What would anybody leave so quickly for ?
Ophelia, Where have you gone ?
Some lyrics to a great song by my favourite Band......The Band, a bit before my time but great music is timeless. Very apt today for the Irish, not so much perhaps for us now as some had suggested last week, but more of that later.
Birding wise I have been really going for it the last few days, had some highlights as well. Started off last Friday but an early morning vis mig watch at Start was euchered by thick fog. Walked down to the light and there was a nice little fall of around 20 Blackcaps and 6 Goldcrests. Waited patiently for anything rarer to emerge from the tamarisks but nothing came. Gave Mike Langman a ring to see if there was anything doing at Berry Head, he said a Sooty Shearwater was heading my way, should be 30-35minutes. Kept an eye on the Blackcaps and at 25 minutes looked out to sea and the Sooty was roaring past, a new record time for Berry Head to Start. Must be an average speed in the mid 30's MPH. A pleasant afternoon stroll around Hallsands got me a Kingfisher and a handful of Chiffs.
Next day, same routine but this time the vis mig was on. A Woodlark was almost the first bird over. In the next 90 minutes headed south were 95 Swallows, 720 Linnets and 640 Goldfinches amongst other things. This time of year something is usually happening with the vis mig and it is sometimes the best birding available when things are quiet and in a bit of a static birding rut. Good hearing is handy and if you learn the calls of about 10 species you should be able to put a name to 95% of what goes over within reason. You also have to be good at getting out early. Usually all over within 2 hours of sunrise.
Onto yesterday which in the 10k will now forever be known as Firecrest Sunday. The vis mig was again dominated by Linnets ( 690 ) and Goldfinches (650). Firecrests were being reported at Berry Head so I made my way down to the light and on arrival the tamarisks were full of noisy Firecrest, at least 20, probably double that. Also 10 Blackcaps and a load of chiffchaffs of various colours and the first Black Redstart of the autumn was in the compound. By the end of the day I had logged at least 33. Nearby 60 plus were seen at Soar and 40 plus at Prawle. I would think the heaviest passage of these beautiful birds ever through the area.
|A Chiffchaff in the lighthouse tamarisks. Beautiful birds but overshadowed and outnumbered yesterday by the Firecrests, the bird below was at Start Farm.|
Days like yesterday make up for the inevitable quiet ones and have to be cherished. Flogging local patches is hard going more often than not !
And so onto the aforementioned Hurricane / Storm Ophelia. Looking at the always reliable Magic Seaweed wind charts, https://magicseaweed.com/North-Atlantic-Surf-Chart/2/?type=wind produced for surfers, it was never down as something that was going to hit us hard. ( Magic Seaweed by the way is based in Kingsbridge, great success ). Nonetheless it promised to be windy, perhaps enough for a good seawatch and too windy for vis mig or small passerines so I got to Start Light first light. I was soon joined by a visiting birder, Richard Thomas from Cambridge and at 09:33 he picked up the bird of the day, a Leach's Petrel in close heading south. Other birds seen before we gave up at 14:30 included 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Pomarine Skuas, 3 Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua. A female Merlin frequently rounded the point harassing a flock of Linnets. In the tamarisk 4 Firecrests were present along with yesterdays Black Redstart flitting around the walls.
While Ophelia has not hurt us to badly she did leave a real memory. Mid morning the sun was a strange orange red colour thanks to all the atmospheric particle debris she drew up from the south be it dust or forest fire related particles. Sure was strange, a bit like the eclipse a few years ago. Whilst Ophelia kept her worst away from us a look at the Magicseaweed charts for the end of this week suggest we may be rockin' a bit more then, just like The Band.
|Obviously the strange atmospherics this morning was a natural phenomenom with a scientific explanation. Likewise the tilt was nothing to do with End of Days Revelations, just bad photography.|