Monday 31 December 2018

2018 Bumper Review

To be honest It's good to see the back of 2018. It was a very difficult year in the Knott household, with Lu's mum, Barbara, sadly passing away after a brave battle with cancer. She is hugely missed.
As ever, my interest in birds and insects kept me on a relatively even keel but there were times when my heart really wasn't in it.
Lu, Maisie and Joel were very hard-hit but they've dealt with it superbly and I'm immensely proud of them.
It was a poor year bird-wise in Exmouth, with a 'below-average' 163 species recorded by me personally. Most shocking absentees were Roseate Tern, Grasshopper Warbler, Little Grebe and, quite embarassingly, Razorbill. I'm still trying to work out how I missed those!
Without wishing to sound too negative there was very little to feel optimistic about on the bird front, but we did have breeding Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Dartford Warbler and Nightjar again, within the parish boundary, and Cirl Buntings are wintering for the first time. Another piece of positive news is that the Brent Geese clearly had a good breeding year and the yellow buoy exclusion zone appears to be working well, with far less disturbance than usual noted.
Exmouth birding highlights included the long-staying Bonaparte's Gull, Glaucous Gull, a probable 'blythi' Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Woodlark, 3 Ruff, Scaup, Corn Bunting, Iceland Gull, 5 Velvet Scoters, 17 Yellow-legged Gulls, Black Tern, 7 Cattle Egrets, Marsh Harrier, Pied Flycatcher, 2 Garganey, Grey Phalarope, Red-crested Pochard, 2 Short-eared Owls, Merlin, Yellow-browed Warbler, 19 Crossbills, Caspian Gull, Water Pipit and Little Gull.
My bird of the year however was found a short distance outside the Exmouth boundary - my first ever Pallid Harrier - a pristine, orangey juvenile was photographed late in the afternoon, on the 13th of September, on Colaton Raleigh Common. Nothing else really came close.
Thank you to everyone who continues to read my blog and thank you to those people who keep me in the loop with local news. I can't see me ever joining twitter so it's much appreciated. The following summary is lengthy and probably of very little interest to those living beyond Exmouth, but as I've said before it's useful for me to be able to look back on the year without trawling through the numerous blog posts. I still keep a hand-written logbook (and have done since 1985) and I still print out all my best photos (which are few and far between), but there's no denying the ease and immediacy of an online record. So here we go again... 
January was generally bleak and quite chilly, but there was some good winter birding to be had. The Long-tailed Duck was present off Warren Point throughout the month and could be easily viewed from the Grove. Three immature drake Eider were also present throughout (mainly off Maer Rocks) and Great Northern Divers were always available, with small numbers off the Grove and in the mouth of the estuary.
On the 1st a Great Skua was lured in to the bay by a large feeding flock of Gannets, consisting of c300+ birds.
The Bonaparte's Gull started to frequent the estuary again on the 6th, and was best seen from Shelly Beach, but on the 28th and 29th it showed down to a few feet, coming to bread off Exmouth Quay. Two Firecrest were found on the 7th, wintering along Madeira Walk in exactly the same spot as last winter's duo - quite possibly the same individuals.
A Treecreeper in Manor Gardens on the 14th was noteworthy and on the 21st a juvenile Glaucous Gull roosted on Bull Hill.
A Pale-bellied Brent Goose was on Maer Rocks on the 28th and a Jack Snipe was found at a regular Exmouth site.
I got 'twitchy feet' at the end of the month (and throughout February/March) and left Exmouth for the likes of American Wigeon, Hawfinch, Snow, Pink-footed and White-fronted Geese, Goshawk, Ring-necked Duck, Iceland Gull and some Somerset Levels specialities.

Adult Bonaparte's Gull - Shelly Beach 21/1/18 - this bird has failed to reappear at the time of writing so perhaps 2019 will be a 'Bonaparte's-free' year in Exmouth. If so it'll be the first blank year since 2011!

