Saturday 18 February 2023

A Saturday Afternoon

A leisurely late-afternoon stroll around my Bridport North patch was a delightful way to spend a couple of hours. One addition to the Patchwork Challenge tally, a Peregrine...

Ropey silhouette shot as it hung in the wind on the west side of Watton Hill, upsetting the local Herring Gulls.

Best of all, though, were two Firecrests in the spot where I saw one a few days ago. This time I had a camera with me...

Hard to beat a stunning male Firecrest.

Well hidden, but this one is a female.

This afternoon's extra Firecrest brings my local winter count to a very unexpected six. Four of them are in the Bridport North patch; two locations with two birds apiece. I am no expert, but would not be surprised to learn that the habitat in both spots was potentially good enough for breeding. That would be rather lovely.

There is a lot of very nice-looking habitat in my Bridport North patch. Time will tell whether it is actually as productive as my imagination suggests, but I hope so. There were very few people about this afternoon (I expect they were all at West Bay, getting drizzled on) but I do know that much of it is very popular with dog walkers. The evidence is everywhere, and I accidentally brought some of it home on my right boot. I hate that.

The West Bay Rock Pipit count is now at a minimum of 13 birds photographed. Given a reasonable image it is amazing how individually identifiable they are. The tertials and coverts are probably the most helpful feature, and the 'face' too. Here is a little collage to illustrate this: three different head shots, and three sets of tertials...

Subtly, but significantly, different.

Not sure exactly where I'm going with this project, but at least it keeps me distracted from the lack of much else going on right now. And there is something strangely compelling about making an effort to recognise each bird. Rather than 'a Rock Pipit is a Rock Pipit is a Rock Pipit', seeing them as individuals takes things to a different level somehow, and an otherwise humdrum bird becomes quite interesting.

Gulls are on the move at last. Five Lesser Black-backed passed through West Bay on Wednesday morning (pic below) and while working in Seaton yesterday I spied a few on the Axe Estuary, along with lots of Common Gulls. My scan of the Axe gulls was at least 90 minutes too early though, and I managed to miss a brief first-winter Caspian Gull which dropped in for Steve Waite later on. Such is often the way though, especially at this time of year. Timing is everything; blink, and you'll miss 'em.

My first West Bay Lesser Black-backed Gull of 2023.

Oh yes, moths...

I don't even need two hands to enumerate the moths I've caught this year, but here are some of them...

These two are both Chestnut, I think, but the worn one on the left did get me wondering about Dark Chestnut. Any helpful comments welcome...

Hebrew Character. What a beautifully marked moth.

Common Quaker. A new one for the garden, but only because we didn't start until June last year.

Agonopterix heracliana. Well, probably. There is a scarcer look-alike, so technically this should go down as A. heracliana agg, I guess.

Finally, I think Twitter is steadily going down the pan. The evidence is mounting...

I posted a couple of tweets earlier this evening. Both appeared on my profile page, but neither of them on my regular timeline. So I tried retweeting. Same result. Tellingly, both have had very, very few views. In other words, they are probably not visible to my 'followers'. Recently I have noticed that visiting a Twitter account's profile page almost invariably reveals a number of tweets that I haven't seen on my timeline, despite 'following' that account. I wonder if Twitter has indeed broken? For me, anyway.

Ah well. Even when life is threatening to take away one of your most reliable time-wasters, one can generally find solace in the jaunty carriage of a Black Redstart...

Cheer up, Gav. There's always Mastodon.


  1. Hi Gav, your moths - The left is too worn but the wings seem a bit rounded for DC? Your micro is recorded - Agonopterix heracliana / ciliella agg. As for Twitter, I see the same things happening, but at least we still have the blogs, a better way I think...

    1. Cheers, Stew. Gut feeling was Chestnut for both, so I'm glad you think so too. Just come across a really helpful BirdGuides article on Chestnut/Dark Chestnut, featuring loads of your photos.

      I like that blogs are always there, like books on a bookshelf. Pull one out and have a read any time. Even when it is functioning properly, Twitter is so much more ephemeral.