Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Out of the Blue - Electric Light Orchestra

You've just sat down mid-evening on a Friday minding you're own business and getting on with darning your socks, when a phone call is received (Out of the Blue) inviting you to go TWITCHING! Unlike the early days, such gallivanting is now all but out of my system, but when the caller is Dave Foot that puts a whole different complexion on things. As much for his valued company as the target bird, the plan was to meet in Dorchester at 06:00 to make a reasonably early start on the drive to Cornwall last Saturday morning. Having transferred the equipment into his motor, to the accompaniment of a 'calling' 
TAWNY OWL
he simply asked "have you got your binoculars"? which for the first time were noticed to be safely secured back in Slight Return II - "OH, FLIPPING HECK"! Suggesting a return, 45 minutes each way, which was not an option he then offered to drive back to his house in Weymouth lend me his spare pair. Now taking the Coast Road west, rather than the more northerly route from Dorchester, firstly only Dave's skilled driving saved the life on an extremely pale
BARN OWL
which all but touched the windscreen, allowing a fantastic but brief view. Additionally, we would now have to pass through the tiny village of Portisham where a
PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER
has been holding temporary residence for quite a few days. It is doubtful that a special journey from East Dorset would have been made to see this little gem of just 3½ inches in length, which also allowed spectacularly close views but was all too mobile for this kid to secure an image. Given its overall appearance, size and the fact that it may breed in Southern Siberia and overwinter in China this forms a microcosm of what Bird Watching is all about to me! A potential Disaster had already turned to Absolute Delight! Reaching
DOZMARY POOL
in Cornwall about mid-morning things didn't look too promising as the wind had freshened and the first of about a dozen heavy hail showers had already struck. On the Pool there were a few Tufted Duck and Mallard plus a relatively close male
 GOLDENEYE
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but not a sniff of the much sort after Lesser Scaup, ever onward to
 where the only 'birders' we met informed us that our main target
had just been seen to fly from the eastern rocky foreshore towards
an area it has been favouring since discovery.

The Surfing Fraternity were occupying much of the sandy beach
between the runs of rocky shoreline, so effectively another area we need not search.
Dave's first scan across
MOUNTS BAY
(where about this time last year we had both added Pacific Diver to our GB List)
and onward to
SAINT MICHAEL'S MOUNT
did turn up a very distant
GREAT NORTHERN DIVER
an addition to my own Year List at least while an overflying
 RAVEN
a few
 TURNSTONE
 c2
 LITTLE EGRET
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REDSHANK
 along with a lone bathing
ROCK PIPIT
After a full hour of wandering from one end of the sea cliffs to the other,
Dave did proclaim " it doesn't look very promising". 
It was at that very moment out of the corner of my eye that a
brown/mottled wing was spotted above the lip of this rock
and then a head and uttering the words "it's there" it
took to the wing obligingly showing there was no white to the rump
pointing to the
 HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL
we had been seeking.
 The flight shots were lucky indeed as care had to be taken
 as what might be described as a
(Common) Whimbrel had also been seen in the vicinity at the same time.
HAPPY the MAN - Genesis.
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Distribution Map
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You might as well have the whole jolly lot,
bumps, shakes, jitters and all!
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AMEN
to the Whimbrel, but that was by no means the end of our day. A second attempt was made for the Lesser Scaup which never did materialise but, with reports of it (or another) plus a Franklin's Gull at the nearby Siblyback Lake it was thought worthy of those extra few miles. The route there followed a narrow but fast flowing stream, which was crying out Dipper, but with no time to stop we continued only to miss both of the other birds. However, we did get a 'first view' for the year of blooming
 PRIMROSE
 and these two fine specimens of
HIGHLAND CATTLE
on the way back to the main road Dave made sure we were not to be
denied a glimpse of the considered
DIPPER
before continuing to our next and final destination and a slim chance of
Green-winged Teal??
 My first and only visit to Black Hole Marsh, part of the extensive
SEATON WETLANDS, was as The Bus Pass Birder and came up trumps with a
Solitary Sandpiper. Maybe this would be an omen for this late afternoon short stay.
Dave quickly picked up on a loan
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AVOCET
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but apart from much more common fare there was little
or nothing to delay us.
It is always a Great Pleasure to share any Wildlife Experience
with Dave who is always welcome at
Parley Court Farm and a day simply
'OUT of the BLUE'
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