Tuesday 28 February 2017


A Yellow-browed Warbler briefly in gardens along Belle Vue Road at the junction with Halsdon Avenue today. I picked it up on call as I walked back to work from my lunch break at about 1350. It was seen moving  through a strip of ornamental garden hedgerow before it flipped into an adjacent garden and disappeared from view. I walk this route to and from work twice a day so it's hard to imagine it has been around all winter, but there again there's a labyrinth of gardens it could have been hiding in so who knows? Terry, Neil and I searched for it later in the afternoon but there was no further sign.
A check of the estuary, from Mudbank,  in a strengthening wind revealed very little but the river looked fabulous as always!

Sunday 26 February 2017

Egyptian Goose

Nick and I watched the sea from the raised beach huts for an hour or so early this morning. The oddest sighting by far was an Egyptian Goose that went past distantly around 8ish. Like an odd Cormorant with large white forewing patches, it made for a peculiar sight as it made its way south. Kev texted me later to say that one had turned up at Slapton - presumably the same individual. Needless to say it's the first one I've seen in/from Exmouth. Several small parties of Brent Geese headed high east, no doubt on their way back to Russia, and several groups of Black-headed Gull and Common Gull headed towards the river. The only other birds of note were 1 diver sp and c40+ Common Scoter.
I managed a quick look at a couple other areas today. Off Mudbank were c6/700+ Brent Geese, first thing, along with a pair of Goldeneye. The Firecrest was still behind the cricket club and there were 8 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks. I still haven't managed a double figure count this winter.

Saturday 25 February 2017

BTD and Humpback

Highlight of a brief pre-football sea-watch, from the raised beach huts, was a winter-plumaged Black-throated Diver that flew past relatively close. It gained height and powered in to the bay towards the Warren. Black-throats are surprisingly scarce in or off Exmouth. I didn't see a single one last year. Others stuff noted included a Great Northern Diver, c50+ Kittiwakes, several Gannets, 5 Fulmar, 7+ Common Gull, c100+ Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Scoter, c20+ Brent Geese and several hundred auks past.
After the football and a bit of lunch I drove Lu and the kids down to Slapton to see the Humpback Whale. It was on show on arrival, off the central carpark. A fantastic sight and an exciting experience for the kids which made it all the more worthwhile. Glad we made the effort.

Friday 17 February 2017

Pacific Diver

I went down to Broadsands this morning for the Pacific Diver. Unfortunately it was a long, long way out in the bay, but at least it had paired up with a Red-throated Diver which allowed structural comparisons to be made. There was very little size difference between the two birds but the Pacific Diver was the stockier of the two and had a pretty distinctive head shape. I attempted the above sketch, much to the amusement of a couple birders nearby, but needless to say there is no plumage detail, save for the complete absence of any white flank patch.
It's almost 20 years ago since I saw my first (and last) Pacific Diver - a winter-plumaged adult bird in Galveston, Texas (April 1998).
I was surprised at how little else was out in the bay but a Black-necked Grebe, or two, was nice to see. It was also great to see Mark and Adele, Dave Land, Brian, Hoppers and Bob.
Yet another brilliant find by Mike but thoroughly deserved given the shear number of hours he puts in checking his local sites on a daily basis. White-winged Scoter next please Mike.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Slavs and Long-tailed Duck

Starcross from Mudbank first thing this morning.
Mudbank was good early this morning - 1 Long-tailed Duck, 6 Goldeneye and 2 Slavonian Grebes. A flock of c30+ Meadow Pipits was further upriver towards West Lodge.
Later on I spent a very pleasant couple of hours exploring a small patch of private woodland, on the edge of Exmouth, with Rupert Ormerod and Dick Andrews. Highlights were at least 4 Woodcock, 3+ Stock Doves and up to 6 Treecreepers.
A further whiz round Exmouth late evening produced a probable Yellow-legged Gull (adult) on Bull Hill with an adult Mediterranean Gull over and a Greenshank off Shelly Beach. There are now 2 Little Grebes in the marina and at least one Firecrest is still behind the cricket club.

The Slavonian Grebes are normally off Cockwood - just about visible as dots from Shelly Beach. They're rarely off Mudbank so I took the opportunity to get some photos.



Wednesday 15 February 2017

Black Red

The first-winter male Black Redstart showed really well on boulders around Pirate Cove today. Otherwise very little to report apart from the adult Mediterranean Gull that is fast acquiring breeding plumage. I saw it at the Imperial and off Mudbank today.

I've seen loads of frogspawn over the last couple of days. Also several bumble bees and a Red Admiral tempted out by the warm weather.

