Sunday 28 June 2015

Mostly Moths


First-summer Herring Gull
Off Maer Rocks first thing this morning -  14 common tern, 1 little tern, 1 little egret, and a first-summer mediterranean gull. Off the Imperial there were 22+ sandwich tern and 170 curlew. I  ran the moth trap last night for the first time in ages. A battered bordered straw was the only immigrant but it was good to see a decent selection of common stuff.

Blood Vein

Elephant Hawk Moth

Riband Wave

Riband Wave

Bordered Straw - on its last legs!


Iron Prominent

Green Pug

Pine Carpet

Buff Arches

Beautiful Hook-tip

Clouded Silver


Peppered Moth

Figure of Eighty

Bee Orchids - we were in Exeter this afternoon so I took Lu and the kids to have a quick look at these at the Pynes Hill Tesco's - well worth a little detour.

Saturday 27 June 2015

Crossbills and Little Tern

Green Hairstreaks
No recent posts because there has been so little to report. A slight improvement the last couple of days though. A little tern off Mudbank today, with c10+ sandwich terns, was nice but better still was a vocal flock of 9 crossbill that flew west over the garden this morning at 0750. I've only recorded crossbill from the house once before. Yesterday there were 5 common scoter on the river, viewed from the Imperial. They were well upriver, probably between Starcross and Powderham. I've seen common scoters on the river before but it's certainly not the 'norm'. Off the seafront yesterday morning, just 1 sanderling and 1 mediterranean gull.

Marbled White Spot

Monday 15 June 2015

Five Years Ago

Male Red-backed Shrike - found whilst walking the dog near Four Firs on the evening of June 15th 2010. The news of this bird was not released as it was in potentially suitable breeding habitat. As it turned out it was only present on the 15th. 
Last night there was a dark-bellied brent goose on the river off the Imperial, along with 15+ sandwich tern but little else.

Saturday 13 June 2015

Slight Up-Tern

First-summer Med Gull - Imperial.

The birding was a bit better today but my photos remain dire. It's bloody difficult to get close to anything in Exmouth! Off the Imperial, early doors, were 11 canada goose, 26+ sandwich tern, 1 little tern, 1 common tern, 2 great crested grebe, 5+ mediterranean gull, 1 common gull, c50+ black-headed gull, 21 curlew, 4 dunlin, 1 sanderling, 6 bar-tailed godwit and, most oddly, a fulmar cruising downriver towards the river mouth.

First-summer Common Gull

Thursday 11 June 2015

A Few Bits and Pieces


A first-summer mediterranean gull off Mudbank this afternoon. Also a smart summer-plumaged grey plover, 115+ black-headed gull and 4+ sandwich tern.
Yesterday, between 0630 and 0700 I counted 140+ swift moving north upriver from the back garden and there was a second-summer mediterranean gull off the seafront. Slim pickings.

Grey Heron - Mudbank


Hobby - East Devon Commons

Tuesday 9 June 2015

So Quiet

Song Thrush - Orcombe Point

It's so quiet in Exmouth, even by normal June standards. I've got virtually nothing to report apart from a sudden increase in sandwich tern numbers yesterday, from zero to c25+, off the seafront. There was a first-summer mediterranean gull off there too and a grey heron on Maer Rocks yesterday morning. Today produced 26+ sanderling on a sandbar off the seafront. Otherwise I've had no late migrants and the estuary has been virtually devoid of birds.

Friday 5 June 2015

Devon Flashback 12 - 1999 Spectacled Warbler

Getting this bird was a tiny bit stressful. The kind of stress that ultimately put me off twitching. I first heard about it while Lu and I were up in London, staying with Lu's sister in Fulham. We'd had a busy weekend that included watching the Clive James Show being filmed on the Friday night and watching Crystal Palace vs Oxford with my brother on the Saturday. On Sunday the 6th I phoned birdline from a telephone box, and was more than a bit stunned to be greeted with the news of a spectacled warbler at Roborough Down, on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon!
Being so far away from it put me right on edge, and I quickly hatched a plan to leave London earlier than anticipated, to go directly for it. Thank god Lu is as understanding as she is, as she had to endure my intense 'man on a mission' mood, as I hammered back down the M5 towards the South West.
Luckily we had an unhindered journey and by about 2pm I was stood in an open area of gorse, waiting for  the bird to appear with a load of other birders who, for whatever reason, had been unable to connect the previous day. They included Tom Whiley, Mush, Dave Land, Ivan, Russ and the late John Fortey. It took me an uncomfortable hour to finally set eyes on the little blighter - a huge relief for me and even more so , I suspect, for Lu! 
It flitted low between gorse bushes and gave short snatches of song, both from cover and short song flights. I also watched it glean sheep's wool off gorse spikes, presumably in an attempt to build a nest.
I would have liked to have watched it for longer but it was getting 'pushed around' a bit by the crowds and I was very conscious of Lu, sat waiting in the car having suffered an extended and very tiring journey home.
The bird had been found by the legendary Roger Smaldon (Roger also found Britain's first wilson's warbler at Rame and the Dartmoor rock thrush). He'd first seen it on June 3rd but it had been elusive and consequently the news wasn't finally released until the 5th. There is a possibility that the bird had been present since the middle of May as June Smalley had noted "a whitethroat with a strange, unfamiliar song" in the same area a couple weeks earlier (Devon Bird Report 1999).
It was of course the first record for Devon but also only the third record for Britain. I don't think many Devon birders missed it although it wasn't seen on the 7th or thereafter.

I saw my first spectacled warblers in Cyprus in 1998 but I've only ever managed to photograph one - the male pictured above, in Extremadura, Spain in March 2005.