Sunday 27 October 2019

Black Redstart

Lu's birthday today so I managed just an hour on Orcombe mid-afternoon before the family descended. A lovely bright and still day but very few birds. Goldcrests and Chiffies seem to have cleared out.

The Water Pipit showed relatively well this afternoon on the dung heap.

Saturday 26 October 2019


Dreadful weather all day. A dawn sea-watch, before the rain started coming in horizontally, produced Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Great Skua, 3 Sandwich Tern, c15+ Common Scoter and small numbers of auk sp, Kittiwake and Gannet.
Two Eider were off Warren Point and the Water Pipit remains on the dung heap. Also 3 or 4 Meadow Pipit and a Snipe there but the horrendous weather prevented further searching.

A very bedraggled -looking Water Pipit in exactly the same spot as yesterday.

Friday 25 October 2019

Water Pipit

Water Pipit - my second in Exmouth following one last November in exactly the same spot - the dung heap!

Difficult birding conditions first thing this morning, becoming more difficult as the southerly wind strengthened and rain set in. This morning's star bird was a fresh-in Water Pipit. Otherwise just 9 Robin, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Kestrel, 2 Blackbird, 2+ Goldcrest, 21+ Jackdaw, c10+ Pied Wagtail, 4+ Skylark, c10+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Linnet and c40+ Starling noted.
A massive feeding flock of mainly Black-headed Gulls and Herring Gulls was off the beach below Orcombe Point, and with it at least 3 Mediterranean Gulls and small numbers of Common Gull and Lesser Back-backed Gull. Further out a few auks were whizzing past and 2 Arctic Skuas lingered,along with 13 Common Scoter. Also off there - 2 Sandwich Tern, 1 Brent Goose and 2 Turnstone.
Off Mudbank a high count of 217 Pintail. Also 2 Redshank and 2 Greenshank.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Long-eared Owl

A huge highlight for Paul and me this morning, just as we were discussing how quiet things were, was this Long-eared Owl. It 'flopped' out of the hedge as we skirted one of the top fields, and very quickly landed to reveal those gorgeous orange eyes and long ear tufts. It flew another few feet into the base of an Ash tree and Paul and I beat a hasty retreat to allow it to settle. When we left it was roosting in the same spot and visible from the double gate at the top of Gore Lane. It has apparently remained there all day and represents a first for me here in Exmouth. It's a pretty scarce bird in Devon. The last one I saw was at Exminster Marshes on 3/3 2012 and prior to that just three Devon birds - Bowling Green on 15/3 2003, Berry Head on 18/11 1996 and Dawlish Warren on 16/11 1996. When I was a student in London I used to visit well-known winter roosts but today's bird beats them all!
Also recorded today, in damp and overcast conditions - 1 Black Redstart, c35 Robin, 13 Blackbird, 10+ Goldcrest, 12 Song Thrush, 1 Redwing, 9 Chiffchaff, c10/20+ Meadow Pipit, 16 Linnet, 1 Stock Dove, c10+ Chaffinch, 8+ Goldfinch, c10+ Pied Wagtail, 2 Bullfinch, 3 Reed Bunting, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Coal Tit, C80+ Starling and 40+ Jackdaw.

Not such a good view from the double gate but it's better than no view at all!


This smart male Back Redstart was mobile around the Bristol Schools area.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Firecrests Black Reds

I counted 34 Robins on my route this morning, but only a fraction of the Orcombe patch was covered.
Much less frantic on Orcombe Point this morning. I was greeted by a cold, clear dawn with little wind, though a light northerly picked up a little later and cloud rolled in. Three Firecrest were new in and were the highlight, but I also recorded 12 Blackbird, 34 Robin, 45+ Pied Wagtail, 40+ Meadow Pipit, 4 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 9+ Chiffchaff, 2 Raven, 20+ Goldfinch, 9 Goldcrest, 16 Starling, 2 Siskin, 10 Linnet, 20+ Skylark, 900+ Woodpigeon, 60+ Stock Dove, 1 Redpoll, 2 Greenfinch, 190+ Jackdaw, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine.

I was sitting in my lounge, reading online about an influx of Back Redstarts on Portland, and wondering how I'd manage to not see any on Orcombe, when I looked up to see one flycatching from my neighbours' roof!

This 'ghost' Stonechat was discovered yesterday on Woodbury Common by Glyn Vernall. I spent some time admiring it on this afternoon's dog-walk. It's a beauty!

