumn; 2014 was the last record (as far as I'm aware) but that was a short stayer and again was in March. It was a case of looking in the right place at the right time - if I'd still been looking at anything at ground level or simply in a slightly different direction then I would have missed it due to the altitude. It's always possible to miss good birds - my Wryneck dip yesterday for example; it's best to be philosophical about such things. Talking of Wryneck, there were 3 in the West Bexington / Cogden area today rather than just the two I dipped! I did try to find one on patch today but had no success.

It was gradually getting dull when the Spoonbill flew over so I pinged a message to the locals + Twitter and then went searching for it in case I could relocate it for others to see before it was too dark. It flew North and seemed to be losing altitude over the Estuary so perhaps it went down near where the A3052 crosses the River Axe. It was worth a quick look at Colyford Common so I headed there but didn't see it again (although there was a Wood Sand on the larger scrape from the hide); it also hadn't come back to roost on Black Hole Marsh by nightfall - I waited til dark.

In the morning on 25th Seaton Marshes had 30+ Yellow Wags and a single Wheatear - one of the Wags perched up right next to me along the footpath to the hide! I heard it coming so stopped moving just in case it was going to stop; I didn't expect it to land quite so close though...

Most of the morning's excitement was at Beer Head, with some of the other patch birders having excellent counts of Tree Pipit, as well as a Pied Fly, Yellow Wags and Wheatears amongst other goodies.

A decent fall

24th August saw a decent fall of migrants on the South coast; there were lots of Yellow Wags, Wheatears, Whinchats etc at various sites. Seaton was no exception with many Y Wags during the day - other birders had an impressive number in the morning. I saw a couple at Seaton Marshes in the evening and heard a couple more but the large numbers seemingly moved on quickly during the day. There was a Whinchat and 4 Wheatear showing well by the footpath to the hide too, a couple of the Wheatear perching closely for some pics:

I dipped the 2 West Bexington Wrynecks but one was seen again later on in the day. The area was busy with people when I was there so the birds were likely skulking about on the ground - I probably walked right by them! They can be hard to see when not posing out in the open - other people got excellent views of it on top of posts (when tourists/visitors weren't putting it off) so it was a shame I couldn't pick them up when on the ground. But hey - it happens.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Very Elusive Wryneck + patch update

Brendan was heading to Dawlish to try for the Wryneck and he kindly offered a lift in case I wanted to tag along so I duly accepted. Wryneck is a bird I'd only seen once before and that was on patch back in 2010 (see HERE). This Dawlish bird had been frequenting a particular area on Warren point so we headed there and waited. We waited and waited... Eventually we had very brief views but good enough to say we'd seen Wryneck; unfortunately I only saw it in flight as it landed out of view so alas there are no photos. Apparently it had been showing well & out in the open prior to our arrival - but then we weren't in the right place at the right time so that's fine. I missed a patch Wryneck last year so it was good to at least see the Dawlish bird, even if it was brief.

There's not a lot of patch news:
- A Little Stint continues to show well & regularly on Black Hole Marsh
- Singles of Curlew Sand and Greenshank dropped into BHM shortly before dusk (as per Brendan).