Monday, 18 March 2019

Ring-necked Parakeet

I bumped into Derek and Rupert this afternoon. We decided to have a look for the female Ring-necked Parakeet that has been present in Exmouth for a long time now. We found it almost immediately, in its favourite line of dead trees behind Maer Farm. Derek speculated that the hole in the right of this picture might be a potential nest site, and I suspect he's right, however without a mate it's not going to be terribly useful.
The resident Green Woodpecker pair may also have plans for this potential residence - see below.

Redshank - the 'Gut'.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Cirl Bunting

Greenshank - off Mudbank yesterday and struggling to stay upright in the wind!
Minimal movement on Orcombe Point this morning but a singing male Cirl Bunting was the highlight. I relocated it, still singing, on the Maer a bit later on. Otherwise 1 Chiffchaff, c15+ Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail, 18+ Brent Goose and a Curlew.
Off Mudbank - 2 Pintail, 11 Wigeon, just 3 Brent Goose and my first 2 Sandwich Tern of the year.

Struggling a bit with this one - too much black in the rump for White Wag though, I think.

About half a dozen of this morning's Meadow Pipits were around the dung heap. The rest were heading west, into the wind.

Singing male Cirl Bunting - the Maer, having earlier been singing on Orcombe Point.

Exmouth Lifeboat on Exmouth Beach, whilst we were walking the dog this morning.

Two of three Egyptian Geese on Exminster Marshes this afternoon. A quick look for migrants was largely unsuccessful, though 15 distant hirundine sp were almost certainly Sand Martins. Otherwise c70/80+ Golden Plover and Peregrine were noted. Good to see James Diamond - the first time in a long while.

Cattle Egret behind the farm on Matford  roundabout. Don't know where the other one was but visibility was limited where I was standing.

A particularly showy Grey Heron - Exminster Marshes.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Scops Owl 1995

Horrible weather today so a little reminiscing, and for no particular reason a look back at the Morewenstow Scops Owl that I twitched with the legendary Pete Dennis, back in April 1995. A Devon Scops Owl would be very much appreciated! My logbook entry for April 9th 1995 reads:
Pete Dennis phoned up last night and we arranged to have a day's birding down in the South Hams.
I was up very early and was picked up by Pete at just after 0630. We decided on Prawle and gave the reserve, bunkers, the point and Pig's Nose Valley a thorough search.
Shortly after we'd left the car, and were walking down the field, I spotted a diver flying overhead, over the reserve behind us. It was clearly either Red or Black-throated and we were both pretty sure it was a Black-throat, but we didn't get enough on it to be sure.
Along the bunkers I spotted a tail quivering in a bush - a superb male Redstart but very 'darting' so only brief views obtained before we left it in peace.
The rest of the morning was uneventful and at about lunchtime we returned to the car for some food, and sat up in the reserve for a while. Pete had a ten minute kip and at around 1430 - 1445'ish we decided to push on to Slapton.
We stopped off at the phone box just before Torcross to phone the line. To my astonishment they put out the regional news before the national news - "In north Cornwall, a Scops Owl at Morewenstow until 1230 at least." I made a follow-on call and called Pete in to the phone box where we took directions, jumped in the car and went!
I navigated us up towards Plymouth, over the Tamar Bridge to Launceston, Bude (nearly), Kilkhampton and finally Morewenstow. Some 'nutter' twitchers overtook us on the lanes at outrageous speed and at around 5pm we found Morewenstow Church (with about 40-50 cars already in the carpark) and headed out along the footpath towards the throng of twitchers already gathered below.
The scenery was incredible - huge rugged cliffs and shoreline and deep valleys. The twitchers passing us on their way back gave us the good news that the bird was showing well - relief! We eventually got down to the bottom and were looking from a bramble-covered bank, across and below to the other side of a stream, where the bird was perched at the bottom of a bramble hedge/thicket - a round 'bundle' - motionless.
I sat down to attempt to sketch it but my attempts were very poor. We waited until gone 7pm and after two hours of it sitting motionless, with its eyes shut, it woke up and clambered further up the hedge to rest in a hollow - in the process showing us its back, wings and most importantly, in my view, its yellow eyes - a gorgeous bird and one which I never thought I'd see in this country, let alone see well and at close range!
I was absolutely shattered by the end of the day and we returned home via Holsworthy, Okehampton and Moretonhampstead to arrive home at 10pm - a superb day!
Apparently the finder had been watching Peregrines at the top of the valley on the other side and had flushed this bird which had flown down the valley and landed on a bush. He'd then pursued it before it flew into the thicket it was in. He knew it wasn't a Little Owl, which are also in the valley, so he phoned another birder who came down and identified it as Scops Owl. The bloke had then legged it back up the valley and made a phone call to the line. Luckily he had the line number with him and enough change to make the call!


