Thursday, 29 August 2013

Marsh Harrier

Yesterday evening, just as I was leaving work I got a text from Phil saying that there was a Marsh Harrier in the valley. I popped home to grab my camera and made my way to the farm gate viewpoint, I pulled up, jumped out of the car and was just in time to see the bird disappear into a large bush. It stayed there. Obviously it had chosen the exact moment of my arrival to go to roost! I returned to the farm gate this morning (not too early though as Marsh Harriers aren't the earliest of risers as I found out when dipping one earlier in the year in the same circumstances) and within minutes of my arrival I spotted the bird down on Colyford Marsh. It was a bit too distant for a reasonable photo so I decided to go down there a do battle with the early morning sun. Colyford Common isn't the best spot to take photos from on a sunny morning as the outlook is due east and the rising sun can be a huge problem not only for photography but also views in general when looking out across Colyford Marsh. Though having said all that, it went really, really well! I got some cracking views of it hunting and some atmospheric back-lit photos too. It even came over the tramlines and onto Colyford Common briefly. Apologies for the photo-overload but I took so many that I really like!

A Green Sandpiper photo-bombed this one.

Amouth church makes a nice background here.

Homing in.

I think these next few back-lit ones work really well...

And a few from Colyford Common side..

If you view the large version of this photo all the little spots you can see are because I took the photo through a cloud of gnats!

No.125 Marsh Harrier

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Grey Man of The Woods

I'm thinking about the 'grey man of the woods' on this awful day and to quote from J. Wentworth Day (the inspiration for my blog's title who I haven't mentioned on here for a long while) who although a wildfowler had a genuine love and respect for much of Britain's wild life:

I have a great affection for the badger. He is, as I said, a true Englishman, an Ancient Briton. He was here when the mastadon roared on Hamstead Heath and the sabre-toothed tiger stalked the unwary cockney in the forests of Kensington.

He has seen the tide of Saxon and Roman, Dane and Norman, flow over the bloodied fields of England. He has seen the forests fall and the old woods retreat, the marshes shrink and the wild heath become tamed by the plough, the old bridleways usurped by the new, shining roads. He has seen men arise and destroy the wild red deer and hunt the fox in a new panoply of the chase. He saw the pheasant come as an alien from Rome and he was here long before the Romans imported the rabbit and the ferret wherewith to hunt it.

Through it all the badger has gone grunting his grey and shambling way down the dim woodland aisles of moonlit history. No man willingly slays the badger unless he has a perverted mind.

And I wholeheartedly agree.


Last of the night's quaint clan 
He goes his way -
A simple gentleman 
In sober grey : 
To match lone paths of his 
In woodlands dim, 
The moons of centuries 
Have silvered him. 
                         Patrick R Chalmers 

Monday, 26 August 2013

More Photo-year-ticks from Beer Head and Black Hole Marsh

After missing out on all the Beer Head action yesterday morning I popped up there for a hour or so this morning. I was very glad I did too, adding  a whole four birds to my patch photo-year-list. It could have been more but I dipped the Tree Pipits and Garden Warblers again. Still I'm not complaining, I had a thoroughly enjoyable time, I really must try and get up there more often!  After this I had to go and do a few chores I'd been putting off...I wish I'd put them off a bit longer and gone straight down to Black Hole Marsh though. If I had I'd have seen a Black Tern, but by the time I received the news it had departed on it's merry way. I did visit later in the day when news came out of  an unprecedented arrival of Curlew Sandpipers (10 no less!) and more importantly to photo-year-listers a Turnstone!

The 'Wheatear Fence' was living up to its name, but with the addition of a few Yellow Wagtails.

No. 120 Yellow Wagatail

No. 121 Whinchat

No.122 Meadow Pipit

No.123 Swallow

It had to be done. 
And the real surprise of the morning was this...

... Golden Plover.

No.124 Turnstone

It would have been rude not to photograph at least one of the gang of Curlew Sandpipers, this lovely juvenile came closest.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

First Day of Autumn

The first day of autumn seems to have arrived today with good numbers of common migrants around on patch. I didn't manage to get up to Beer Head but a text from Bun had me heading over to Beer Cemetery Fields, where I photographed one of four Spotted Flycatchers that were there but dipped the Garden Warblers that Bun had seen earlier. There were also four Redstarts, including two males. In a couple of visits to Seaton Marshes today I've seen lots of Wheatears ( two dozen or so) , two Whinchats and another male Redstart. I hung around for ages hoping that a Whinchat would approach close enough to get  a photo but it wasn't to be. I didn't manage to get a decent photo of one in the spring either despite seeing several. Still, there's plenty of time for another chance. The Wheatears didn't disappoint though, you can always rely on a Wheatear for a good photo opportunity.

No.119 Spotted Flycatcher

 Wheatears on posts.... again... It must be autumn!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper

This morning was the first real chance I've had to get photos of the Little Stints which are on Black Hole Marsh at the moment, and as luck would have it a Curlew Sandpiper had dropped in too. So two additions to the list.

No.117  Little Stint

There's a Curlew Sandpiper in with this flock of Dunlin.

... And here it is with one of the Little Stints.

No.118  Curlew Sandpiper

Monday, 19 August 2013

Trio of Tringa

The Wood Sandpiper, several Green Sandpipers and a Greenshank were moseying around in a much more accessible spot yesterday evening.