Sunday, 23 February 2020


Gadwall are a rare treat in Exmouth. A male was head-bobbing to a female just upriver from West Lodge late this afternoon. By the time I decided to try for a photo the pair had steamed further upriver, so my photo is truly awful (no surprises there). Three Goldeneye were diving mid-river but I didn't see much else of note.
The day started with a fairly brisk south-westerly which had died down by the afternoon. An early morning sea-watch from the raised beach huts, between shortly after dawn and 0825, produced counts of 14 Fulmar (all south), 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 diver sp, 4 Red-throated Diver and 4 Common Scoter. As well as a steady passage of Gannets and a few Kittiwakes there were several auks passing. I managed to pick out 2 Razorbill and 3 Guillemot amongst the nearer birds.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Dog Walk

Singing male Dartford Warbler.

Long-tailed Tit collecting cobwebs for a nest.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Pale-bellied Brent

A juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose was with c200+ Dark-bellied birds off Mudbank this morning.
Still pretty quiet in Exmouth at the moment. Counts from Mudbank today included 13 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Goldeneye (one male), 32 Wigeon, 1 Canada Goose, c200+ Brent Goose, 2 Teal, 11 Great Crested Grebe, 12+ Sanderling, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Dunlin, 1 Knot, 2 Peregrine, 95+ Common Gull and 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull. The Slavonian Grebe was scoped from Shelly Beach and nearby the male Black Redstart betrayed its presence by calling from a tree in someone's drive.
Yesterday the only birds of note were an adult Mediterranean Gull off Maer Rocks, 48 Fieldfare and 1 Redwing over Withycombe Raleigh Common and 8 Snipe and two Skylark in Littleham stubble fields.
On the 19th a look off Maer Rocks revealed 60 Brent Goose, 2 Purple Sandpiper and 3 Great Crested Grebe. The female Eider was off Dawlish Warren. Mudbank counts included c600 Brent Goose, 2 Peregrine and 3 Goldeneye. An afternoon dog-walk on Colaton Raleigh Common produced 3 Siskin, 2 Crossbill, 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Stonechat, 3 Skylark and a lone Jack Snipe - the first I've seen in ages.
On the 17th, on/off Maer Rocks - at least 5 Purple sandpiper, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Turnstone and 33 Brent Goose. Off Mudbank - 8 Red-breasted Merganser and a male Goldeneye.
The Ravens are getting playful. Six birds seen on Orcombe Point this morning.

Black Redstart - Shelly Beach.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Storm Dennis

A Great Northern Diver flies in to the bay before 'belly-bouncing' off a wave and landing, to loaf off the seafront. In the background the waves hit the sea wall and railway line between Dawlish and Langstone Rock.
I've been really surprised at how few birds seem to have been blown in by storms Dennis and Ciara. In the past I would have all but guaranteed finding the odd Little Gull or Kittiwake somewhere in Exmouth but I've had no luck whatsoever. Probably just as well for the birds, but the suspicion is the birds just aren't out there like they used to be.
It has been raining heavily for most of today and yesterday but this morning I managed to record 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, at least 9 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Goldeneye off Mudbank. At least 10 Cattle Egret flew up from Cockwood Marsh with a load of gulls. Earlier a Great Northern Diver, 1 Fulmar and two Mallard were off Maer Rocks. A look off Shelly Beach late afternoon revealed good numbers of Black-headed Gulls dip-feeding in the estuary and the regular Kingfisher in the marina.
Otherwise the only news this week is from the 12/2 when the Slavonian Grebe and 2 Mediterranean Gulls were scoped from Shelly Beach after work.

The female Kingfisher can be so difficult to find in the marina. Great camouflage!

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Storm Ciara

Horrendous conditions today and precious little in the way of birds. This is Exmouth quay and part of the seafront shortly after dawn.
Thought I'd at least get a Little Gull or two today but if anything the weather was too bad with apparently nothing moving at sea and very little on the estuary. I just about managed to pick out the Red-necked Grebe, alongside a Great Crested Grebe, off Shelly Beach this morning and 14 Grey Plover flew towards the Warren late afternoon. Otherwise 26 Pied Wagtail on the cricket pitch and 15 Brent Geese on the Imperial rugby pitch were the only things noted.
Yesterday was better with Mudbank counts including 4 Pintail, 2 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 13 Dunlin, 3 Goldeneye, 70+ Shelduck, 11 Grey Plover, 1 Peregrine, 30+ Wigeon, c40 Common Gull, 6 Red-breasted Merganser, 100  Brent Geese, 130+ Curlew and a tight-packed flying flock of 18 Cattle Egrets towards Starcross (with a further 3 sitting on a wreck).
A very quick look off Maer Rocks produced just 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 20 Kittiwake. The Red-necked Grebe was off Shelly Beach with 9 Red-breasted Merganser.

No shelter in the estuary today. This was the view from Shelly Beach this morning. The Red-necked Grebe was out there alongside a Great Crested Grebe but difficult to pick up in the choppy conditions.

This strikingly pale Black-headed Gull was off Mudbank late yesterday afternoon.

Two of fifteen Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Imperial rugby ground this afternoon.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020


The cattle field at the top of Gore Lane is just mud now. It's attracting Pied Wagtails (at least 65 this afternoon) and gulls. Should be good for Wheatears in a month's time.
Some birding after work this afternoon. Off Mudbank - 10 Pintail, 54 Wigeon, 14 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Greenshank, 3 Redshank and 1 Peregrine. Thanks to the flat-calm conditions the Red-necked Grebe was scoped in the usual spot off Shelly Beach.
Shelly Beach - the Red-necked Grebe 'til gone 5pm, Slavonian Grebe (off Cockwood), the male Black Redstart, 70+ Shelduck and 170+ Curlew on Cockle Sands.
Orcombe Point - 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot and 130+ Kittiwake back on the Straight Point ledges. The top fields returned counts of 65+ Pied Wagtail, c20/30+ Meadow Pipit, 20+ Skylark and a single Snipe.

Sunday, 2 February 2020


Little Egrets - Lower Halsdon Farm. Birds regularly use the fields alongside the cycle track to sit out the high tide.
Today's highlight was a Woodcock flushed from damp woodland along Castle Lane. Otherwise a few other local bits and pieces but no unusual gulls...
Mudbank - 46 Mallard, 360+ Brent Goose, 2 Peregrine, 13 Wigeon and 15+ Cattle Egrets on a wreck north of Starcross.
Shelly Beach - 12+ Sanderling (Cockle Sands), Red-necked Grebe and the Slavonian Grebe off Cockwood. Nice to see Libby for the second day running and good to meet Tim.
Maer Rocks early on - just 1 Red-throated Diver south and a Fulmar. Offshore winds are never terribly productive.
Yesterdays counts were as follows:
Mudbank - 21 Wigeon, 38 Mallard, 100+ Dunlin, 47 Shelduck, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Goldeneye (male and female).
Shelly Beach - 1 Red-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Raven, 9+ Cattle Egret (north of Starcross), 7 Pintail and 11 Wigeon over.
Off the seafront - 7+ Great Crested Grebe, 1 Red-throated Diver and the female Eider sitting off Dawlish Warren.

Scarlet Elf Cap? No clue with Fungi.

Red-necked Grebe - still here and still hard to photograph.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Shelly Beach

An hour before dark, after work - 1 Red-necked Grebe (above) still, the Slavonian Grebe, 5+ Great Crested Grebe, 10+ Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Goldeneye, 50+ Great Black-backed Gull, 4+ Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 Mute Swan.
On the way to work this morning - a Blackcap at the end of Belle Vue Road, possibly the same bird that I saw earlier in the month.
Didn't see the RnG yesterday but the male Black Redstart was found feeding beneath a car of all places!

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Sun pm

The Red-necked Grebe was again present off Shelly Beach this afternoon. Quite a few people caught up with it today. At least 20 Cattle Egret were on the mud north of Starcross late afternoon and both Black Redstarts performed in the sunshine around the apartments.
Off Maer Rocks this afternoon - 7 Turnstone, 8 Purple Sandpipers and 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

RnG Still

Couldn't get better shots of the Shelly Beach Red-necked Grebe this afternoon but nice to get it wing-flapping. It showed continuously, between dives, amongst the buoys from around 1530 - 1630 at least. I would have stayed longer to watch the gulls coming in but my hands were so numb with cold that I chickened out. Want to make the most of watching this beautiful bird whilst it stays.

Hard enough to photograph without a freezing, cold wind driving icy rain straight in to your face!

Monday, 27 January 2020

Red-necked Grebe

I popped down to Shelly Beach this afternoon, after work, primarily to look through the gulls coming in to roost on Bull Hill. This Red-necked Grebe was a very pleasant surprise, being the first I've seen in Exmouth since January 18th 2014! There's no question it's a very scarce bird in these parts these days - gone the same way as many formerly quite regular species. I watched it, joined by Derek and Dave, until nearly dark. It was never close but scope views were more than adequate. The Slavonian Grebe was fishing off Starcross with a Great Crested Grebe and a small number of Red-breasted Mergansers were present. Otherwise a Peregrine over with a wader 'kill' and at least 25 Cattle Egrets gathered on a mud-spit north of Starcross.
Yesterday I reckon there were 32 Cattle Egrets on the aforementioned mud-spit, late afternoon, and 10+ Lesser Back-backed Gulls were on Bull Hill. Earlier, just after dawn, 3 Red-throated Divers flew in to the bay past Orcombe Point and 1 Common Scoter was off there. A flock of 35 Curlew flew over towards Maer Valley.
My favourite of the grebes but sadly one I rarely see. Just love the dark crown, white cheeks and dusky neck contributing to a distinctive jizz, even at range.

Saturday, 25 January 2020


Four Red-breasted Mergansers watched feeding and occasionally displaying off Shelly Beach this afternoon.

A few spots checked today. At least 500 Brent Geese were still on the river at dawn. Not a lot else seen though with just 2 Goldeneye, 8 Wigeon, 80+ Curlew and 30+ Common Gull noted. Nearby the male Black Redstart was in the Shelly Beach area, keeping low in the cold, damp conditions and located on call.
The Littleham stubbles produced 15 Snipe and at least 8 Skylark, and in Maer Valley I found two more Firecrests, taking the total found in Exmouth to at least 13 since the start of the month. Four Chiffchaffs and 2 Goldcrests were also feeding along the stream near the farm.
Not much birding done during the week but on 23/1 there were 12 Greylag Geese (my first in Exmouth in over a year) on the river prior to dusk and on 22/1 - 5 Goldeneye (2 males), 10+ Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Greenshank, 5 Pintail, 135+ Curlew and 13 Redshank.
Late on 21/1 c60+ Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Teal were on Cockle Sands and on 20/1 the same stretch of sand produced 12 Ringed Plover and 8 Teal.

Sunday, 19 January 2020


Sundog over the Exe on yesterday's afternoon dog-walk.

It has been a cold but still and beautiful weekend, with ice under foot in the mornings and blue sky dawn 'til dusk.
Maer Rocks first thing, in flat-calm conditions, produced 36 Brent Geese, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 4+ Turnstone and 48 Curlew over to feed in Maer Valley. Nearby on Orcombe Point - the female Cirl Bunting, 20+ Skylark, c20/30+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Linnet - the latter my first in Exmouth this year and a strong indication, along with an increase in Skylark and Meadow Pipit, that the cold weather has forced a few species to move. Really nice to meet John and Sally this morning.
The Littleham stubble fields held 25+ Snipe, 6 Skylark and c20+ Redwing.
There was a good number of waders on show today - totals from both Mudbank and Shelly Beach today included 98+ Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank, 45+ Turnstone, between 500 and 1000 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover, 16+ Sanderling, 6 Redshank, c80 Curlew and, best of all, a lone Lapwing! Also off Mudbank - 5 Goldeneye (2 males), 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Kingfisher and 60+ Shelduck.
At least three Firecrest were found along Madeira Walk this afternoon and the two Black Redstarts showed well in the Shelly Beach area.
Yesterday I found a flock of at least 15 Lesser Redpoll feeding with 4 Bullfinch on the Bystock reserve. Also 1 Snipe, 1 Firecrest and 3 Moorhen.
Off Mudbank yesterday - 8 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 male Goldeneye, 1 Greenshank, 38 Common Gull, 7 Grey Plover, 3 Redshank, 1 Peregrine, 8 Wigeon and 37 Mallard.
A last-ditch evening look at Woodbury Common yesterday revealed just 1 Brambling amongst several Chaffinch flying over to roost.

One of at least 15 Lesser Redpoll at Bystock yesterday. A pale-rumped individual but note the orange-buff wash to face. Pointed tail feathers indicate first-winter.

One of at least three Firecrests - Madeira Walk.

Black Redstart - Shelly Beach - the two birds again present this afternoon. If you want to see these birds you can't beat sunny, still conditions!

Friday, 17 January 2020


The two Kingfishers that were getting off Mudbank at the end of last year seem to have vacated the area. Perhaps this bird, that was in the marina this afternoon, is one of them. Either way it's the first one I've seen in Exmouth this year.
Off Shelly Beach late this afternoon - a small grebe off Starcross, which was almost certainly the Slav, and at least twenty Cattle Egrets gathered on a mud-spit just north of Starcross. Otherwise this week has been a very busy one work-wise, though a Blackcap just down the road, on Monday as I walked to work, was noteworthy.

Sunday, 12 January 2020


Two Mistle Thrushes, 5 Fieldfare and 11 Redwing on the Archery Club playing fields this morning. It's difficult to catch up with winter thrushes at the moment. Mild weather generally keeps them away. Also three Raven and a Stock Dove over but otherwise quiet.
Eleven Red-throated Divers flew in to the bay past Orcombe Point shortly after dawn this afternoon. Off Mudbank - 25 Pintail, 12 Great Crested Grebe and 41 Wigeon.

Adult Mediterranean Gull in with the cattle along Gore Lane this afternoon. Nearby - a single soggy stubble field in Littleham yielded 30+ Snipe and at least 4 Skylark. A single Kestrel was hunting over the very tip of Straight Point firing range.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Common Stuff

Three Bullfinches in hedges around West Lodge late yesterday afternoon. Also 1 Mistle Thrush there.

Maer Rocks just after dawn - 3 Red-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter and a Fulmar.
Off Mudbank - 34 Pintail, 54 Wigeon and a Greenshank.
Shelly Beach - 2 Mediterranean Gull, 5 Red-breasted Merganser, 15+ Shag, 1 Great Northern Diver and a probable Merlin low across the estuary towards Starcross, at one point perching on the back of a small boat.
Yesterday off Mudbank - 3 Goldeneye (2 males) and 2 Cattle Egrets distantly, just north of Starcross.
On Wednesday (8/1) at least 18 Cattle Egrets were perched on wrecks just north of Starcross, viewed from Mudbank, and 114 Wigeon, 9 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Teal, 6 Pintail, 1 Greenshank and a drake Goldeneye were logged.

Pale-collared Jackdaw - Littleham. Probably within variation of the local population.