Monday 21 December 2020

Not Quite the End of the Year

Just lately I've been trawling through the year's photos in preparation for some kind of 2020 review type post. Unfortunately my shortlist of images totals more than 50, so maybe I'll write a few themed posts rather than a single monster.

NQS-wise it's been a good year. An exceptional year. This blog is about as active as it's ever been, and rarely lacks the material required to make that happen. Life-wise it's been a strange one though. Sure, there's been the usual mix of happy times and sad, but played out against the most unexpected backdrop. Anyway, before I get too philosophical I'll bring the birdy stuff up to date...

Following last Thursday's jammy Caspian Gull I was impelled by a strong urge to revisit the Axe on Friday, despite a dire weather forecast. My plan was to sit in the car, eat a ve-e-e-e-ry leisurely lunch and enjoy a steady parade of quality gulls. Er...

Usually such a pleasant spot.

The Axe Estuary just S of Coronation Corner, with a good six or seven gulls on it.

The gulls were clearly elsewhere. Some were sheltering in a virtually unviewable field across the river, but the vast majority had apparently chosen another county or something. It was desperate.

On Saturday I had another excuse to be in Seaton, with Sandra this time. We arrived in time to get very distant views of the hulking great Glaucous Gull on its third visit to the Axe. Moments later the whole flock spooked and flew, and we lost the Glauc almost immediately in the melee. We tried Beer beach, just in case it had dropped in there, but there were no gulls at all. However, I had forgotten that an Eider recently made itself at home offshore, so was pleased to realise that a distant brown dot looked the right kind of shape for one...

Young drake Eider. I certainly couldn't see this amount of detail with bins, through which it genuinely was a dot. And mostly an invisible one, buried in the troughs.

Heading home, two white blobs in a field at the far north end of the estuary turned out to be...

...Cattle Egrets.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk on Cogden Beach with a non-birding friend. A Great Black-backed Gull caught our eye, hacking away at a very large, inanimate lump of something...

I've come across dead Harbour Porpoise once or twice, but I think this is my first dead dolphin. I'm not sure if it's a Common or Bottlenose Dolphin, but the question seems academic somehow.

And so to this afternoon. At lunchtime I was at West Bexington. A flock of 22 Brents east over the village was a nice surprise, but I had gulls on my mind. A local birder reported seeing Caspian Gull on the West Bex mere a couple of days ago, an Iceland Gull was photographed over it last Thursday, and anyway, gulls is gulls, and the mere seems to pull them in. In all the comings and goings the best I managed was a count of 17 Med Gulls on the water together. Still, it was a pleasant 90 minutes of idling on a windy, spray-shrouded beach. Heavy rain was forecast, so I plodded back to the car before it arrived.

Anyway, before I start picking the bones out of 2020 I should remember that it still has ten days to run. Anything might happen...


  1. Interesting and inspiring as always Gav. Have a great Christmas.

    1. Thanks Dave. Might even get the rods out. 😊