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Blog

26 March 2020

Day Off!

Managed to combine shopping trip with some exercise walking a circuit that included Dawlish Warren around the wood and back taking in Sainsburys and it did me the world of good!

Didn't see anything you wouldn't expect to see except a Wheatear and the Dawlish Warren Crocus, there was loads of them and a pleasure to see, a real joy for me!

Enjoyed my free time but back on shift tomorrow, working 6 out of the next 7 days to cover shifts, but hopefully people will be back after that making life a little easier for me, that being said anything can happen so watch this space, stay safe everybody!



22 March 2020

Difficult Times

As many of you know I have worked/volunteered in the Care sector all my adult life, many years as a Team Leader working with kids that complex needs as well as behaviour issues. I now work with Adults with severe mental health issues, while it has been very stressful over the years I have survived by losing myself in a field surrounded by Birds, Flowers and Insects.

So the thought of a complete Lock down fills me with dread! I have no garden and live in a one bedroom flat in the middle of town which up until now has been ideal.

At work we have already lost some staff who have had to self isolate and I and others are doing extra shifts as are loads of people over the country, I just hope I will be able to continue to get a bit of relax time in a middle of a field!

Today I managed to walk around Exminster Marshes, Turf was on lock down so no access to the estuary, it was great to get out in the sun.

Didn't see anything you wouldn't expect, a few people about and all keeping their distance.

Stay safe out there!



16 March 2020

Butterfly season starts with a bang!

Went to Portland today hoping to see the Large Tortoiseshell that had been seen around "Church Ope Cove" .

I had not been here before, its a steep climb down to the beach where there are lots of Beach Huts on the Pebble Beach. There was already plenty of people looking and there had been a sighting of one already in flight.

One of the other guys showed me a pic he took Saturday of a fresh specimen, end of last week there was one that looked quite tatty.

Talking to locals they thought there was 4/5 Large Torts around the Cove. There was plenty of other Butterflies and not surprised as it was quite hot and a few flowers about.

I hadn't seen any Butterflies this year at all and by the end of the session I had seen 5! single Small White, loads of Peacock and Brimstone, 2 x Comma and 2 Large Tortoiseshells. Absolute stunning to watch.

Nice to meet Martin C from the Obs and Mark, on the whole the humans were great with the exception of a couple of knob heads who chased the Butterflies up the path after flushing them, not giving others a chance, just like some Birders and Photographers I know, sadly these idiots cover all fields!!



16 March 2020

Wheatears

It wasn't the main reason for going to Portland but I went straight to the car park by the Lighthouse hoping to see some migrants and wasn't disappointed. There was Wheatears everywhere, so I sat on one of the rocks that surround the car park with my flask of Tea, took a few pictures and just enjoyed the moment. I saw Martin from the Obs later and he told me that there had been well over a 100 drop over night and I can well believe it!



14 March 2020

Crossbill fun

Spent the morning on Dartmoor with some Crossbills, the conditions were crap for taking any pictures, but it was great just to sit down and listen to the calls and watching them fly between the trees. They didn't seem to mind me or all the other people out for a walk.

While sat on some logs drinking my tea saw lots of other birds such as Buzzard, Raven, Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Chaffinch, Siskin, Woodpigeon and Stock Dove.



10 March 2020

Last couple of days

Not been out so much this last couple of days off due to life getting in the way, did walk up to Turf from Powderham on Saturday as the hotel is now open again and yesterday morning I went to Aylesbeare.

On the Exe a group of displaying Red-breasted Mergansers were great to watch and at Aylesbeare plenty of bird song with some Yellowhammers giving it what for. Did see Stonechats and some very mobile Dartford Warblers including one bird who seem to be fascinated in me as it followed me up the side of the path, stunning little bird!



01 March 2020

Was going to Scotland

This week I had booked just over a week off so I could go to Scotland, but sadly the weather being what it is I cancelled my plans.

