Sunday 30 September 2018

Feathered Ranunculus and Siskins

Feathered Ranunculus - a gorgeous moth - greens golds and purple.
I did Orcombe from first light (0700) until 0915. It was cool and overcast but there was a fair bit of movement overhead, with the headline act being Siskin - I counted 108 but this was a bare minimum, with several single calls going into the notebook as 1 bird when there were almost certainly more. Also recorded - 4+ Chaffinch, 164+ Meadow Pipit (with another c50+ grounded), 113+ 'alba' wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 17+ Linnet (with another c20+ grounded), 17+ Goldfinch, 1 Golden Plover, 2 Snipe, 1 Little Egret, 8 Swallow, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 10+ Skylark, 2 Kestrel, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 12+ Chiffchaff, 1 Stonechat, 2 Goldcrest and 5+ Blackcap.
Siskins were still going over as I was doing a spot of gardening later in the morning and several were heard whilst Joel and I walked the dog on Woodbury Common. Five Crossbills up there were the first I've had since the winter.
Only a quick look off Mudbank but 86 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, c3/400+ Wigeon, c12+ Sandwich Tern and 5 Black-tailed Godwit were noted.

At least a dozen Chiffies on Orcombe this morning but I would imagine I missed a fair few.

Saturday 29 September 2018

Clifden Nonpareil

Clifden Nonpareil - a moth 'MEGA' trapped by Nick last night in Budleigh Salterton. Many thanks Nick! It's thought that this species is now established in Devon so this is unlikely to be an immigrant, although that possibility can't be ruled out. It'll be interesting to see if Nick traps more of these. I suspect he will. This is my second following one last October trapped by John Gale in Underdown.
A disappointing day for the birds, rescued by Nick's fabulous capture. I managed just under an hour on Orcombe before a football match in North Molton this morning. Counts included a flock of 21 Greenfinch, 3 Grey Wagtail, 1+ Siskin, 1 Wheatear, 4+ Chiffchaff, 10 Skylark, c10+ Swallow and 1 Sand Martin.
Off Mudbank - a relief to see c500+ Wigeon, 90 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 1 Teal and 3 Pintail - much more like it on the wildfowl front! Also 7 Redshank and 7 Black-tailed Godwit.
Clifden Nonpareil is a stunning moth even before it flashes its underwings.
Black-tailed Godwit - Mudbank - one of 7 off there today.
A very likely Juv/fw Yellow-legged Gull - Mudbank - unfortunately I was always looking right in to the sun when it flew, and I didn't quite see enough to be happy with it.
Starlings - part of a 'mini-murmuration' at Bowling Green last night. I spent the last hour of daylight there last night, after dropping Maisie off at work. Also seen - the Glossy Ibis, which flew over the lane at 1805, and 22 Avocet off the viewing platform. A 'wheeling' raptor that put all the ducks up at the south end of the estuary looked good for a Harrier species, and was presumably the Marsh Harrier that flew south over the Warren last night.

A male Clouded Yellow buzzes around a copulating pair. Three of five present in a small corner of the Bristol Schools camp yesterday afternoon. Four were seen today.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Brents Back

Sunrise - from Orcombe Point
A dawn trip and a late afternoon trip up to Orcombe returned the following totals: c7/8+ Blackcap, c12+ Chiffchaff, 7 Grey Wagtail, 16+ 'alba' wagtail, 2 Wheatear, c45+ Swallow, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Yellow Wagtail (lingering around the cattle), 5+ House Martin, 2+ Sand Martin, 4 Chaffinch, 3 Stonechat and 1 Snipe along with c100/200+ Meadow Pipit. A ringed first-winter Mediterranean Gull was on the beach.
My first Thirty Dark-bellied Brent Geese of the autumn were off Mudbank this afternoon with just one Wigeon. There's clearly a problem with the feeding off Mudbank this year. For example this time last year, on the 24/9, I recorded 6/700+ Wigeon off there with 116 Dark-bellied Brents, and on 24/9 there were 800+ Wigeon and 112 Brents. Perhaps the long hot summer has affected the eel grass. Let's hope there's some improvement in the coming weeks! Also off Mudbank - 2 Greenshank and a Whimbrel.
Yesterday off Mudbank - again no Wigeon but 2 Shoveler, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Redshank, 1 Greenshank and a Whimbrel.
A very quick look at Orcombe late in the afternoon revealed a large flock of c2/300+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Yellow Wagtail and c50+ Swallow.
Lunar Underwing - common but very smart.
One of two Wheatear on Orcombe today. 

