Wednesday 6 November 2019

Questing On...

The Questing Rock, early doors today. Note closed-cell foam Rock topping. Essential.

Well, it's still on the cards. There was one at Dawlish today, and they're along the E coast still. All it'll take is a bit more northerly, a gentle prod in the right direction, and I'll be in with a chance.

Yes, we're talking Little Auk.

An hour's questing yesterday morning was quite lively, with a single Great Northern Diver flying W the highlight. Also 2 Brents, 3 Teal, a Little Egret, plus a steady trickle of auks E, a constant reminder that I am still rubbish at separating Guillemots from Razorbills -  a real blind spot, considering I've seen thousands and thousands of the things. By the way, my Lyme Bay Little Auk will not be out on the horizon where most of the auks live. Hopefully, like the previous ten I've seen locally at this time of year, it will be one of the closest birds, and instantly recognisable.

After that I popped into West Bay before heading for work. This was a Black Redstart mission. I checked all the spots I thought likely to hold one. Nothing. Finally I thought to try the Esplanade and promenade. At the end, beneath the cliffs, it was sheltered from the cold northerly, and there were indeed Black Redstarts. Four of them. Too distant to bother with photos, but very pleasing nonetheless.

I did get the camera out a couple of times though...

Through bins I suspected these were Wigeon, but the range involved meant I wasn't 100% sure. The camera confirmed it. Useful!

Couldn't help myself. Friendly Rock Pipit prancing about in the sunshine. Always good value.

Work took me to Seaton, and on Bridge Marsh, beside the road that takes you into Colyford, I came across this Greylag. I dutifully put the 'news' on the Patch WhatsApp group. A little later I was informed that it's been around since June. Ah. A reminder of my birdy lapsing. I was also informed that it has been given a name. It is called Gav the Greylag, supposedly. I suspect I am having my leg pulled...

So once again, this morning I headed for Burton Bradstock. Just a riffle of northerly. En route, Dan in Sidmouth had messaged that Woodpigeons were on the move. Getting out of the van I peered upwards for a while. Not a Woodpig in sight. After some questing I had another look, climbing the nearby hill to get a proper view of the surrounding landscape. Although I saw a few flocks of up to maybe a hundred birds, there was certainly nothing spectacular going on locally as far as I could tell. I have fond memories of vis-migging with Steve up at Axe Cliff some years ago, with enormous flocks of Woodpigeons whooshing past. And on Beer Head, with the flocks writhing and twisting as the local Peregrines got stuck in. Great stuff. None of that at Burton though...

The questing was a dull endeavour this morning. First bird was a drake Shoveler E. A portent of some nice duck passage perhaps? I gave it about 20 minutes I think, and it's virtually the truth to say that the last bird was also that drake Shoveler E, 20 minutes earlier.


  1. When I was 11 we had a family holiday at Burton Bradstock, never been back since but some of my favourite childhood memories are from the campsite there - there was a little stream that was full of Water Voles, I can still remember seeing Stonechats & Whitethroats & a lesser Whitethroat (wouldn't guarantee that record now!), we went to Radipole a couple of times, which was the most amazing place I'd ever been to - even though I had been to Staines Reservoir a few times by then, and I can still picture a ringtail harrier I had early one morning glide down the valley & land on a fence post

    1. I'm intrigued now Dave. There are two that I can think of, Freshwater Holiday Park, which has a beach, leisure centre with ten-pin bowling etc, and Graston Copse Holiday Park, a little bit inland. Both have the River Bride running along their boundaries. It would be nice to think there are still water voles, but I'd be surprised. Ringtail harrier is a bit gripping! Whatever species, it would be a patch tick for me :-)
      Thanks for your comment.

    2. I think it must be the inland one, I think it was a bit of a walk to the sea, but this was nearly 40 years ago! The stream with the Water Voles would have been the eastern boundary of the campsite & there was quite a steep hill just beyond it. I think I've got photos of the Water Voles somewhere taken on a box brownie or something - they're not very good! This would have been in August but I'm sure the harrier had a big white rump patch. Its a stunning part of the world, you're very lucky to have it as a local patch!

    3. The steep hill beyond the stream best fits the Freshwater Holiday Park, and the site is big enough that it could well have been a bit of a walk to the sea. I've had a few migs in the scrub along the side of that hill, but nothing better than Pied Fly yet. Early days.

      You're so right about this being a stunning part of the world. Cycling the local countryside I sometimes just stop to look around and soak up the scenery. And pinch myself!