Thursday, 13 November 2008


As it's manking with rain today, I'm posting a couple of pictures of the local area and its wildlife.

First of all, however, a very, very manky picture of the 2w drake King Eider in North Devon - partly just to 'prove I was there', partly to show he's a far better-looking bloke than he was at the beginning of this year, bless him. At the start of the year he looked very much like this (links to Birdguides website). Now he looks like this:

Or, if you want to see something that doesn't look like it was taken through a milk bottle by a myopic woodlouse, try this lot... Anyway. That's enough about top shelf birds. On to some local info. This is the sort of countryside we're living in:

As you can see, fairly pastoral and green. At the moment we're seeing a lot of corvids (Rook, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Jay in order of abundance), Woodpigeon and Herring Gull. As far as the smaller stuff goes, there seem to be plenty of Blackbird and Redwing around at the moment, with the usual common garden birds like Blue, Great and Coal Tit, House Sparrow, Robin, Dunnock, blah, blah, blah... We're also getting regular Grey and Pied Wagtail around the cattle in the field below us, with occasional Meadow Pipit dropping in. I'll have to start a patch list at this rate! This is the -already famous, har har - sewage works down the road:

Which holds pretty much what you'd expect: Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch, these chaps:

...and the Yellow-browed. I spent a while at the gate yesterday watching it, making sure it wasn't a Hume's YBW (no luck, more's the pity). I suppose my next task will be to try and get some pictures. Totally failed to pick up Firecrest as well - but there must be one around here somewhere, I'm sure. New for my new site yesterday were a Kestrel and a Jay.

And just for Mark, cos I'm sure he misses them, this was outside the front door about 10 minutes ago:

(Eurasian) Nuthatch Sitta europaea - it's blurred because I was photographing at 1/40th of a second through our front door glass.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Settling in...

Finally we have a working house - the bed, freezer and washing machine all arrived safe and sound yesterday. As we've both come down with a heavy cold, we're both lurking at home most of the time. The garden bird list has increased gradually to a grand 22 species, with the addition of (Eurasian) Jay and Grey Wagtail today - still only four species visiting the feeders though - two common parids - Blue and Great T., House Sparrow and (European) Robin.

Na dragged me out for a short walk today, down the hill to the sewage works - where we duly found bird of the year for Hennock, I would imagine: a Yellow-browed Warbler. Not a bad way to christen the place really. We'll be waiting for it to turn up in the garden, as we're only a short hop up the hill for a Phyllosc...

Back to work now, I suppose...

Friday, 7 November 2008

Movin' house

Well, it's happened. Aside from delivery of a new bed (Monday) and washing machine & freezer (today, I hope!), we're in and settled. Oh, and we need a dining table & chairs and a kettle, but that's incidental... We're on the edge of Dartmoor in a 2-bed cottage (you can stay over now, should you be passing through, Mark!) with our own garden...

The celebratory welcome-to-your-new-house dinner was provided by an unfortunate Snipe I found on the road - still warm, I hasten to add. (Some of the pics below contain a wee bit of real-life guts - you have been warned!)

Nice innocuous view of the back of the bird. Note the kitchen knives ready & waiting...

Spreading the wing to view the upperwing. Knives getting closer...

...and some detail of the upperwing. Gore up next...

Overall view of the underside of the prospective dinner.

Bit of underwing action: looks pretty dark, but not Wilson's Snipe - but imagine that bombing past you in dull winter light and you might be forgiven for thinking it had darker underwings than it actually does.

A closer view of the underwing. The barring is nearly, nearly, as nice as that on Green Sandpiper.

And a bit more detail of that underwing.

Some information about ageing Common Snipe can be found in Ringing & Migration (a pdf web link here: It would appear that this could be a young bird, but equally it might also be an adult which has finished moulting! As it's the first Snipe I've seen in the hand, I would be cautious about putting an age to it...

Some more pics below - Na's sister Jo, her husband Arturo and the children on their first visit to our place. Top pic is me apparently putting in some practice for future fatherhood (*cough!* *splutter!*)