Monday 22 April 2024

Orcombe Migrants

The first of today's Whinchats, taken in dull, early morning light.

Good by Orcombe standards today - cool and overcast with less wind than yesterday - 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Snipe, 2 Whinchats, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (a reeling bird that actually showed itself briefly), 2 Wheatears, at least 1 Redstart, just 1 Whitethroat, 13+ Chiffchaffs (but no Willow Warblers), 4+ Blackcaps, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 10+ Swallows and 1 Sedge Warbler. Also - a singing male Cirl Bunting still on territory, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine and 2 Shelduck.

Mudbank on the incoming tide this afternoon - 58 Whimbrel, 20 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, c20 Sandwich Terns, 5 Black-headed Gulls and 1 Common Gull.

This fine male Redstart was on the far side of the massive cattle field. A laughable record shot but at least you can see what it is - my first this year captured for posterity!

Even today's Wheatears refused to come any closer.

An afternoon stroll around Bystock, in the rain - 5 Tufted Ducks, 4 Canada Geese, 1 Moorhen, 2 Willow Warblers, 6 Nuthatches, 3+ Siskins and a pair of Firecrests.

Sunday 21 April 2024

Lesser Whitethroats, Red Kite

Two Lesser Whitethroats today - both singing males - the first along the cycle track between West Lodge and Courtlands, the second on Orcombe Point. Additional Orcombe records - 3 Willow Warblers, 3+ Wheatears, 8 House Martins, 9+ Swallows, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Little Egret, 5+ Blackcaps, 2 Shelduck, 1 Kestrel and 8+ Chiffchaffs.

A Red Kite flew east over Halsdon Farm (viewed from the back garden) at 1225pm. Also - a single House Martin and a couple Swallows.

Saturday 20 April 2024

White-tailed Eagle

Was sat chatting to Glyn when I picked up a White-tailed Eagle, way upriver, towards or over Topsham at 1530. It was relatively low but gained height quite quickly and headed downriver. It was extremely high and being mobbed by another raptor (possibly a Gos) when I lost it in the brilliant blue sky. It was heading west/southwest by then. In view for about 15 minutes in total and looking distinctly brownish on the upperparts, so perhaps an older bird? Otherwise off there - 19+ Whimbrel and earlier this morning - 20 Brent Geese - very distant but probably 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 12 Dark-bellied birds. Really nice to meet Dan and his parents this afternoon.
Orcombe was disappointingly quiet yet again but 2 Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler of note in crystal clear conditions.
A mid-morning look at Orcombe yesterday produced 10+ 'Greenland' Wheatears, 6 Shelduck, 2 Bullfinches and a Willow Warbler. Off Mudbank - c20 Whimbrel late on.

Sunday 14 April 2024

Yellow Wagtail

I found this Tawny Pinion next to a light in the Bristol Schools camp this morning. Not an uncommon species but only the second one I've seen.

Highlight on Orcombe Point this morning was my first Yellow Wagtail of the year. It was feeding on the main dung heap before flying off high west. Also this morning - 1 Whitethroat, 7+ Wheatear, 1 Swallow, 8+ Blackcaps, 1+ Willow Warbler and 2 or 3 Collared Doves. The two resident Red-legged Partridges are still sneaking around the top fields.
Off Mudbank - 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 9 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, at least 19 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Knot, 7 Whimbrel, 1 Redshank and the returning leucistic Herring Gull.
Yesterday - c40/50 Sandwich Terns on Cockle Sands and a whiz round Bystock produced 7 Tufted Ducks, 1 Moorhen, 2 Siskins and a Firecrest.

One of six (3 pairs) of Shelduck in the main top field today.

Green-winged Orchid. One of several hundred spikes now in flower.

One of at least 7 Wheatear today.

 The leucistic Herring Gull made an unwelcome return today - off Mudbank on the dropping tide.

Two of seven Tufted Ducks on Bystock yesterday.

Friday 12 April 2024

Red Sword-grass

Red Sword-grass. A huge thanks to Nick who trapped this beauty in his Budleigh garden last night. A new one for both of us and one I've always hoped to see but never really expected to see.

Orcombe this morning - 7 Blackcaps, 12+ Chiffchaffs, 1 Swallow, 1 Stock Dove and 4 Willow Warblers. There appeared to be a light west-bound passage of Linnets and Goldfinches but no counts were made. A Wheatear was on the beach first thing and 3 'Greenland' Wheatears were on the Maer this afternoon - a nice bonus on a lovely spring stroll with Lu. 
Off Mudbank - c50 Sandwich Terns, 21 Bar-tailed Godwits and 4 Knot.

This whopping great 'leucorhoa'' Wheatear was one of three together on the Maer this afternoon.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Bits and Bobs

Little Egret - Mudbank.

Mudbank today, on the dropping tide - c70 Sandwich Terns, 7 or 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 14 Shelduck, 20 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Grey Plover, 5 Knot, 2 Redshank, 6 Whimbrel, 1 Black-headed Gull, 14+ Common Gulls, 1 Blackcap and 1 Willow Warbler. On Orcombe Point - just 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Swallows, 5 Blackcaps, 9 Chiffchaffs and a pair of Cirl Buntings.
A few Willow Warblers were singing along the cycle track to Topsham and in Topsham - the Black-throated Diver and a Marsh Harrier. Both Willow Warbler and Reed Warbler were in song there. I spent this afternoon with Chris on the Lower Otter Restoration Project. Wonderful to catch up as always but not too much about. Little Ringed Plover, Goosander, Greenshank, Redshank, Willow Warbler and a handful of House Martins the highlights.

Whimbrel - Mudbank. One of six off there today.


Drake Goosander - river Otter.

Orange-tip. Saw Holly Blues today too.

I cycled to Topsham this morning for this Black-throated Diver that is currently languishing off the recreation ground. An odd record anywhere on the river but particularly strange this far upstream.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Arctic and Little Terns

Two half-hour looks off Maer Rocks today - the first from 0655-0725 and the second from 330pm-4pm. This afternoon it felt like I'd had a better year for terns than the whole of last year, with c40 Sandwich Terns, 5 Little Terns and a beautiful Arctic Tern fishing not too far offshore. This morning - 2 Little Egrets, 2 Little Terns, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Whimbrel and 14+ Sandwich Terns.