Sunday 23 September 2018

Arctic Tern

Field sketch - juv Arctic Tern off the Lifeboat Station at first light, in the pouring rain. Thought I had a Sabine's Gull!
Odd weather today - morning rain and a cool northerly wind, brightening up in the afternoon but remaining breezy. A juvenile Sand Martin was feeding about an inch above the beach and over the road with a small group of Swallows as the rain beat steadily down. A juvenile Arctic Tern was just offshore and 6 Ringed Plover were on the beach. As the tide dropped a bit - 25+ Sandwich Tern and a juvenile Common Tern.
I didn't do Orcombe until 0920 when a short break in the rain tempted me out. I recorded 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Snipe, c60/70+ Meadow Pipit, 3+ Chiffchaff, 6 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, c20+ Swallow and c30+ House Martin.

Saturday 22 September 2018


Sallow - Bristol Schools
Heavy rain all day today. I managed about 20 minutes on Orcombe this morning, before an early kick-off, recording c2/300+ Meadow Pipit moving and 3/4+ Chiffchaff in the hedges.
Paul Gosling and I had c100+ Meadow Pipit over the archery club whilst watching the football with c20+ Swallow, 4/5+ House Martin and a very vocal and reasonably late Tree pipit on the adjacent Withycombe Raleigh Common.
I was barely able to see through the rain off Mudbank/Imperial but c85+ Sandwich Tern, 3+ Common Tern, 4 Greenshank, 3 Redshank, 8 Turnstone, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit made it in to a very soggy notebook.

Friday 21 September 2018

Grey Phalarope

With little prospect of turning up anything other than perhaps a Grey Phalarope, I decided to check a few possible spots after work, along the seafront and estuary margins. On my second look off the Leisure Centre I found one. It was swimming into the strong wind alongside a Black-headed Gull. Unfortunately, by the time I'd leapt out the car and grabbed the scope and camera it had vanished. I assumed it would be feeding furtively somewhere in the little corner of saltmarsh but no such luck. I think the last one I had in Exmouth was September 2011, when one accompanied two (and later three) Sabine's Gulls on Exmouth Beach. I missed one that Pete Aley had on the beach last autumn. The Warren tends to do much better for Grey Phals.

Thursday 20 September 2018

LBBG and 2 YLGs

Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull - Exmouth Beach

First-winter Yellow-legged Gull - Exmouth Cricket Club - a new bird in.

First-winter Yellow-legged Gull - Mudbank - yesterday's bird. The only other birds noted this evening were 3 Redshank and c20+ Sandwich Tern off Mudbank. A flock of c15/20+ Common Scoter off Maer Rocks.

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Med and YLG

Mediterranean Gull
Yellow-legged Gull passage has usually dried up well before now, but another was present on the dropping tide late this afternoon. Also an adult Mediterranean Gull and 28+ Sandwich Tern in the estuary.
Typical-looking narrow-fringed tertials on this worn individual. I'm usually lucky if I see one or two Exmouth YLGs in September but this is the fourth so far, following five in July and six in August - all photographed. You can never see too many!

Tuesday 18 September 2018


First-winter Yellow-legged Gull - Mudbank - a different bird to the one two days ago with exceptionally broad white tips to the tertials and apparent gap in the tail band. Each one is so different which is a part of what makes them so fascinating.

Nick and I had a look at the sea from dawn but it was really, really quiet. We just about scraped 1 Balearic Shearwater, 3 shearwater sp (probably also Balearics), 1 auk sp (my first for what feels like months), 1 Fulmar and 4 Common Scoter.
Mudbank was better today with two quick scans producing Osprey, Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 4 Greenshank, 1 Redshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Mediterranean Gull.


Monday 17 September 2018

Orange Sallow

Orange Sallow - supposed to be a common species but this one, discovered late this afternoon beside a Bristol Schools Camp light, was my first ever.  Like all the Sallows it's a beautiful species and a real sign of autumn.
Bird-wise - 2 Sand Martin, 6+ Swallow, 2 Wheatear and c10+ Meadow Pipit was, if anything, a little more than I was expecting.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Balearics and YLG

Unfortunately this juv/fw Yellow-legged Gull was always distant off Mudbank. It looked like a real beauty.
Not a lot today. A quick look at the sea, early on, revealed single flocks of 6 Balearic Shearwater and 5 Common Scoter. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew along the beach.
Off Mudbank today were 1 Redshank, 68+ Pintail, c250+ Wigeon, 2 Teal, 4 Turnstone, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, c12+ Sanderling and a Yellow-legged Gull.
A bit of movement on Orcombe Point yesterday morning included my first Reed Bunting of the autumn, 3+ Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail, 6+ Swallow, 4+ House Martin, 130+ Meadow Pipit, 8+ Chiffchaff, 1 Wheatear, 1 Curlew, 4 'alba' Wagtail, 6 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 5 Skylark.
Meadow Pipit - Orcombe Point

