Friday, 8 October 2010


An entirely unrelated photograph.

We spent today (Saturday 2nd Oct) doing some unashamedly lazy walking, birding and twitching, mainly on the River Otter, in east Devon. Too many people at Slapton to make it worthwhile joining in, so we stayed away and stuck a couple of nets up in the garden for the first time this autumn (result: one Chiffchaff, one Wren, one Dunnock, one Long-tailed Tit and a couple of Blue, Coal & Great Tits - not astounding, but nice). When the birds dried up - which they did quite quickly, we headed out to the Otter.

The estuary was packed with gulls, mainly Herring and Black-headed, all loafing and bathing in the fresh water before the turn of the tide. A single colour-marked Herring Gull was an RSPCA project bird, but not an individual I've seen before. The code looks like it should be a reasonably old bird, so might be interesting.

Peacock butterfly - we're coming to the end of the butterfly season now - these and Red Admirals (see below) are the bulk of what is still flying.

The wet fields to the west of the footpath held a smattering of Teal, the drakes beginning to moult out of their dowdy eclipse plumage. Scattered around them were a loose flock of Pied/White Wagtails, a smattering of Meadow Pipits and several Yellow Wagtails - always nice to get good views of these in Devon. Further on, a trio of Black-tailed Godwits were belly-deep in the water, probing away for invertebrates. We strolled on round to the mouth of the river, then sat awhile and admired the gulls (I admired them; Na grappled with the ID of immature 'poxies' - not a fan). A couple of moulting drake Wigeon appeared, and the beach was rippling with Pied/White wagtails and pipits, all pausing for a while on the stones to feed, then heading off west along the coast in a flurry.

We tracked upriver to Otterton, then as we headed back in the blazing (har har) sunshine, the trio of Glossy Ibis(es) appeared at the back of a field, energetically preening and flapping. Up 'scopes for Naomi's forty-somethingth new species of the year, and we spent an enjoyable 10 minutes watching them cleaning up.

Red Admiral butterfly

The previous weekend was better still in some regards: Na chose to head off to London for a girly weekend with the gang, so I spent the weekend down at Slapton, for a bit of a change. Shame you can't do sarcasm on screen. Anyway; I arrived later than anticipated, and was met with a message that Nik was off putting some nets up, so why didn't I go and put some others up? The hint was duly taken, and I headed up the ley - only to scare up a Corncrake from the long grass. A very satisfying thing, as it's not really something you expect to see in Devon these days. This was followed up the next day with a Great Reed Warbler in the nets: the first ever caught on site, and a bit of a shock to come across in the autumn! Serendipity indeed...

 Great Reed Warbler. Basically, it's a big Reed Warbler, isn't it?

Slapton sunrise. Note the mist-line along the bay - this seems to be, rather romantically, where the sewage outfall lies.


Mark said...

Great reed my arse....that's just a tiny hand!

Hows life? I remember my only trip to Lundy. The oldenburg was rammed with green faces, and to this day I've never felt as bad on a boat!

jeremy barker said...

Ah, not so shabby. Funnily enough, my first trip to Lundy had a fair few greenies on board - the closest I've ever come to queasiness too. Feel the need to find something nice, but may have to settle for some twitching instead - plenty enough around on the coast after all! Looking forward to going to Norfolk for a few days soon too, of which more anon!

Send us a few of those rares when you've finished with 'em, eh?

Holiday cottages in Devon said...

What can say? BEAUTIFUL... I love to see them and also give them a shot.

wales holidays said...

The butterfly is really beautiful! Can't help but to look at it again and again. Such a nice blog.