I don't think I can recall seeing Black Redstart on the pebbled heaths before. The nearest was probably a male that wintered at Hayes Barton pig farm many years ago. I found this individual inside the grenade range compound - further evidence of a big influx today.

Tuesday 22 October 2019


A Great White Egret flaps lazily east shortly after dawn, just as the first small groups of Woodpigeon start heading west.
Really exciting birding on Orcombe Point again this morning with masses of stuff on the move. I didn't count the numerous Carrion Crows or Black-headed Gulls and the Woodpigeons were somewhat neglected as I tried to cover as much ground as possible. The problem of counting the Woodpigeons was compounded by a slightly less routine passage, as  some flocks swung round over Orcombe and headed back east whereas others appeared to go high south. Fewer birds seemed to be doing the usual west/north-west route.  My notebook was rarely in my pocket as I recorded the following: 1 Great White Egret (east @ 0800), 5 Fieldfare, 1 Brambling, 14+ Song Thrush, 11+ Chiffchaff, c120+ Meadow Pipit, 280+ Jackdaw, 25+ Chaffinch, 60+ Pied Wagtail, 18+ Blackbird, 13+ Goldcrest, 70+ Goldfinch, c4000+ Woodpigeon, 92+ Stock Dove, 40+ Linnet, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Blackcap, 1 Bullfinch, 4 Reed Bunting, 65+ Starling, 1+ Raven, c85+ Skylark, 1 Stonechat, 8+ Turnstone, 7 Brent Goose, 1 Snipe, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Coal Tit.
Last light this evening Chris and I had a Short-eared Owl over Woodbury Common.

Arriving Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Woodpigeon flock heading east.

Autumnal Moth agg - Bristol Schools.

A small flock of 25 Stock Doves heads west.

Monday 21 October 2019

Ring Ouzel

I was lucky to get this record shot of today's male Ring Ouzel which spent most of its time buried deep in a  hedgerow. This is a scarce bird on Orcombe Point with my last being on October 14th 2015!
Busy bird-wise again today. Being half-term week I was able to get out twice - 0720 - 0950 and again mid-afternoon. A cold northerly breeze greeted me at dawn and the cloud never cleared. Totals included 1 Ring Ouzel, c60+ Pied Wagtail, 6 Song Thrush, 5 Redwing, 11+ Chiffchaff, 5 Reed Bunting, 5+ Goldcrest, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Golden Plover, 14+ Chaffinch, c35+ Goldfinch, 1500+ Woodpigeon, 3 Linnet, c70+ Meadow Pipit, 21+ Stock Dove, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Kestrel, 4 Starling, c100+ Jackdaw, c10+ Skylark, 2+ Siskin, at least 1 Ring-necked Parakeet, 2 or 3 Raven, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1+ Grey Wagtail, 1 Blackcap, 8 Sandwich Tern and 30+ Common Scoter.
Off Mudbank - 1 Teal, 1 Shoveler, 3 Lapwing and 40+ Pale-bellied Brent Goose of note.
Here is the stretch of uninspiring hedgerow that sheltered the Ring Ouzel. As you can see it's on a piece of farmland (farmed exclusively for dairy cattle) and it's probably about a mile from the sea (you can just make out Warren Point in the background). I think it's a shame to read online that car-loads of birders are trooping up to Dartmoor to see the well-publicised Emsworthy or Shipley birds (the planet doesn't need the Carbon Dioxide). Imagine if all those birders went and checked their nearest stretch of coastline to try and find their own - it's far more satisfying and just what might get discovered?

The first proper movement of Woodpigeon today. I counted 1500+ in the first couple hours of daylight.

Still at least 40 Pale-bellied Brent Geese with c700+ Dark-bellied birds off Mudbank.

Many of the Wigeon are looking smart now.

Sunday 20 October 2019


When I arrived at Orcombe Point at 0720 it wasn't quite light so my attempts at photographing a hunting Short-eared Owl didn't go well. A little while later, once it was a fair bit lighter, two birds were inadvertently flushed from the dung heap, but my attempts at photographing them were still dreadful...
An enjoyable dawn visit to Orcombe with some northerly in the breeze and overcast conditions before brightening in to a beautiful sunny morning. Totals included my first two Short-eared Owls of the autumn along with my first 'wheezing' Brambling and rattling Mistle Thrush. Also 1+ Reed Bunting, c60+ Pied Wagtail, several Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Skylark, 7+ Chiffchaff, 1 Redwing, 2+ Song Thrush, 30+ Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 7+ Goldcrest, 8+ Chaffinch, c300+ Woodpigeon, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Peregrine, 1 Kestrel, 2 Blackcap, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Swallow, 1 Grey Wagtail, 13+ Starling and 2 Stonechat.
I couldn't find yesterday's Reed Warbler on Warren View playing fields, but a singing male Cirl Bunting was present briefly.

