Sunday 29 April 2018

A Fall at Last - pm Edit

Was starting to think it wasn't going to happen this spring, as we nudge closer and closer towards the end of April. Grey skies and cool temperatures delivered a nice smattering of migrants on Orcombe this morning - c20+ Willow Warbler, c10/15+ Wheatear, 3 Redstart (2 male,one female), 2 Whinchat, my first two Swift of the year, 8 Swallow and 8+ Whitethroat were logged. Also small numbers of Blackcap and Chiffchaff (quite possibly breeders), and a White Wagtail
Noted offshore were 25+ Sandwich Tern, 1 Common Tern and a Common Scoter.
Not a huge amount of variety but a relief just to see some migrants.
This afternoon I met up with Paul and we had a wander around Maer Valley, finding a Spotted Flycatcher and Willow Warbler in the sallow clump by the stream. The Ring-necked Parakeet flew past us heading in the direction of Douglas Avenue.

Chiffchaff - failed to photograph any of the large-looking washed-out Willow Warblers.

Only managed one shot of the female Redstart. It was accompanying 2 fabulous-looking males on the track down to the Bristol Schools camp.
My first Swift of the year - arriving in off the sea.

One of two Whinchat in the dung field.
White Wagtail.

Saturday 28 April 2018

Bar-wits and Oik 'K7'

Ten Bar-tailed Godwits off Mudbank today, with four close-in enough for some photos. The 'show-stealer' -  a full summer-plumaged bird that will really take some beating for looks. Note the colour-ringed Oystercatcher in the photo below - 'K7' - presumably one of the recently-ringed Warren birds. The only other birds of note off there - 8 Brent Geese that were very distant but presumably pale-bellied birds, and c50/60+ Whimbrel.
Football and family time with my brother and nieces were the priority today but I managed a dawn visit to Orcombe and a quick whip-round late this afternoon. Orcombe today provided 5+ Greenland Wheatear, 2 White Wagtail, 4+ Swallow and a House Martin.
Great to see Mark Bailey on the way home this morning. From the seafront, where Mark had parked illegally, we logged two or three Little Terns, 3 Great Northern Divers, 4 Whimbrel, 6+ Swallow and a Wheatear.
Yesterday - 5 Little Tern, 1 Common Tern, c20+ Common Scoter, 22 Manx Shearwater, 1 diver sp (prob Red-throat) and a Great Northern Diver off the seafront, and c150+ Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 27+ Sandwich Tern off Mudbank.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Greenland Wheatears

Still very little going on in Exmouth but nice to see 3 Greenland Wheatears on the dung heap, with one remaining White Wagtail.
On Monday afternoon there were 5 Little Terns ranging widely off the seafront. A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was also present.
Yesterday afternoon at least 3 Little Terns were still present, along with 2 Common Terns, 22 Manx Shearwaters, c10+ Sandwich Terns and 4 Common Scoter.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Pale Pinion and Today's Birds

Nick trapped this Pale Pinion last night and very kindly popped over with it this morning. It's a brand new moth for me and has the distinction of being my 500th photographed 'macro'. You can see each and every one of them, should you wish, by clicking on the menu bar tab at the top of this page. It's a lovely moth that I've just not come across before, and a localised species which feeds on overripe blackberries in the autumn and sallow catkins in the spring, according to 'Waring and Townsend'.
It's requiring a real effort to get up and trudge around Orcombe at the moment. There's been no significant arrivals of birds all spring and it's getting a bit disheartening to see so few migrants on such a regular basis! This morning's efforts were repaid with just 3 Whitethroat, 3 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1+ Meadow Pipit and 2 Willow Warblers. A Wheatear was present on a quick return trip mid-afternoon (along with the two long-staying White Wagtails) and 'bird of the day' was a Red-legged Partridge that was feeding on the Foxholes estate shortly after first light!
Maer Rocks was a tiny bit better with 1 Wheatear, 2 Common Tern, 1 Turnstone and 1 Purple Sandpiper, but the best place today was Mudbank, with 41+ Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Redshank, 31 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 7+ Sandwich Tern, a Willow Warbler and a solitary Sand Martin.
This lost-looking Red-legged Partridge was wandering around the front lawns of the Foxholes estate at first light this morning. This species only puts in occasional appearances in Exmouth.

Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone on Maer Rocks.

Bar-tailed Godwits - Mudbank

At least 41 Whimbrel off Mudbank today.

Wheatear - Orcombe

Saturday 21 April 2018

Whitethroats, Hobby and Garganey

Two Whitethroats on Orcombe this morning. They've been a long time coming. The same can be said for the Green-winged Orchids - a lot of staring at a lot of grass before I picked a couple up. Also on Orcombe - still 2 White Wagtails, but otherwise very quiet.
Maer Rocks yielded singles of Grey Heron, Dunlin, Turnstone and Whimbrel, but I was quite glad of the excuse to leave for football to be honest - that's how quiet things are at the moment.
Paul Gosling was already at the archery club football pitch when we arrived. He'd dug out a male Redstart on heathland just below the pitches, but it had disappeared by the time we got there. I do hope that's not the only Redstart we get in Exmouth this year!
This afternoon I did a lightening dash to Bowling Green to get my fill of the male Garganey. Didn't see the female. Two Ruff were a bonus. A second look for Paul's Redstart was unsuccessful but I did manage to see a Hobby not too far away. Always a joy.

Green-winged Orchid - late this year, along with everything else.

I don't know the first thing about flowers but this one stood out a bit whilst I searched for orchids. Anybody know what it is?

Friday 20 April 2018

Red Kites

Four Red Kites over the house today and a fifth way over towards Haldon Hill. Fine weather in April equals Red Kite movement. One of the more predictable birding events in the birding calendar. Also 1 Siskin over. Late this afternoon, on the dung heap, there were 2 Wheatear and 2 White Wagtail. Off Mudbank - 9+ Sandwich Tern and 2 Red-breasted Merganser. I'm still yet to see many species of common migrant in Exmouth. As yet no Sand Martins, House Martins, Whitethroats, Yellow Wagtails or Redstarts. Not good!

Twin-spot Quaker - a new one for me courtesy of Martin (last weekend) - many thanks Martin.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Two Short Sea-watches

Two short sea-watches from the raised beach huts, to 'book-end' the working day. Visibility poor for both, particularly this evening, with persistent rain.
This morning from 0600 - 0655 - 16+ Sandwich Tern, 64+ Manx Shearwater, 3 Fulmar, 2 diver sp, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a Great Skua. The two immature drake Eiders still off Maer Rocks.
This evening - c1845 - 1915'ish - 6 Whimbrel, 4 Dunlin, 1 wader sp, 8 Manx Shearwater, 11+ Sandwich Tern, 5+ 'commic' tern (probably Commons) and 2 Little Tern. The two Eider still present too.

Saturday 14 April 2018


Nick and I did Orcombe in thick fog first thing this morning, and I popped back up later on after dropping the dog off for a trim.
Orcombe totals included 1+ Wheatear, 3+ Willow Warbler, 12+ Meadow Pipit, 2 White Wagtail, 1 Swallow and 5 Whimbrel 'in-off'. Best birds however were 4 Velvet Scoter that flew out of the bay at 1050.
The Ring-necked Parakeet was seen in flight over Rolle Road mid-morning.
Yesterday 5 Whimbrel and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were off Mudbank and on Thursday the immature drake Eider and Slavonian Grebe were off the Imperial.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

New Eiders and Migrants

Two brief trips out today - off Maer Rocks this morning there were 5 Eiders - the usual 2 immature drakes keeping their distance from a smart adult drake and female, accompanying another immature drake, which could possibly be one of the three that have wintered off the seafront. Also 3 Common Scoter, 4 Canada Geese, 4+ Purple Sandpiper, 5+ Turnstone and 4+ Sandwich Tern.
Orcombe Point produced 3 Swallow, 1 Wheatear, 2 White Wagtail, 1 Meadow Pipit, 3+ Chiffchaff and a Whimbrel.
Off Mudbank there were 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 5+ Sandwich Tern and a Swallow.

A nice orange-flushed Meadow Pipit on the dung heap.

One of two White Wagtails on the dung heap.

Sunday 8 April 2018

South Goa, India

Male Indian Peafowl - seen either early in the morning or early in the evening and extremely wary.

Just back from a week's family holiday in Goa, in southwest India, and feeling jet-lagged. This wasn't a birding holiday but there was plenty to see in and around the hotel grounds, and as usual I was up and about at dawn every morning, before Lu and the kids were awake.
We spent a lot of time around our hotel at the Baywatch resort, near Benaulim, and adjacent beach, but we also made day trips to the nearby city of Margao (an eye-opening experience), to Bondla Zoo in north Goa and to Cavelossim, from where we had a five hour boat trip out to sea, to see dolphins, and up the river Sal. Fortunately taxis were very reasonable and readily available, as there's no way I'd want to drive out there. I never did work out the rules!
The resort was lovely and so were the people. The weather was fine but very hot (it's the end of the season there and we noticed it getting progressively more hot and humid as the week progressed) and the Goan cuisine was superb, though you've got to like curry (which fortunately we all do).
The habitat surrounding the hotel was cultivated land, sand dune scrub, open woodland and a nice area of open water and marsh. Bondla Zoo is set in beautiful hilly jungle habitat and the river Sal added some wetland and estuarine habitat.
We chose south Goa as it's supposed to be quieter than the busier and more developed north. We blew all our savings for a new kitchen but figured it was worth it, as the kids won't want to come on holiday with us for too many more years. We also felt it wouldn't do them any harm to see a different culture, where there is still a lot of poverty, despite the fact that the country is rapidly developing. We were under no illusion about what India was going to be like but despite the rougher, poorer parts we found it to be very beautiful, vibrant, colourful and interesting. I would love to go back.
I didn't take the scope and didn't miss it once. The following species were seen during the week: Indian Peafowl, Lesser Whistling Duck, Asian Openbill, Woolly-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Black-headed Ibis, Cinnamon Bittern, Striated Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Eastern Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Western Reef Heron, Indian Darter, Little Cormorant, Peregrine, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Marsh Harrier, Shikra, White-bellied Sea EagleWhite-breasted Waterhen, Grey-headed Swamphen, Bronze-winged Jacana, Black-winged Stilt, Red-wattled Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Sanderling, Brown-headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Sandwich Tern, Feral Pigeon, Spotted Dove, Asian Koel, Greater Coucal, Indian Scops Owl, Asian Palm Swift, Little Swift, Hoopoe, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, White-cheeked Barbet, Black-rumped Flameback, Ashy Woodswallow, Common Iora, Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Indian Golden Oriole, Rufous Treepie, Indian Jungle Crow, House Crow, Wire-tailed Swallow, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, Fan-tailed Warbler, Common Tailorbird, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Jungle Babbler, Jungle Myna, Common Myna, Brahminy Starling, Rose-coloured Starling, Orange-headed Thrush, Oriental Magpie Robin, Pied Bushchat, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Purple Sunbird, House Sparrow, White-rumped Munia, Grey-headed Wagtail, Forest Wagtail, White-browed Wagtail and Paddyfield Pipit.

An area of open water near the hotel where many species were seen, including Indian Darter, Cinnamon Bittern and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

The River Sal - a boat trip provided Stork-billed, White-throated, Common and Pied Kingfishers, Lesser Adjutant, Terek Sandpiper and many more species. The boat took us out to sea to see dolphins and to catch lunch - a huge Red Snapper!

A feature of birding in Goa is the constant presence of packs of feral dogs. Unnerving at first but you get used to it.

Peacock Pansy

Lesser Whistling Ducks

Asian Openbill

Woolly-necked Storks

Lesser Adjutant

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin.......I think.

Black-headed Ibis

Immature Cinnamon Bittern - one of my birds of the trip but very skulking and, as you can see, difficult to photograph.

Striated Heron

Indian Pond Heron - masses of these seen - wherever there was water.

 Green Marsh Hawk

Purple Heron

Eastern Cattle Egret - the IOC have split this from Western Cattle Egret - most were still in winter plumage but, on this near breeding-plumaged bird, note how the buff-orange extends from the crown on to the cheeks and sides of neck.

Intermediate Egret - lots of these seen - note how the gape line ends below the eye whereas on GWE it extends well behind the eye - see below:

Great White Egret

Western Reef Heron - several of these seen around the mouth of the river Sal.

Indian Darter and Little Cormorant

I think this is Southern Plains Grey Langur.

