Wednesday 27 November 2019

Purple Sandpipers

Seven Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks this evening and 3 Common Scoter offshore. Off Mudbank - 132 Turnstone, 12 Grey Plover and a Greenshank. A Ring-necked Parakeet was seen over Maer Valley, from the car, and late on Monday evening a Great Northern Diver was upriver from Mudbank.

Seven Purple Sandpipers was last winter's peak count. Fingers crossed this little flock increases in number this winter.

Sunday 24 November 2019

Off Patch

The Long-tailed Duck in near darkness, early this morning, on Bowling Green - I had a look at it on my way to Countess Wear. I'm banking on it moving to the south end of the river some time soon. I've not seen one in Exmouth since early 2018.
I usually have a look at the Old Sludge Beds around this time of year but it was disappointing with very few crests and chiffies found. In an hour or two I recorded just 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Redwing, 9 Fieldfare, 7 Cetti's Warbler, 7+ Goldcrest, 8 Gadwall, 9 Teal, 2 Wigeon, 2 Jay, 2 Raven, 1 Mistle Thrush and 3 Water Rail, along with a few other bits and pieces. Gone are the days when Siberian Chiffchaff was pretty much guaranteed at this time of year. Haven't seen one for ages.
Back home in Exmouth - 40 Pale-bellied Brent Geese off Mudbank along with 1 Kingfisher, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Goldeneye. A dog-walk along the cycle path mid-afternoon produced a fly-over Cirl Bunting between West Lodge and Mudbank.

Whenever I visit Countess Wear I always stop a while to look at this narrow stretch of water within the water treatment works. There are only a couple of spots along the tow-path where you can see it, but most of it is hidden. I'd love to know what has been in there over the years. It's a brilliant spot for Gadwall and in early 2008 I re-found the returning drake Falcated Duck in there. I'm sure it has harboured several Bitterns over the years. In April 1999 I found a first-summer Night heron from this very spot. In all the years I've been checking it I don't think I've ever bumped in to another birder.

Drake Gadwall - only 8 seen today but I've had much higher numbers over the years.

There's some lovely habitat in the DWT sludge beds but the roar of traffic from the M5 motorway bridge takes the edge off the enjoyment of birding it.

I watched Countess Wear far more regularly when I lived in Exeter. It was always famous for its pylon-roosting Cormorants so it was nice to see a few birds continuing that tradition today. The wet riverside fields below these pylons used to be fantastic for wintering Water Pipits but not any more. Those same wet bits also played host to the 1981/82 Hudsonian Godwit - sadly not on my Devon list.

This Grey Heron was so pre-occupied with watching passing rowers on Exeter Canal that it didn't clock me sneaking up on it. I rarely get this close to this stunning species.

I heard at least seven Cetti's Warblers on my stroll this morning but this was one of only two that I actually saw. I've yet to photograph one in Exmouth and I haven't seen the West Lodge bird on subsequent visits, though I strongly suspect it's still there.

Saturday 23 November 2019


Berry Head from Orcombe Point late afternoon.

Another grey and very wet day to hamper my photography efforts. Little time out but managed to record 150+ Shelduck, 20+ Great Crested Grebe, c20+ Pale-bellied Brent Geese and at least 1 Goldeneye off Mudbank.
Just before dark on Orcombe Point - c1/200+ Starling, 1 Mediterranean Gull, c12+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Chiffchaff, 6+ Goldcrest and 2 Firecrest. Sixteen Common Scoter were loafing offshore.

Tuesday 19 November 2019


You'll have to take my word for it but top right of this picture are two of five Avocets that were about half a mile off Mudbank just before dark this evening. A scarce bird this end of the river - these are the first I've seen in Exmouth this year. At the bottom of the picture - four of 13 Pale-bellied Brent Geese present.

Sunday 17 November 2019

Thrushes and Cetti's Warbler

Kestrel - Orcombe Point.

Still very little going on but a few more thrushes around today with 18 Fieldfare and a Redwing dropping in to gardens opposite our house this morning.
Blackbirds seemed conspicuous on Orcombe Point with 20+ recorded, along with at least 6 Song Thrushes. Otherwise just 20+ Chaffinch, 3 Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest and a handful of Meadow Pipits noted, with 4 Common Scoter offshore.
Just before dark this evening I discovered a Cetti's Warbler in the small West Lodge reedbed. I think I'm right in saying that it's my first in Exmouth since the cold snap of winter 2010/11.

