Tuesday 30 October 2018

Hen Harrier

Juvenile Hen Harrier - this bird was hunting below Woodbury Fort late this afternoon. It was really difficult to keep track of as it kept so low to the ground, and consequently I failed miserably to get a decent shot. I did however get enough on it, I think, to age it as a juvenile, with rusty/yellowish underparts and dark secondaries. A beautiful adult male Merlin also put in an appearance along with c35+ Fieldfare, 5+ Brambling, c50+ Meadow Pipit, 1+ Snipe and one or two Redpolls.

From my position on Woodbury Common this afternoon I could clearly see Portland in the distance.
A quick dawn visit to Orcombe, before work, revealed some large Woodpigeon flocks heading west, totalling c2500+ birds. Also 1 Lapwing, 2+ Golden Plover, c15/20+ Meadow Pipit, 7+ Siskin, 2+ Reed Bunting, 12+ Pied Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Snipe, 3 Starling, c10+ Song Thrush, c10+ Blackbird, c30+ Chaffinch, 15+ Goldfinch and 1 Brambling. I reckon I hugely undercounted Chaffinches as very few were visible in fine conditions.

Sunday 28 October 2018

Slim Pickings

Fieldfare - Orcombe - my first of the autumn in Exmouth but sadly it wanted to hide before flying north. Very little else noted in a biting north-easterly this morning.

The family group of five Pale-bellied Brent Geese - Mudbank. A total of ten seen this morning - all well hidden amongst the Dark-bellied Flock.

Tufted Duck - one of a few notable (in Exmouth at least) wildfowl sightings off Mudbank this morning. The others were a drake Gadwall, 2 Shoveler and 4 Teal amongst hundreds of Wigeon and good numbers of Pintail. The Knot flock has increased to 14 birds and there are still good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and Redshank though I didn't count them this morning.

Brambling - one of at least four birds in with a flock of c50+ Chaffinch feeding on beech masts around Woodbury Fort late this afternoon. With large numbers of Brambling to the east of us it's likely that the flock size will increase though whether or not it reaches the large numbers seen last autumn remains to be seen....

Saturday 27 October 2018

Possible Icelandic Redwing?


Lu's birthday today so I managed just a brief trip up to Orcombe mid-afternoon. Interest was provided by a lone, swarthy and very streaky first-winter (note the pale-tipped greater coverts) Redwing that I flushed twice from a weedy ditch on the windy side of a hedge, bordering the largest 'top field'. With the wind having originated from the north-west for so long I thought it was worth at least considering coburni - the Icelandic race. I've highlighted some coburni features but on balance of probability I'm assuming it's just a well-streaked iliacus (the upperpart colouration looks about the same as the iliacus below). I can't do anything with wing length or patterning of undertail coverts.
Below is a Scandanavian 'iliacus' that I photographed during the big freeze in March. It probably doesn't make for a useful comparison because it's so puffed up but note the pale legs, white belly and broken, lighter streaking on the flanks.

Adult (left) and juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose. A quick look off Mudbank, on the dropping tide, revealed at least 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 13 Dunlin, 12 Knot and 116+ Black-tailed Godwit. No time to count anything else.

Linnet - Orcombe Point. Apart from the Redwing the only other birds of note were a single Golden Plover and 4 Snipe.

Friday 26 October 2018

Eastern Stuff

Brown Shrike -  nominate cristatus. I've very little experience ageing shrikes, but I'm assuming the subdued colour tones point to this bird being a first-summer, possibly female? Note the plain mantle, graduated tail and massive bill. This was the only Brown Shrike seen during our week-long April trip to south Goa. I suspect I'd have seen more if I'd gone earlier than early April.
With birding virtually at a standstill at the moment here are a few 'eastern' species from Goa in April. None of these species is ever likely to make an appearance on Orcombe though Blyth's Reed is an outside possibility. I can clearly see Berry Head from Orcombe and Mike's had one there so you never know...



Long-tailed Shrike - presumed first-summer.

Adult Long-tailed Shrike


Asian Brown Flycatcher

Terek Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plovers

Blyth's Reed Warbler

Thursday 25 October 2018

R-c Pochard Returns

Orcombe was a bit better than yesterday but still hard going. Most notably there was an increase in Blackbirds with 14+ recorded. The Skylark flock in the top fields has increased to c45+ birds and a Grey Heron over was a bit unusual. Also recorded - 1 Redwing, 4+ Song Thrush, 2+ Goldcrest, 2+ Chiffchaff, 2+ Redpoll, c50+ Chaffinch, 8+ Goldfinch, c20+ Meadow Pipit, 3+ Reed Bunting, 9+ Siskin, 10+ Pied wagtail, c400+ Woodpigeon, 3+ Stock Dove, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Snipe, 1 Coal Tit and 2 Collared Dove.
A/the drake Red-crested Pochard was again present, albeit distantly, off Mudbank today and a family group of Pale-bellied Brent Geese comprised two adults and 3 juveniles. Otherwise numbers of Dark-bellied Brent Goose must be up around the 5/600+ mark with a number of juveniles noted today. The Black-tailed Godwit flock was made up of at least 130 birds today.

