Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day Bramblings

After a day spent almost entirely indoors yesterday (save for the daily (unsuccessful) Waxwing search) I decided to get out in the fresh air a bit. After hearing from Bun that he'd eight Bramblings in his garden I made my way over there with my folding chair, camera and scope hoping to get a photo of one. I found if I kept reasonably still the birds either didn't notice me or just ignored my non-threatening presence and I was able to enjoy superb views. I noted six Brambling in total with two being males, I got the photos I wanted and a lovely cup of tea too!:-)
A bit later in the day I noticed a couple of brown blobs on the town centre play park which backs onto the southern end of Seaton Marshes. I had my suspicions as to what they were, so ventured a bit nearer and scoped them. I was pleased to see that they were indeed what I'd suspected. Woodcock. One of my favourites, though don't ask me why because I don't know. It's just 'something about them'. I've never witnessed any roding yet, I must rectify the situation this year.
The brown blobs....
 ... were two Woodcock. There are two, one of them is to the left of the sweet wrapper by the fence.
And here it is. I didn't approach any closer to take this photo I just used the zoom on the scope, it doesn't always work but it did today! :-)

Friday, 24 December 2010

Piggyback and Blackcap

Whilst filling up at the Tower Services this morning I noticed these Starlings using a pig as a good vantage point, it's probably nice and warm on the feet too! It's little wonder we don't see many Starlings in town. The pig fields are one  of very few places with bare ground at the moment.

A female Blackcap has been visiting our garden today feeding on the apples I've put out. It's a first for the garden too!! I took a few photos of her, again taken through the double glazed back door......I'd cleaned it this time though! :-)

A Merry Christmas to all! :-) x x

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Winter Thrushes

I popped over to Bun's today to take a look at all the Thrushes visiting his apple trees. While I was there I saw around fifty Blackbirds, a similar number of Redwings and about a dozen Fieldfare, with singles of Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush. I enjoyed watching and photographing them but with somewhat mixed feelings because it's a shame they're really beginning to struggle in the weather conditions. Good news is that there's a bit of a thaw forecast, so hopefully they'll be able to get back in the fields. From Sunday we are meant to be getting some southerly gales and on Monday the forecast temperature is set to reach the dizzy heights of 9 degrees!! Whoo hoo!!
 Feast of apples. I'd just arrived and flushed most of the birds when I took this snap. Once I'd crouched down behind my car they soon flooded in.
'Wall to wall' Thrushes!
Mostly these. But also these..
Three  in one.
I'm shown a clean......pair of heels! 

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Frozen Precipitation in the Form of Translucent Hexagonal Ice Crystals Falls on Seaton.....And an 'Old Friend'

The fact that a large part of East Devon, including the Axe Valley has a deep covering of snow (the most for decades)  at the moment is old news now. I'm being a bit slow off the mark and everyone, especially those up North, are probably sick of hearing about the stuff.  Still, I've been out to play and taken a few snaps so here they are:

As soon as the snow stopped falling we ventured forth in the Landrover for a play. 
(obviously sensibly heeding the "don't go out unless your journey is critical" warning) The only other vehicles we saw were other 4x4s and this beast.

Just south of Boshill Cross the Wigeon flock were managing to graze in a field of longish grass. This photo shows about a fifth of them!
Sidmouth Road Colyton:
 At the bottom of this hill there's a tree with berries that I wanted to check out for Waxwings ( See! My journey was critical). Colyton was really gloomy but the sun is starting to come out in the distance over Seaton.
A picturesque street scene in Colyton.
Back inn Seaton. This is Colyford Road.

Seaton Seafront
Yacht Club and Axe Cliff

A very atmospheric shot looking towards Beer Head....
.... which was brooding under some dramatic clouds

A couple of bird photos from the garden today. Not too bad considering they were taken through a double glazed and rather filthy glass door.
This female Blackbird is undeniably the master of all she surveys, seeing off anything the same size or smaller than herself.
This poor Song Thrush spends hours just sitting around waiting for a chance to get to the apples and meal worms.That said, it does take the occasional break to see off another Song Thrush.