November Moth agg.

Greenshank - Mudbank.

Saturday 16 November 2019


Little to report today but the most notable sighting was a female Common Scoter off Mudbank before moving further upriver. Also 2 Goldeneye, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Grey Wagtail and 2 Teal along with the usual stuff.

Friday 15 November 2019

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting - Gore Lane - 13/11. In the same spot as last winter's wintering trio which first turned up on 11/11/18 so possibly one of the same birds.

Saturday 9 November 2019


Orcombe Point at dawn this morning - feels very wintery at the moment.
Maer Rocks this morning - 1 Red-throated Diver, 9 Turnstone and my first Purple Sandpiper of the autumn.
Good numbers of waders off Mudbank at the moment with c150/200+ Dunlin, 90+ Redshank, 8 Grey Plover, 5 or 6 Knot, 80+ Turnstone, 1 Greenshank and a few Curlew. Also my first Goldeneye of the autumn and 9+ Red-breasted Merganser, along with the usual flocks of Wigeon, Pintail, Mallard and Brent Geese.

A bit of a free-for-all in the Duck Pond this afternoon with kite-surfers and wind-surfers taking advantage of the lack of wardens and ploughing into the restricted area (right of the yellow buoys). Not too surprising to see everything panicked and flushed.

Late yesterday afternoon on Orcombe - 2 Stonechat, 2 Snipe and 4 Song Thrush logged on a quick whiz-round.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Richard's Pipit

A Richard's Pipit with a small Skylark flock this evening on Orcombe Point. I was able to get out for half an hour between work and darkness and I picked this bird up on call - a strident, hoarse 'bzzeeeip'. - reminiscent of House Sparrow but not quite the same. It flushed from the big grass field at the top of Gore Lane and flew around with Skylarks calling. It did the whole 'hover drop' routine before landing and flushed a second time before moving to the adjacent field where I left it, not long before dark. My record shots are the usual terrible standard but at least show the wagtail-like profile with long tail relative to body.
This is my third on Orcombe but a nice shot of one on the deck remains an ambition. Interestingly my last was two years ago to the day - 5/11/17.

Wagtail-like profile. Blyth's would show a more Meadow Pipit-like profile.

Size comparison with Skylark on the left.

Saturday 2 November 2019

Awful Weather Awful Photos

Very Strong winds and heavy rain battered Exmouth seafront today but the birding was disappointing.

Lots of quick checks around the river and seafront today, in a bid to stay dry and pick up some storm-blown species. No phalaropes, skuas or petrels but off Maer Rocks - 16+ Common Scoter, 1 Eider, 1 Scaup, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull, 4 Turnstone and an adult Little Gull. Otherwise just a few distant Gannet, a few auks and a diver sp that was probably Great Northern.
A few checks of the relatively sheltered 'Duck Pond', off the leisure centre, produced 1 first-winter Little Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Mediterranean Gull, c15+ Turnstone, 4+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 40+ Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 3+ Great Crested Grebe and 5 Redwing over.
A Firecrest was with at least 3 Goldcrest in sallows alongside the Maer long-stay carpark.
The Water Pipit was still on the dung heap on Thursday and a quick zoom around before dark revealed c10+ Song Thrush and 6+ Goldcrest. Yesterday a similarly-timed run-around produced 2 Snipe and a Reed Bunting.

Female-type Scaup (second from left) with three Common Scoter - my first in Exmouth this year.

Drake Eider - off Maer Rocks.

A first-winter Little Gull battles in to the wind across the Duck Pond.

 Great Northern Diver - Duck Pond (off the leisure centre).

The Water Pipit was still on the dung heap on Thursday October 31st but I couldn't find it after work yesterday and I haven't checked the area today.

Firecrest - Maer long-stay Carpark.

Still at least 40 Pale-bellied Brent Geese in with the Dark-bellied birds.

One of two first-winter Mediterranean Gulls off the Leisure Centre.