Monday, 24 February 2014

The weekend

Being a busy sort of chap, posting on my blog has to wait until I can find the time, but here's what happened birdwise over the weekend, with tiny bits and pieces of birding squeezed in. Friday saw me squelching around Bystock Reserve on the outskirts of Exmouth. Luckily a pair of Canada Geese have returned to the main pond and provided me with an Exmouth year tick. Two Long-tailed Tits were seen and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Moorhen were heard. I got got caught in a very heavy shower (nothing new there then this year!), but a male Siskin put on a good show whilst I was waiting for the rain to abate. Saturday gave me only a brief window between family chores and attending football, so I popped down to Exmouth seafront, where I was lucky enough to add Slavonian Grebe to my Exmouth year list. 3 Great Northern Divers were on the sea, and another 11 moved south-south-west offshore. 2 Red-throated Divers were also seen just off the seafront. However Sunday gave me my best birding spell when I took myself down to the fantastic Orcombe Point and despite (or because of?) the very strong wind I had a very good couple of hours, adding some nice Exmouth year ticks to my 2014 local patch list! First of all I espied a nice flock of 70 Common Scoters (which regrettably kept on being disturbed by a goon windsurfing). I was aware that there were a lot of auks offshore and some oiled birds practically onshore. There has been a massive death toll of auks along our stretch of coast between Chesil beach (that's up there in that there foreign county of Dorset!) and Torbay and unfortunately there were several sickly-looking birds on my patch too! I couldn't find anything other than Razorbills and Guillemots, but one smaller bird which I lost in the pounding surf showed characteristics of Black Guillemot, however I could not get myself into a good viewing position to clinch ID. A Black-throated Diver, with 3 Red-throated, was a welcome addition to my Exmouth year list, as were the two high-flying Mute Swans that headed out to sea over Orcombe Point, but veered round towards Sandy Bay. At the same time a male Peregrine swept low over the bottom field at the point and was also the first I had managed to catch up with in Exmouth this year. Lots of Kittiwakes were also floating slowly past the point into the teeth of the near-gale. A final look, this time at Maer Rocks, provided me with my last Exmouth year tick of the afternoon, with 4 Purple Sandpipers braving the elements (as they invariably do) perched right on the outermost rocks Canute-like in their defiance.

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