I didn't see any Jackdaw flocks on Orcombe this morning but a flock of about 140 birds went north over the house on my return from this morning's birding.

The first flocks of Woodpigeon went over this morning and they were targeted by at least one Peregrine. My biggest flock was c130 birds which headed south and out to sea.
Good views of some smart drake Pintail off Mudbank this morning.

Saturday 19 October 2019


Clouded Yellow - Orcombe Point. Lots of Red Admiral today as well as a Painted Lady.
Orcombe Point - 0720 - 0900 and again mid-afternoon - 3 Stonechat, 60+ Pied Wagtail, 20+ Chaffinch, several Linnet and Meadow Pipit, 70+ Goldfinch, 4 Chiffchaff, 8+ Goldcrest, c40+ Starling, 3+ Grey Wagtail, 1+ Reed Bunting, 3 Mute Swan, 65+ Jackdaw, 1 Jay, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Peregrine, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Kestrel, 6 Swallow, 1+ Sparrowhawk and a beautiful but all too brief female-type Merlin heading north-west.
Warren View paying fields late afternoon - a late Reed Warbler and a Siskin.

One of three Stonechat on Orcombe today.

Plenty of Jackdaws moving today with c65+ over Orcombe Point and c100+ over the archery club whilst watching Joel play football.

Managed to get this record shot of a fly-over Golden Plover today.

Spotted Flycatcher - Orcombe Point - this bird has been in the Bristol Schools area since last Sunday 13/10.

Reed Warbler - Warren View playing fields. I spent a long time trying to get better views of this little skulker but all the views I had did nothing to suggest a rarer acrocephalus.

Wednesday 16 October 2019


A post-work stroll around Orcombe - 4+ Chiffchaff, 2+ Pied Wagtail, 10 Linnet, c10+ Goldcrest, c100+ Meadow Pipit, c10+ Skylark, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker, Firecrest and Coal Tit.
Off Maer Rocks - 2 Turnstone and 5 Sandwich Tern, and off Mudbank - 15 Pale-bellied Brent Geese.

I think this is probably a Merlin. It was distant and flying away from me but I messed up by taking a photograph before properly grilling it. Any thoughts welcome. I might add by first impression through the bins was Hobby, not Peregrine, but I don't think it's that. I've wrongly called distant Peregrine as Merlin before so I'm under no illusion about how cautious you need to be!

Sunday 13 October 2019

YBW Spot Fly

Better on Orcombe today with Yellow-browed Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, 10+ alba wagtail, 10+ Chiffchaff, 1 Lapwing, 7+ Starling, 1 Snipe, c70/80+ Meadow Pipit, c10/20+ Skylark, c30/40+ Linnet, 3+ Goldcrest, 3+ Swallow, 1 or 2 Blackcap, 6 Curlew, c10+ Blackbird, 3+ Song Thrush and a Mediterranean Gull.
Off Maer Rocks - Red-throated Diver, 3 Sandwich Tern, 12 Common Scoter, 1 Mediterranean Gull and 4 Mute Swan.
High numbers of Brent Geese off Mudbank with a few Pale-bellied birds scattered throughout. Also good numbers of Wigeon and Pintail but neither were counted. I did count 18 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Tufted Duck and yesterday 106 Shelduck, 100+ Pintail, male Gadwall, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Golden Plover (over north), 3 Turnstone, 1 Redshank and the Kingfisher.
On Orcombe yesterday it was Goldcrests that featured with at least 9 recorded but I had several birds around the town and quite a few up on the commons whist walking the dog too.
Off Maer Rocks yesterday - 1 Arctic Skua lingering, 4 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver.

I never have any luck photographing YBWs. This one was typically camera-shy.

Getting late for Spotted Flycatcher now.

Speckled Wood

Thursday 10 October 2019


A nice first-winter Yellow-legged Gull on Orcombe Point this afternoon. Otherwise just 1 Swallow, 1 Chiffchaff and c40/50+ Meadow Pipit. Hardly the deluge of catharus thrushes I was after.
Late yesterday - two or three Common Terns of Shelly Beach.