Thursday 29 December 2016

2016 - A Brief Review

Well it'll soon be the turn of another year. Regardless of whether 2016 has been a good, bad, boring, potentially tragic (not specifically mentioning any politics...), memorable etc etc, I find that there's always something oddly satisfying about heading into a New Year.

With regards to birding, 2016 has been a pretty good year with a few decent twitches & self finds both on and off patch. Here's a few re-posted snaps from 2016 - this is a selection of the rarer birds I saw rather than the better pics!

American Wigeon - Bowling Green Marsh

Green-winged Teal - Black Hole Marsh

Glossy Ibis - Seaton Marshes

Pallas's Warbler - Portesham

Iceland Gull - River Axe estuary

Montagu's Harrier - Colyford Common

Montagu's Harrier - Colyford Common

Hoopoe - Lower Bruckland

Hoopoe - Lower Bruckland

Red-footed Falcon - Morden Bog

Great Spotted Cuckoo - Portland

Dalmatian Pelican - Drift Reservoir

Collared Pratincole - Ham Wall

Least Sandpiper (1 of 2 birds present) - Black Hole Marsh

Red-backed Shrike - Beer Head

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Davidstow Airfield

Pectoral Sandpiper - Davidstow Airfield

Pectoral Sandpiper (left) & Buff-breasted Sandpiper (right) - Davidstow Airfield

Lesser Grey Shrike - Plymouth

Baird's Sandpiper - Davidstow Airfield

Turtle Dove - Bridge Marsh

There were plenty of other good birds through the year but I've tried to keep this post to the rarest species only to reduce the chance of monotony creeping in! UK wide the Turtle Dove isn't really in the same 'rare' category as most of the other species above but this was the first I've seen, it was on patch and it's also a rapidly declining species, so I think it is well deserving of some more online coverage before 2017 rolls in...

Saturday 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas folks! I hope you all have a fantastic few days off (for those lucky enough to be off) over this holiday period!

Here's a few silly Christmas pic edits from a range of cards I made a couple of years ago (due an update). I diversified away from the typical Robin Christmas card years ago but the Robin designs are still the most popular. Whichever is your favourite, please consider it as being a virtual Christmas card with a message of your choice (easy now).

Monday 12 December 2016

Cattle Egret on Patch

A patch Cattle Egret is rather unsurprising given the recent influx; there have been good numbers of them fairly close to us both East and West of here so I've been expecting one to turn up on patch.

Steve (Waite) initially found this bird shortly after 4pm on the 10th but nobody managed to discover where it had been staying since (if it was indeed staying that is). Steve put in the leg work today and found it feeding in a field in Colyton - a proper account is written up on his Axe Birding blog.

I managed to catch up with the bird at around 3pm today, viewing from the Shute Road. Pics are dodgy as it was VERY distant and they were taken through some fire smoke. I wonder if we'll get any more Cattle Egrets this year...

Sunday 11 December 2016

Is that it?

Is that the coldest we're going to get this Winter?! I certainly hope not. After a chilly week or two the jet stream has shifted North of the UK so we'll now be stuck with mild temperatures for a while. Although it's now 'fairly warm' again (well, it's frosty as I write this), we've still had more frosts in the last month than we did over the entire Winters of the last 2 years. Quite a concerning trend really...

Here's a snap of some proper Winter weather from 2010 when we had the coldest December since records began (mean temperature below freezing over the entire month):

Monday 5 December 2016

Bye bye Autumn

I don't particularly like cold weather but at least we're having at least a little bit of 'Winter' this year! It's been ridiculously mild over recent Winters here with 2010-2011 being the last decent freeze. This does however mean that the last of the Autumn colours are now rapidly disappearing. On the plus side we can now look forward to Spring as it'll soon be here!

I've not had time to get out birding at all because of work commitments, but am looking forward to the Dusky Thrush (that was found in UK yesterday) visiting my garden... ;-)

Here's a few Autumnal shots of parts of Colyton:

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Photogenic Redwings

I've still not managed to get out specifically for birding due to work commitments but I came across a Thrush flock whilst working a job in Colyton. Yesterday there were 3 Mistle Thrush, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Fieldfare and 9+ Redwing present but today this had changed to 2 Mistle Thrush, 5 Song Thrush and 12+ Redwing (plus some smaller birds including Coal Tit and Goldcrest).

Here's a couple pics of some of the Redwing (more to come when I can get to it)!

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Flooding in the Axe Valley

It's been rather wet lately! Monday 21st saw some flooding locally with roads closed around Colyton and Colyford. The amount of water was pretty insignificant compared to the flood a few years ago but with the peak of that flood being 1am - 2am, most people would not have seen it! That was certainly a very impressive flood to witness (although the resulting damage was a shame of course).

I managed to get a few snaps of the flooded fields & roads in Colyton; there were some stranded cars (containing a lot of water) but thankfully damage caused seems relatively low this time.

View of Colyton Playing Fields

View near Umborne Bridge

View near Umborne Bridge

View from Chantry Bridge 

View from Chantry Bridge

View from Chantry Bridge

View from Chantry Bridge

I haven't been able to get out birding recently as work is occupying nearly all of my conscious time. Hopefully there'll be some more bird related posts soon...

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Spoonbill on Patch

Another Spoonbill turned up on patch today - Ian Mc sent a message around 10am but I couldn't get down for a while. I set out early afternoon but others said there had been no sign so I thought the opportunity had gone. I figured Seaton Marshes is the place it's most likely to be able to hide from us so I waited there hoping it'd give itself up (assuming it was still around somewhere). Good decision! It was using small pools on the banks in front of Seaton Marshes Hide so it was out of sight for extended periods of time. I sent out messages to others who hadn't managed to find it but then the bird headed high and West over the town so it seemed as though it was moving on. Thankfully it returned 10 mins later and sat out on the Estuary until dusk.

Here's a few snaps, most of them fairly distant. Light was also at a premium as it was a dull & damp afternoon (photos were taken at ISO 4000 and the shutter speeds were still struggling).