Friday, 31 July 2015

Little Gull

A flock of 16 cormorants flies in towards the river mouth.
Highlight this morning was a second-summer little gull feeding around the buoys off Maer Rocks. It is presumably the bird that was seen at the Warren a few days ago. Also this morning 16+ common tern, c100+ sandwich tern, 3 arctic skuas lingering, 5+ mediterranean gull, c15+ common scoter and a rock pipit. A juvenile yellow-legged gull was on Warren Point along with 7+ dunlin, c20+ sanderling and good numbers of terns.

Both common and sandwich terns were resting on the beach by the Lifeboat Station this morning but I only managed photos of the latter.

Juvenile Sandwich Tern

Juvenile Black-headed Gull

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Little To Report

It seems to have gone a bit quiet again, giving me a chance to get more decorating and clearing done, but there are still a number of mediterranean gulls knocking around, both on the beach and off Mudbank. This morning at least 2 crossbills flew high north over Mudbank and the day before yesterday there was a ruff and 2 black-tailed godwits off the Imperial. Other than that I had c10+ whimbrel off Mudbank today and a juvenile common tern plus a number of common scoter off Maer rocks. I finally got my first juvenile lesser black-backed gull on the beach too.
It has been too cold and windy for moths but there were 2 silver y, 2 rush veneer and a rusty-dot pearl in the trap this morning.

Monday, 27 July 2015

More YLG Traffic

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull - the same bird that I photographed yesterday - again on the beach this morning and showing well.

The juvenile yellow-legged gulls are still moving through. I had two or possibly three today - yesterday's bird still showing well early morning on the beach with 5 mediterranean gulls,  a second, less subtle bird, on the cricket pitch and it or another off Mudbank. Also on or from Maer Rocks this morning - 2 whimbrel, 1 redshank, 1 curlew, 17+ common scoter and several sandwich tern. The possible third, a large and very dark individual (I sensed it was different to the cricket pitch bird but can't be certain), was off Mudbank along with 6 mediterranean gulls, 2 redshank and 5 dunlin.

As I drove onto the cricket ground, I picked this bird up with the naked eye - an obviously large, dark and 'contrasty' gull - it immediately gave of yellow-legged vibes.

The paler inner webs to the inner primaries are concealed in this 'half' wing stretch, making the primaries look more like those of lesser black-backed gull. Compare with the fully stretched wing of yesterday's bird.

This is the Mudbank bird. I got the sense that it was larger and darker again than the cricket pitch bird but I saw it only briefly and in different, much poorer, light conditions.

Sunday, 26 July 2015


Another fresh juvenile yellow-legged gull on Maer Rocks this afternoon. I can't see any sign of moult yet. Also off there this afternoon 2 arctic tern, good numbers of sandwich tern, 1 common tern, 1 little tern, 1 mediterranean gull and 1 arctic skua. I didn't really get the chance to do a proper sea-watch today but I'm happy enough with the yellow-leg.

Compare with the juv herring gull behind it.

Plain Pug

Plain Pug is a new moth for me, though not an entirely unexpected one as it frequents waste ground and saltmarsh. Its caterpillars feed on the seeds of orache and goosefoot. It was resting on the wall beside the trap and immediately struck me as being large and unlike any of the pug species I've seen before. The rest of the catch consisted of much more familiar fare and included a worn chocolate-tip, magpie, light arches, foxglove pug, toadflax pug, v-pug, double-striped pug, common emerald, small magpie, heart and dart, heart and club, large yellow underwing, lesser yellow underwing, broad-bordered yellow underwing, common footman, dingy footman, yellow-tail, spectacle, fan-foot, bright-line brown-eye, willow beauty, small fan-footed wave, rosy minor, elephant hawkmoth, flame, flame shoulder, rustic, common/lesser common rustic, uncertain, grey/dark dagger, brussels lace, shuttle-shaped dart, dark arches, nut-tree tussock, cabbage moth, swallow-tailed moth, coronet and clay.
Immigrant species included about half a dozen silver y, dark sword grass, 4 rush veneer and a single rusty dot pearl. All of which are pictured below.

Small Fan-footed Wave


Rosy Minor

Rush Veneer - a common immigrant species. I often flush these up from the grass on Orcombe Point in the autumn. An unobtrusive species but easy to identify once learned.

Dark Sword Grass - the second one I've trapped this summer.

Silver Y

Rusty Dot Pearl - another common immigrant.

Saturday, 25 July 2015


A later start than usual following four knackering days of decorating, cleaning and generally getting stuff done, that I normally don't have the time or the energy to do when I'm working. I got down to Maer Rocks at about 7am. It again proved worthwhile with an Orcombe patch first in the shape of an avocet. Although well outside the patch boundaries it was scoped from within so it easily counts! It was on one of the offshore sandbars, providing an incongruous sight as it swept its bill from side to side in the shallows. Also this morning - 1 dunlin, 1 redshank, 5 common tern, 1 little egret and 4 mediterranean gulls - a first summer and 3 adults in various stages of head moult.

Adult and Juvenile Sandwich Terns. There are reasonable numbers feeding off Orcombe Point at the moment. They commute between there and the estuary, often flying over Maer Rocks calling raucously to one another.

First-summer Med.

Friday, 24 July 2015


Small Angle Shades

I ran the moth trap at Bystock last night. Great company with DWT members and a nice selection of moths (at least 52 macro species). The highlights were several marbled white spot, a few small purple-barred and a single small grass emerald - a rare heathland species. The catch also included large emerald, true lover's knot and a four-spotted footman. A big thank you to Derek for organising it.
A look off Maer Rocks late this afternoon produced 4 turnstone, 6+ dunlin, 6 knot and 22+ sanderling, along with c25+ common scoter, a few manx shearwater, 2 mediterranean gull, c40+ sandwich tern and 4 common tern.


Marbled White Spot

Brussels Lace

Haworth's Pug

Pine Carpet

Smoky Wainscot

Small Grass Emerald

Small Purple-barred

Ear Moth

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Odd Mix of Birds

Six-spot Burnet - Dung Field.
I was down at Maer Rocks for about 6am. The sea was flat calm and it didn't feel terribly 'birdy' but I ended up seeing an odd selection of birds. The best bird was an exceptionally early merlin that I picked up a long way out to sea. It slowly but surely got closer and eventually headed across the bay towards Teignmouth. Minutes before that a kestrel had flown over and headed along the beach towards the river mouth. I think it's only the third one I've had in Exmouth this year. Also this morning 60+ manx shearwater, 1+ balearic shearwater, c30+ sandwich tern, 6+ common scoter, 1 redshank, 1 sanderling and 1 whimbrel. The shearwaters were heading towards a sizeable swirling, feeding flock some way out between Orcombe and Berry Head - just dots on the horizon for me.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Dusky Sallow

Dusky Sallow - yet another moth that is not terribly rare but one that has managed to elude me until now. A really nice moth.
Off Maer Rocks this morning - 2 turnstone, 1 mediterranean gull, 1 common tern, c30+ sandwich tern, 25+ manx shearwater and c30+ common scoter.
The moth trap provided a new species for me - dusky sallow, as well as my first lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, pale prominent and september thorn of the summer

September Thorn.

Shuttle-shaped Dart

Silver Y - one of two in the trap last night.

Peach Blossom

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Lesser Yellow Underwing

Pale Prominent

 Engrailed - dark form.

Poplar Grey

Grey or Dark Dagger