Sunday 25 November 2018

Cirls Still

Two Cirl Buntings still feeding Dunnock-like in the base of the hedge alongside the dung heap this morning. Also a couple Fieldfare, 4+ Snipe, c12+ Chaffinch, 1 Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail noted on a very brief visit. Otherwise today - a single Eider mid-river off Mudbank along with 8+ Red-breasted Merganser and a couple Pale-bellied Brent Geese in with the usual stuff. Three Chiffchaff in sallows by the Maer Long-stay carpark.
Of note - late Friday afternoon off Mudbank - c1000+ Dunlin, 16+ Grey Plover and a single Knot.

Tuesday 20 November 2018


I braved a very cold and overcast dawn on Orcombe before work this morning, and was rewarded with my second Short-eared Owl of the autumn. It flew over the top fields and then headed east along the clifftop before dropping out of sight. Whether it pitched down somewhere close by or continued eastwards is anyone's guess. I grabbed the above shot as it headed away from me. Otherwise 1 Grey Heron and 1 Bullfinch is all that was logged before heading back.

Sunday 18 November 2018

Overhead Stuff

A beautiful dawn on Orcombe Point with a stiff easterly that forced many birds to re-think their east-bound flight path and swing back inland. Counts this morning included 1 Mistle Thrush, 3 Song Thrush, 5+ Goldcrest, 135+ Chaffinch, 4 Blackbird, 1 Firecrest (first of the autumn), 2+ Redwing, c20/30+ Meadow Pipit, 50+ Goldfinch, 4 Pied Wagtail, c70/80+ Skylark, c500+ Woodpigeon, 16+ Starling, 3+ Brambling, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Siskin, 2 Snipe, 3 Lapwing, 8 Stock Dove, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and another Cirl Bunting. At least 7 Purple Sandpipers were on Maer Rocks.
Selected counts off Mudbank included 1 Mediterranean Gull, 18 Ringed Plover, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Greenshank, 8+ Teal, c80+ Dunlin, c70+ Redshank, 9+ Great Crested Grebe, 4 Goldeneye, c40+ Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Kestrel and 6+ Red-breasted Merganser.

Stock Doves

Looking down on the Geoneedle, which is right on the tip of Orcombe Point. This morning birds were flying up the hill towards me and then hitting a strong easterly which forced many back north before presumably re-orientating east.

One of seven Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks

Greenshank - one of two that have been seen regularly off Mudbank.

Saturday 17 November 2018

More Black Reds

Initially located by the impatient and repeated 'heet' call - the Black Redstarts were busy feeding around bungalows and the new-build area at the entrance to Warren View playing fields.

Two new Black Redstarts near the back of our house this afternoon. Nearby, off Mudbank, counts included 80+ Redshank, 60+ Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Snipe, 1 Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank, 6+ Teal and 3+ Pale-bellied Brent Goose amongst high numbers of Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Wigeon and Pintail. A Peregrine was causing havoc amongst the lot.
Dawn on Orcombe - c70/80+ Skylark, 2 Redwing, 7+ Chaffinch, 3 Song Thrush, c20/30+Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail, c60+ Starling, 5 Snipe, 5+ Goldcrest (highest count this autumn), 9+ Golden Plover, 1 Dunlin, 11 Linnet, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 3 Fieldfare. Interestingly the two Cirl Buntings are still lurking in the hedgerow next to the dung heap - is there a chance they might winter? Maybe time to get some seed down.

Friday 16 November 2018

Oak Rustic

A big thank you to Nick who popped in this evening with this little beauty. He trapped this Oak Rustic in Budleigh last night, along with a number of immigrant species that included White Speck and Gem. This is a rare moth in Devon but it appears to be doing very well a little further east, in Dorset, so I suspect this won't be the last one Nick traps. It offers hope of one here in Exmouth too. Many thanks Nick!
Of interest, Martin trapped a Mottled Umber in near Kentisbeare last night - another great record.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Orcombe Early Doors

Water Pipit - still feeding on the dung heap today with four Rock Pipits, a couple Pied Wagtails, Grey Wagtail and a few Meadow Pipits. Note the reddish tones to the rump - a good feature for Water Pipit and quite different to the olive-grey of Rock Pipit.
Did a quick pre-work dawn visit to Orcombe this morning but only covered the top fields. Masses of birds included the following counts: 2+ Pied Wagtail, c110+ Chaffinch (with many missed), 14 Starling, 6+ Goldfinch, 7 Fieldfare, 3+ Brambling, 2+ Reed Bunting, c30+ Linnet, c325+ Woodpigeon, 1 Water Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Siskin, c100+ Skylark (very rough estimate), 4 Rock Pipit, 2 Raven, 2 Snipe, 1 Yellowhammer, 3+ Song Thrush, 2+ Blackbird and a Kestrel. The birding is really good at this time of year but not for much longer.....

Monday 12 November 2018

Water Pipit

With a very narrow window of time between finishing work and darkness, I decided to check the dung field and immediate surroundings. I managed to log 3 Song Thrush, 1 Snipe, c40+ Skylark, c20+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2+ Cirl Buntings, 1 Rock Pipit and best of all a Water Pipit! This is an Exmouth 'tick' for me and to put its local rarity in to some sort of context, I've recorded 2 Richard's, 2 Red-throated and a Tawny Pipit, all before tonight's Water Pipit.
I initially flushed it with a Rock Pipit, and its more strident, less rasping call grabbed my attention. I was delighted when it pitched back down but it was very wary and difficult to photograph, landing briefly before dropping down behind the clods of dung. The above shot was snatched from some distance away.