Glaucous Gull - Bull Hill 21/1/18

February got off to a good start when I was kindly invited to see a wintering Lesser Whitethroat in a private Exmouth garden. It showed characteristics of one of the eastern races, most likely blythi.
The immature drake Eider and the Long-tailed Duck were seen on and off throughout the month, mostly off the Grove, as were a small number of Great Northern Divers.
At least one noisy Water Rail was in the West Lodge reed bed on the 5th (one bird seen in flight) and the Bonaparte's Gull showed well again, off Exmouth Quay/seafront, on the 8th, 10th and 20th.
My highest count of Purple Sandpipers was made on the 24th, with 12 on Maer Rocks.
The first signs of some cold weather movement, as the 'Beast from the East' easterly airflow kicked in, were made on the 26th when 4 Tufted Duck accompanied a/the Slavonian Grebe off Mudbank. The following day 4 Golden Plover and 2 Snipe were in the top fields on Orcombe Point. Also on the 27th I caught up, once again, with the long-staying Ring-necked Parakeet near the Maer long-stay carpark.
On the 28th, five Golden Plover frequented Warren View playing fields and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull was logged, along with c130+ Common Gull off Mudbank.

Lesser Whitethroat - 3/2/18 - this bird wintered in a private Exmouth garden and was very likely an 'eastern' bird, probably blythi. It was the only Lesser Whitethroat I saw in Exmouth in 2018.

Lesser Whitethroat - probable blythi - the extent of white in the outer retrices points heavily to an 'eastern' bird.

March 1st will long be remembered for its heavy snowfall - the product of a prolonged spell of icy, cold air emanating from Siberia, meeting a milder storm 'Emma' pushing up from the south. It dumped about 6 inches of dry powder snow in Exmouth,  along with the rest of Devon, and triggered a mass movement of Lapwing, Golden Plover, Redwing and Fieldfare. I made no accurate counts but it would be no exaggeration to say that hundreds of each species were left struggling to find nourishment from the few areas that weren't snow-covered. These included the margins of the estuary and Exmouth beach. It was a unique ornithological event but the buzz from the amazing views of the birds was tempered by the sadness of having to witness them struggle to stay alive.
Oddities during this period included 5 Woodlark on Exmouth beach on the 2nd, 3 Woodcock (Mudbank, West Lodge and Maer Valley) also on the 2nd, and two Ruff on the 3rd.
The thaw was mercifully rapid and by the 4th many of the displaced birds had moved on. The 4th also produced the spring's first Sandwich Tern off the Imperial, and the winter's first Black Redstart on Orcombe Point.
March 11th felt like the first proper migrant day. I recorded Wheatear, Firecrest, Stonechat and 6 Snipe on Orcombe, whilst off Mudbank - 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese for their second day, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Golden Plover and a Sandwich Tern.
The Long-tailed Duck was again off Mudbank on the 15th, remaining as distant and unobtrusive as it had all winter.
The first Chiffchaffs were recorded on the 17th, with 10+ on Orcombe Point, and later the same day a female-type Scaup was scoped off Mudbank, well upriver towards Powderham. Three Eider were still present off the seafront, two of which remained off Maer Rocks. The 17th also saw the arrival of more snow, from an easterly weather system dubbed 'Mini Beast from the East'.
On the 18th it snowed heavily throughout most of the day and into the early hours of the following morning, resulting in 6 - 8 inches of the white stuff! Thankfully we didn't witness the mass movement of displaced birds that we'd seen at the beginning of the month - just a few Meadow Pipits, Fieldfare, Redwing and Golden Plovers.
The following day it thawed rapidly and I was delighted to discover a Corn Bunting on the relative warmth of the dung heap, at the top of Gore Lane. It was to stay three days.
The 22nd provided a wintery selection of birds that included the Bonaparte's Gull off Maer Rocks, Long-tailed Duck (still present on the 24th), Eider, 7+ Purple Sandpiper and a first-winter Glaucous Gull on Bull Hill.
On the 30th I found my first Willow Warbler singing on Orcombe Point, and thanks to a text from Kev, was finally able to connect with an Exmouth Iceland Gull - a presumed juvenile on Bull Hill on the dropping tide. A Firecrest on Orcombe was considered likely to be the individual first seen on the 11th and a couple times in between.

Snipe - Mudbank 2/3/18 - several were forced out in to the open during the cold snap.

Lapwing - Mudbank 2/3/18 - hundreds were seen in Exmouth from 1st - 3rd March, forced off the fields by heavy snowfall. It was really odd to see them feeding in parks and on verges. I even saw some on pavements and in the road! Many looked hungry. Thankfully the snow thawed on the 3rd - not a moment too soon.

Woodlark - a surprise find on Exmouth beach on March 2nd - one of a party of 5 birds feeding busily on the sand during the cold spell dubbed 'The Beast from the East'.


