Sunday, 31 January 2016


I don't think a photo of a Brambling has featured on this blog before so I'm sticking this one on even though it's rubbish. The local 'Cirl' site was great this morning. In about 30 minutes I had 25+ Lesser Redpoll, 15+ Yellowhammer, 4  Brambling, 3+ Reed Bunting and c100+ Chaffinch. I also had a quick look at Hayes Barton Pig Farm but managed just 1+ Brambling, 1 Chiffchaff and c40+ Pied Wagtail. Other than that I did a quick check of the Purple Sandpipers this evening and reckon I had 13 but they're sneaky little things so there could have been more.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Maer Rocks

Twelve Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks this evening. Also c10+ Turnstone and c15+ Oystercatchers. Yesterday evening there were at least 2 Great Northern Divers off the seafront.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Black Red

One Black Redstart around the Shelly Beach apartments today. I've not seen any in this area since the beginning of the month. Not much else today but 2 Great Northern Divers off the seafront, 1 Red-throated Diver off Maer Rocks and 3 Goldeneye off the Imperial - the male displaying to the two females. Just one first-winter Mediterranean Gull picked out among c300+ Black-headed Gulls along Gore Lane.
Green Woodpecker - Withycombe Raleigh Common.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

This Week

Rock Pipit - Imperial Rec.

Not much to report this week. Today there were 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 7 Redwing and 26+ Pied Wagtails around the muddy cow fields, along Gore Lane. The adult Bonaparte's Gull was again off Shelly Beach at around 1pm and there were 4 Goldeneye, including a drake, off Mudbank.
I managed to pop up to the Lympstone Cirl Bunting site and was pleased to get a singing male, along with 5+ Lesser Redpoll, 4+ Reed Bunting 1 Stock Dove and c5+ Yellowhammer.
The rest of this week's birding has been done in the short interludes between finishing work and darkness. Last night I had 12 Lapwing, 30+ Sanderling, 8+ Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Rock Pipit and 2+ Meadow Pipit off the Imperial. On Thursday there were 4 Gadwall off Mudbank and on Monday I got my first Kingfisher of 2016 - a brief bird in Exmouth Marina. Also on Monday I had a flock of 23 Teal fly in off the sea and over Warren Point, with a single Great Northern Diver off there too. Last Sunday I was pleased to find a female Blackcap in the scrub surrounding Warren View and there were 8 Purple Sandpipers and 63 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on Maer Rocks, with a Red-throated Diver off there.

Lesser Redpolls - at least 5 were giving pretty good views at the Cirl site this morning.


Adult Bonaparte's Gull - again off Shelly Beach this afternoon.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese - Shelly Beach.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Bonys and Glauc!

The Bonaparte's Gull again showed superbly, down to a few feet, off Shelly Beach late this afternoon. Also off there, a first or second winter Glaucous Gull roosting on Bull Hill. It was at too great a distance to confidently age it. Also of note, on an Exmouth level at least, a single Little Grebe inside the Marina, along with a Great Crested Grebe. Both affording good views but denying me the opportunity to get a decent photograph. I've always found Little Grebe difficult to get in Exmouth but the Marina seems like the most reliable spot.
The Black Redstart was again showing at the entrance to Warren View playing fields this afternoon and yesterday, in the last half hour before dusk, I counted 80+ Pied Wagtails flying just off Exmouth Beach towards the river mouth. There were 2 Great Northern Divers off there too, along with a drake Teal, looking deeply uncomfortable bobbing up and down in the swell.

Dark skies and Starcross in the background.

