Monday, 20 October 2008

Weekend news...

Not a lot happened this weekend. We took advantage of a good spell of weather to ring at Slapton again, catching a whole host of Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest in particular. The Long-tails were particularly interesting, in that we caught over 40 of them, with a good dozen retraps, which included birds ringed in ~2003, 2004 and 2005. Not a bad lifespan for such a small and apparently fragile bird. They seem to be coping admirably with the recent run of poor springs and summers.

Sunday found Na and myself wandering around Berry Head in a stiff southwest wind, searching somewhat casually for some migrants. The weather didn't help much, but we managed a brief female Merlin, which apparently came in off the sea and headed inland rapidly.

A search of the quarry and a cup of tea at the seawatch point provided prolonged views of a pale-phase adult and a very gingery juvenile Arctic Skua harassing Kittiwake offshore - the 200 or so kitts preferring to loaf in the sunshine just offshore with the skuas lurking in the midst of the flock - every so often the skuas would decide it was time to see if someone else was ripe for hassle, and roll off the sea, raising the entire flock in the process: a fine sight in yellowish autumn sunshine.

We finished off with a tour of Brixham breakwater, to see if the winter flock of Purple Sandpiper had returned, which they have - around 10 snoozing on the old fishing pier off the end of the breakwater. Cracking little birds... No pictures today though; sorry.

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