Adult Mediterranean Gull

Monday 13 February 2017


Herring Gull  - Imperial. This bird has more than one feature suggestive of Caspian Gull but unfortunately it's not one. The greater coverts in particular look unlike those of a typical Herring Gull.
I did a sea-watch from the raised beach huts from first light til 0825 this morning. Best bird was an immature Pomarine Skua that made its way slowly east past Orcombe Point shortly after dawn. I also recorded 10+ Fulmar, 12+ Red-throated Divers, 3+ Great Northern Divers, 8 Diver sp, 4 Common Scoter, 5 Shelduck, c10+ Brent Goose and 1 Razorbill amongst a trickle of Auk sp, Gannets and Kittiwakes. A quick look off the seafront, from The Grove   pub, produced an adult Mediterranean Gull and c20+ Bar-tailed Godwits on Warren Point along with c10+ Sanderling.
This afternoon I managed to get out again but couldn't come up with anything better than 8 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks and 2 Black Redstarts in the Shelly Beach area.
Yesterday the female Black Redstart was on the Imperial recreation ground and there was a near enough breeding-plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull off Mudbank with 3 Goldeneye. On Saturday there was an immature male Eider distantly off Maer Rocks along with c10+ Great Crested Grebes and 1 Great Northern Diver.

Orcombe Point at dawn this morning.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese off the Imperial.

Redshank - Imperial

Meadow Pipit - Imperial

Rock Pipit - Imperial. The outer tail feathers looked very white on this bird (possibly too white i.e. an aberration) so I had to have a good look at it. It's just a Rock Pipit but the breast streaking looks relatively well defined. Possibly littoralis? Who knows?

Mediterranean Gull - Exmouth seafront - from 'The Grove' pub.

Black Redstart - the usual female - Shelly Beach apartments.

Shag - Exmouth seafront. Rough weather always forces Shags to be a bit more cooperative. Hope this one's ok.

Purple Sandpiper - one of eight on Maer Rocks this afternoon. Numbers still a bit lower than last year's twelve. I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who counts more.

Turnstone - Maer Rocks

Black Redstart number 2. A first-winter male frequenting Pirate Cove.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Subtle Changes

Firecrest - Exmouth Cricket Club

Still not much going on in Exmouth but a few signs of change late this afternoon, with a very black-backed intermedius - type Lesser Black-backed Gull off the Imperial, and a noticeable increase in Common Gull numbers. Also 30+ Sanderling with 1 Knot and the first 3 Linnets that I've seen in Exmouth this year.
Yesterday there was a Great Northern Diver off Maer Rocks late afternoon, and a Firecrest behind the Cricket Club with a Goldcrest.
At least 30 Common Scoter were off the seafront with c10+ Great Crested Grebes.

Sunday 5 February 2017


At least five Brambling feeding with c40+ Chaffinch on beech masts inside Woodbury Fort this afternoon. I failed to photograph a couple colourful males that just wouldn't play ball. Several ground-feeding Coal Tits with the flock too.
Exmouth has been disappointing today but 7+ Purple Sandpipers were on Maer Rocks late afternoon and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull and single Lapwing were noteworthy sightings off Mudbank. Two Peregrines also present.

Stonechat - Woodbury Common

Saturday 4 February 2017


This Rock Pipit was feeding right below the viewing screen at Mudbank this afternoon. Note the orangey-toned supercilium which is rather well defined, as well as the grey cast to the upperparts. A potential littoralis? Probably not possible to say. It would be interesting to see how this bird looks in dull conditions or in a month's time. 

Seven Goldeneye off Mudbank this afternoon, including this displaying drake. I've included this terrible shot because I so rarely manage to photograph this species for the blog. Little else off there today.
At least 4 Cirl Buntings at the local site today. Also 5+ Yellowhammer, 1 Reed Bunting, 35+ Redwing and 3 Stock Doves. Very few Chaffinches though.


Friday 3 February 2017


The adult Bonaparte's Gull was off Mudbank late this afternoon, along with a handful of Black-headed Gulls and an adult Mediterranean Gull. No doubt stormy conditions out on its usual stretch of the estuary weren't to its liking. A quick look off Maer Rocks revealed several hundred Herring Gulls catching starfish in the surf but no white-wingers. On the rocks -  4 Brent Geese and at least 3 Purple Sandpipers. An immature drake Eider was off the seafront, not too far off Warren Point - the first I've had in Exmouth this year.
The Bonaparte's Gull spent almost the entire time I was watching it, preening. The pure white undersides to the primaries were striking but it was its smaller size coupled with its slightly darker grey colouration that first drew attention. I think the last time I had it this close off Mudbank was 2011!