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57


WITH JOHN ASHTON


have a look at sea-birds, only to find a bloomin’ great whale loafing around inshore. Birders are often the first to report unusual wildlife sightings due to their propensity for wandering about with expensive optical devices attached to various parts of their anatomies. So it was that the hot-lines lit up


I


with reports of a HUMPBACK WHALE off the beach at Slapton. This giant, which can grow to over 50ft long and weigh 30 tons, was nonchalantly swimming along, accompanied by a bemused seal and a retinue of gulls that were making the most of any leftovers. A week later it was still there, attracting hoards of enthusias- tic spectators. A dozen LONG-TAILED TITS are


constantly visiting my garden at the moment. Flocks of these pretty little pink, white and black treasures often have an entourage of BLUE TITS, COAL TITS and even the odd FIREC- REST in attendance, as they forage along the hedgerows. BLACKCAPS are my newest visitors and the epony- mous male aggressively defends “his”


Long Tailed Tit


feeders from anything smaller than a jackdaw. The female has a brown cap and is


less surly. Blackcaps can be mistaken for tits at a distance, but they are actually warblers and have a spring song that ranks among the best of all the British birds. Occasionally during some winters,


WAXWINGS suddenly decide to migrate south from Siberia and this year they have reached as far south as Devon. This invasion is called an “irruption” and large


flocks of these exotic birds are currently scoffing


t isn’t every day of the week that you pop down to the beach to


Bird watching


in association with


Humpback Whale spotted off Slapton


roadside Rowan berries like there’s no tomorrow. They swallow the berries whole and each can consume twice its own bodyweight in one sitting. This gluttony not only leads to constant defecation but also as the sugar ferments in their stomachs, the resulting intoxication can be fatal. So the next time you see a wobbly Waxwing fall off his perch, you know what’s happened!


Waxwing


Binoculars www.king–print.co.uk


Binoculars, Scopes & Astronomical Telescopes Tel: (01548) 856757 www.king-print.co.uk TOP of the TOWN, Fore Street, Kingsbridge, Devon. TQ7 1PP


Female blackcap Scopes


Instore, Online or Mobile


Top of the Town, Fore Street, Kingsbridge, Devon. TQ7 1PP Photos Tel: (01548) 856757


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