Malabar Giant Squirrel

Little Cormorant

 Black Kite - present in numbers everywhere.

Brahminy Kite - not quite as common as Black Kite but high numbers seen.

 Common Pierrot


White-bellied Sea Eagle

White-breasted Waterhen

Grey-headed Swamphen - an IOC split from Western Swamphen.

Bronze-winged Jacana

Black-winged Stilts

Red-wattled Lapwing - many seen in wetter bits but seen in drier areas too.

Lesser Sand Plover - hundreds of these present on the beach every day but this was the only one seen that is approaching summer plumage. I've yet to work out what race these birds are.

Greenshanks - good numbers present every day on the beach.

Spine-legged Redbolt
Pied Paddy Skimmer
Widow Skimmer

Terek Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plovers

Brown-headed Gull

Gull-billed Tern, Sandwich Tern, Sanderlings and Brown-headed Gulls.

Grey Pansy

Spotted Dove

Female Asian Koel. The sound of the male Asian Koel provided a constant backdrop to our time in Goa. Koels are members of the cuckoo family.

Asian Koel - singing male - they sound a bit like a peacock but the call rises in pitch.

Indian Scops Owl - a fortuitous discovery, following up a commotion in a shady tree on our way to the beach.

Asian Palm Swift

Stork-billed Kingfisher

White-throated Kingfisher - these were seen everywhere - noisy and colourful birds and one of four species of kingfisher seen during the week.
Pied Kingfisher - river Sal

Green Bee-eater - common everywhere we went but every one made me raise my bins in appreciation.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater - photographed from our hotel veranda - the only one seen perched. I'm pretty sure that most, if not all of the high-flying bee-eaters seen/heard were this species.

White-cheeked Barbet - one of only two or three seen and difficult to spot in the green foliage.

Black-rumped Flameback

Ashy Woodswallow

Common Iora

Brown Shrike

Long-tailed Shrike - commonly seen and far less shy than the shrikes we see over here. Wonderful birds.

Black Drongo

Indian Golden Oriole

Rufous Treepie - a close relative of the Magpie but way more shy and surprisingly tricky to see.

House Crow

Indian Jungle Crow

Wire-tailed Swallow - small numbers of these seen most days.

Red-rumped Swallow - breeding in the hotel complex.

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Red-vented Bulbul

White-browed Bulbul

Ashy Prinia

Plain Prinia

Common Tailorbird

Blyth's Reed Warbler - lots seen and many more heard. Often in dense undergrowth and calling a clear, hard 'tchak' or scalding 'trrrrrrrr'. Some were heard singing - a bit like a slowed down Reed Warbler. I was surprised to find several feeding high up and quite openly in trees too. The only other 'acro' seen was a Clamorous Reed Warbler.

Blyth's Reed warbler - showing the short primary projection.

Jungle Babbler - a gregarious species always seen in small noisy parties.

Jungle Myna

Brahminy Starling
Rose-coloured Starling

Orange-headed Thrush - this truly stunning male was singing in Jungle scrub at Bondola Zoo.The only other one I saw was in leaf litter beneath a fruit tree close to the hotel. That one showed only briefly, and vanished before I could get a photo.

Oriental Magpie Robin - a constant presence around the hotel.

Male Pied Bushchat - commonly seen in and around the hotel.

Female Pied Bushchat

Asian Brown Flycatcher - slightly darker underneath than I was expecting but, lack of streaking, bill size and pale base to lower mandible, I think help eliminate Dark-sided Flycatcher. I hope I'm not overlooking other species.

Golden-fronted Leafbird - Bondla

Pale-billed Flowerpecker

Purple-rumped Sunbird

Purple Sunbird

White-rumped Munia

Grey-headed Wagtail

Forest Wagtail - one of my favourite birds of the trip. This was the only one seen - initially spotted by Joel at Bondla Zoo - furtively creeping around leaf litter on the jungle floor.

White-browed Wagtail. Up to three birds regularly fed around the hotel swimming pool though this one was photographed behind the beach.

Paddyfield Pipit - Only two seen. Somewhat intermediate in appearance between Blyth's and Richard's Pipit but showing a dark loral stripe and wholly orangey underparts. It looked too long-billed for Blyth's and shorter-tailed than Richard's. Frustratingly it wouldn't call.