Places visited

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 flithy 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 back and forth 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

New Years Day walk to Avon Dam

How to start the new year? What about a 14 mile walk to and from Dartmoor.
The destination: Avon Dam

The car park at Shipley Bridge was choka.
Families of little kids having fresh air blown into their fuggy heads.
Every dog under the weak winter sun being walked and yapped off its lead.
The congestion on the path up was like Torquay town centre during the January Sales.

But I scarpered on up to the Dam anyway, regardless.
And was rewarded with this

Avon Dam 3 New Years Day 2019

A bit of pure peace and quiet.
With just the wind whistling through the grass, ruffling ripples on the water.

It was worth walking 6 hours for.
A positive purposeful way to start 2019.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

The Old Raven of Babbacombe Bay

This old raven was waiting for me to arrive at Babbacombe bay this afternoon.

Old Raven of Babbacombe Dec 2018

Seemingly too weary and worn out to fly.
He showed no inclination to take to the air or join all the other ravens kronking in and out of the tall clifftop trees.

Simply sat around all afternoon, tamely watching and waiting.
(although he did rob a couple of crows of a seabird they’d just killed – and proceeded to neatly rip and tear it to bits)

As it got dark the old chap hopped up into the nearest lowest branches he could find, in readiness for roosting for the night.

He will probably be there again this Sunday morning.

The old raven of Babbacombe Bay. You can’t miss him.
He’ll be sat on the seawall.
Waiting for ships (or chips) to turn up.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Turnstones (er, turning stones)

I was down on the beach at Corbyn Head not expecting much.

But there they were, a little gang of turnstones, doing exactly what it says on their tins: turning stones.

For such a small bird, turnstones certainly punch well above their weight (and size) They’ve been tracked migrating huge distances: more than 16,000 miles from Australia to the Arctic and back again.

And from the evidence of what I was seeing yesterday, their stone turning is almost at the level of an Olympic sport.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet