Friday 31 March 2017

Pine Beauty and Singing Sibe

Pine Beauty - a big thank you to Nick for popping round with one of my favourite moths. It's only the second one I've seen and was every bit as beautiful as I'd remembered. Must get the trap running!
I stepped out the front door this morning, on my way to work, to be greeted by some frantic calling from the Yellow-browed Warbler. It was back in the red-leaved tree but as tricky as ever to see. I stood watching (and trying to photograph it) for 15 minutes and was chuffed when it started to utter little snippets of song. I'm crap at describing songs and calls but to my ear it was giving a repeated, clipped 'chut' note followed by some quite feeble descending 'sweep' notes. A little bit disappointing I suppose, considering how forcefully it delivers its usual 'tsooeet' call. I'm guessing from its more vocal behaviour that it's getting quite restless. If it doesn't leave tonight I don't reckon it'll be too long.
A quick scoot round this evening produced my first Swallow of the year, on Orcombe, and a Mediterranean Gull and Sandwich Tern off the seafront.

Still no decent photo.

Thursday 30 March 2017

Pale-bellied Brents

Mistle Thrush - Orcombe Point. One of a pair that have been on Orcombe since the autumn.

Very Little to report. Work has been a bit nuts this week but at least tomorrow is the last day of term. A quick look off Mudbank, before dark, produced 11 Pale-bellied Brent Geese with a handful of Dark-bellied birds. With luck, the first of many this spring. Earlier there was a single Wheatear on the Gore Lane dung heap, along with 2 Rock Pipits.
Yesterday evening there was a flock of 13 Sandwich Terns off Mudbank along with a flock of c40+ Grey Plover and 8 Red-breasted Merganser.
No further sigh of the Yellow-browed Warbler since Monday.

Monday 27 March 2017

Osprey No2 and YBW again

Yellow-browed Warbler - quite a scruffy looking individual - this is its best side!
My second Osprey of the spring flew slowly north at 1750 this afternoon - viewed from Mudbank Lane. Otherwise just 6 Red-breasted Merganser noted on the river.
The Yellow-browed Warbler was feeding in our neighbours' tree when I first checked shortly after 7am and was still present when I left for work at 8am. It never called once. I'd love to know how many times I've walked out of my door and straight past it! It's quite weird to be able to watch this bird from the sofa, in my living room, and ironic to think I checked several potential wintering sites for this species back in December and January without a shred of success. Anybody interested in seeing it needs to check the two dark-red leaved trees that flank house number 35 on Belle Vue Road, but please respect the privacy of residents (I've checked with the occupiers of number 35 and they're happy for me to put this on the blog).

Sunday 26 March 2017

Willow Warbler and YBW

Willow Warbler - Orcombe Point
Nick and I did Orcombe from dawn but it was again very quiet. Best bird by far was our first Willow Warbler of the spring - a singing bird in scrub bordering the Bristol Schools field. Back at home I was finally able to enjoy prolonged views of the Yellow-browed Warbler as it fed quietly in our neighbour's garden - its presence given away by a single call as we were all piling in the car to go to the in-laws'. Otherwise little to report.

Yellow-browed Warbler - photographed from our front garden. Difficult to see in this small tree, never mind photograph. I can now appreciate how it has managed to elude me for most of the winter. If it hadn't called I'd never have known it was there.

The two lingering Pintail off Mudbank.

Saturday 25 March 2017

YBW and Gadwall

The sunrise on a chilly Orcombe Point was well worth the 6am start, but bird-wise I'd have been better off staying in bed. Just half a dozen singing Chiffchaffs and the regular pair of Mistle Thrushes made the notebook.
The morning was spent watching Joel play football but this afternoon I was able to spend a bit of time in the back garden. I'm glad I did as at around 330pm a Yellow-browed Warbler started calling from the front of the house! I couldn't locate it initially but after a few minutes it gave an odd weak 'sip' call from a magnolia in Neil's garden, on the opposite side of the road, and I got on it briefly before it flew into the garden adjacent to Neil's back garden. It's only a couple hundred yards away from where I saw one at the end of February - almost certainly the same bird that's staying well hidden in local gardens. Also from the back garden this afternoon - 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Gadwall (my first in Exmouth this year), 3 Wigeon, 10 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Great Crested Grebe, Green Woodpecker, c20+ Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Canada Geese, c20+ Brent Geese and 1 or 2 Peregrines.

Raven dwarfing 2 Carrion Crows - Exmouth Lifeboat Station.

Friday 24 March 2017


I had a very brief look off Maer Rocks at first light this morning. Along with a handful of Turnstones there was a single Purple Sandpiper present and an adult Mediterranean Gull dropped in briefly before heading towards the mouth of the river.
Later this afternoon after work, following a tip-off from Terry, I nipped up to Orcombe Point. There was a minimum of 8 Wheatears present (but perhaps up to 15) with birds moving between the orchid field, next to the Geoneedle, and the Bristol Schools field. Not a lot else up there on a brief visit but at least 8 Chiffchaff recorded and c30+ Linnet.
The Imperial/Mudbank end of the estuary produced the Long-tailed Duck, 16 Sanderling, 2 Wigeon, 2 Pintail, 3 Grey Plover and another Wheatear.

