Sunday, 4 December 2016

YBW, Sibe Chiff and Other Good Stuff

Yellow-browed Warbler blur - below Foxholes.
I got out at dawn and again this afternoon. The birding was remarkably good considering the cold and overcast conditions. As I got out of the car, along the seafront below Foxholes, a Yellow-browed Warbler started calling. I soon had good views as it edged out of the sallows and into some bramble right in front of me. In keeping with tradition I only managed a terrible photo of it before it flicked back into cover. I soon picked up a 'fee' calling Siberian Chiffchaff as it too ventured into the low bramble scrub, and at least 3 Chiffchaffs (probably at least double that) followed suit. Also present were 1 Firecrest, 1 Goldcrest and 2 Bullfinches. A great little spot that I rarely check. Viewing the scrub is easy enough but it gets quite busy along that stretch so it kind of puts me off.
Offshore there was at least 1 Great Northern Diver and c40+ Common Scoter. Mid-afternoon I had distant views of the 2 Velvet Scoters and there was a Purple Sandpiper on Maer Rocks, along with a Little Egret and 4 Brent Geese.
Off Mudbank were 105+ Pintail, a female Gadwall, 3 Goldeneye and 40 Redshank.
Finally, a quick look off Shelly Beach revealed the adult Bonaparte's Gull, 4+ Red-breasted Mergansers and a Greenshank. A female-type Black Redstart was mobile around the apartments, always keeping one step ahead of me.

Another dreadful shot. This Siberian Chiffchaff was classic plumage-wise and it gave the short piping 'fee' that typifies tristis.

This area of scrub, situated just below Foxholes, was remarkably productive this morning. I'd look at it more often but you have to contend with the noise of the waves behind you and a near enough constant procession of cars to and fro. It sits well within the Orcombe patch boundary and surely warrants more regular checking!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Velvets and Bony's

Bonaparte's Gull - I very nearly overlooked this bird as Lu and I were walking the dog off Shelly Beach late this afternoon. Unfortunately it very quickly took off and flew towards the Warren.
It was good to catch up with two Velvet Scoters off the seafront this afternoon. They were feeding fairly close to the main throng of c100+ Common Scoters. Both female-type birds and always pretty distant, but never an easy species to see in Exmouth. Five Brent Geese and a Purple Sandpiper were on Maer Rocks and there seemed to be a number of auks bombing around out in the bay.
Off Mudbank there were at least 120 Pintail along with 11 distant Bar-tailed Godwits, a Goldeneye, Greenshank and a Peregrine.
A Little Grebe looks set to winter in the marina and the Bonaparte's Gull was off Shelly Beach.
On the 30/11 the female-type Scaup was still off Mudbank and I discovered a Water Rail in a wet bit of woodland just up from West Lodge, along the as yet unopened stretch of cycle path. A Jay was in the same area.
Late yesterday afternoon, 2 Mistle Thrushes and 3 Redwing were behind or house on Warren View playing fields. At least 4 Song Thrushes are also present along with several Blackbirds, but I've only managed to see one Chiffchaff down there this week.

The Bonaparte's Gull heading towards the Warren.

The marina remains the only reliable place to see Little Grebe in Exmouth.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Scaup Still

 Greenfinch - one of c10+ feeding on blackberries at Mudbank yesterday.
The Scaup still present this evening. It likes the stretch of water just north of Mudbank and south of West Lodge. I didn't really count stuff in the limited time I had after work this evening, but yesterday I recorded 20+ Red-breasted Mergansers, the female-type Scaup, 2+ Goldeneyes, 1 Peregrine, 33+ Grey Plovers, 1 Knot, 2 Ringed Plovers, c120+ Turnstones, c2/300+ Dunlin, c40+ Redshank and a Chiffchaff.
First thing yesterday morning I had 2 Great Northern Divers off Maer Rocks and 2 distant small ducks that looked like Long-tailed Ducks. Too distant to be 100% sure though.