The exceptionally confiding Kestrel continues to frequent the top fields. Didn't see the second bird today though.

Tuesday 23 October 2018


Woodpigeons - 22 smallish flocks totalling c2000+ birds moved west early morning.
A flock of 19 Cossbills was the highlight on Orcombe this morning. Finches were a feature with c30/40+ Linnet, c15+ Goldfinch, 45+ Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 17+ Siskin and 12 Redpoll logged. Also - 6+ Song Thrush, 1 Blackcap, 1+ Goldcrest, 8+ Pied Wagtail, 40+ Meadow Pipit, 8+ Reed Bunting, 7+ Blackbird, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Kestrel, c2000+ Woodpigeon, 20+ Stock Dove, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Snipe, 1 Jay, 2 Coal Tit, 4 Jackdaw and 1 Grey Wagtail.

A well-marked Rusty Dot Pearl was next to a light in the Bristol Schools field.

Black-tailed Godwit - at least 65 off Mudbank this afternoon. Two Greenshanks were also noted but I didn't count anything else.

Monday 22 October 2018

Moths and Osprey

I suspect that Martin is right and this is indeed an Autumnal Moth but I've never been brave enough to identify the ' Epiritta' species to form and some online research so far hasn't boosted my confidence. Any comments appreciated.
Orcombe - 0725 - 0930 - 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Yellowhammer, 1+ Goldcrest, 3+ Song Thrush, c15+ Pied Wagtail, 4+ Siskin, 15+ Meadow Pipit, c20+  Goldfinch, c40+ Linnet, c350+ Woodpigeon, 10+ Chaffinch, 5 Redpoll, 2 Grey Wagtail, 10+ Skylark, 1 Stonechat, 1 Coal Tit, 6 Snipe, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 6+ Starling.
Martin popped over mid-morning with some moths, and from the back garden we recorded 3 Coal Tit and the Osprey fishing the lower reaches of the Exe.
A quick look off Mudbank late afternoon revealed 124 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Redshank, 1 Greenshank and 270+ Curlew.

Satellite - an absolutely gorgeous moth. This individual's 'satellites' are orange instead of white but it's never-the-less a beauty. Thanks Martin. I think this is my new favourite species.

Chestnut - a nice fresh 'white-dusted' example of this variable species.

The many Grey Squirrels at Mudbank have a penchant for Hawthorn berries.

Sunday 21 October 2018

YBW and Merlin

Nick and I wandered around Orcombe for the first couple hours of daylight. A bit of overhead movement included 3500+ Woodpigeon (all west) c25+ Pied Wagtail, 3 Grey Wagtail, 1 Curlew, 1 Little Egret, 10+ Siskin, 3 Redpoll, c20+ Goldfinch, 12+ Chaffinch, 10 Jackdaw, 2 Stock Dove, 2+ Reed Bunting and a Yellowhammer. Also 1+ Bullfinch, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Kestrel, 5+ Song Thrush, 4+ Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Turnstone and small numbers of Linnet, Skylark and Meadow Pipit.
I popped back up to Orcombe mid-afternoon and saw nothing extra apart from a Merlin which shot into an ash tree above me as I walked up Gore Lane.
Off Mudbank this afternoon - 110+ Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 2 Dunlin, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Kingfisher, 14 Great Crested Grebe and 6 Red-breasted Merganser. Just as the sun was setting I decided to have a quick look at the Warren View sallows just behind our house. A Yellow-browed Warbler called once, then after a few minutes a couple times more before popping up in to view and promptly disappearing again. It was with a Chiffchaff and will presumably roost in the immediate area tonight.
Yesterday I spent a few minutes from dawn counting stuff from the back garden, before a football match with Joel out at Hemyock. Jackdaws were the most notable species with c350+ moving south west with a few relatively small flocks of Woodpigeon. Four Song Thrush, 1+ Siskin and an adult Mediterranean Gull were also logged.
Off Mudbank later on I had my largest ever Exmouth count of Black-tailed Godwit - 155 in total. Also 2 Greenshank and 12 Red-breasted Merganser.

A last minute decision to search the scrub bordering the playing fields at the back of our house, just before dark,  paid off with this brief Yellow-browed Warbler. My first of the autumn.


Very much a record shot of a Merlin but they're not even annual for me here in Exmouth, so each one is a bit special. I'd love to have had a proper look at it but it spent just a second or two in the tree before flying off.

Kestrel soaking up the early morning sun.

Coal Tit photographed from the back garden.

Common Darter - a few of these around Orcombe this afternoon. Also several Red Admirals and 3 Clouded Yellows (including a 'helice').

Jackdaws passing over the house early yesterday morning.