Redwing - Exmouth seafront 2/3/18

Golden Plover - near the leisure centre on 3/3. Hundreds were seen between 1/3 and 3/3. I recorded them pretty much everywhere including Carter Park, Warren View, the cricket pitch, the Imperial recreation and rugby grounds, the Imperial hotel grounds, Exmouth Beach and Maer Rocks.

Ruff - one of two frosty-plumaged birds on the Imperial recreation ground and adjacent rugby pitches on 3/3. The pair then appeared at the back of our house on Warren View playing fields.

Orcombe's (and Exmouth's) third Corn Bunting was a surprise discovery on the 19th.

Kestrel - Orcombe Point 24/3/18. 2018 was a good year for Kestrels in Exmouth, with two birds seen regularly throughout the autumn too, either hunting on Orcombe Point or along the Maer.
The first week of April was spent on a family holiday in India, so I was a bit behind with recording migrants in Exmouth. This, coupled with a very delayed start to spring migration, left me feeling like spring was somehow passing me by!
The 10th produced my first 4 Swallows, 2 White Wagtails and a Whimbrel, but the increase in Eider numbers off Maer Rocks, from three to five, was more significant as it included a pristine adult drake and accompanying female.
The 14th yielded a pleasant surprise in the form of a quartet of Velvet Scoters, powering out of the bay and in to the murk.
The year's first Red Kites, 5 birds in total, were noted from the back garden on the 20th and the following day I finally recorded Whitethroats (2 birds) on Orcombe, and a Hobby on the edge of the parish boundary.
The 22nd  saw the first 2 Common Terns off the seafront whilst a single Purple Sandpiper was on Maer Rocks, and off Mudbank there were 41+ Whimbrel, 31+ Pale-bellied Brent Geese and my first Exmouth Sand Martin.
Greenland Wheatears started moving through in small numbers in the final third of the month and 5 Little Terns were present off the seafront from 23rd - 27th, with at least two still present on the 28th. About 150 Pale-bellied Brent Geese off Mudbank on the 27th was just a fraction of the number recorded at the Warren.
The 29th finally saw a significant arrival of migrants in Exmouth - the highlights being c20+ Willow Warblers, c10/15 Wheatears, 3 Redstarts, the year's first 2 Swifts and 2 Whinchats on Orcombe.  Nearby a Spotted Flycatcher was in Maer Valley (along with the Ring-necked Parakeet).

Redstart - Orcombe 29/4/18. Three spring birds and one in the autumn took the year's Redstart total to just 4 individuals.
Bar-tailed Godwits - Mudbank 28/4/18
May was even worse that it usually is. A Great Skua was off Maer Rocks on the 1st, with another one off there on the 6th along with my first, and only, Osprey of the spring.
A Red Kite was seen from the garden on the 7th and both Spotted Flycatcher and Firecrest were back on territory at a site on the Exmouth boundary.
Another Red Kite was seen from the house on the 14th and an evening was spent enjoying some breeding Exmouth Nightjars on the 15th.
June ensured that May wasn't alone in being totally awful. A Reed Warbler singing in the West Lodge reed bed on the 4th was notable but not nearly as much as a Nuthatch heard calling from the back garden on the 23rd.
The 27th was a reasonable day (relatively speaking) with a Great Northern Diver off the seafront, a Red Kite over the house and a Hobby on the edge of Exmouth.
Osprey - off Maer Rocks 6/5/18. This was the only one of the spring but a bare minimum of four birds were seen in the autumn, including 3 together on 24/8, and a late October bird.

Red Kite from the back garden.
Things picked up a little bit in July with Yellow-legged Gulls again coming to the rescue, although only five were logged before the month's end.
A Reed Warbler was singing beside the railway line at Lower Halsdon Farm on the 14th and an early juvenile Black Tern flew downriver and headed high south on the 21st. Good numbers of Mediterranean Gulls were seen throughout, though I couldn't muster the totals recorded at the Warren.
So spring/summer 2018 will go down as hot and dry but very poor for birds in Exmouth. My usual efforts were most definitely compromised by my growing interest in moths and other insects. Time was spent learning Dragonflies and Damselflies which is something I've been meaning to do for a while.

