Sunday, 19 November 2017

Selected Counts

Guillemot - Maer Rocks
Maer Rocks - 1 Eider, 10 Common Scoter, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Guillemot, 7 Turnstone, 7 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Sanderling and 1 Rock Pipit.
Mudbank - a high count of 23+ Great Crested Grebe, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Goldeneye, c60+ Redshank, 13 Black-tailed Godwit, 140+ Shelduck, 2 Teal, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose and good numbers of Wigeon, Brent Goose and Pintail.


Common Gull

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Today's Stuff

Tufted Duck - Mudbank
A few quick looks at places today - Mudbank - Tufted Duck, Long-tailed Duck (well upriver this afternoon), 6 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 10+ Red-breasted Merganser, c10+ Great Crested Grebe, 2 Peregrine, 25+ Redshank, 5+ Black-tailed Godwit and c2/300+ Dunlin.
Off Maer Rocks - 15 Common Scoter with a female-type Eider and off Shelly Beach - 1 Great Northern Diver with 6 Long-tailed Tits high over north-west.

Three of six Long-tailed Tits heading high across the river.
Terrible shot of yesterday's Firecrest

Friday, 17 November 2017

Firecrest and LTD

A Firecrest by the Mudbank viewing screen this evening. Also off there the Long-tailed Duck and 5 Red-breasted Merganser with the usual stuff. The only other minor oddity was a female Teal.
Yesterday I stood in the back garden for 10 minutes, before work, and noted my first Fieldfare, along with c25+ Redwing and 1 Siskin. The Long-tailed Duck was scoped along with 6 Black-tailed Godwit.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


Moorhen - Bystock
The female-type Long-tailed Duck was again off Mudbank this afternoon, along with my first returning Goldeneyes of the autumn - 2 female types actively diving mid-river. Also off Mudbank - 40+ Dunlin and 20+ Ringed Plover, with 4 Meadow Pipit over.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Long-tailed Duck

In the absence of LTD photo here's a Wigeon from Saturday.
Just a 5 minute look off Mudbank this evening. One Long-tailed Duck distantly off there, with 10 Red-breasted Merganser. Also 10 Ringed Plover roosting below the railway line. Maisie's 15th birthday today. No idea where the last 15 years have gone! Happy Birthday Maisie!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Italian Sparrow and Goosanders

Male Italian-type Sparrow (right) with House Sparrow - East Budleigh.
I didn't drop everything and rush to see this bird but I suppose deep down I was quite keen to see it all the same. It's one of those birds that's always there in the back of my mind (admittedly some way behind Spanish Sparrow) when I search through House Sparrow flocks, but I'm a reluctant twitcher and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to justify leaving my beloved Exmouth for stuff. Anyway I'm glad I've seen it, and it was great to meet Tom and see Steve Young, despite the freezing northerly, driving rain and stinging hail!
I'll leave the decision about whether it is one or not to those that know far more than me but it has to be said that plumage-wise there's not a lot wrong with it! The BBRC however have currently taken a stance that leaves little possibility of one ever being accepted. A big thank you to Chris for putting the news out and organising viewing. Great work!
At dawn I did Orcombe in a last ditch attempt to see some migration in action this autumn. In clear skies and a cold northerly I logged (all heading west) c120+ Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 1 Redpoll, 10+ Goldfinch, 2+ Linnet, 4+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2+ Siskin, 1 Starling and c50+ Finch sp (too high to suss). My sixth Cirl Bunting on Orcombe, this year, sang briefly from deep in a hedge before heading west and a Yellowhammer went over north. Also recorded - 3+ Goldcrest, 2+ Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 1+ Bullfinch and a Kestrel.
Only a couple quick looks off Mudbank today. Conditions were far from ideal but I still managed 2 Gadwall, 1 Teal and 1 Shoveler amongst the usual stuff. Best off all were 6 redhead Goosander that did a close fly-past before heading upriver - the first I've seen in Exmouth for a while, following a blank year last year.

This male Italian Sparrow was photographed in Corsica in July 2011. It won't add anything to the debate!
Whilst digging out the Italian Sparrow photo I came across this photo of Mediterranean Flycatcher - M.tyrrhenica, alongside a Cirl. Another species that has generated much recent discussion.
Pintail - Mudbank

An obliging Rock Pipit - Exmouth seafront. I stopped to photograph this beauty whilst we were on a family dog walk. Annoying for my family.


Saturday, 11 November 2017


Gadwall pair - Mudbank
Can't think of a more imaginative title. Best birds today were a pair of Gadwall off Mudbank and 6 Eider off Orcombe Point. It's really good to see that the Purple Sandpiper count on Maer Rocks has already risen to eleven birds - that's 3 more than last winter's maximum. Also on Maer Rocks c5/6+ Turnstone and 6 Common Scoter off there.
Off Mudbank - 21+ Turnstone, c60+ Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 8+ Black-tailed Godwit, c100+ Pintail, c1000+ Wigeon, c6/700+ Dark-bellied Brent Goose and c10+ Pale-bellied Brent Goose, though these weren't given much attention in terrible visibility. Also an adult Mediterranean Gull off there.

