Monday, 21 August 2017

Little Change

More of the same today. The Hoopoe showed well at Maer Farm this morning but migrants were in very short supply with 1 Blackcap, 6 Whitethroat, 2+ Chiffchaff, 1 Grey Wagtail and 1 Willow Warbler recorded.
The juvenile White-winged Black Tern was picked up off the Imperial at 0900 and a Black-tailed Godwit flew over calling. I could only pick out a couple Mediterranean Gulls amongst masses of Black-headed Gulls and c10+ Common Tern.
Off Mudbank - 4 Mediterranean Gull, 9 Whimbrel, 4+ Redshank and 9 Black-tailed Godwit.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Purple Patch

The Hoopoe showed well in a field opposite Maer Farm this morning. Lots of people caught up with it. At one point the assembled crowd held its breath as a Sparrowhawk crossed the field, passing just inches, directly above it. Had it flushed it would surely have been grabbed.
Really good birding today. This is one of those purple patches that I will dream about when I'm traipsing around Orcombe Point seeing absolutely nothing. A couple visits - morning and mid-afternoon. The Hoopoe has finally been pinned down, near Maer Farm, and other birds recorded included 1+ Tree Pipit, 2 Wheatear, 1+ Coal Tit, 3+ Chiffchaff, 1 Whitethroat, 20+ House Martin, c30+ Swallow and a flock of 4 Yellow Wagtail. Offshore a Common Scoter, Mediterranean Gull and 2 dark juvenile Arctic Skuas which were joined for a while by a probable Pomarine Skua. The pair of Arctics harassed it until it was driven off in the direction of the Warren.
The juvenile White-winged Black Tern showed well off the Imperial this morning, and off Mudbank I recorded c370 Mallard, 36+ Little Egrets, 13 Mediterranean Gulls, 6+ Whimbrel and 11 Ringed Plover.
Moths found around lights in the Bristol Schools camp included Yellow-tail, Double-striped Pug, Willow Beauty, Brussels Lace, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Blood-vein, Common Grass-veneer, Square-spot Rustic, Brimstone, Scorched Carpet and Chinese Character.

One of two Wheatear seen on Orcombe today.
A very dark Common Grass-veneer - Agriphila tristella - beside a light in the Bristol Schools camp.

A much more typical Common Grass-veneer

This Chinese Character was also discovered by an outside light. I haven't seen one of these for a while. They are bird dropping mimics but simply stunning.

Thirteen Mediterranean Gulls was a good count for Mudbank, although this one was photographed a couple days ago.


Friday, 18 August 2017


A huge thank you to Marie and John for finding this Hoopoe and kindly allowing me to view it from their home. It's occasionally getting in their back garden but also spending time in the field behind their house, and presumably other gardens on Foxholes. One of the very few places that the area can be viewed from is on Gore Lane. The gateway immediately to the right of the track that leads down to the Bristol Schools camp allows you to look across to three large hawthorns that border the garden. Can I stress that this gateway, or others, must not be blocked and cars should be parked sensibly on Gore Lane, preferably at the top where there's a bit more space.
Orcombe Point was quiet this morning but some hirundine passage was evident with 45 Swallow tracking west. A single Swift also went west early on and a Tree Pipit went over east.
The White-winged Black Tern was watched feeding off Starcross from 0740 - 0800, from the Imperial, along with 6+ Common Tern. Nine Teal were in with the large Mallard flock.
Mudbank, mid-afternoon - 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 7+ Mediterranean Gull, 10+ Common Gull, 4+ Whimbrel, 190+ Mallard, 1 Redshank and the first returning Wigeon.

John and Marie have a stunning garden with a lovely lawn that clearly has enough invertebrates in it to keep this bird coming back. It performed beautifully, just a few metres away from the back of the house, but it looked wary and only spent a few minutes in view before flying into the field behind. Hoopoes have been reported from Foxholes in the past but they've never stayed and I've never managed to catch up with them. Not only is this the first I've seen on Orcombe, it's the first I've seen in Exmouth.


