Monday, 13 August 2018

Cuckoo at Black Hole Marsh

There was a Cuckoo at BHM near Tower Hide on Thursday 9th. It was pretty elusive, only giving brief views and mostly seen in flight when the trams flushed it. We've also had more waders around recently with the best being a Curlew Sandpiper seen briefly by Ian Mc. The only other wader of much interest was another Wood Sandpiper.

Here's a pic of the Cuckoo but it doesn't have many pixels left. I took this from Island Hide, so it was a few hundred feet away...


Saturday, 4 August 2018

Wood Sandpiper posing nicely

Black Hole Marsh has been looking absolutely stunning lately! Lots of birds, nice evening light with the recent Sun and a nice view over the whole marsh now that the overhead cables have been removed. We've had at least 1 Wood Sandpiper here over the last few days, showing well near the viewing screens at the end of the boardwalk to Island Hide at times. I took Dad for a quick visit this evening and it performed very nicely indeed. Other birds of note included 16+ Dunlin, 3 Green Sandpipers and a Greenshank.







Saturday, 28 July 2018

Spotted Redshank and more juv Yellow-legged Gulls

Black Hole Marsh continues to attract waders with the best of them being a Spotted Redshank which was found by Clive and has been here since the 26th. Blackwit numbers are building with 20+ present recently and Dunlin are also in low double figures. Other waders of note have been 2 Greenshanks and at least 1 Green Sandpiper.

We've had quite a few Yellow-legged Gulls in the last week, perhaps just into double figures, although it's hard to be sure. There were 2 on the estuary from Tower Hide this evening; Steve had 4 earlier in the day so perhaps these birds were 2 of those. We've had quite a few Med Gulls recently too, including a juv on BHM with yellow ring number AYNK.

Annoyingly I reckon an Osprey probably went through mid-afternoon on Friday 27th. As I got out of my car at the BHM car park I saw the gulls go up from the estuary in a big flush. It wasn't just the gulls though; all the waders were up too, including almost everything from BHM. I didn't see what caused it but it was a very 'Osprey-like' flush and it took a while for the birds to return to the estuary and BHM. I've missed all of the patch Ospreys so far this year, and there have been a few...

I'm going to try and get more pics of LBB and Herring Gulls in various plumages over the next year or so for reference purposes. Either that or find a proper gull ID book! Some pics:







Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Wood Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gulls and ISS

Late news and a brief post! Clive found a Wood Sandpiper at Black Hole Marsh on 21st. I wouldn't normally rush out to twitch one but I didn't see one on patch in 2017 so it was worth a quick look. A Hobby flew overhead and a Yellow-legged Gull was showing distantly but well from Coronation Corner on that same evening. There was a different Yellow-legged Gull on the estuary the following evening, although I think other Tim (Wright) had two.

Not birding related but some of you may be into such things; the International Space Station has been very bright and obvious when passing over during the last few evenings. If you look closely you should be able to see part of the Milky Way above the ISS 'streak' in the pic. When I posted this on Twitter James Chubb referred to the lens flare as an 'intergalactic haddock' which I quite liked!


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Great Egret at Black Hole Marsh

A Sunday evening trip to Black Hole Marsh proved worthwhile when I spotted a Great Egret flying towards BHM at 20:22. It landed close-ish to Tower Hide (where I wasn't) so I took a quick pic, sent out a few texts & tweets and looked back up 30 seconds or so later to see that it was no longer there! A search of Seaton Marshes and Colyford Common didn't yield any further sign.

Other birds of note on BHM were 7+ Common Sands, 4 Dunlin and an adult Med Gull.



I hope to get more time for birding and blogging soon; recently I've been working most of the way around the clock every day of the week!


Friday, 29 June 2018

Interesting Heron

Firstly I must write sorry to those of you who check this blog regularly but repeatedly see the same post(s) at the top! Birding time has taken a massive hit lately but I did manage to get out a couple of times recently. I was surprised to see a Greenshank on Black Hole Marsh on Wednesday evening as I can't remember personally seeing one here in June before (might have done but I'm not going to trawl through and check). Other birds of note were 2 Common Sandpipers and a group of Gadwall. Exactly how many there were I could not tell as both camera & scope were at home and I only had binoculars with me. Ian Mc had 13 the following morning and 11 were still there when I popped over for a look in the afternoon. The Greenshank and 2 Common Sands were also still present.

The most interesting bird for me was a rather striking Heron. It was DARK. I was watching it in isolation for most of the time so I wasn't sure just how dark, but thankfully a 'normal' Grey Heron came nearby for a proper comparison:




Melanism? Hopefully we'll be able to see how this bird develops over the coming days and weeks.


Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Milky Way - photo taken at Seaton Hole

At 23:00 on Thursday (14th) the sky was almost completely free from cloud here and this gave me a sudden desire to go out and do some night photography. The only other thing I needed to check was the Moon phase as it needs to be either dull i.e. thin crescent or not visible at all, otherwise the moonlight will bleach out the sky on a long exposure. Turns out this was perfect timing and conditions were ideal! I headed out and arrived at Seaton Hole at around midnight.

The Milky Way is difficult to get pics of, especially if trying to get a detailed foreground in shot rather than just the sea. A common way of doing it is to take multiple pics exposing for the sky and foreground in separate shots and then stacking them together in photo editing software. It's a bit more difficult to get right but I've always tried to do it in a single exposure and then play around with the settings in Lightroom to make it a bit more punchy. It still requires editing, but I like the challenge of doing it in one shot rather than making an image out of multiple shots (sometimes it almost has to be multiple shots i.e. if it's so dark that detail in the foreground needs a significantly longer exposure to be seen).

Settings were 16mm focal length, 30sec exposure, f/4 aperture at ISO 5000. I don't have a camera body that's particularly good in low light anymore so this could have been a lot better with different gear. Still, I'm pleased with what I came away with.

This has been shared on Facebook hundreds of times now and I've had a few enquiries about prints. Please feel free to message me if you are interested in one; it's probably easiest to do this via Facebook HERE.

The pic below is deliberately low resolution but this looks okay up to A3: