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Tuesday 20 October 2020

You Never Know...

It's frustrating when stuff happens quicker than you can blog it. I end up with a backlog, and then a post like this...

I'll start with nocmig. Autumn has been a challenge. I got to the end of September with very little to show for it. I began to not bother, to miss nights. I drew the conclusion that while my home might be situated in a favourable spot to record spring goodies, it was in a late-season dead zone. However, now that it is thrush time I am getting a few. Up to about 35 Redwing calls in a night, a handful of Song Thrush and a couple of Blackbirds. Saturday night was typical, with about 15 Redwings and 5 Song Thrushes, plus a nice example of a 'chack-chack' type call which I assumed was my first Fieldfare. Nice, thought I, as I played it a few times and compared the sonogram with those in my new book, 'Identifier Les Oiseaux Migrateurs Par Le Son' by Stanislas Wroza. I also compared it with recordings on Xeno Canto. I asked for opinions on the nocmig WhatsApp group. I made a little Spectrovid...


My suspicion was aroused by its sharp harshness, and sure enough, it's a blinkin' Ring Ouzel! Living where I do, it just seems to me incongruous that a Ring Ouzel would choose to fly over my neighbourhood at 22:04 on Saturday, 17th October, but it did. Just like all those spring-time oddities did. Nocmig is full of surprises...


Lately I've been in the Seaton area quite a lot. Sometimes that has its drawbacks. Like this morning, when Mike called from West Bex to tell me that a Glossy Ibis was over my head at Cogden. Mmm, yes. I missed that one. Apparently only the second West Bex record. I carefully checked the nicely flooded Axe Estuary and adjacent marshes in case it had kept going, but two 2nd-winter Med Gulls, a Barwit and a Greenshank do not a Glossy Ibis make. Annoyingly I had a good candidate for 1st-winter Caspian Gull head downriver and away without stopping, but it was too distant for more than a shrug and a question mark.

Other times, being in the Seaton area is dead handy. Like yesterday evening, when I was able to take a nice photo to confirm beyond doubt that the Axe Pink-footed Goose is the exact same one I recently had fly past me at East Bexington...

Same bird. No question.


Work has taken a toll on my morning walks, but I managed a couple of afternoon outings at the weekend. Sunday was notable. Before I got to Cogden I'd already hatched a plan. I was going to count Robins. Work every hedgerow that I reasonably could, and count Robins. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I doubt that I covered 50% of the available habitat by the time I needed to leave, and my tally was 30 Robins. Nice. I'm sure you could comfortably double that, or more, for a true picture of the number present at Cogden that day. More surprising was a count of 27 Chiffchaffs, loads more than I would have anticipated. Other stuff included a Merlin bombing over, single Goldcrest and Blackcap, 4 Green Woodpeckers and 2 Jays. Late in the afternoon I noticed a party of Swallows overhead and cast my eyes skywards for a while. The 'party' was actually hundreds. Hundreds and hundreds, probably 1000+ Swallows feeding across a wide area below the ridge. Quite a sight on a mid-October day. Sunday's other highlight was the flock of Golden Plovers which kept popping into view above the coast road. I counted them by taking a photo...

212 Golden Plovers

They were evidently trying to settle somewhere on the farmland north of the coast road. I don't know whether they managed to do so, but judging by the frequent appearance during the afternoon of some or all of the flock, perhaps not very happily.

Itchy plover feet...

 

There were plenty of other birds on offer, as illustrated here...

Quite a number of Meadow Pipits flitting around. The Red-throated awaits.

Front to back: Meadow Pipit, Green Woodpecker, Stonechat.

Blackbird. Doubtless a migrant, judging by its lame attempt to look rare.

One of probably 1000+. This is my first published Swallow-in-flight photo, and is quite close to being in focus.

 

You can probably gather from this that I had a brilliant time on Sunday afternoon. Nothing rare, or even scarce. Just good, solid, birding fun. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you will know I am based on the West Dorset coast. You will realise too that West Dorset birders do not habitually work their local hedgerows in October and have Red-flanked Bluetails hop out in front of them. Or Pallas' Warblers, or Dusky Warblers, or anything much at all really.

But you never know...

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