Thursday, 17 August 2017

WWBT and Two Black Terns

Nick and I watched the White-winged Black Tern feeding with two juvenile Black Terns off the seafront this morning. We were watching the birds between 6am and 7am but the three were together around 0650. The light was good and they weren't too far off at times - patrolling along Dawlish Warren beach with both Common Terns and Sandwich Terns. After a while the WWBT headed into the estuary and left the two Black Terns covering lots of ground out in the bay. Good to see Dave Stone this morning. The three of us had a quick look at Orcombe Point but it seemed very bird-less. Last night's rain clearly not doing the trick, although I suppose it brought the second Black Tern in.
Yesterday the White-winged Black Tern was off the clock tower with a Black Tern and 2 juvenile Mediterranean Gulls at 0700.
There were 4 Swift on Orcombe and Mudbank produced a reasonable count of 12 Mediterranean Gull and 10 Common Gull.
Dark-triangle Button - Acleris laterana - Orcombe Point.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Black Tern

Robin - this was the only photo I managed to get today with little time in the field.

At 6am this morning both the juvenile White-winged Black Tern and the juvenile Black Tern were resting on a sand bar off the lifeboat station. Nice to see them side by side but they soon went their separate ways. Also off there - 35+ Common Tern and c50+ Sandwich Tern. Nearby on Orcombe Point - just one Willow Warbler, 6+ Blackcap and 2 Yellow Wagtail.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Bloxworth Snout and Bulrush Wainscot

Bloxworth Snout - according to 'Waring and Townsend' the first colony of this species was discovered in Torbay in 1990 and since then it has spread east into Dorset and west into Cornwall. By all accounts it seems to be doing pretty well, though it's still considered a scarce and localised species. It takes its name from Bloxworth in Dorset, where the very first British specimen was obtained on September 21st 1884. The larvae feed on Pellitory-of-the-wall and the moths are usually found on south-facing cliffs, in sheltered areas where the foodplant grows.
Martin popped over to see the Bloxworth Snout and brought with him a Bulrush Wainscot - another brand new species for me. He was a bit perplexed, as was I, as his house is at the top of a big hill in the Blackdown Hills - some way away from any obvious fresh water. The nearest fishing ponds are some way off but are presumably the origin of this wanderer. Otherwise in the garden trap this morning - immigrant Silver Y, Dark Sword-grass, Rush Veneer and Rusty-dot Pearl. Other species included Gold-spot, Magpie Moth, Jersey Tiger and Ruby Tiger amongst the expected regulars.
Bird-wise - the morning again started with the juvenile White-winged Black Tern, this time on a sandbar between the lifeboat station and Orcombe Point. Also off there - 130+ Sandwich Tern, 20+ Common Tern, 1+ Mediterranean Gull, 1 Little Egret and 2 Great Crested Grebe.
Orcombe, in the drizzle, produced 7 Tree Pipits (including 4 together, flushed from long grass), 4 Swift and a probable Grasshopper Warbler, flushed and seen only briefly in flight).
A quick look off Mudbank was a bit disappointing but did reveal 2 more Black-tailed Godwit, 3 adult Mediterranean Gull and another Swift.
Bulrush Wainscot - thanks Martin!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Exmouth Beach

 White-winged Black Tern on Pole Sands.
A few bits and pieces on/off Exmouth seafront early this morning. The juvenile White-winged Black Tern was fishing just off the beach first thing and resting on Pole Sands at 0605. Also c50+ Sandwich Tern, 10+ Common Tern, 1 Redshank, 3 juvenile Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Scoter, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling, 1 Little Egret and my first Tree Pipit of the autumn over, heading north.
Nick and I had a stroll around Orcombe but only recorded 1+ Willow Warbler, 1 Tree Pipit and 2+ Whitethroat. There were 4 Wheatear up there when I revisited late afternoon.
At Mudbank I recorded my first Kingfisher of the autumn, along with 1 Little Tern, 1 Swift and the White-winged Black Tern that was resting on Cockle Sands at 0945, before slowly heading upriver with a large Black-headed Gull flock and a small number of Common Terns.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Restharrow Piercer? Possibly Not!

Grey Gorse Piercer - Cydia succedana or possibly Restharrow Piercer - Cydia microgrammana - presumably the former.
I had my best views of the juvenile White-winged Black Tern at 0635 this morning, as it fished off Exmouth beach. I have to say I wasn't expecting to see it off there and it's kind of surprising that it hasn't found its way to Exminster Marshes or Bowling Green yet. Having said that we tend to do a bit better for Black Terns down this end of the river. Also off the seafront - 5 Mute Swan, 19 Common Scoter, 70+ Sandwich Tern, 4+ Common Tern and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull.
I had the White-winged Black Tern off Mudbank at 0805 (and again at 1230) along with 6+ Mediterranean Gull, 22 Whimbrel, 78 Canada Goose, 120+ Mallard, 1 Little Tern, 13+ Common Tern, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Redshank and 34+ Little Egret.
The only immigrants in the moth trap last night were about half a dozen Rusty-dot Pearl, and singles of Silver Y and dark Sword-grass, but there was a reasonable selection of common stuff that included Jersey Tiger, Small Seraphim, Orange Swift, Leopard Moth, Blood-vein, Cloaked Minor, Vine's Rustic, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Ruby Tiger, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Yellow Shell, Yellow-tail, Ringed China-mark, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Mother of Pearl, Ruddy Streak, Square-spot Rustic, Dark Arches, Flame Shoulder, Heart and Dart, Willow Beauty, Dingy Footman, Bright-line Brown-eye, Lime-speck Pug, Double-striped Pug, Southern Bell, Grey Gorse or Restharrow Piercer, Magpie Moth and Brimstone Moth.

Small Wainscot - trapped by Martin at Saint hill, near Kentisbeare, and kindly transported to Exmouth. Only the second one I've seen. Thanks Martin

Orange Swift

Leopard Moth


micro sp

Small Seraphim
Juvenile Sparrowhawk on our back garden fence.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Marbled Yellow Pearl and Birds

Marbled Yellow Pearl- Evergestis extimalis - Nick trapped this scarce 'Crambid' last night. It's only the second one I've seen and presumably an immigrant. Nice one Nick!
I managed to cover a few sites in Exmouth this morning. The seafront was very quiet with c20+ Common Tern, 1 juv Mediterranean Gull and 7 Common Scoter.
The estuary off Shelly Beach was far busier with 8+ Turnstone, 1 juv Little Tern, c20+ Common Tern, c100+ Sandwich Tern and 3+ Mediterranean Gull noted, along with large numbers of Black-headed Gulls.
From Mudbank I picked up the juvenile White-winged Black Tern. It was feeding on the opposite side of the river between Powderham and Starcross for a while after 0755. Also off there - 110+ Mallard, 4 Common Gull, 4 Mediterranean Gull, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 1+ Greenshank and what is presumably the same Little Tern that was earlier off Shelly Beach.
A lightening quick look at the top of Gore Lane produced no migrant species but a Cirl Bunting was a nice surprise. Presumably a dispersing juvenile.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Orcombe Migrants

A very quick look at Orcombe this morning before a family breakfast in Topsham for dad's birthday. A few migrants recorded - 4 Wheatear, 5+ Willow Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 Swallow. I popped back up there this afternoon and ended up looking at butterflies. Extensive swathes of knapweed are attracting fantastic numbers of insects. At least half a dozen Painted Ladies, Red Admirals, several Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Small Coppers were seen in just half an hour. A pale and skittish Clouded Yellow eventually settled long enough for me to get a photograph. Plenty of Silver Y up there too along with Emperor Dragonfly and Migrant Hawker.
Otherwise today - no sign of the WWBT but 6 Redshank and a Little Tern off Mudbank and a solitary Ringed Plover on the beach.

My first Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn - it moved quickly through in fine conditions.

Painted Ladies on knapweed - simply stunning.

Migrant Hawker - thanks Lee!