The above Yellow-legged Gulls (juv and second-summer) were two of five birds found in July. Six were found in August, five in September and one in October taking the total to seventeen individuals - all photographed.
August tends to be a pretty good month at this end of the Exe and August 2018 was no exception. On the 1st there was a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull off Mudbank - the first of six recorded (and photographed) during the month.
On the 3rd there were 130+ Sandwich Terns resting on Bull Hill, with at least a dozen Common Terns. Twenty Whimbrel were off Mudbank. The following day the first Willow Warblers were on Orcombe Point with 4+ birds recorded.
On the 5th I recorded 2 fly-over Tree Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail on Orcombe, and 2 Little Terns were off the seafront.
The autumn's first Wheatear was on Orcombe on the 7th and on the 10th I recorded my first 2 Balearic Shearwaters of the year, off Orcombe, along with a juvenile Black Tern that was to prove a long-stayer on the lower reaches of the Exe.
A bit of rough weather on the 11th saw me sea-watching but my rewards were scant with just one Arctic Skua, 4+ Skua sp and 4 Balearic Shearwaters. The tail end of the storm, on the 12th, produced a Great Skua, 1+ Arctic Skua and a further 4 Balearic Shearwaters.
On the 13th I finally connected with an Exmouth Garden Warbler on Orcombe Point.
The 19th was a bit of a red letter day with an offshore flock of 7 Cattle Egrets, along with 7 Balearic Shearwaters and the long-staying juvenile Black Tern.
On the 20th both Osprey and Marsh Harrier were seen from Mudbank - both birds presumably the long-stayers from the north end of the river.
It was great to get out of Exmouth on the 22nd for a showy Spotted Crake on the Otter. A classic August bird if ever there was one.
On the 24th a trickle of migrants on Orcombe included Spotted Flycatcher, 7+ Tree Pipits and 14+ Yellow Wagtails. Three Ospreys together provided quite a spectacle off Mudbank.
A single Osprey was again off Mudbank on the 25th and the following day, Joel's birthday, a highly unseasonal Velvet Scoter flew past Orcombe Point, and 2 Little Terns were off the Imperial.
On the 27th 26 Ringed Plover were with 13 Dunlin on Exmouth beach and an Osprey was again fishing off Mudbank. Two Green Sandpipers on Orcombe Point were my first and last of 2018 in Exmouth.
The 30th was a good day with an Orcombe Pied Flycatcher and the autumn's first Meadow Pipit and Whinchat. Two White Wagtails were on Exmouth beach with 114+ Ringed Plover and 118+ Dunlin, and in Maer Valley c50+ Yellow Wagtails were in with cattle, and the Ring-necked Parakeet was bombing around.
The final day of the month saw the autumn return of the first six Wigeon and 2 late Swifts were on Orcombe.
 This interesting juvenile gull, present on August 15th, shows a broad array of both plumage and structural features suggestive of one of the Atlantic races of Yellow-legged Gull but an unusually worn Lesser Black-backed Gull (note the tatty tertials) is way more likely.

This flock of 7 Cattle Egrets rounded Orcombe Point and flew towards the Warren on 19/8. It turned out to be the vanguard of a major national influx which included a remarkable flock of 51 birds in the South Hams shortly afterwards.
Wheatear - Orcombe Point 24/8/18
Juvenile Swallow - Orcombe Point 27/8/18
September started with Dartford Warblers. A family party of four birds was a very pleasing sight, as it heralded a successful breeding season at the Exmouth site. The following day, a dispersing juvenile was on Orcombe Point and the Osprey caught a fish off Mudbank before heading upriver.
On the 6th, two quick checks off Mudbank produced 1 Garganey in with c150+ Teal, a juvenile Ruff and the Osprey. Four Pintail were the autumn's first off there but the very first had arrived at the north end of the river about a week earlier.
The second Garganey of the month was in with 200+ Wigeon off Mudbank on the 9th, and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was off there too.
On the 13th I had the good fortune to stumble across a juvenile Pallid Harrier whilst I was walking the dog up on Woodbury Common - a magical, very memorable and actually quite surreal experience, and a first for Devon pending acceptance by the BBRC.
On the 16th there was another Yellow-legged Gull off Mudbank and a flock of 6 Balearic Shearwaters flew past Orcombe Point.
An Osprey was eating a fish on Cockle Sands on the 18th and another Yellow-legged Gull was off Mudbank along with 4 Greenshank.
September's fourth Yellow-legged Gull was off Mudbank on the 19th and 20th and the fifth was on the cricket pitch on the 20th.
On the 21st, following some prolonged gales from the West, a Grey Phalarope was watched all too briefly off the Leisure Centre.
A beautiful juvenile Arctic Tern was off the seafront, in heavy rain, on the 23rd and was my first of the year.
On the 25th the first thirty Dark-bellied Brent Geese were off Mudbank though three had been present the day before at Dawlish Warren. The flock had increased to 90 birds on the 29th when a count of c500+ Wigeon was made.
On the last day of the month 108+ Siskin flew west over Orcombe and the autumn's first 2 Goldcrest and single Golden Plover were logged.
Tree Pipit - Orcombe Point 2/9/18