The view this evening from Exmouth Quay, looking across to Cockwood, with Bull Hill exposed as the tide drops.

Thursday 23 March 2017

LTD and Little Gull

A quick look off the imperial late afternoon was better than usual. A Long-tailed Duck was out on the river and a first-winter Little Gull was with a small group of Black-headed Gulls. Additionally there was 1 Goldeneye, 13 Wigeon, 72 Brent Geese, 5 Grey Plover and one or two Sandwich Terns.

Tuesday 21 March 2017


In the absence of any other photos here's another shot of one of three Rock Pipits that have been frequenting the dung heap at the top of Gore Lane.
An early morning look off Mudbank, in uncomfortably cold conditions, produced an Osprey a fair way upriver. It had already caught a fish and was lugging it towards Powderham Park. I lost it from view as it lost height and disappeared behind the trees. I'm guessing it arrived late yesterday and have no doubt that it hasn't wasted any time continuing northwards. Also off Mudbank today - 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Wigeon, 1 Goldeneye, 90+ Curlew, 2 Sanderling, just 5 Red-breasted Merganser and 23 Brent Geese. At least 4 Sandwich Terns were off the seafront late afternoon.

Sunday 19 March 2017


presumed sinensis or 'continental' Cormorant - Mudbank
Six Sandwich Terns off the seafront mid-afternoon and the two Slavonian Grebes off Cockwood (from Shelly Beach), with a couple likely intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Bull Hill late afternoon. Otherwise Exmouth felt pretty bird-less today.

I haven't measured the gular angle of this bird but my feeling is that it's more sinensis than carbo.

Saturday 18 March 2017

Brief Update

Rock Pipit - one of up to three birds feeding on the dung heap this week.

Barely any birding done this week so very little to report. On Monday (13th) I saw my first Sandwich Tern of the year off the seafront. The following day there were two birds together off the seafront. On Thursday evening there were 7 or 8 Goldeneye upriver from the Imperial. This morning a brief sea-watch from the raised beach huts produced 2+ Red-throated Divers, 1 Common Scoter and 3 Meadow Pipits. This afternoon  I had the 2 Slavonian Grebes from the Imperial and a site on the edge of Exmouth produced 1 Jack Snipe and 3 Common Snipe. Two pairs of Tufted Duck were on Bystock pools late afternoon.

Sunday 12 March 2017

A Few Migrants

Rock Pipit - Imperial - the grey bird again.

A stroll around Orcombe Point from first light produced 12+ Chiffchaff, 11+ Meadow Pipit, 12+ Blackbird, c15+ Robin, c20+ Linnet, 1 Goldfinch, 2 Stock Dove, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Wagtail and 2 Mistle Thrush.
Mudbank wasn't quite as good as yesterday but still produced 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 48+ Pintail, 1 Goldeneye and c20+ Wigeon.
I got my first Exmouth Sand Martins this afternoon, with 3 skimming past Warren Point into a strong headwind.

Straight Point Kittiwakes

Saturday 11 March 2017

Little Gull

Rock Pipit - Imperial - a grey and white individual.

I managed to see just 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Stonechat, 1 Curlew and 10+ Meadow Pipit on Orcombe this morning. A bit quiet to say the least.
We then went up to Tiverton to watch Joel play football against Moors Hawks (Brixington won 2-1). Lu and I walked our hound along the river whilst we were waiting for kick-off, and managed to see 2 Dippers, 5 Redwing 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Siskin. I only ever see Dippers these days when at football matches!
Late this afternoon I had a quick look off Mudbank and was pleased to see 1 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Pintail, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull (in full summer plumage), 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and, best of all, a first-winter Little Gull - the first I've had in Exmouth for a while.
The Pale-bellied Brents flew towards the estuary mouth and the Little Gull was dip-feeding in the river before it gained height and flew over Shelly Beach towards the Warren.
I got my first Sand Martin this afternoon - one over the lower part of Bicton Common whilst I was out for a run. Still no Wheatears yet though.

 Rock Pipit - one of at least 3 on Orcombe Point.
Rock Pipit - I suspect this would be claimed as a littoralis if it was feeding on an east coast beach but it was song-flighting and apparently on territory on Orcombe Point so presumably petrosus.

Dipper - one of two seen along the river Exe next  to Tiverton High School. The photo is dreadful but the chances of one turning up in Exmouth are extremely slim so I've included it.

Thursday 9 March 2017


Redshank - Imperial
Five Goldeneye and a Long-tailed Duck upriver from the Imperial this evening. Also 28 Pintail and 2 Mediterranean Gulls (first and second winters) off there. Had my first quick look on Orcombe but could do no better than a Green Woodpecker. It felt easily warm enough for at least a Wheatear.

Sunday 5 March 2017


This is the first 2cy Lesser Black-backed Gull that I've seen in ages. Adult birds have been trickling through Exmouth in reasonable numbers for quite some time now.
Virtually nothing to report this weekend but not much time spent out and about. A brief sea-watch from the raised beach huts produced just 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Fulmar. At least 5 Purple Sandpipers were on Maer Rocks and good numbers of Herring Gulls were scattered along the beach between the lifeboat station and Sandy Bay.

 Exmouth Beach late afternoon. Gale force wind and strangely devoid of people.