Sunday 9 June 2019

Little Terns and Kittiwakes

Bar-tailed Godwit - Mudbank
Two Little Terns off Mudbank were today's highlight. I picked them up as they fished off Powderham Corner before they quickly made their way downstream, last seen gaining great height and heading high south over towards the Warren. Also my first Whimbrel for a while, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Sandwich Tern, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull in with a much-reduced number of Black-headed Gulls.
An early morning stroll from Orcombe to Sandy Bay (to look at the Kittiwake colony) produced a surprise in the shape of my fourth Nuthatch for Orcombe. Sadly it didn't hang around but 'bounced' off quickly eastwards along the clifftop.
Yesterday 11 Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit off Mudbank, and on Friday - 3 Common Tern, 9 Sandwich Tern and 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gulls on Cockle Sands, viewed from the Imperial recreation ground. Good to see Rob and Steph Murphy there, but no sign of the Bonaparte's Gull which has now presumably gone.

Micro sp - think this is a Eucosma species, possibly cana, but I'm not sure it's quite right.

I didn't count the birds (or nests). The higgledy-piggledy arrangement of nests makes it a difficult task. Needless to say it was very busy and numbers seemed pretty high.

Exmouth's mini 'seabird city' - viewed from the beach at Sandy Bay.

Many birds were gathering seaweed to augment their nests.


  1. Hi Matt,
    Nice pics, and good to see what you're ID-ing ... especially as I've not made it out with you the last few weeks (months!).
    I wonder if micro moth is E. hohenwartiana, rather than E. cana? I don't know them, but I'm going from photos on the Norfolk Moths website ( and cana seems to have a more prominent lateral streak?? Only a guess, but worth a look perhaps.

  2. Hi Nick - great to hear from you. Yep agree it doesn't look right for cana. Have seen hohenwartiana before and remembered it being much darker, but there are clearly lighter forms. Reckon you're right but will do a little more research. It was in a very wet, boggy area so need to look up food plants etc too. If the weather improves plan to do some clearwing pheromone stuff. Let us know when you've got a bit of time to spare if you're interested (which I'm sure you will be!) Would be great to meet up. All the best. Matt

  3. Great to see at least one S Devon colony of Kittiwakes doing well. The Kittiwakes at Berry Head are now always late in returning to the cliffs and now don't even bother to make nests (last 3 years)! No young have been raised from the previously busy colony for at least 7-8 years!

  4. Hi Mike - didn't realise it had got that bad at Berry Head. How are other seabirds doing there? Shags are noticeably down in the bay here - not that many years ago was seeing 200/300-strong flocks - now lucky to see 20/30. The Kittiwakes do seem to be bucking the trend. Lets hope it stays that way. Good to hear from you. Best wishes. Matt