Clouded Yellow on Dandelion seed.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


Lee very kindly sent me this photo of the juvenile White-winged Black Tern which touched down briefly on Finger Point this morning. Thank you Lee. I'd love to get views like this of it in Exmouth but I don't think that's likely!
An early morning search for the White-winged Black Tern was cold, wet, windy and thoroughly unpleasant. It was also unsuccessful, although a smart juvenile Arctic Tern off the Imperial was some compensation. I eventually located the WWBT from the back garden as it fed off Starcross, just before 9am- the ninth species of tern for the house list.
Lee had really good views of it at the Warren a little while later and kindly forwarded me a couple photos (see above).
This evening the WWBT was feeding between Cockwood and Starcross, as viewed from Shelly Beach. It eventually pitched down on Cockle Sands. It was still there when I left at 7pm.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

White-winged Black Tern

WWBT - even in this long range photo of it, on Bull Hill, you can see there's no black shoulder smudge. If you click on the photo you can enlarge it.
Luckily I've been able to dedicate some time to sussing yesterday's 'possible' White-winged Black Tern. It certainly made me sweat today. I searched for it for the first hour of light and then became convinced that it would be on Bowling Green so I went there. It wasn't there so I went back to the Imperial and had it very briefly before it zoomed off towards the Warren. It looked white-rumped but I was unable to progress the id much beyond what I'd got on it yesterday. I've been looking for it for much of today and was about to jack it in when I picked it up, around 1730, on Bull Hill. To say I was relieved is an understatement! I was away when last Friday's adult turned up on Bowling Green so it was great to get this one, Exmouth tick 'n' all!
Key features include the warm brown-toned mantle, contrasting with paler grey wings and white rump, lack of Black Tern's shoulder 'smudge' and subtly different structure - stockier build and short bill relative to head size.
Lee and Ivan were able to scope it from the Warren as it fed in the river - no mean feat considering the distance. Hopefully they'll get it within the Warren boundary.
Also seen today - 1 Slavonian Grebe, 32 Sanderling, c30+ Common Tern, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 6+ Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, 160+ Sandwich Tern and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull that was picked up by Pete Aley around midday, and still present this evening. Great to see Pete and to meet Ian today, and also to see Tim and Dave at Bowling Green.
Wood Sandpiper - Bowling Green - also seen - 1 Green Sandpiper, 7 Gadwall and 1 Pochard amongst the usual stuff.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Poss WWBT, Poms, Rosy T and White-cheeked Pintail!

A frustrating evening with a marsh tern species seen three times. It was always distant, towards Starcross or upriver, and the light was terrible, not helped by heavy drizzle. The initial impression was of juvenile White-winged Black Tern, but I have to be very careful because I have by no means seen all the salient features and juvenile BlackTern is a potential pitfall, especially for me! Needless to say it never really looked dark enough for juvenile Black Tern and there appeared to be some decent contrast between the 'saddle' and the wings. It looked pale-ended from rear views but again it was hard to get more than just an impression at long range and in murky conditions.
A short sea-watch from the raised beach huts this morning produced 8 Pomarine Skuas, in two groups of four, 25 Common Scoter, 5 Mediterranean Gulls and 1 Little Egret.
From Mudbank I recorded c200+ Mallard, an escaped White-cheeked Pintail, 21 Whimbrel, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin, 3 Great Crested Grebe, c30/40+ Common Tern, 1 Little Tern, several Sandwich Tern, 5+ Mediterranean Gull and, best of all, a single Roseate Tern.
Yesterday there was an Arctic Skua on the seafront and at least 13 Ringed Plover shared the beach with 3 Dunlin and c20+ Pied Wagtail. Bull Hill hosted at least 180 Sandwich Tern and 20+ Common Tern early afternoon. At least 7 Mediterranean Gulls were off Mudbank.

White-cheeked Pintail - nice!
One of at least 13 Ringed Plover on the beach yesterday morning.

Arctic Skua - this one was present early yesterday morning off the seafront.

Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull (front) with juvenile Herring Gull.

Adult winter Mediterranean Gull
One of three juvenile Mediterranean Gulls on Maer Rocks late morning.

Just occasionally the Sandwich Terns use Maer Rocks from which to make feeding forays, affording better views than at any other Exmouth site. Yesterday I counted at least 180 on Bull Hill.

Juvenile Sandwich Tern