White-cheeked Pintail


Friday, 10 November 2017

This Week

A busy and difficult week at work but I always squeeze in a bit of birding, for my own sanity. Trouble is it's near enough dark by the time I get out. Nothing too exciting to report this week but the Purple Sandpiper count jumped to 7 on Tuesday evening, when there were also 2 Golden Plover on Orcombe Point, along with 2 Stonechat and 2 Song Thrush.
Yesterday there were just 2 Purple Sandpiper on Maer Rocks with a Great Northern Diver offshore.
This evening, again just 2 Purple Sandpiper along with 1 Little Egret and 4/5 Turnstone.

Little Egret - Maer Rocks this evening. Guess which way the wind's blowing!

One of two Rock Pipits on the dung heap this evening.

Kestrel - Orcombe Point this evening. Tail looks short. Would be nice to see a longer p10!

Golden Plover - Orcombe Point 7/11

Collared Dove - not a common sight on Orcombe Point. The best place in Exmouth, as far as I can tell, seems to be the Carter Park area, where good numbers of this species can be seen.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Purple Sandpiper

The first Purple Sandpiper was back on Maer Rocks this evening. We're hoping for an improvement on last winter's maximum count of 8 birds. Also 3 Turnstone.
Shortly after dawn this morning I stood in the back garden for 20 minutes, with a cuppa. A little pre-work ritual. Several flocks of Woodpigeon were moving west or north-west. Mostly small groups but some larger flocks of 200+ birds. Also recorded - 1 Brambling and the odd Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Song Thrush.
There's evidently still plenty of Woodpigeon movement happening. Most of this morning's flocks were pretty high up.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Richard's Pipit

A lovely dawn on Orcombe this morning but not without rain showers.
From 7am on Orcombe this morning - 2 Chiffchaff, 10+ Goldfinch, 5+ Goldcrest, 25+ Chaffinch, c10+ Blackbird, 3+ Bullfinch, 3+ Redpoll, 1+ Redwing, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Rock Pipit, c10+ Meadow Pipit, 5+ Pied Wagtail, 4+ Song Thrush, 2 Reed Bunting, 3 Skylark, c5+ Linnet, 3+ Siskin, c1000+ Woodpigeon, 1 Snipe, 2 Stonechat and, best of all, a Richard's Pipit that appeared to come out of the large, flat grass 'top' field besides the coast path, before heading overhead and west. As always it announced its presence with a loud and emphatic 'scheep', very House Sparrow-like in both tone and quality. It continued calling until it was lost from view. This is my second one on Orcombe, following an individual that Nick and I had on November 17th 2013.
On the House Sparrow theme - I counted the flock on Foxholes which consisted of 50 birds - evidence of a decent breeding season with a number of young birds in the flock.

Very ropey shot of this morning's Richard's Pipit (click to enlarge) but to be honest I was chuffed to get anything at all. Fly-overs are never easy targets for an incompetent photographer like me!

On call and bulk I felt confident this was Richard's Pipit and not the much less likely Blyth's Pipit. Nevertheless it's reassuring to have a photo that captures the longer tail of Richard's Pipit, giving it a more wagtail-like profile and less Meadow Pipit-like profile associated with Blyth's.

One of at least 3 Bullfinches on Orcombe this morning.

Saturday, 4 November 2017


Meadow Pipit - Orcombe Point
It was a bit grim on Orcombe first thing. A quick sea-watch produced large numbers of Kittiwake heading in to Dawlish Bay, with a single sweep of the scope revealing 140 birds. Several Auks were whizzing in to feed too, along with good numbers of Gannet and a distant Skua sp which looked good for  Pomarine. Thirteen Common Scoter were offshore and on the point I recorded just 15 Goldfinch, 16+ Chaffinch, 2+ Goldcrest, 1+ Bullfinch, 1 Stonechat, 2 Song Thrush and 5 Meadow Pipit.
Off Mudbank the Black Brant was present with c7/800+ Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Also good numbers of Wigeon and Pintail plus a Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Rock Pipit.
Yesterday evening - 3 Stonechat on Orcombe Point and a Red-throated Diver off Maer Rocks. Also 29 Redshank off Mudbank.
This afternoon I popped up to Woodbury Fort to have a look for Hawfinch. No joy with those but 10+ Brambling in with c50+ Chaffinch. Also Redpoll and Tawny Owl noted.

This Tawny Owl was found the usual way - hearing a commotion caused by mobbing passerines that, in this case, included Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch and Brambling.

Four Brambling in this photo. I counted at least 10 on the deck but I have a hunch there's probably at least double that number up there.