Juvenile Dartford Warbler - Orcombe Point 2/9/18

 Juvenile Sedge Warbler - Orcombe Point 2/9/18

Yellow Wagtail - Maer Farm 2/9/18 - one of a lingering flock of c50+ birds.

Garganey - Mudbank 9/9/18 - the second of two seen in September.

Juvenile Pallid Harrier - Colaton Raleigh Common 13/9/18 - these first couple of photos were taken just seconds after finding it, but I couldn't see enough detail on the back of the camera to positively identify it. I had my suspicions though, and the third photo prompted a number of texts...


The moment I pulled this image up on the back of my camera will stay with me for a very long time...

Juvenile Pallid Harrier - photo Chris Townend
October began virtually bird-less, though 3 late Yellow Wagtail were in with cattle on Orcombe on the 1st and wildfowl numbers seemed to rise steadily off Mudbank. Black-tailed Godwits (mostly juveniles) were a regular feature off there, with 28 counted on the 3rd, rising days later to 52 individuals for a while and peaking at 155 on the 20th.
On the 5th there was a surprise in the form of an immature drake Red-crested Pochard in with the sizeable Wigeon flock, and my first Redpoll of the autumn flew overhead as I walked to work.
On the 7th 180 Pintail were off Mudbank.
On the 13th a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull and my first two Red-breasted Mergansers of the autumn were off Mudbank. The Brent Goose flock was up to c450+.
Four Greylag Geese were noteworthy off Mudbank on the 17th and the following day both Redstart and Short-eared Owl were found late in the afternoon on Orcombe Point, along with 11+ Stonechat. The Black-tailed Godwit count had risen to 67+ off Mudbank and they'd been joined by 57+ Redshank, c80+ Turnstone and 4 Dunlin.
A whopping 155 Black-tailed Godwit were off Mudbank on the 20th and on the 21st I recorded Merlin on Orcombe Point and Yellow-browed Warbler at the back of our house.
I caught up with the long-staying Osprey on the 22nd - watched from the back garden as it hunted the lower Exe.
Some overhead movement on Orcombe, early on the 23rd, included a single flock of 19 Crossbills - my first in Exmouth for a long time. My first Brambling of the autumn flew west too, on what was to be a finch-themed morning.
On the 25th a drake Red-crested Pochard was again of Mudbank and assumed to be the individual present earlier in the month. A family party of five Pale-bellied Brent Geese contained three juveniles. (At least 10 Pale-bellied Brents were scattered amongst the Dark-bellied birds on the 28th).
On the 27th I recorded at least one Crossbill at Bystock and a candidate Icelandic Redwing on Orcombe Point.
Late in the afternoon of the 30th a juvenile Hen Harrier and an adult male Merlin were found on Woodbury Common, which is just outside the Exmouth parish boundary. The Hen Harrier was to linger well into the winter period.

First-winter Yellow-legged Gull - Mudbank 13/10/18

Short-eared Owl - Orcombe Point 18/10/18 - the first of two seen in 2018, the other being on the 20/11/18.

Redstart - Orcombe Point 18/10/18

A juvenile Hen Harrier was watched hunting below Woodbury Fort, late in the afternoon on 30/10. A Male Merlin was also hunting the same area. The presumed same harrier was still present in to December.

