Sunday, 31 December 2017

New Year's Eve...

It’s New Year’s Eve and a family walk by the sea at Seaton was on the cards. No rare birds to twitch this year - no Blue Rock Thrush, no Brünnich’s Guillemot, no White-billed Diver. The Hawfinch is still kicking about in the garden at Whitestaunton and a male Siskin plus 50ish Brambling just 300 metres from the house, which went some way towards consolation though.

Rough seas at Seaton today, great day for a walk.
Stonechat above the sea front, Seaton.
Hawfinch, still showing occasionally at Whitestaunton.

Highlight of the day though was chatting to a retired gentleman in Pebbles cafe in Seaton. An interesting guy who spends six months of the year living in the UK (near Axminster) and the other six months living in the south of France. Prior to moving to the UK 20 years ago he’d spent his life in South Africa where he was born, raised and managed a private game reserve on the outskirts of Kruger National Park.

After discovering my interest in wildlife he started to recount tales of the times he came across Puff Adders, Boomslangs, Cobras and a large resident Black Mamba that he saw on numerous occasions. Once, while trekking along an overgrown path through the bush with his head tracker, he came face-to-face (literally) with the mamba. It had sensed their imminent arrival and reared up (they can elevate a third of their body length off the ground). It looked him in the eyes! Luckily they knew just what to do and froze on the spot. No longer feeling threatened the mamba lowered itself and hurried away into the scrub. This individual was as thick as his forearm and 15-16ft in length - it must have been a scary moment for all concerned. I could have spent a lot more time talking to him - fascinating stuff! But as the rain set in, it was time to head home.

Here's to an exciting and wildlife filled 2018 for everyone - catch up again next year!

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