Also today, I took Rex for his walk along the cliff path to Jubilee Gardens in Beer, on the way back I stopped to check out some ducks  that I could see on the water below ( a couple of Eider one duck one first winter drake, well I think that's what they were I only had bins on me) when this little fellow popped up right in front of me. I'm pretty sure it's the same bird I saw and photographed here last year. It appears very tame for a bird out of town but it's obviously very used to passers-by on this busy stretch of path. I started to feel a bit guilty because I didn't have any food, then I remembered I had got some, a squashed packet of flapjack that  I'd neglected to take out of my bag after some twitch or other. The bird was very hungry indeed because no sooner had  I gotten the wrapper off than it hopped over and started eating while the flapjack was still in my hand. I sprinkled a few pieces on the fence and took a couple of photos before taking my leave. I suppose I'll feel obliged to pop back regularly and check on it now. Having said that it obviously survived last year's extreme winter weather okay.

You may have noticed the new banner photo at the top of this blog. Well, unlike its predecessors it isn't a composite photo mackled together in Photoshop, oh no it's the real deal. Rex volunteered to pose on the cliff-tops with Seaton as a backdrop. For some reason he flatly refused to sit down though!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Truly Scrumptious!

It's that time of year again, the last ringing session before Christmas, which only means one thing , yes, the Axe Estuary Ringing Group's legendary outdoor buffet!! So renowned is it, that this year we had a surprise visit from a nationally famed naturalist and TV presenter, Nick Baker (the second 'celeb' to visit the group; see here for photo of our previous visitor). We only set a few nets and so didn't catch a great deal, the best being a Treecreeper. The group have trapped a couple of Treecreepers before but not when I've been present therefore today's bird was my first. So all in all a morning of scrumptiousness on many levels! :-)
My attempts at a photo of the Treecreeper were woefully inept.
Superbly detailed photo of Steve's glove!

When it came to putting out all the festive nosh brought along by members, we suddenly realised we hadn't got a table. Not to worry though, with necessity being the mother of invention a makeshift table was mackled together from what we had available.
There you go!
 All you need for a superb table: Three chairs, two 'wader boxes' (used!!) and several ringing poles. Note the handy incorporated kitchen roll holder, the quintessential buffet food, cheese and pineapple on sticks  and the 'slightly largish' portions of Stilton, I think someone mistook it for a cake!
Some members of the group enjoying the mulled wine. 
 While Steve and Doug are admiring the......erm...Kitchen roll holder!
 The merry team with Nick Baker. If you don't recognise him, he's standing next to the good looking one! ;-) Here we're standing in front of our luxurious'ringing hut' which is soon to be replaced by this...

The (soon to be) new ringing/field study centre on Stafford Marsh. I reckon next year we may be able to have an actual table for the buffet, not to mention a bar, dancing and a live band!!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

That Yellow Wagtail

Having had seriously bad views of the possible 'Eastern' Yellow Wagtail at Colyton 'Waste Water Treatment Works' on Sunday afternoon I was pleased to be able to get the chance to view it more closely this morning. Gav and I spent around an hour with it hoping to be able to record the call and possibly clinch the ID. It  quite regularly flew between two filter beds, especially as contractors were working in the close vicinity but unlike the Pied Wagtails which called constantly, it kept totally shtum. We were both able to get a few photos though. Because I was using my super-zoom camera to do the sound recording I had to try and digiscope the bird, not at all easy with such an active bird! I got a few interesting shots though. From a distance and from most of the photos I'd seen the bird looked very monochrome but close up in the flesh (or feather) there were traces of colour (well to my eyes at least). I could definitely make out a slight olive green tone especially noticeable on the rump and a very faint yellowish tinge to the side just above the vent and behind the leg on both sides. Also there appeared to be quite a distinct small yellow patch low down on the belly between the legs. The legs didn't strike me as noticeably longer than those of usual Yellow Wagtails. I don't pretend to know anything about the various races of Yellow Wagtail  these are just my observations. Interesting bird.
See the very faint yellow tint behind the leg or is it just me?
This looks pretty grey but close up there's an olive tint to the rump area.
 This was very noticeable in the field.
The top photo shows the bird's obvious bald patch and the yellow area between the legs, a feature which is  somewhat more visible in the bottom photo.
 It's either yellow feathers or the birds sat in an egg, or wee or paint or something!!

The obligatory short video.