Tuesday, 29 July 2014


I finally got the chance to photograph a juvenile lesser black-backed gull this morning. A single bird rested for a while on Maer Rocks but the poor light level meant I didn't get a very satisfactory shot. It seems to be getting much quieter bird-wise at the moment with just a single ringed plover, 2 juvenile mediterranean gulls, 2 manx shearwaters and 8 common scoter making it in to the notebook. I had just three willow warblers on Orcombe Point but was distracted by the masses of butterflies present. During a short spell at both Orcombe Point and Blackhill Quarry I managed to photograph 16 different species (small heath managed to avoid the camera lens) which represents about a quarter of all the species occurring in the British Isles.

Male Common Blue


Female Common Blue



Marbled White

Small White 

Meadow Brown 

Small Skipper

Speckled Wood


Painted Lady

Small Tortoiseshell

Red Admiral

Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell


Silver-washed Fritillary

Large Skipper


Sunday, 27 July 2014


willow warbler

It was a great pleasure to do some birding with phenomenal bird artist and superb birder -Tim Worfolk this morning. Unfortunately it was pretty quiet bird-wise and the hoped for yellow-legged gulls didn't materialise, though we did have a 'probable' fly distantly in to the bay before heading inland. Birds logged included a summer-plumaged great northern diver, 5+ manx shearwater, 4 common tern (Tim later had an arctic tern), several sandwich terns, small numbers of kittiwake and gannet, 2 juv mediterranean gull, 1 fulmar, 2 dunlin, 1 curlew and 25+ common scoter.
I left Tim to have a quick scoot around the tip of Orcombe Point and found at least 3 willow warblers and a grasshopper warbler along with a few phyllosc sp that were probably mostly willows. I suspect a more thorough search of the whole patch would have revealed many more migrant passerines. Three swallow went through during the short time I was up there.
A quick scan off the Imperial produced a single greylag goose in with 82 canada geese. Back for breakfast at 0830.

A crap photo of the grasshopper warbler but to be honest I was pleased to get anything! A phyllosc sp is just visible below it - probably a chiffie. I didn't get a single spring gropper this year or a single autumn one last year so this bird represents the first record in quite some time.

Common Blue 

Marbled Green (above) and Clouded Border attracted to the outside light last night.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Roseate Tern and Ringed GBBG

Spent some time birding with Nick along the seafront by Maer Rocks this morning. Probably the easiest birding ever - sat on a bench in the glorious early morning sun, not more than a couple feet away from the car! My first pristine juvenile great-black-backed gull of the summer appeared on the beach in front of us, and was ringed. It has a white plastic ring on its left tarsus with red lettering - P:89A, which I'm pretty sure makes it a Portland-rung bird. It also has a metal ring on its right tarsus. There were at least 2, and possibly up to 4, juvenile yellow-legged gulls off the beach at various times and another juvenile was well out in the estuary off the Imperial. None of them however played ball and stopped for a photo. Also this morning, off Maer Rocks, there was a single roseate tern, c20+ sandwich tern, 1 common tern, 1 little egret, 1 sanderling, 1 fulmar, at least 5 mediterranean gulls and a lingering smart intermediate phase arctic skua, that harried terns repeatedly, and was at one stage in hot pursuit over the Warren dune ridge. 
Off the Imperial at first light, as well as the juv yellow-legged gull, were 20 whimbrel, 2 bar-tailed godwit, 1 black-tailed godwit, 1 turnstone, 2+ dunlin, 3 redshank, 19 canada goose and 2+ mediterranean gulls.

The outside light attracted this peach blossom (above) and this silver Y among a few other common species last night.

Friday, 25 July 2014

First Wigeon Back

It feels like there are mediterranean gulls everywhere at the moment. There were at least 5 juveniles on or off the beach this morning and there were at least 8 off Mudbank this afternoon. No doubt a more thorough search would have revealed stacks more as there are hundreds of small gulls around at the moment. The juvenile pictured is sporting a small metal ring on its left tarsus. One of the first-summers off Mudbank had a green darvic ring on its right tarsus. Its becoming more and more unusual to see a med gull without a ring these days! I wonder what the purpose of the  mediterranean gull ringing projects are? My perception is that they're doing really well, in this country at least, but I'm not sure what there numbers are like internationally. On a personal and purely aesthetic level I like to see meds without the leg plastic. They are stunning birds - no need for the jewelry! 

That's better!

Good numbers of sandwich tern were resting on boats off the Imperial this morning. Note the first-summer common tern on the nearest white boat.

This is my first returning wigeon. It was off Mudbank this morning with 50 mallard and had it not whistled I'd probably have overlooked it. Also present - c30+ dunlin, 2 whimbrel, 2 common sandpiper and 1 redshank.

Drinker - male - one of two attracted to an outside light last night. It bears a striking resemblance to a hedgehog I think.

Dingy Footman


Rosy Footman

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Odds and Ends

Peacock - large numbers around at the moment. This one was photographed at Blackhill Quarry yesterday. Several buddleia bushes either side of the track, that bisects the quarry, are pulling in good numbers of butterfly including peacock, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, grayling, gatekeeper, silver-washed fritillary, large skipper, speckled wood and holly blue.

It's been a funny couple of days. I broke up from school on Monday and Lu has finished too but the kids are still at school until the end of the week. We've done a bit of gardening and a load of decorating and I've popped out a couple times to look for birds and butterflies. I've checked the small gull flock at Blackhill Quarry but it has been disappointing. The highlight so far has been my first juvenile lesser black-backed gull of the summer. A single  redshank there this morning was noteworthy though and a pair of tufted duck has produced 5 juveniles. The little grebes are feeding chicks and there are loads of butterflies and dragonflies whizzing around up there.
The beach at Maer rocks this morning produced 1 redshank , 4 mediterranean gulls (inc 3 juvs), 3 mute swan, 2 whimbrel, 22+ manx shearwater and 2+ 'commic' terns amongst several sandwich terns . A quick look off the Imperial produced 2 meadow pipit (my first of the autumn), 2 juv mediterranean gulls and 1 'commic' tern.
Yesterday off Maer Rocks the highlight was 2 dark arctic skuas circling high and way off over the bay. Also 170+ manx shearwater on a brief watch (I should really have attempted a concerted count) and 5 common scoter. Another juvenile yellow-legged gull was off the Imperial with 3 redshank and a turnstone and there were at least 10 mediterranean gulls off Mudbank over the high tide.

A worn Large Skipper - Blackhill Quarry - 23/7

Small Skipper - dung field - Orcombe Point - 23/7 - 2 or 3 present alongside a few marbled whites, small whites, gatekeepers, and meadow browns.

Six-spot Burnet - dung field - Orcombe Point - one of a small number present.

Shaded Broadbar - dung field - one of at least three disturbed from long grass.

Great Black-backed Gull - Exmouth Seafront - 24/7/14

First-summer Herring Gulls - Exmouth Seafront - 24/7/14

Juvenile Herring Gull - Exmouth Seafront - 24/7/14

A lurid and spectacular sunset last night - from the back garden.