Saturday, 17 March 2018

Chiffies, Scaup, Snow and PBBrent

Starcross from Mudbank
A mini-influx of Chiffchaffs in the clifftop scrub on Orcombe first thing this morning. I counted at least 10 birds but I'm sure there were more. Also making the notebook this morning were 4+ Goldcrest, 1 Snipe, 1 Golden Plover, 4+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Kestrel and a Great Northern Diver.
Nearby, Maer Rocks produced 2 immature drake Eider, 1 Dunlin, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Common Scoter, c30+ Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose and at least 3 Purple Sandpiper.
Four Great Northern Divers and a third Eider were off the Grove.
Snow's been falling pretty much all day but it hasn't settled much in Exmouth. Lu and I walked the dog and I went for a stroll in it later this afternoon, but there was no evidence of any cold weather movement. Let's hope it stays that way. I picked up a female-type Scaup from Mudbank but I'm guessing it's the same bird that was reported on the river a while back. I wandered up to West Lodge for a better view but it was heading upriver so it remained distant. Further sightings included 60+ Redshank off West Lodge and 3+ Goldeneye, c15+ Red-breasted Merganser and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull off Mudbank.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Maer Rocks

Dark-bellied Brent Goose - Maer Rocks - fuelling up for the long journey back east.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Yellow Horned and Bonus Spoonbill

Yellow Horned - a brand new moth for me. Many thanks to Martin once again. He trapped this early-emerging spring beauty last night, at Saint Hill near Kentisbeare. It takes its name from its orangey antennae and is one of the 'Lutestring' family. It's not a particularly uncommon moth but until today I've never crossed paths with one.
Out for mum's birthday tonight so I had to do a quick post-work dash to Exminster Marshes, to meet Martin and a Yellow Horned! Chuffed to see my first new moth species of 2018, and pleased to pick up the Spoonbill too, that Martin had relocated on the floods. The end of the lane looked impassable so the bird was scoped from the Lion's Rest.
Little other news, but yesterday Mudbank was quite good with six Pale-bellied Brent Geese high north, upriver, shortly after dawn. Additionally there were 7 Goldeneye off there, 12+ Great Crested Grebe, 1 Long-tailed Duck and a second-winter Mediterranean Gull.

The distant white 'blob' is a Spoonbill - presumably the same bird that has been at Ferrybridge, Seaton, and Budleigh.
The Goldeneye are always mid-river for me in Exmouth, so this is about the limit of what I can get with the camera. Seven birds yesterday included two drakes, which predictably displayed to the females every so often. The Long-tailed Duck was off Mudbank yesterday too, looking a bit left out.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


This juvenile Russian White-fronted Goose turned up on Exminster Marshes today so I popped over to see it after work. With blue skies and the sun shining it felt as if the air should have been filled with Sand Martins, and the pools swimming with Garganey, but that most certainly wasn't the case. Any day now presumably.....
Really good to see Dave Boult and AJ, and also Bob and Mark (many thanks for the text). Getting out of Exmouth more is great for reacquainting with people as well as birds. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018


Migrants on Orcombe today included Wheatear, Firecrest, Stonechat, 6+ Snipe and 3+ Meadow Pipit. Also recorded - 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Little Egret, 1 Peregrine, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and c100+ Jackdaw.
Mudbank had its migrants too - 1 Sandwich Tern, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Golden Plover, 1 or 2 Meadow Pipits and 3 Pale-bellied Brent Goose. Also recorded - 400+ Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 60+ Turnstone, 14 Sanderling and a female Goldeneye.
Meadow Pipit on the dung heap.
Two of three Mediterranean Gulls off Mudbank
Sandwich Tern - Mudbank

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Red-necked Grebe - Beesands
Nick and I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours, from dawn, down in the South Hams. The lure of a nice close Red-necked Grebe and bonus Ring-necked Duck proving too strong.
We started at Beesands where the Red-necked Grebe performed admirably, despite the rain. The Ring-necked Duck wasn't there but 9 Pochard, c15+ Tufted Duck, 4+ Gadwall, 1 Little Grebe and 1 Great Crested Grebe were. It's been four years since I last saw Red-necked Grebe so the trip down was worth it for this bird alone.
Next stop Torcross and the drake Ring-necked Duck was picked up on the Ley almost immediately. I've a real soft spot for this species and although I've seen a fair few over the years, this one didn't disappoint - a beautiful and very characterful duck!
Nick picked up a smart Black-necked Grebe, that was almost in full summer plumage, so we walked a little way back along the road to get better views. A good decision as the Ring-necked Duck popped up in front of us too. Male and female Goldeneye were noted as well, along with c50+ Tufted Duck. No Pochard.
We wandered along the beach road to look at a decent-sized gull flock but couldn't find anything unusual. Storm Emma had dumped tonnes of rock material and debris along the Ley shore. It must have been some sight when the storm was at its peak.
We were back in Exmouth for 11am. A quick look off Mudbank revealed 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and c130+ Lapwing flying high south from Exminster way, before heading west.
Drake Ring-necked Duck - Slapton Ley

Black-necked Grebe - Slapton Ley

Two of three Pale-bellied Brent Geese off Mudbank.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Rockits and a Bomb!

Half a dozen Rock Pipits on the Orcombe dung pile this afternoon. Also 4 Golden Plover up there. On the river a single Sandwich Tern. I had a quick look at the estuary on the way home and got distracted by the Bomb Disposal Unit who were dealing with an old WW2 bomb/shell out on the mud. It was detonated whilst we were all eating dinner this evening and the house shook!

Some birds can look pretty pale-lored at certain angles. This one was buffy beneath too.

An effective bird-scarer. The roosting gulls went mental when this went off!

The Bomb Disposal Unit had to be towed out of the mud. Huge respect for those guys. What a job.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Black Red, Sandwich Tern and Golden Plover Rescue

Fieldfare. Smaller numbers of winter thrushes, but significant numbers none the less, remained in Exmouth today. Perhaps most notable was a count of 10 Song Thrush together on Warren View playing fields, at the back of our house, late this afternoon.
Nick and I covered a few sites this morning. Off Maer Rocks at first light - 2 immature drake Eider, 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver and a Fulmar were logged on a brief watch.
The cricket pitch produced 13 Golden Plover and 28 Lapwing, and on the Imperial Rugby pitches and adjoining recreational area - 80+ Lapwing, 1 Ruff (0650 only), 21+ Golden Plover, 1 Mistle Thrush, c40+ Dark-bellied Brent Goose and small numbers of both Redwing and Fieldfare. On the river - a Sandwich Tern and 6 Goldeneye.
Other sightings whilst out and about today included a Knot and 11+ Bar-tailed Godwit off Mudbank, an adult Mediterranean Gull along the seafront and the Black Redstart and a Kestrel on Orcombe Point.
Late this afternoon at least 10 Song Thrush were with a handful of Redwing on Warren View playing field and a Blackcap was in the garden.

Exmouth seafront

Different shades of Lesser Black-backed Gull with a possible intermedius on the right.

An early Sandwich Tern heading down river off the Imperial early this morning. Click on image to enlarge.

Great Crested Grebes off the Imperial recreation ground.

Nick and I rescued this Golden Plover that had crashed into the low wire fence that surrounds the cricket pitch. What appeared to be a minor cut on the wing didn't prevent it from flying off strongly. I couldn't believe how light and small it felt in my hands - a timely reminder of how delicate and vulnerable these birds are. Thank you to Nick for the use of this photo.

Derek's Black Redstart - Orcombe Point - viewed from the beach. This is the first one I've seen in Exmouth this winter.

Kestrel - Orcombe Point