Dawlish Warren

A Little Herbert

Herbert the Slavonian Grebe Aug 2018 edit

Here is a little Herbert.

You will find him floating up and down, and around and around, the Exe estuary near Dawlish Warren.
He has been floating around and around the Exe estuary near Dawlish Warren for the last 10 years.
Little Herbert is a Slavonian Grebe. He is possibly of noble and esoteric lineage.

Little Herbert, or Sir Herbert as he sometimes prefers to be known, is the only Slavonian Grebe in the Exe estuary. In fact, he is the only Slavonian Grebe in the South-West of England.

He has never had a mate. He will not be the father to other little Herberts. He is all on his little ownsome.

He is not often seen, but if you do, give him a friendly wave. He is not averse to having his picture taken. However, refrain from using flash, as this will make his red eyes look even redder.

Whatever you do, make sure you take account of him on your blog.
For little Sir Herbert, is the last, and only, Slavonian Grebe you will ever be likely to see – in yours, and his, lifetime.

Illustration: Hazel Brown; Words: Ian Nisbet

PS: Little Herbert wants it known, that he is very pleased with Miss Browns illustration. It makes him look like the very best example of his kind. He gives her his most hootiest salute.

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Warren Wonder

A Saturday afternoon on Dawlish Warren.
In just a few hours we were entertained and engrossed by:

Red Darter and Emperor Dragonflies.
Hundreds of Oystercatchers.
Six Barnacle Geese * (on the golf course obstructing play)
Two Little Egrets frisking about together.
A Kestrel hovering.
A flock of Linnets rapid flyover.
A Robin singing any other bird off.
A dainty stepping Mediterranean Gull *.
A Cormorant hanging its wings out to dry.
A Grey Heron preening, prancing, flapping, and flying.

* Barnacle Geese and Mediterranean Gull are new additions to Birder Brown & Birder Nisbets Twitcher Tick List (only another 198 birds/ticks to go)

A veritable bird bonanza is Dawlish Warren.

(Bad) (Mad) Bird watchers: Hazel Brown & Ian Nisbet

Skylark Inspiration

Skylark May 2018 edit

As we left the beach on Dawlish Warren, walked up onto the Bight, the incessant trilling and fluting song of the skylarks filled the air around us.

Dropping down into a small open hollow, we lay ourselves down on the mossy scrubland and gazed up into the bluest of skies, where we soon saw and heard skylarks on the wing, high above our heads.

We watched them fall out of the sky, dropping down, still singing, wings flapping as they dived … then seeming to stop in mid air, hovering for several seconds, the song louder now, they gently glided to the ground.

One’s and two’s perched on dead stalks and twiggy shrubs to give a magnificent performance of full song.

This exhibition of sky diving accompanied by their amazing songs continued for another two hours! A great day out!

Illustration & Text: Hazel Brown

Two Linnets

Not just one linnet. But 2 linnets. On Dawlish Warren.

Ivor Cutlers girlfriend Phyllis King wrote a little poem about a linnet.

A Linnet

Sky fragile as ancient porcelain
Slender a pale bird on a bramble
Still as evening air
A linnet I breathe
Knowing only the sparrow by sight
What bird so perfect
Could have another name?

Phyllis King
(From the Ivor Cutler album- Jammy Smears)

We made a little vid about this Linnet poem on our other blog 3 years ago.

Vid: Ian Nisbet

Heart Urchin

We picked this up on Dawlish Warren sands.

Heart Urchin 2 May 2018

No idea what it was. Small, fragile, delicate. Intriguing.

Turns out its a ‘Heart Urchin’. Or to give it its more prosaic name ‘sea potato’.

Here’s an heart urchin still alive.

Heart Urchin

And looking kind of ‘urchin-like’ in that picture.

The paper-thin casing (we found) is what remains of the heart urchin in its ‘test’ form.

There were dozens of them on the beach. Casualities of the storms that blew across the Bay back in March possibly.

We collected 3, but 2 didn’t survive the vagaries of my trouser pocket and were crushed into fine particles.

This one, fortunately still in tact, sits on the windowsill in Haze’s kitchen.

Heart Urchin 3 May 2018

(PS: The stitch-like threading vaguely reminds me of the American softballs my mom used to sow together back in the 70’s)

Skylarking on Dawlish Warren

Laid out flat on our backs on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the middle of the Bight on Dawlish Warren, watching and filming skylarks.

This one obligingly stood on a stalk

Skylark 4 May 2018

And from about 50 feet away, let us film him singing

Skylark 2 May 2018

We pointed cameras up at the skylarks as they sang high above us, vainly attempting to follow them as they fell out the sky; but couldn’t get clear film of the exhiliration we were seeing.

We stuck at it all sunny afternoon long. Stayed still, stayed patient, as one after another of these skylarking skylarkers came flying and falling onto the scrubby buddleia bushes around where we lay.

Enthralling. Utterly delightful.

Skylarking: Hazel Brown & Ian Nisbet