Monday, 5 April 2010
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Saturday, 27 March 2010
Sunday, 21 March 2010
We head up to Siblyback with high hopes of the first Sand Martin of the year (well I have high hopes of this, my willing accomplice probably has high hopes of a go on the swings). While I was disappointed on the hirundine front, the Smew made a re-appearance. In addition there were 14 Tufted Duck, 20 Coot, and 2 Great Crested Grebe on the lake. 2 Chiffchaff were the only migrants. 10 Buzzards were milling about over the eastern shore. A badger has been here before us - see below, and Assistant Clerk of Works adds a new word to her vocabulary - "geese". She has plenty of opportunities to practice it on the walk round.
Sunday, 14 March 2010
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Sunday, 7 March 2010
I'm writing this while supposedly meant to be working. Two presentations and a report to finish, but it's sunny outside. Clerk of Works and her assistant have headed off into Plymouth, my credit card in hand to "give me some quiet" to work. So The Decemberists are on the CD player ("The Hazards of Love" - not quite as remarkable an album as "Crane Wife" but still pretty outstanding - and you can add Mistle Thrush to your "bird references in songs list".......if you had one....Corncrake also gets a mention but this appears on Billy Bragg's re-telling of "Hard Times of Old England" so doesn't constitute a song tick.
Siblyback yesterday was pleasant, with that air of expectancy you get in "pre-Spring". Goldcrests, Chaffinches and Goldfinches singing away, and that wait for the first Sand Martin or singing Chiffchaff doesn't feel so far away. A good sign of Spring's forthcoming return was the presence of 4 Great Crested Grebe, a couple of pairs of which now breed on the lake. Golden Plover have been notable by their absence from the pasture at the north end this winter, but yesterday over 2,000 were in the air over the northern fields. Best bird, however, was a Lapwing. Strangely, Lapwings are not frequent at Siblyback. I usually see one or two a year, in what one would think of as pretty typical wintering habitat. This one flew up off the northern shore. Tufted Duck count was 12, while Little Grebes are dwindling fast.
Later in the day we popped down to Hannafore. Tide was well out and an Eider and 3 Med Gulls were the only things of note.
I gave up at about 2:30, convincing myself, half truthfully, that I had done enough work. It was still glorious but with a biting east wind. The light was fantastic so I thought I'd head down to Hannafore to see if I could get any shots of the Rock Pipits that seem quite tame at the moment. I find Rock Pipits at this time of year fascinating, as the range of plumages is really striking, as they begin to moult into summer plumage, and I'd had brief views of one yesterday which looked good for a Scandinavian. Anyway, I spent a good hour or so in a sheltered spot just enjoying the comings and goings of Pied Wagtails and Rock Pipits with a solitary Grey Wag. Now this is patently ex-birder behaviour - just enjoying common birds. I would once have scoffed at such patently ridiculous goings on. Anyway, my battery ran out just as the Pipits (one of which had been indulging in bouts of song) started to get used to my presence, but I did get a great opportunity to snap another common bird which was hopping around the rocks. Now just look at these and tell me Wrens are rubbish!
Friday, 5 March 2010
Anyway - I am pleased to announce that Assistant Clerk of Works is coming on great guns with her birding skills. Some might call it indoctrination but her first word was "ducky", quickly followed by "birdy". I am now proud to say that she can identify her first species, not that it will come in particularly handy that frequently in Cornwall, but she can now positively id a Hoopoe. This is in no small part down to the RSPB's excellent soft toys with real bird calls. Can you spot the difference to the real thing?
She has also contributed her thoughts on the lumping and splitting debate, which are about as informed as most people's. She reckons all birds fall into two species - firstly those that go "tweet tweet" and secondly those that go "quack quack". Thus, armed with nothing more than a slice of soggy toast one can clear up on the whole British list over breakfast!
Monday, 1 March 2010
2) That 4 out of 5 of you recognised immediately the typical Ruppell's habitat of barbed wire and concrete
Sunday, 28 February 2010
He: "Oh, excuse me, what's that, that bird there?"
Me (always eager to provide advice): "That's a Lapwing".
He: "Ah, Lapwing......oh yes....very aptly named"
He: "Oh, oh, what's that bird there, that one with the long skewer, the long skewer like bill"
Me: "Ermm, that's a black headed gull carrying a stick"
I was so tempted to tell him that his Swarovski bins were rubbish and he should swap them for whatever russian things I was sporting at the time.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Sunday, 21 February 2010
But the biggest news of today is that the Assistant Clerk of Works uttered the word "pie" for the first time. I was so proud.
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Friday, 19 February 2010
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Saturday, 13 February 2010
But talking of birds - Clerk of Works and her assistant are away for the weekend, so I got out for several hours for the first time in a while. Siblyback was cold, grey and predictably devoid of birds. I would be lying to say there were any highlights. Unless you like Canada Geese....which I don't....or Coots - I'm still traumatised from the sight of several thousand Coot at Laguna De Medina in Andalucia many years ago, and a desperate (and ultimately futile) search for a Crested amongst them. The sharp eyed amongst you will have immediately noticed Hewy, Lewy and Dewy the Barnacle Geese in the cripplingly outstanding photo above. They're not real, no really. And I could have had a lie in! Ho hum.
I'll have a blast round to Dozmary Pool thinks I, having heard that a Lesser Scaup has been hanging round. Now Dozmary is one of my supporting cast of sub patches and as the crow (or indeed duck) flies is not far from Siblyback. En route I stop at the north end of Colliford Lake and the first bird I see is a drake Lesser Scaup-like thing. Trouble is, and this is the reason I hate Colliford - it's half a mile away. It's small, its quite dark backed, but that's it. Now I'm not one to doubt others and apparently better views have been obtained, but I had crippling views of a Lesser Scaup type thing last winter at Siblyback (a bird that had been at Dozmary so surely the same). At close range the black on the bill just spread off the nail, but at any normal view it would have looked just restricted to the nail. Now I'm no expert (plainly) but comparing that bird to photographs at the time I concluded it probably was real. However, others concluded otherwise. So forgive me for staying out, jury wise. Anyway, there were 3 Shoveler, a few teal, 3 Pochard and a Goldeneye - so there.
Down to the coast and Hannafore. Now I like Hannafore for two reasons - it's a good place for Divers and Grebes and for seawatching, and you can sit in the comfort of the car and listen to the football. It's also a good place to take the Assistant Clerk of Works when she won't go to sleep, as by the time we get there she's snoozing in the back and I can spend an hour combining being a brilliant father and scanning the sea. Today, being solitary, I could actually get out of the car, immediately wish I hadn't (it was bloody freezing). Still the cafe was open and I could buy a hot chocalate and sit in the car again. Seven Med Gulls, including one adult just coming into Summer plumage, an immature male Eider, and a Grey Plover were the highlights. Now the Grey Plover is one of my favourite birds, and I realised how long it had been since I'd seen one - I really do need to get out more.