Some interesting cloud formations this evening....

The dung heap is by far the best little patch of habitat on Orcombe Point at the moment. The Water Pipit seemed quite at home there and at least two Cirl Buntings were finding some shelter in the stretch of hedgerow to the right of the heap. You can't see them in this photo but at the back of the field are two very large bulls.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Cirl Buntings

Good numbers of Meadow Pipit on Orcombe Point this morning included a number feeding on the dung heap.
It was quite busy on Orcombe Point early this morning. Between 0700 and 0905 I recorded 80+ Chaffinch, 3 Goldcrest, 6 Snipe, 3+ Song Thrush, 1+ Redwing, c100+ Meadow Pipit, 4+ Blackbird, c15+ Goldfinch, c40+ Skylark, 3+ Pied Wagtail, 2 or 3 Cirl Buntings, c50+ Linnet, c300+ Woodpigeon, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Reed Bunting, 10+ Jackdaw and 4 Starling.
The Cirl Buntings were my first in Exmouth this year and were this morning's clear highlight.
Little else seen today but the 2 Black Redstarts were again showing well behind the sailing club and a few bits and bobs were seen on this afternoon's dog-walk - see below.

One of at least two very vocal Reed Buntings on Orcombe this morning.

Cirl Bunting. This was one of two on Gore Lane following an early morning east-bound flyover which could have been a different bird.

Four of 18 Black-tailed Godwits off the Leisure Centre.

This adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose was in the 'Gut' with c50+ Dark-bellied Brents. The group contained good numbers of juvenile birds.

Juvenile and adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Coco and I walked miles on the Commons this afternoon. Birds seen included 18 Crossbill, 30 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 1+ Brambling and Dartford Warbler.

Raven - Woodbury Common

Saturday 10 November 2018

Black Reds

I caught up with the two Black Redstarts this morning. Both birds were together and showing really well behind the sailing club.
Not a lot else seen today but I almost certainly had a drake American Wigeon off the Leisure Centre this morning. I was scoping what's known as the 'duck pond' from the car, in a heavy rain shower, when I picked up the bird. To be fair I think it's fine - dusky pink flanks, grey head and black eye 'mask' etc but the visibility was so poor and my view so brief that I can't justify submitting it as such. An exhaustive and ultimately unsuccessful search through hundreds of Wigeon proved fruitless and allowed the doubts to creep in. I didn't see enough to age it and, if I'm brutally honest, I probably can't 100% rule out a hybrid, so for the time being I'm leaving it. There is of course a possibility it's the returning drake and if so it'll no doubt be picked up again somewhere on the river. I'll have another look for it in the morning.

The second Black Redstart is an interesting looking bird. It's got no tail, but the most striking feature is its fiery red under-tail coverts. Some black feathering around the upper breast, lores and throat indicate that it's a male and there's a definite orange-brown tint to the lower breast, although the belly is clearly white. Great to have a couple birds around following last winter when, for the first time in a long while, there were none.

Friday 9 November 2018


Adult male, Sub-adult male (I presume) and female Eider off Warren Point, in truly horrible conditions late this afternoon. Viewed from the shelter near the Grove Pub.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Caspian Gull

This second-winter Caspian Gull was discovered off Mudbank after work, late this afternoon. My initial view was of it sleeping but the 'contrasty' plumage and white mirror on p10 got the alarm bells ringing. I hastily scribbled the above sketch and then had to wait what seemed like ages for it to wake up. Once awake it didn't hang around but I was able to rattle off a load of photos which give an idea of its structure as well as its plumage. There are many examples of hybrid birds originating from mixed German breeding colonies so I was pleased to see a nice elegant bird with a hanging rear belly, high chest, small head and long neck - no reason to suspect hybrid parentage as far as I can see.
Also present this evening - my first two Goldeneye of the season and a forty-strong flock of Black-tailed Godwit with c45+ Dunlin.
Late news for Monday, 5/11 - a Red-throated Diver watched late afternoon from Mudbank as it flew downriver towards the river mouth.


My initial view gave a tantalising glimpse of a mirror on p10. It's not a particularly large bird compared to the Herring Gull on the left, so it's presumably a female.


A nice clean white underwing.


p10 mirror, white underwing and crisp black tail band visible here.


Note the hanging rear belly and nice black tertials with contrasting broad white tips.

Note the spotted nape creating a distinct necklace, and subtle mottling to the upper breast sides. The wing coverts show a mix of adult-type grey feathers and worn/faded milky-brown older feathers.

This crappy flight shot at least captures a nice black tail band and gives an idea of the small head on long neck, contributing to a fairly striking profile.

Saturday 3 November 2018

Purple Sandpipers

Four Purple Sandpipers back on Maer Rocks this morning. Also 2+ Turnstone and 1 Little Egret before football. Three Common Scoter offshore. Otherwise 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese off Mudbank but no time to look properly today.
Yesterday, after work, on Woodbury Common - ringtail Hen Harrier, c100+ Pied Wagtail (over to roost), c100+ Meadow Pipit, c35+ Fieldfare and at least 1 Redpoll and 1 Brambling over.

Common Sandpiper

This morning's game was at Countess Wear so I used the hour's warm-up time to have a look at the river. One Green Sandpiper and 3 or 4 Common Sandpipers were seen, as well as Cetti's warbler,  Kingfisher, half a dozen Teal, 1 Dunlin, 2 Little Grebe and 1 Redshank.