Friday, 16 November 2018

Oak Rustic

A big thank you to Nick who popped in this evening with this little beauty. He trapped this Oak Rustic in Budleigh last night, along with a number of immigrant species that included White Speck and Gem. This is a rare moth in Devon but it appears to be doing very well a little further east, in Dorset, so I suspect this won't be the last one Nick traps. It offers hope of one here in Exmouth too. Many thanks Nick!
Of interest, Martin trapped a Mottled Umber in near Kentisbeare last night - another great record.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Orcombe Early Doors

Water Pipit - still feeding on the dung heap today with four Rock Pipits, a couple Pied Wagtails, Grey Wagtail and a few Meadow Pipits. Note the reddish tones to the rump - a good feature for Water Pipit and quite different to the olive-grey of Rock Pipit.
Did a quick pre-work dawn visit to Orcombe this morning but only covered the top fields. Masses of birds included the following counts: 2+ Pied Wagtail, c110+ Chaffinch (with many missed), 14 Starling, 6+ Goldfinch, 7 Fieldfare, 3+ Brambling, 2+ Reed Bunting, c30+ Linnet, c325+ Woodpigeon, 1 Water Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Siskin, c100+ Skylark (very rough estimate), 4 Rock Pipit, 2 Raven, 2 Snipe, 1 Yellowhammer, 3+ Song Thrush, 2+ Blackbird and a Kestrel. The birding is really good at this time of year but not for much longer.....

Monday, 12 November 2018

Water Pipit

With a very narrow window of time between finishing work and darkness, I decided to check the dung field and immediate surroundings. I managed to log 3 Song Thrush, 1 Snipe, c40+ Skylark, c20+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2+ Cirl Buntings, 1 Rock Pipit and best of all a Water Pipit! This is an Exmouth 'tick' for me and to put its local rarity in to some sort of context, I've recorded 2 Richard's, 2 Red-throated and a Tawny Pipit, all before tonight's Water Pipit.
I initially flushed it with a Rock Pipit, and its more strident, less rasping call grabbed my attention. I was delighted when it pitched back down but it was very wary and difficult to photograph, landing briefly before dropping down behind the clods of dung. The above shot was snatched from some distance away.

Some interesting cloud formations this evening....

The dung heap is by far the best little patch of habitat on Orcombe Point at the moment. The Water Pipit seemed quite at home there and at least two Cirl Buntings were finding some shelter in the stretch of hedgerow to the right of the heap. You can't see them in this photo but at the back of the field are two very large bulls.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Cirl Buntings

Good numbers of Meadow Pipit on Orcombe Point this morning included a number feeding on the dung heap.
It was quite busy on Orcombe Point early this morning. Between 0700 and 0905 I recorded 80+ Chaffinch, 3 Goldcrest, 6 Snipe, 3+ Song Thrush, 1+ Redwing, c100+ Meadow Pipit, 4+ Blackbird, c15+ Goldfinch, c40+ Skylark, 3+ Pied Wagtail, 2 or 3 Cirl Buntings, c50+ Linnet, c300+ Woodpigeon, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Reed Bunting, 10+ Jackdaw and 4 Starling.
The Cirl Buntings were my first in Exmouth this year and were this morning's clear highlight.
Little else seen today but the 2 Black Redstarts were again showing well behind the sailing club and a few bits and bobs were seen on this afternoon's dog-walk - see below.

One of at least two very vocal Reed Buntings on Orcombe this morning.

Cirl Bunting. This was one of two on Gore Lane following an early morning east-bound flyover which could have been a different bird.

Four of 18 Black-tailed Godwits off the Leisure Centre.

This adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose was in the 'Gut' with c50+ Dark-bellied Brents. The group contained good numbers of juvenile birds.

Juvenile and adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Coco and I walked miles on the Commons this afternoon. Birds seen included 18 Crossbill, 30 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 1+ Brambling and Dartford Warbler.

Raven - Woodbury Common

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Black Reds

I caught up with the two Black Redstarts this morning. Both birds were together and showing really well behind the sailing club.
Not a lot else seen today but I almost certainly had a drake American Wigeon off the Leisure Centre this morning. I was scoping what's known as the 'duck pond' from the car, in a heavy rain shower, when I picked up the bird. To be fair I think it's fine - dusky pink flanks, grey head and black eye 'mask' etc but the visibility was so poor and my view so brief that I can't justify submitting it as such. An exhaustive and ultimately unsuccessful search through hundreds of Wigeon proved fruitless and allowed the doubts to creep in. I didn't see enough to age it and, if I'm brutally honest, I probably can't 100% rule out a hybrid, so for the time being I'm leaving it. There is of course a possibility it's the returning drake and if so it'll no doubt be picked up again somewhere on the river. I'll have another look for it in the morning.

The second Black Redstart is an interesting looking bird. It's got no tail, but the most striking feature is its fiery red under-tail coverts. Some black feathering around the upper breast, lores and throat indicate that it's a male and there's a definite orange-brown tint to the lower breast, although the belly is clearly white. Great to have a couple birds around following last winter when, for the first time in a long while, there were none.

Friday, 9 November 2018


Adult male, Sub-adult male (I presume) and female Eider off Warren Point, in truly horrible conditions late this afternoon. Viewed from the shelter near the Grove Pub.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Caspian Gull

This second-winter Caspian Gull was discovered off Mudbank after work, late this afternoon. My initial view was of it sleeping but the 'contrasty' plumage and white mirror on p10 got the alarm bells ringing. I hastily scribbled the above sketch and then had to wait what seemed like ages for it to wake up. Once awake it didn't hang around but I was able to rattle off a load of photos which give an idea of its structure as well as its plumage. There are many examples of hybrid birds originating from mixed German breeding colonies so I was pleased to see a nice elegant bird with a hanging rear belly, high chest, small head and long neck - no reason to suspect hybrid parentage as far as I can see.
Also present this evening - my first two Goldeneye of the season and a forty-strong flock of Black-tailed Godwit with c45+ Dunlin.
Late news for Monday, 5/11 - a Red-throated Diver watched late afternoon from Mudbank as it flew downriver towards the river mouth.


My initial view gave a tantalising glimpse of a mirror on p10. It's not a particularly large bird compared to the Herring Gull on the left, so it's presumably a female.


A nice clean white underwing.


p10 mirror, white underwing and crisp black tail band visible here.


Note the hanging rear belly and nice black tertials with contrasting broad white tips.

Note the spotted nape creating a distinct necklace, and subtle mottling to the upper breast sides. The wing coverts show a mix of adult-type grey feathers and worn/faded milky-brown older feathers.

This crappy flight shot at least captures a nice black tail band and gives an idea of the small head on long neck, contributing to a fairly striking profile.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Purple Sandpipers

Four Purple Sandpipers back on Maer Rocks this morning. Also 2+ Turnstone and 1 Little Egret before football. Three Common Scoter offshore. Otherwise 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese off Mudbank but no time to look properly today.
Yesterday, after work, on Woodbury Common - ringtail Hen Harrier, c100+ Pied Wagtail (over to roost), c100+ Meadow Pipit, c35+ Fieldfare and at least 1 Redpoll and 1 Brambling over.

Common Sandpiper

This morning's game was at Countess Wear so I used the hour's warm-up time to have a look at the river. One Green Sandpiper and 3 or 4 Common Sandpipers were seen, as well as Cetti's warbler,  Kingfisher, half a dozen Teal, 1 Dunlin, 2 Little Grebe and 1 Redshank.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Hen Harrier

Juvenile Hen Harrier - this bird was hunting below Woodbury Fort late this afternoon. It was really difficult to keep track of as it kept so low to the ground, and consequently I failed miserably to get a decent shot. I did however get enough on it, I think, to age it as a juvenile, with rusty/yellowish underparts and dark secondaries. A beautiful adult male Merlin also put in an appearance along with c35+ Fieldfare, 5+ Brambling, c50+ Meadow Pipit, 1+ Snipe and one or two Redpolls.

From my position on Woodbury Common this afternoon I could clearly see Portland in the distance.
A quick dawn visit to Orcombe, before work, revealed some large Woodpigeon flocks heading west, totalling c2500+ birds. Also 1 Lapwing, 2+ Golden Plover, c15/20+ Meadow Pipit, 7+ Siskin, 2+ Reed Bunting, 12+ Pied Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Snipe, 3 Starling, c10+ Song Thrush, c10+ Blackbird, c30+ Chaffinch, 15+ Goldfinch and 1 Brambling. I reckon I hugely undercounted Chaffinches as very few were visible in fine conditions.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Slim Pickings

Fieldfare - Orcombe - my first of the autumn in Exmouth but sadly it wanted to hide before flying north. Very little else noted in a biting north-easterly this morning.

The family group of five Pale-bellied Brent Geese - Mudbank. A total of ten seen this morning - all well hidden amongst the Dark-bellied Flock.

Tufted Duck - one of a few notable (in Exmouth at least) wildfowl sightings off Mudbank this morning. The others were a drake Gadwall, 2 Shoveler and 4 Teal amongst hundreds of Wigeon and good numbers of Pintail. The Knot flock has increased to 14 birds and there are still good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and Redshank though I didn't count them this morning.

Brambling - one of at least four birds in with a flock of c50+ Chaffinch feeding on beech masts around Woodbury Fort late this afternoon. With large numbers of Brambling to the east of us it's likely that the flock size will increase though whether or not it reaches the large numbers seen last autumn remains to be seen....

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Possible Icelandic Redwing?


Lu's birthday today so I managed just a brief trip up to Orcombe mid-afternoon. Interest was provided by a lone, swarthy and very streaky first-winter (note the pale-tipped greater coverts) Redwing that I flushed twice from a weedy ditch on the windy side of a hedge, bordering the largest 'top field'. With the wind having originated from the north-west for so long I thought it was worth at least considering coburni - the Icelandic race. I've highlighted some coburni features but on balance of probability I'm assuming it's just a well-streaked iliacus (the upperpart colouration looks about the same as the iliacus below). I can't do anything with wing length or patterning of undertail coverts.
Below is a Scandanavian 'iliacus' that I photographed during the big freeze in March. It probably doesn't make for a useful comparison because it's so puffed up but note the pale legs, white belly and broken, lighter streaking on the flanks.

Adult (left) and juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose. A quick look off Mudbank, on the dropping tide, revealed at least 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 13 Dunlin, 12 Knot and 116+ Black-tailed Godwit. No time to count anything else.

Linnet - Orcombe Point. Apart from the Redwing the only other birds of note were a single Golden Plover and 4 Snipe.