One of at least 33 Grey Plovers off Mudbank yesterday afternoon. A good count for Mudbank. They're usually miles out in the estuary so it was lovely to see them up close.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Two Scaups, Pochard and Firecrest

Fortunately Shovelers are identifiable in near darkness! This pair was off Mudbank on the evening of the 24th, following a single off there the day before.
Thanks to a call from Lee I saw both Scaup and Pochard in Exmouth today. The Pochard, a drake, was amongst c50+ Common Scoters off the seafront this morning, and the Scaup, a female-type was viewed from Shelly Beach as it dived off Cockwood alongside a Slavonian Grebe. Also a Goldeneye off there.
The last Scaup I saw in Exmouth was off Maer Rocks on 8/2/2014 and the last Pochard was off Orcombe on 24/4/2011. Rare birds!
Shortly after 1pm this afternoon I located a second female-type Scaup upriver towards West Lodge. It was still present late afternoon. Definitely a second bird as Lee was still watching his while I was watching mine. Also off Mudbank this afternoon - 2 Goldeneyes, 40+ Teal, 4 Gadwall, 80+ Mallard, 6+ Red-breasted Mergansers, c50+ Pintail, c100+ Wigeon, c100+ Brent Geese, 75+ Dunlin, c30+ Redshank, 5 Ringed Plovers, 2 Grey Plovers, c50+ Turnstones and 4+ Great Crested Grebes.
A Firecrest was seen briefly down at Mudbank this afternoon, close to the viewing screen. I can't recall ever seeing one in that area of scrub before.
Earlier in the week there was a Shoveler off Mudbank, late in the afternoon on the 23rd. The following evening there was a pair off there. Infrequent visitors to this corner of the estuary.
Goldfinches - Warren View playing fields

Sunday, 20 November 2016


Rock Pipit - Exmouth Beach - one of two seen on a 'post storm' dog-walk this morning.
Mudbank today - best bird a Golden Plover - only my second in Exmouth this year. Also off there - 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 10+ Great Crested Grebes, 8+ Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Peregrine, 4 Sanderling, 14 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Great Northern Diver amongst the usual stuff.
I was pleased to catch up with the Long-tailed Duck this afternoon. It was initially amongst c50+ Common Scoters off the seafront but for no apparent reason it took off and flew way out into the bay, on its own, before pitching down. I could only see 2 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks but I suspect there were others lurking nearby.

Saturday, 19 November 2016


A very distant Spoonbill roosting on Bull Hill this afternoon.
I spent the best part of the morning in Exeter with the family, but this afternoon I managed to get out. The highlight, albeit a very distant one, was a Spoonbill roosting on Bull Hill. I scoped it from Shelly Beach. A Greenshank off there was the only other bird of note.
A quick look off Maer Rocks produced at least 2 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Brent Geese and 9+ Turnstones. At least 80 Common Scoters were very distantly over towards the Warren and out in the bay a distant Arctic Skua was menacing gulls. I failed to find the Warren's Long-tailed Duck but a distant flying duck off Orcombe Point could well have been that species.
Mudbank produced the usual mix of wildfowl with the exception of a single drake Tufted Duck which are barely annual off there.
Pintails are showing really well off Mudbank at the moment.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Maer Rocks

I managed to squeeze in a quick look at Maer Rocks before dark this afternoon. The Purple Sandpiper count has risen to seven. At least 6 Turnstones were feeding with them, as was a lone Brent Goose and 1 or possibly 2 Little Egrets.
It's been a quiet week bird-wise but busy work-wise, with virtually no time out in the field. I did however manage a good count of 212 Pintail off Mudbank yesterday evening, and on Sunday there was another Firecrest in the Maer Long-stay carpark.

Three of seven Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks this evening. I've never recorded more than twelve on Maer Rocks but I'm hopeful that this small and relatively new wintering population will continue to grow in size.