Thursday 13 September 2018

Pallid Harrier

A late afternoon dog-walk on Woodbury Common went a bit pear-shaped when I bumped in to this juvenile Pallid Harrier. I did the usual 'shake and panic' routine before securing this shot which seems to show everything. Mindful of hybrids, and having never seen Pallid Harrier before,  I texted out the news that I thought I had Pallid Harrier, but I was massively relieved when Paul Gosling and Chris Townend showed up to reassure me I wasn't going mad! The bird showed several times around the heathland surrounding the grenade range on Colaton Raleigh Common, and was last seen around 1910 as it was starting to get a bit darker. It will obviously roost in the area and will hopefully be seen again tomorrow. Please stick to the footpaths and bridleways.
Note the dark boa, broad pale collar, pale area below the eye, plain orange underparts, broad arm and narrow hand (showing 4 primary 'fingers'), and dark secondaries contrasting with pale-edged inner primaries. The pale 'boomerang' is present at the base of the primaries. The bird looked buoyant and agile in flight, and was incredibly fast and low (almost kestrel-like), covering large areas of ground quickly. A really good tip for locating it is to look for the alarm-calling Meadow Pipit flocks which the bird was clearly hunting.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

White Wag

A juvenile White Wagtail was with a single Wheatear on Maer Rcks this evening. Nearby on Orcombe Point - a sizeable flock of c60/70+ Meadow Pipit and 12 Yellow Wagtails.
Early yesterday morning - a pre-work sea-watch produced 10 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Manx Shearwater and c60+ Common Scoter south. Also a first-winter Mediterranean Gull.
On Monday - 3 Gadwall off Mudbank.

Sunday 9 September 2018

Another Garganey and YLG

Garganey - my second in four days. This one was in with a flock of 200+ Wigeon. I managed this record shot but would have loved it to come closer. Sadly, despite a great new initiative, disturbance is still a big problem off Mudbank (click on image to enlarge).
Orcombe was all but bird-less this morning, with just 1+ Grey Wagtail, 1+ Yellow Wagtail, 26+ Meadow Pipit and 3 Chiffchaff recorded. There are still at least a dozen Yellow Wagtails in with cattle off Maer Lane, but it was down to Mudbank to rescue an otherwise very forgettable morning.
In with 200+ Wigeon was my second Garganey in four days. I was at least able to enjoy prolonged scope views of this individual, but the flock was disturbed and I couldn't re-find it. Also 6 Pintail, 2 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Peregrine, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Mediterranean Gull and 3 Great Crested Grebe off there.
There was a little bit more happening on Orcombe yesterday morning - c110+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Wheatear, 7+ alba Wagtail, 2 Whitethroat, 8+ Grey Wagtail, 6 Chiffchaff, 11+ Yellow Wagtail, 1 Swallow and 2 Blackcap. A Tree Pipit flew over the cricket pitch and off Mudbank - 2 Greylag Goose, c160+ Wigeon, 44+ Pintail, 9 Sandwich Tern, 3 Black-tailed Godwit,  and a Mediterranean Gull.
Wheatear - dung heap. Taken a couple days ago.

Unfortunately, despite the massive yellow buoys with clear lettering on them, many people still haven't got the message, or they're choosing to ignore the signs.

This paddle-boarder succeeded in flushing a large flock of wildfowl this morning. He's just  inside the yellow buoys at the moment but he came in close to the shore shortly afterwards.

Some people will go to extreme measures to avoid paying for parking.


Centre-barred Sallow. The bulk of last night's catch was made up from Vine's Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing and Square-spot Rustic. Other species included Mullein Wave, Small Blood-vein, Small Dusty Wave, Treble Brown Spot, Garden Carpet, Cypress Pug, Double-striped Pug, Brimstone Moth, Early Thorn, Willow Beauty, Light Emerald, Heart and Dart, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, L-album Wainscot, Old Lady, Angle Shades, Flounced Rustic, Pale Mottled Willow, Burnished Brass and Snout.

L-album Wainscot

Spindle Knot-horn - Nephopterix angustella - by far the best of the micros. Garden Pebble was also recorded.

 Burnished Brass - beautiful and a master of autumn camouflage!
Little Egret

Lots of Common Darter up at Blackhill Quarry this afternoon. A dog-walk also produced Painted Lady, several Red Admiral, Small Heath, Grayling, Speckled Wood and a Green Sandpiper.


First-winter Yellow-legged Gull - heavily anchor-marked scapulars and a more streaky head than normal, but classic YLG in all other respects.

Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull

A Peregrine carries a wader away - it was still very  much alive at this point and was possibly one of two Greenshank present.
Mediterranean Gull - un-ringed!