The winter's first four Purple Sandpipers were back on Maer Rocks on the 3rd of November and on the 5th a Red-throated Diver flew downriver, watched from Mudbank.
On the 7th there was a second-winter Caspian Gull off Mudbank, late in the afternoon, along with the first two returning Goldeneye.
I caught up with 2 Black Redstarts at Shelly beach on the 10th, and the following day there were two or three Cirl Buntings on Orcombe Point, with 2 still present on the 25th (and throughout December). Also on the 12th - my first Exmouth Water Pipit on the dung heap. It was still present the day after and was one of my best birds of 2018.
A switch to winds with some east in them brought 2 more Black Redstarts on the 17th - at the entrance to Warren View playing fields. The same winds also saw the arrival of 9 Golden Plover on Orcombe and six Teal off Mudbank.
On the 18th the first Firecrest of the autumn was on Orcombe Point and another Cirl Bunting headed east.
On the 20th my second Short-eared Owl of the year was on Orcombe Point at first light.
Late on the 23rd there was a sizeable flock of Dunlin off Mudbank, numbering c1000+ birds, along with 16+ Grey Plover and a single Knot. On the 25th an Eider was mid-river off Mudbank but birding came to a grinding halt in the last week, with short days and wet weather meaning I just couldn't get out.

One of four returning Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks - 3/11/18

Second-winter Caspian Gull - Mudbank 7/11/18. This is only my second Caspian Gull in Exmouth and my first ever second-winter.

Black Redstart - one of two seen behind the sailing club on 10/11 and one of at least 8 seen in Exmouth in 2018.

Cirl Bunting - one of two or three birds on Orcombe on 11/11. Two birds then lingered in the hedgerow along Gore Lane and on December 16th they'd been joined by a third individual. The three birds were still present at the end of the year, by which time I'd put down some seed. In addition, four more birds were discovered behind the seafront on December 30th, taking the year's Exmouth total to a minimum of eight birds.

This Water Pipit was a brand new bird for my Exmouth list on 12/11 and was still present on the 13th when this photograph was taken.
A lousy start to December was alleviated by a fine male Black Redstart down in the docks area on December 8th. It was still present on the 22nd, 24th and 30th when I had much better views.
My sixth Exmouth Black Redstart of the autumn/winter was along the cliff-tops between Orcombe and Sandy Bay on the 9th, and a/the juvenile Hen Harrier was again seen on Woodbury Common.
On the 14th c30+  Avocets were scoped upriver from Mudbank and the following day a Jack Snipe was flushed from the regular Exmouth site.
On the 16th there were 3 Cirl Buntings beside the dung heap along Gore Lane, and 2 Eider were distantly off Mudbank, along with 3 Goldeneye.
On the 24th 3 Black Redstarts and a Little Gull were in the Shelly Beach area. The latter my first of the year.
The 30th was a day for Cirl Buntings with the three long stayers still beside the dung heap and four 'new' birds (including a singing male) located on the Maer.
Goldeneye - off the Leisure Centre 26/12/18 - diving ducks are much fewer in number on the Exe these days. Numbers of Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser are much lower than what they used to be, and former regulars such as Scaup and Long-tailed duck are now very scarce.

Cirl Bunting - Exmouth seafront 30/12/18
So there you have it. Previous annual reviews can be found by clicking on the year in the right-hand margin of this page. To all readers of 'gobirdingexmouth' - HAPPY NEW YEAR!


  1. Great Review of the year, I love to read these patch birding blogs keep it up Matt I know it takes a lot of effort to keep them going.

  2. Thanks Matt. Sorry I've not had more time to share it with you, but it's great to read a summary of the year like this and to be reminded of the birds I did catch up with. Keep it up in 2019 and I'll look forward to reading it all again this time next year.

    1. Thanks Nick. Hope to see you in Exmouth soon.

  3. Some great photos in that write up Matt - I particularly love the Woodlark Corn Bunting and of course that Harrier! I always enjoy your write ups - Nice work and hope to see you soon.

    1. Thanks Chris - I'm pleased with the camera. Loved your review of 2018 but makes mine look very dull. I need to get out of Exmouth more! All the best. Matt

  4. Great write up Matt. You deservedly find some amazing birds. The Harrier must have been a dream find, I know you have specifically looked there for one before - skill as well as persistence. Have a great 2019 and hopefully see you somewhere but I guess with our sedentary birding habits it will have to be an awesome bird somewhere if we are twitching it !

  5. Thanks Perry - I'm sorry I never made it down to the South Hams this autumn. I intended to but never really had a clear day. Hopefully this year unless, as you said, a 'mega' drags us both away. I see you've been seeing some good stuff down your way - any chance of resurrecting the ole blog? Here's hoping. All the best. Matt