Thursday, 20 February 2014

Dodging between the showers

Now the past few days have seen quite a few showers, some of them extremely heavy. In fact, you have to wait until the deluge stops before immediately donning wet-weather gear and sprinting (well, for us older folk, walking very fast!) to the relevant birding site. Tuesday I dashed out from Countess Wear and quickly made my way to the grandly titled 'Double Locks Wetlands' which amounts to a couple of small reedbeds, a hell of a lot of mud and a grass-fringed 'scrape' which is so 'shallow' that Mute Swans swim around on it and manage to upend to search for tasty morsels! Luckily it is also a reliable wintering site for Green Sandpipers and two made their presence known whilst I was there, providing me another Year tick! After checking out the Topsham site for Yellow-browed Warbler yesterday (one bird has been seen twice in about the last month here!) but seeing nothing else of note, today saw me taking my life in my hands (or should that be feet?) when I visited a known wintering site for Woodcock. Now let me just put you in the picture here. We've had the wettest winter since Adam and Eve met, as you've probably deduced from the media coverage (should that be saturation in more ways than one?) so the boggy wood I normally manage to connect with Woodcock every year has turned into the biggest swamp this side of the Somerset Levels! I floundered around, trying not to lose my wellies for a little while but it was almost impossible to see if any Woodcock flew up due to having to keep my eyes on the "ground". I startled two beautiful Roe Deer by my louding squelching and cursing, saw a pair of colourful Bullfinches and eventually saw a rusty-coloured silent bird lift off into the dense vegetation whilst trying to extract my left wellie from it's muddy bottomless pit! Mission accomplished, (wellies retained and Woodcock seen) I got back to my car just as the rain fell again. Just so sick of all this bleddy rain now - are we ever going to get a dry spell again?

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