Thursday, 29 May 2014

Ross's Gull

What was slightly more surprising than hearing that there was a Ross's Gull at Bowling Green Marsh this morning was getting a text from Steve saying he was going for it! Myself, Bun and Ian M joined him but didn't hold out much hope as the tide was falling and gulls at Bowling Green invariably head out onto the Exe Estuary at low tide. Just as we arrived we got the expected news that it had flown off down the river but within a couple of minutes Steve had spotted it! It was tucked up asleep behind some rushes being one of just two gulls on the pools near the hide. It eventually woke up and began feeding, giving very good scope views, including several flight views as it was hassled by Crows and a Little Egret. Unfortunately it was always a bit distant for good photos, I digiscoped a few record shots though. My 350th bird! I'd never have predicted it being a Ross's Gull.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Lovely Surprise!

Normally when I get up in the morning and look out of the kitchen window I see a small expectant gathering of ex-racing pigeons. I started with just the one two years ago which I took pity on and fed, and since then he keeps acquiring friends, I have about five regulars now. Well, this morning there was something a bit different among them....

Only a Turtle Dove!!
I managed to get a handful of photos through the kitchen window before, all too soon, it was on its way.

A garden tick I never expected to get.

The last Turtle Dove seen by me on patch was 9 years ago. There have been several others though. Perhaps in hindsight I should have put some news out but it would just have been "Turtle Dove somewhere in Seaton possibly....or possibly not". All I really know is it flew north from my garden and could have gone anywhere. If I'd have known of anyone doing a patch year list this year then I'd have invited them round to see me in my jimi-jams of course!

On Monday I walked over Beer Head and down to Hooken Beach to look for any sign of Small Blues. I didn't see any and it doesn't look at all good for them because there have been so many cliff falls and landslips that there is no Kidney Vetch left at all. So any eggs laid last year will have been swept away.
I did see a couple of Wood Whites, Purple Gromwell and Nottingham Catchfly, so not an entirely wasted effort, and what an effort it was!... It nearly killed me!

 Nottingham Catchfly

 Purple Gromwell

Milk Thistle

I see Blogger has taken it upon itself in its infinite wisdom to change the colour saturation on my photos. A very unwelcome development! :-(

EDIT: Fixed it! One has to select "auto enhance off" in one's Google+ account. I wouldn't have called them enhanced!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Burnt-tip Orchids and Fly x Bee

We had to go to Winchester on Friday and I was planning on stopping off at Parsonage Down on the way back to see the Burnt-tip Orchids there, but the traffic was so bad we didn't get time in the end which was very frustrating. Today I decided to go back, and to solve the traffic problem set off nice and early at 5.30. On the way we would be passing the site for Fly x Bee Orchids in Somerset and it would be rude not to stop and look at them. I last saw them two years ago and it was good to see good numbers of them again this year, albeit looking a bit on the soggy side.

Say what you see... I still see....
Evil purple teddy in elaborate horned helmet, but that's probably just me!

Soggy Bee Orchid

Burnt-tip Orchids

A really beautiful morning on Parsonage Down
Lovely light for photos too!

A couple of site shots featuring 'yours truly'.
There were hundreds of Burnt-tip Orchids in this small area alone.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Powerstock Common

I've got this week off work and seeing as the weather forecast is for rain every day except today, I thought I'd better make the most of it and pop over the birder into Dorset to visit Powerstock Common. There were two things in particular that I was hoping to see Marsh Fritillary and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth. Although Marsh Fritillaries are out in good numbers on several sites at the moment they weren't here! I'm sure it was just because it's a bit early yet for this particular site, at least I hope so. I did manage to see three males albeit briefly. I had much better luck with Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moths though seeing at least six. Very tricky getting photos though as they weren't keeping still for a moment! Other butterflies seen included scores of Common Blue, several Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper and Small Heath and My first Painted Lady of the year.

There are two very different kinds of habitat with acid grassland like this and...

Calcareous grassland like this along a disused railway line.

Dingy Skipper

Grizzled Skipper

 Marsh Fritillary

Painted Lady

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth

Four Spotted Chaser

Garden Chafer


 Greater Butterfly Orchid

Heath Spotted Orchid

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


On Sunday I joined Phil, Bun and 214 others for the annual Devon Birds day trip to Lundy. I've been on this trip twice before and on both occasions the weather was awful. This was definitely a case of 'third time lucky'. It was a beautiful sunny day which meant room on deck was at a premium for the trip over on the MV Oldenburg!

Standing room only.

On the trip over we had some good views of Manx Shearwaters and several Harbour Porpoises (and several Common Dolphins on the trip back). I managed to get a couple of shots of the shearwaters although it was pretty tricky standing on a moving boat with lots of people standing in front of me as well! Still definitely the best shots I've ever managed of far.

Manx Shearwater

On arrival the boat did a circuit of the island so we could look at the seabird colonies on the Atlantic side of the island. We got good views of Guillimots, Razorbills and best of all about a dozen Puffins.

Lundy, looking from the northernmost point



 Actually I've included this photo because if you look at the bird on the extreme left of the shot you might notice something a bit different. The Malvolio of the Lundy Guillemot colony? I didn't know a few Guillemots can have yellow legs, apparently they can, well obviously!


A real bonus bird just as we entered the landing bay was a Black Guillemot. It was a bit distant though.

Black Guillemot

As soon as we got off the boat Phil made a concerted effort to be first to arrive in Milcombe Valley and it certainly paid off as he saw two Turtle Doves and a Golden Oriole. I was miles behind though and due to my continuing heath problems by the time I'd made it up that very long hill to the Milcombe Valley area I was shattered. So while Phil and Bun ventured further afield I decided to remain in the Milcombe Valley area all day. It wasn't too bad though as I only missed out on a Short Toed Lark. I did see  one Turtle Dove and a brief distant view of the female Golden Oriole. No photos of either though as they were definitely only in digiscoping range and I didn't take my scope along. The only other migrants in the valley apart from Swallows and House Martins were a couple of Spotted Flycatchers. The only things I got photos of though were...

These Sika Deer...

... This horrible baby Rabbit..

... and this gorgeous beast!
And some beautiful scenery of course, it makes all the difference on a fine day.

I also took a few plant photos, including the rare endemic...

... Lundy Cabbage

Early Forget-me-not

Sea Campion

English Stonecrop

Scarlet Pimpernel

Sheep's Sorrel

Red Campion