Month: January 2019

Black-headed Gulls feeding in the overflow

About 60 or 70 blackheaded gulls were flocking around the overflow pipe coming out from under Morrisons in Totnes yesterday.


These gulls heads will turn properly black (or chocolaty) in the summer.

The bigger bulkier herring gulls tried to mimic what the blackheaded gulls were doing but weren’t light enough to skim flightily over the effluent flooding out.

So it was a clear win for the blackheaded gulls.

For once the usually bossy herring gulls were relegated to 2nd best in the pecking (and picking) order.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Sealing the Bay

Seal seen fishing in what might well be his patch (of sea) last Saturday.

Left to right, back and forth, right to left, across Babbacombe Bay he went all afternoon. As easy as you like.
Sealed to the sea he was, as one wedded entity.

What a perfect way to spend your Saturday afternoon.

Also, a little Common Scoter was bobbling about (with what appeared to be plenty of his own fish to fry)

(Or was it a Velvet Scoter?! Too far away to get a positive id)

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

La Lapwing (Lap) Danse

I’d hoped to see lapwings up at Bowling Green Marsh Topsham last Wednesday.
Amazingly, I got to see this pair doing something rather wonderful.

The way they moved around one another was like some kind of stately dance from the baroque court of Louis XIV.

I don’t know if they were a male and female doing a pre-mating nuptial bit of hokey cokey (pokey) or 2 males sparring with one another.

Answers on a French postcard please. Merci Boocoo.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Black Tailed Godwits getting stuck in

black tailed godwit jan 2019

That pic is a snapshot from the vid below. Not a great pic but at least it shows the long slightly upward pointy turn of the bill; and the black tail.

This pic is the bird turned around more front on (again not quite sharp enough because snapped out of the vid)

black tailed godwit 2 jan 2019

There were 200 plus of these BTG’s (Black Tailed Godwits) at Bowling Green Marsh on Wednesday.
Getting ‘raight stuck in t grass’ with those long billed probes they were, ‘no messin abaht’.

They flittered and flocked about the marshes, their white stripey wings flashed glittery by warm winter sunlight (you can see that in the ‘A Great Day to Fly’ vid I posted earlier)

One of the Birder Blokes at the Hide said there might have been some Bar Tailed Godwits around too, but I didn’t have his better camera and bigger lense to zoom them in.

So that’s Godwits for you. Not to be mistaken for Curlews (their bills curve over and down) The high pitched shrieks you hear constantly squeaking off in the vid isn’t the Godwits – it’s those wheezy bleddy Wigeons.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

The Whistling Wheezy Wigeon

a pair of wigeons jan 2019

Whoever said the wigeon was a boring bird is totally wrong.

For a start the male has got a sweet chestnutty coloured head with a distinctive prominent yellow centre parting.

Even more prominent, and decidely distinctive, is the wigeons whistle.
Its a persistant wheezy noise call that is shriekingly piercing.

I heard this whistle all over Bowling Green Marsh in Topsham on Wednesday. It’s sound was unmistakable (and unavoidable)

When you think wigeon don’t imagine filthy feral pigeon morphed into a mundane mallard duck.

The wigeon has got its own unique calling card.
Which cannot, and will not, be ignored.

Footnote: Any calls and whistles you can hear on the vid other than the one-note wheezy whistle of the wigeon belong to other less tuneless birds.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

A Great Day to Fly

Up to Bowling Green Marsh Nature Reserve in Topsham today.
The sunrise was milky with liquid loveliness.

Loads of chattery sparkling starlings were high up the masts of boats berthed up in the quay.

At the Nature Reserve were hundreds of black tailed godwits.
The underside of their wings like flashy glints as they flew across in front of the Hide.

Exhilirating, electrifying, enthralling, they were, it all was (and any other exciting words beginning with E)
Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet