Sunday, 22 May 2022

Breeding Stonechats

Stonechats breed on higher ground around the fringes of Exmouth but, as far as I can recall, I 've never had breeding birds on Orcombe Point before. At least 3 juveniles were noted this morning, alongside both parent birds.

Two of the three juvenile Stonechats.



My first Common Spotted Orchid of the spring.


Black-tailed Skimmer.


Common Blue.



Painted Lady.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Early Marsh Orchid


Lu and I walked the dog on the pebbled heaths this afternoon and discovered a number of Early Marsh Orchids in bloom. It's wonderful to see them again. This particular magenta-pink subspecies is called pulchella and is the form found in acidic bogs. Kev and I saw the salmon-pink incarnata and the redder coccinea forms in damp, sand dune habitat, south Wales, last summer.

Not much bird news today but 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were with a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose off Mudbank. Also off there - 5 Sandwich Terns, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Whimbrel and 17 Curlew.
The drake Tufted Duck was still on Bystock Pool and the Spotted Flycatcher was still there, hopefully on territory.



Small Heath.

Heath Spotted Orchid.



Pale Dog-violet.


Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Mudbank.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Bloxworth Snout

Bloxworth Snout. Presumably just out of hibernation, this is by far the smartest example of this species that I've ever seen. Discovered at work.

The Bonaparte's Gull was again off the Imperial this evening. It was there when I popped down, just before 8pm, this evening but gone again by about 815pm. Not sure what direction it flew in but I doubt it went far. Also on the lower part of the river this evening - 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 5 Whimbrel, 2 Dunlin, c60 Black-headed Gulls and a Sparrowhawk.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Early Bonaparte's


First-summer Bonaparte's Gull (right) - Duck Pond.

I had a quick look off the seafront first thing but could only manage a single Great Northern Diver. I then tried to track down the Bonaparte's Gull as the tide slowly crept in, picking it up off Mudbank, briefly, before it moved into the Duck Pond area. I watched it until about 7am, when I had to leave to get ready for work.
Also in the estuary - the 2 Dark-bellied Brent Geese still, 15 Turnstones and 3 Dunlin.
Lu and I went for a walk on Withycombe Raleigh Common, after work, where a fly-over Red Kite was noted. Nearby, at Bystock Pool, a drake Tufted Duck still, and a confiding Spotted Flycatcher. The Cuckoo could be heard calling distantly, possibly over towards Squabmoor.
Got soaked this evening, fully expecting more views of the Bonaparte's but sadly it wasn't to be. Some compensation with a Little Tern, 6 Sandwich Terns, 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gulls, c40 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 15 Whimbrel and a Peregrine. The first-summer Yellow-legged Gull spent the evening at the recycling centre and adjacent rugby pitch. Despite the Bonaparte's 'no show' it was lovely to see Mark, Dave, Andy, Tom and Paul.


I made a right mess of photographing the underwing but this shot at least shows that bright, white underside to the primaries - the easiest to way to pick out a Bonaparte's Gull at a distance.


Third from left with Black-headed Gulls.


Red Kite - Withycombe Raleigh Common.

Common Blue.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Bonaparte's Gull


A quick look off Mudbank, after dinner this evening, was initially disappointing. I thought there'd still be some mud exposed but there wasn't. Quite soon however, I realised there were some Black-headed Gulls feeding way out in the middle of the river, so I grabbed the scope and checked through them, quickly clapping eyes on a first-summer Bonaparte's Gull. Unfortunately, in the evenings from Mudbank,  you're looking right into the sun, so it was never easy to pick out. I was joined by Derek and we moved round to the Imperial recreation ground, but it was still distant and difficult to pick out. At one point it disappeared for quite a while  and was eventually picked up,  sat on the water, well away from the main feeding flock. It was too tricky for a photo, even by my standards, so I scribbled some sketches. Also in the flock - 10+ Sandwich Terns and at least 1 Mediterranean Gull. A big surprise was the sudden appearance of 2 Goosanders that flew through the scope view whilst watching the gull. I think there's a reasonable chance it'll hang around, as others have tended to do, and will try from the Imperial rec before work tomorrow morning.
Nearby, the first-summer Yellow-legged Gull was again in the recycling centre.


Bithynian Vetch is now in flower along the cycle path.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Rosy T

Red Kite - a very tatty individual over Bicton Common this morning.

I had a look off the seafront this morning, from the raised beach huts, between 0540 and 0730. The easterly breeze had clearly encouraged quite a few birds into the bay. As well as the expected Gannets and Kittiwakes, I logged 2 Great Northern Divers, 7+ Manx Shearwaters, 1 Balearic Shearwater (east), 20+ auk sp, 5 Guillemots, 17+ Black-headed Gulls, c50 Common Scoters, 1 dark phase Arctic Skua, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Fulmar, 4 Sandwich Terns, 1 Common Tern and, best of all, a Roseate Tern. The Roseate Tern ranged widely in the bay but stuck with 3 or 4 Sandwich Terns.
A wander round Bicton Common and Blackhill produced 4 Tufted Ducks, 2 Sand Martins, 1 Red Kite, 1 Nightjar and a couple Swifts.


 Amazing how the colours of this Painted Lady perfectly mirror its surroundings. Two Silver Y Moths were found on local heathland this morning. A bit of migration underway?

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Spot Fly


My first Exmouth Spot Fly of the year. Always a very welcome sight! Utilising the drooping Ash boughs, as they normally do on Orcombe Point.


Keeled Skimmer.

First-summer Yellow-legged Gull still at the recycling depot.


Greater Butterfly-orchids won't be long now...

Bee Orchid - it's that time of year again!