Decided to stay local and managed to get out this last ten days in between showers and high wind visiting Dawlish Warren, Dawlish and Teignmouth Sea Fronts, Powderham Estate, River Exe, Cockwood Steps, Cockwood Harbour, Starcross Golf Course, The Scrape outside Min of Ag Starcross, River Kenn Outflow, Powderham Church area, Ideford Common plus the feeding station in the car park, Haldon Feeding Station, Haldon Forest, Little Haldon, Old Exeter Road, RSPB Labrador Bay, Stover, Yarner, Around Topsham including Goosemoor and Bowling Green Marsh, Dunsford Woods, Slapton and Beesands Leys, Torcross Line, Beesands and Hallsands Beech, Various parts of Kingsbridge Estuary, Tidal Rd at Aveton Gifford, Soussons, Emsworthy mire, Challacombe Farm and around Headland Warren, Down endless Country Lanes and looked over many 5 Bar Gates.

Many places such as Exminster Marshes were impassable because flood water, but Beesands Hide was now accessible because the water had gone down here, plenty of roads flooded, trees and branches down, pot holes and landslides making this week "interesting!" I did make sure I went out every day regardless of weather and it became a challenge to find stuff.

Saw some great birds, most notable for me several Brambling in a large mixed flock of Chaffinch and Tits underneath the Beech Trees by the side of the Old Exeter Rd, Yellowhammer at Holden Feeding Station and a pair of very smart Goosanders on the River Tiegn at Dunsford.

Also several Crossbills, which were ever distant and mobile.

Plenty of Corvids as you would expect, large numbers of Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaws on pasture with Ravens in the air, noisy as ever. Magpies putting in an appearance almost everywhere with the odd Jay seen around the hedgerows. Normally see them at Stover, but none seen on this visit.

With all the wind and rain there was no sign of any Raptors, especially at the beginning of the week, but the first sign of sun there was Kestrel and Buzzard, I nearly got taken out by a Sparrow Hawk walking back from Dawlish Warren as I walked down the path and distant view of a Goshawk at Holden.

With all this water there was plenty of Ducks about with Mallard, Mallard X, Widgeon, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Pintail, Golden Eye, Tufted, Mandarin, Shelduck, Muscovy and Ringed-neck Duck.

The Geese, especially the large numbers of Brent were quite mobile and edgy, getting ready to leave for the breeding grounds I expect, few Greylags, loads of Canada Geese, Mute Swans already on nests and a couple of Black Swans on the Exe. Other water birds included, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail, Dipper, Kingfisher, Slavonian, little and Great-crested Grebes, Cormorant and Shag.

Waders were plenty although I didn't see any Avocets or Golden Plovers, possibly roosting elsewhere? Did see plenty of Curlew, Bar and Black-tailed Godwits, Grey Plover, Knott, Dunlin, Turnstone, Lapwing, The Dowitcher, Red and Greenshank.

Plenty of Gulls, mainly Black-headed, some Herring, Great-black and Lesser -black Backed Gulls, one Common but didn't see any Med gulls.

The feeding stations around the place were very busy with Great, Blue, Coal, Marsh and Long-tailed Tits, Cirl Bunting, Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpeckers the main birds to be seen with Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch also on the feeders, with Dunnock, Blackbird, Wren, Robin and Yellowhammers at Haldon picking up the scraps on the floor. Other birds seen Cettis Warbler, Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting, Starling, House Sparrow, Skylark, Stonechat, Redwing, Song and Mistle Thrush but no Fieldfares.

Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Meadow and Rock Pipit, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collard Dove, Pied and Grey Wagtails all seen. Another bird I didn't see was a Treecreeper which was a surprise considering the amount of woods I visited.

Met lots of humans, all on good form, Dave B, Dave S, Phil, Bold Steve, Clive W to name a few, eaten lots of cake and drunk plenty of hot drink, normally arrived home cold and wet but happy!



© Simon Thurgood 2020
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