Glaucous Gull - this bird was at just the wrong angle initially to get a proper idea of size. As it got later however it stood up, flapped its wings and started to chase other gulls around it. At that point its height and obvious bulk next to the Herring Gulls became apparent. Its bill was pinky-based but that's  as much as I could see. Good to get another one after a blank year last year.
And finally some great news about the the Orcombe Patch. Derek and the RSPB have been in negotiations with the farmer to provide a 5 hectare 'block' of land at the top of Gore Lane, that will be planted with a mixture of crops to attract birds in the autumn and winter. This is a wonderful piece of news at a time when things were looking pretty grim for the birds up there. It is also hoped that the hedges will be better managed to provide more cover. Fingers crossed it all pans out, with the planting expected to commence next year. Nice one Derek!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Black Redstart

Late this afternoon I caught up with the Black Redstart that's been frequenting the entrance to Warren View playing fields. First noted by Rupert Ormerod a week or two ago.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Sibe Chiff and This Week

Siberian Chiffchaff
This morning I finally got a photographic record of the Siberian Chiffchaff that has been present in scrub at the back of our house, since December 29th at least. It's a devil to see, often appearing just fleetingly and tending to stay low. It calls only rarely - a barely audible, soft 'fee'. Classic 'tristis'. I've only once seen it with the regular wintering 'colybitta'. The Slavonian Grebe was scoped from Shelly Beach as it fed, way off in Cockwood Corner, and in the first half hour of light 9 Red-throated Divers flew south past Orcombe, along with a possible distant Little Auk south @ 0810. At least one Great Northern Diver was just offshore. A brief late afternoon visit to Shelly Beach produced the adult Bonaparte's Gull, 1 Rock Pipit and 2 Great Crested Grebes, with 24 Dark-bellied Brent Geese nearby on the Imperial playing fields.
Yesterday I managed a couple trips out but the weather was abysmal. I had an adult Little Gull off the seafront mid-afternoon, along with at least 4 Great Northern Divers. A tight flock of 17 Kittiwakes was sat just off Warren Point. There were at least 6 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks with 3 Red-throated Divers, 1 Fulmar, c30+ Common Scoter and 3 Shelduck past.
Off Mudbank there were 4 Shoveler and the usual adult Mediterranean Gull was on Warren View playing fields.
The week just gone was a busy one but I managed a few pre-dusk checks of the river after work. On Tuesday there were still 2 adult Little Gulls on the river, off Shelly Beach, but a flock of c200+ Black-tailed Godwits off the Imperial was far more unexpected. Seventeen Wigeon and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull were the only 'notables' on Wednesday and on Friday a Guillemot off Shelly Beach was the highlight.

Red-breasted Mergansers were showing brilliantly off Shelly Beach this morning. For once the light was good!


This Seal pup looked in bad shape. It was lying on concrete below the path around Shelly Beach. It is presumably a storm casualty. Nick contacted the RSPCA who were already on their way. Note the cut below the eye and the apparent damage to the crown.

Peregrine - one of the local birds.

Berry Head with rain approaching from the south.

Bonaparte's Gull off Shelly Beach late afternoon. Again this bird was on its own.


Saturday, 2 January 2016

Black-necked Grebes

After the storm - the atmospheric view from the raised beach huts at dawn this morning.
The good run of Exmouth birding continues. Nick and I had 4 Great Northern Divers just off the beach from Maer Rocks this morning and a Whimbrel flew past, heading towards the river mouth. Off Mudbank we had 2 adult Little Gulls, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 2 Goldeneye, c20+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a drake Pintail. The Mediterranean Gull has been commuting all day between Mudbank and Warren View playing fields.
This afternoon I was pleased to discover 2 Black-necked Grebes off Shelly Beach - a very scarce bird in Exmouth and the first I've seen for a long time. Nearby one of the Black Redstarts was on apartment rooftops and 1 or 2 Rock Pipits were knocking around. A single adult Little Gull was present late afternoon between Cockwood and Starcross, so pretty distant. At least 3 Purple Sandpipers were on Maer Rocks just before dark and an impressive gathering of c2000+ Herring Gulls formed a feeding frenzy on offshore sandbars, doubtless attracted by food stirred up from the recent storms.

Mediterranean Gull - Warren View

Turnstone - Leisure Centre

House Sparrow - Imperial recreation ground.

Shag - Shelly Beach

Black-necked Grebes - Shelly Beach late afternoon.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Little Gull

A look off Maer Rocks from the raised beach huts late afternoon produced an adult Little Gull, 3 Great Northern Diver, c15+ Common Scoter, 9+ Purple Sandpiper and 5+ Turnstone.