Saturday, 19 January 2019

Velvet Scoter

Rock Pipit - dung heap. A Grey Wagtail was also present and a flock of c30/40+ Linnet were knocking around the area.
The Velvet Scoter was again off the seafront late this afternoon. I've included the appalling shot below simply because a photo of this species has never featured on this blog before.
Otherwise today - 1 Eider, 4 Goldeneye, 22+ Great Crested Grebes and 12+ Red-breasted Merganser off Mudbank, along with an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Velvet Scoter - Exmouth seafront.
View from Gore Lane.

The moon was impressive this evening - lighting up an early evening dog-walk along the estuary.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Pale-bellied Brents

Few birding options this afternoon, with just an hour to spare after work and heavy rain. I opted for driving around the local sports pitches and viewing from the car. Exmouth rugby club produced three Pale-bellied Brent Geese and the cricket club produced a flock of 33 Pied Wagtails and at least 3 Meadow Pipits.
On the 16th, late in the afternoon, the Velvet Scoter was much nearer Exmouth and showed pretty well from the seafront.
On the 15th there were higher than usual numbers of Brent Geese off Mudbank with 430+ counted, along with 115+ Mallard, 14+ Wigeon, and few Pintail, 1 Peregrine and a Greenshank. Off Maer Rocks - 5 Red-throated Diver and 42 Brent Geese.

Dunlin - off the Leisure Centre this afternoon.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Firecrest and Velvet

Exe Reed Beds this morning - I had a mooch around Countess Wear again before kick-off at King George V playing fields.
Little to report today. Countess Wear produced a handful of Cetti's Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Redwings before football but little else, and in Exmouth a Firecrest at the cricket pitch was the highlight. Nearby, off the seafront, an adult Mediterranean Gull.
Yesterday, after work, I managed to scope the Velvet Scoter from the seafront, which helpfully did lots of neck-stretching and a wing-flap. Six Common Scoter were further out in the bay and at least 5 Great Crested Grebes were dotted around.

Pintail - Mudbank

One of seven Meadow Pipits on the cricket pitch this afternoon - feeding with at least 17 Pied Wagtails.

Good to find at least one Firecrest wintering at the cricket pitch. This bird remained faithful to bushes right beside the clubhouse all the time I was there this afternoon.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019


The last few minutes of daylight, following a busy day at work, were spent looking off Sowden Lane in Lympstone. The regular Peregrine pair was sat out on the estuary and fairly quick and crude counts included 200+ Common Gull roosting on a sandbar, c1000+ Dunlin and 25+ Great Crested Grebe. Nearby the Chaffinch flock numbered c70/80+ birds but no Brambling were noted, unlike last winter. At least 4 Reed Buntings were mixed in, along with one or two Greenfinch and a handful of Linnets.

 Female and male Peregrine with Starcross in the background.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

New Cirl Site

Redwing - Hayes Barton
I popped back up to Hayes Barton pig farm this morning, in the hope of going through the Chaffinch flock. The flock was split, and although I recorded c1/200+ they were difficult to observe. At least one female Brambling was present but, more excitingly, I found three more Cirl Buntings (male and 2 females). They're clearly properly establishing themselves in east Devon now with at least five sites (this side of the Exe) that I'm personally aware of. Surely not long now before they edge in to Dorset if they're not already there. Also at the pig farm - a second-winter Mediterranean Gull, one or two Chiffchaff, 1 Yellowhammer, 7+ Skylark, 1 Reed Bunting, 1+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Jay, c10+ Redwing and rough counts of c1000+ Woodpigeon and c230+ Jackdaw amongst the masses of corvids. A quick look for yesterday's Firecrest proved fruitless but Goldcrests weren't too difficult to find.

It's very difficult to get a handle on the number of Chaffinches around the pig farm but there are masses present in the wooded margins and game-cover strips.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Pig Farm

A dog-walk around the lower edge of the commons took me through Hayes Barton pig farm where good numbers of birds included 3+ Mediterranean Gull, Firecrest, 2 Reed Bunting, c2/300+ Chaffinch, 1+ Brambling, 8+ Redwing, 4+ Song Thrush, 2/3 Chiffchaff, 2+ Grey Wagtail and 11 Stock Dove.
A frosty early morning look at the dung heap, on Gore Lane, revealed the continuing presence of 3 Cirl Bunting and off Maer Rocks - 2+ Red-throated Diver and 15 Brent Goose.

Chaffinch and Brambling. The large flock of Chaffinch dispersed before I had the chance to go through them properly.
Firecrest - believe it or not, this bird showed well in roadside Holly bushes but could I get a decent photo? I've recorded wintering Firecrest in this exact same area before. Great birds.

Cirl Bunting - one of the three winterers beside the dung heap.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Countess Wear and the Sawmills

Little Egret - Maer Rocks
Good to see an improvement in Purple Sandpiper numbers yesterday morning, with seven present on Maer Rocks early on. Also 2 Turnstone, 1 Little Egret, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 11+ Brent Goose and 3+ Red-throated Diver.
Today I did Countess Wear and Powderham Sawmills. A number of species recorded at the sludge beds included at least 6 Cetti's Warbler, 5+ (probably more) Chiffchaff, 1 Stonechat, 2 Common Sandpiper, 18+ Teal, 17+ Gadwall and 2 Water Rail.
The Yellow-browed Warbler was hard work at Powderham Sawmills, but eventually gave reasonable views in the large sallow clump alongside the lane. A Marsh Tit was a lovely surprise sighting there, otherwise a couple Bullfinch,  Kingfisher, 2 Siskin, 1 Raven and a couple Great Spotted Woodpeckers were all that was logged. Great to see Mark, Bob and Chris there too.
A quick look off Mudbank late afternoon produced 35 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Goldeneye (including a 'new' drake, first noted yesterday).

One of a pair of Bullfinch seen at the sludge beds. Two more were in the sallow clump at Powderham Sawmills.

Looking north from the tow path, with Exeter Canal on the left and the Exe Reed Beds (and Topsham) on the right. Countess Wear sludge beds run beneath the M5 road bridge just a few hundred yards north of where I was stood to take this photo. At least 3 Cetti's Warblers showed well in this area but were way too fidgety for a photo.

One of two Common Sandpipers on the Exe beside the sewage works.