Jam, Thickly Spread

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Gavin Haig

Magazine Author

Gavin Haigh

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Magazine Article
Bird-wise it's been a good year. I've probably had more than my fair share of jammy stuff already, but that didn't prevent another big helping today...

I was a bit slow getting out, and when I switched on my recorder at Cogden it was 07:08. There was barely a breath of wind, and the sea was almost flat. So ambient noise was minimal. The 'seep...seep' of Meadow Pipits cut cleanly through the morning air, and the 'hweet' of a Chiffchaff in the bushes. Two Chiffchaffs. Three.

It felt birdy...

I was well along the beach when Mike called with news of 17 pale-bellied Brents heading west. Normally when Mike calls, I am at home, at work, or in some other way a million miles from the action. This time I simply had to raise my bins and look...

17 pale-bellied Brent Geese heading W
Adult, juvenile, adult

A lone Wheatear on the beach, and very few gulls, but there was constantly something going on overhead. Mostly Meadow Pipits, but several Swallows too, and lots of distant unidentifiables. I heard Siskin occasionally but didn't see any until I was on the return leg of my walk, when 25 belted past just overhead. Silently. Honestly, I have checked the recording and there wasn't a peep out of them. Even though I probably exaggerated things in the last post, it's true that I have been a bit concerned about my hearing. However, as I made my way through the boardwalk sallows I heard a crest calling. Heard! And it didn't sound like a Goldcrest. Sure enough, in the canopy above me was a cracking little Firecrest. Much too mobile for photos, but there is this...

Shortly afterwards I climbed a stile and headed inland a bit. Plodding slowly along the edge of a field I was suddenly aware of a bird flipping off the deck and onto a bramble. Bins up, and...a Wryneck! Get in! It was back on, and peering at me over its shoulder. Although I was nowhere near it, the bird clearly thought I was way too close, so hopped through a gap and disappeared into the foliage.

I've had Wryneck encounters like this before, where I've disturbed a bird but not actually flushed it, and my memory told me that if I were to back right off, it might reappear. So I did. And...eventually...it did...

It's a long way of, but I don't care! It's a Wryneck!

I'm fairly sure I saw three Wrynecks during my Axe patch years. One on Beer Head, one on the Seaton tram line and one at Seaton Marshes. This is my first since moving to Dorset, and it was very, very welcome! And of course, to find your own is the icing on the cake. What a brilliant morning!

I thought I'd close with one final photo. I'm sure I'm not the only birder who regularly scans hedgerows for pale blobs, or who, when spotting such a blob with the naked eye, instantly raises their bins to check it out. Well, here's why...

Just a little pale blob, patiently awaiting a 10x lens and massive appreciation