Five Brambling in this shot - click to enlarge.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Two Drake Pochard

Two drake Pochard off Mudbank this evening. Also 1 Mediterranean Gull. Does 3 Pochard in 3 days signal a slight upturn in fortunes for this species? Highly unusual in Exmouth.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Pochard and Barnacle Goose

Field sketch of today's Barnacle Goose (colour added at home).
Today's star bird was a beautiful Barnacle Goose that I picked out amongst the Dark-bellied Brent Goose at around 0930 this morning. With it being the end of October, and with the wind having switched around to the north, it's probably as good a Barnacle Goose as I'm going to see in Exmouth. It was still present mid-afternoon, when Terry caught up with it, and it's sitting comfortably on the house list too. Also off Mudbank today - 9+ Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 1 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Grey Plover, 130+ Shelduck, 2 Siskin, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Rock Pipit and a high count of c170+ Pintail.
Nick and I covered Orcombe Point from dawn (and I had a quick look off Maer Rocks early afternoon). Things had quietened down considerably after yesterday but we still managed 1 Turnstone, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 1 Firecrest, 2 Brambling, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, just 4+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Coal Tit, 14+ Chaffinch, 1 Linnet, 2 Chiffchaff, 3+ Siskin, 9+ Song Thrush, c10+ Blackbird, c80+ Woodpigeon, 1+ Redwing, 36 Common Scoter, 9 Eider and a drake Pochard.
Drake Pochard (left hand bird) with Common Scoter flock. Pochard is less than annual in Exmouth and sadly becoming rarer. You'll almost certainly have to click on this photo to stand a chance of seeing it!
To continue with the 'awful photo' theme, above is today's Barnacle Goose (middle bird) - again you'll need to click to enlarge

Saturday, 28 October 2017

GWE and c35k Woodpigeon

Great White Egret field notes - made immediately after watching it fly upriver.
I finally got Great White Egret from the house today. I was watching from the back garden and even with the bins, suspected what it was going to be -  a white 'dot', high up and flying purposefully north in a straight line with slow, lumbering wingbeats. It took me some frantic seconds to get it in the scope where I was able to take in more detail. The last one I had in Exmouth was a French-ringed bird in July 2014. Also noted - the Black Brant with 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 5 Song Thrush and the White-cheeked Pintail from Mudbank.
Earlier on I'd done Orcombe Point from dawn. I probably missed some good stuff because I was wrapped up with a huge movement of Woodpigeon - all going west or north-west and totalling c35,000 birds, though I'd be the first to admit that there could be some margin of error involved with that number!
Also overhead this morning - 5+ Redwing, c15+ Pied Wagtail, only c20+ Meadow Pipit, c20+ Skylark, 8+ Redpoll, c15+ Chaffinch, c15+ Siskin, 1 Yellowhammer, 5+ Reed Bunting, 7 Starling, c50+ Jackdaw and c20+ Linnet. Also 1 Kestrel, 1 Coal Tit, 1+ Bullfinch, 1 Chiffchaff and 9+ Song Thrush.
Late this afternoon I had a wander around the Bystock reserve and had at least 3 Firecrest in Holly trees at the north end.

It was incredibly difficult to count the waves of Woodpigeon moving over Orcombe this morning. Normally I have Nick to help me but not this morning. I estimated the biggest flocks to consist of 4000+ birds but I could be quite some way out. The biggest flocks formed enormous 'ribbons' of birds that stretched across the skyline. Great to witness this after missing out last year. The main movement lasted until about 9am when it noticeably quietened. I left at 10am.

Just a fraction of a vast 'ribbon' of birds moving west across the bay.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Short-eared Owl, 7 Egyptians and a YLG

Short-eared Owl - Orcombe.
Lu's Birthday - the most stressful day in the year (don't worry she never reads this blog). She opted for shopping with Maisie and her sister, leaving Joel and I to fend for ourselves 'til 3pm. We cycled to Topsham, grabbed some lunch and then chilled around the house. I managed to get some chores and some gardening done and set the scope up in the back garden, which proved to be a good idea! Stuff's been moving all day. Several large Woodpigeon flocks moved south (which is interesting because when I'm on Orcombe they're always going W/NW), and I recorded small numbers of Redwing, Song Thrush, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, a single Stock Dove, lots of 'Corvids', Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a probable Hawfinch throughout the course of the day.
On the incoming tide, scoping the river produced a surprise flock of 7 Egyptian Geese (which are new for the house list), 40+ Pintail, c1500+ Wigeon, 8 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, the Black Brant, c20+ Black-tailed Godwit and a rather late Sandwich Tern. I nipped down to Mudbank to photograph the Egyptian Geese and whilst down there counted 80+ Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 19 Redshank 1 Greenshank and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull.
At 3pm I had a narrow window of time before the family piled round, so I covered the two largest fields at the top of Gore Lane and was rewarded with bird of the day - a beautiful Short-eared Owl. It circled for ages, drawing the attention of some Magpies, and eventually pitched down at the base of the hedge. Could have stayed and watched it for ages but needed to get back.
These Egyptian Geese were first seen flying in as I watched from the back garden. I had to nip down to Mudbank to get this terrible shot.

First-winter Yellow-legged Gull - not the most obvious one but the greater coverts (dark bases to outers) and tertials (plain edges) drew attention. I had to wait and see it fly to clinch it but failed to get a photo of the upperwing.

Note the tail pattern.