Sunday, 10 March 2019

Black Red Green Wood

Orcombe Point being battered by a ferocious north-westerly at dawn this morning.
A quick look off the seafront this morning produced 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver and a Common Scoter, with a fair few Gannets and a least 1 Fulmar passing way out along the horizon. Nearby on the dung heap - 1 Snipe, 2 Rock Pipit and c5/6+ Meadow Pipit.
With little shelter from the gale-force winds in Exmouth, I ended up wandering around Sandy Bay for a short while this afternoon, where a Black Redstart was trumped by a surprisingly cooperative Green Woodpecker. Otherwise - the three Eider off Shelly Beach and two Raven over the house.

Black Redstart - Sandy Bay

Collared Dove - Sandy Bay

Green Woodpecker - Sandy Bay - one of four regular sites in Exmouth for this species, although I've had them elsewhere within the parish boundary too. At some point I must get round to establishing exactly how many birds are present.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Crossbills and Hen Harrier

Crossbill - this male was perched up high. A female and another male were just beneath it and I was confident that just three birds were present, until a flock totalling 11 birds burst out of the tree calling.

I spent a good while mooching round the commons this afternoon and noted a few bits and pieces - ringtail Hen Harrier, 3 Siskin, 3+ Treecreeper, 8+ Goldcrest, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 11 Crossbill, 6+ Coal Tit, 1 Raven, 1 Snipe, 3+ Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Moorhen, 17 Canada Goose, 5 Tufted Duck, 1 Little Grebe, 10+ Mallard, 1 Dartford Warbler, 9 Stock Dove, 2 Red-legged Partridge and c20/30+ Meadow Pipit.

Treecreeper - one of at least 3 seen in woodland surrounding the heathland this afternoon. One was in full song.

First-winter Mediterranean Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull off Mudbank late yesterday afternoon.

Curlew - Mudbank

Tuesday, 5 March 2019


Peregrines have long been using some high man-made vantage points in Exmouth, but I see them so regularly around the area that I rarely check the buildings. I feel like I've been missing out somewhat. 
Mudbank today - a decent count of 179 Turnstone late this afternoon, along with 2 Goldeneye, 21 Wigeon and 6 Pintail. Little else going on in deteriorating weather, but Paul had a female Black Redstart on Church Road this morning, and there's every chance a Crane flew over Exmouth today too!


Peregrine food.

Summer-plumaged Common Gull - Mudbank.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Little News

Cockwood from Shelly Beach on Friday evening.

Not much news today. Storm Freya rattled a few windows but doesn't appear to have blown anything in to Exmouth. At least not whilst I was out and about. Off the Leisure Centre/Imperial rec - 500+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, the three Eider and a Mediterranean Gull early this morning.
Yesterday - 2 Peregrines sat on Cockle Sands and on Friday my first migrant Stonechat of the year - a male on the dung heap with half a dozen Meadow Pipits.
Finally, on Wednesday, my first Blackcap of the year was in sub-song at the end of our road as I walked to work.

Greenfinch - one of at least two males singing on Orcombe Point yesterday morning.

Blackbird - Orcombe Point

First-winter Mediterranean Gull - Imperial recreation ground.
Gull sp - cricket pitch - I think this is a first-winter Lesser Black-backed Gull but it's in such a state that I'm not certain. Its small size, light build and long wings suggest Lesser Black-backed. Brief flight views weren't helpful as many of the flight feathers were knackered (but the tail looked ok for LBbG). Whatever it is, it has had a rough ride, and to top it all its upper mandible is a bit deformed.