Friday 31 January 2020

Shelly Beach

An hour before dark, after work - 1 Red-necked Grebe (above) still, the Slavonian Grebe, 5+ Great Crested Grebe, 10+ Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Goldeneye, 50+ Great Black-backed Gull, 4+ Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 Mute Swan.
On the way to work this morning - a Blackcap at the end of Belle Vue Road, possibly the same bird that I saw earlier in the month.
Didn't see the RnG yesterday but the male Black Redstart was found feeding beneath a car of all places!

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Sun pm

The Red-necked Grebe was again present off Shelly Beach this afternoon. Quite a few people caught up with it today. At least 20 Cattle Egret were on the mud north of Starcross late afternoon and both Black Redstarts performed in the sunshine around the apartments.
Off Maer Rocks this afternoon - 7 Turnstone, 8 Purple Sandpipers and 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

RnG Still

Couldn't get better shots of the Shelly Beach Red-necked Grebe this afternoon but nice to get it wing-flapping. It showed continuously, between dives, amongst the buoys from around 1530 - 1630 at least. I would have stayed longer to watch the gulls coming in but my hands were so numb with cold that I chickened out. Want to make the most of watching this beautiful bird whilst it stays.

Hard enough to photograph without a freezing, cold wind driving icy rain straight in to your face!

Monday 27 January 2020

Red-necked Grebe

I popped down to Shelly Beach this afternoon, after work, primarily to look through the gulls coming in to roost on Bull Hill. This Red-necked Grebe was a very pleasant surprise, being the first I've seen in Exmouth since January 18th 2014! There's no question it's a very scarce bird in these parts these days - gone the same way as many formerly quite regular species. I watched it, joined by Derek and Dave, until nearly dark. It was never close but scope views were more than adequate. The Slavonian Grebe was fishing off Starcross with a Great Crested Grebe and a small number of Red-breasted Mergansers were present. Otherwise a Peregrine over with a wader 'kill' and at least 25 Cattle Egrets gathered on a mud-spit north of Starcross.
Yesterday I reckon there were 32 Cattle Egrets on the aforementioned mud-spit, late afternoon, and 10+ Lesser Back-backed Gulls were on Bull Hill. Earlier, just after dawn, 3 Red-throated Divers flew in to the bay past Orcombe Point and 1 Common Scoter was off there. A flock of 35 Curlew flew over towards Maer Valley.
My favourite of the grebes but sadly one I rarely see. Just love the dark crown, white cheeks and dusky neck contributing to a distinctive jizz, even at range.

Saturday 25 January 2020


Four Red-breasted Mergansers watched feeding and occasionally displaying off Shelly Beach this afternoon.

A few spots checked today. At least 500 Brent Geese were still on the river at dawn. Not a lot else seen though with just 2 Goldeneye, 8 Wigeon, 80+ Curlew and 30+ Common Gull noted. Nearby the male Black Redstart was in the Shelly Beach area, keeping low in the cold, damp conditions and located on call.
The Littleham stubbles produced 15 Snipe and at least 8 Skylark, and in Maer Valley I found two more Firecrests, taking the total found in Exmouth to at least 13 since the start of the month. Four Chiffchaffs and 2 Goldcrests were also feeding along the stream near the farm.
Not much birding done during the week but on 23/1 there were 12 Greylag Geese (my first in Exmouth in over a year) on the river prior to dusk and on 22/1 - 5 Goldeneye (2 males), 10+ Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Greenshank, 5 Pintail, 135+ Curlew and 13 Redshank.
Late on 21/1 c60+ Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Teal were on Cockle Sands and on 20/1 the same stretch of sand produced 12 Ringed Plover and 8 Teal.

Sunday 19 January 2020


Sundog over the Exe on yesterday's afternoon dog-walk.

It has been a cold but still and beautiful weekend, with ice under foot in the mornings and blue sky dawn 'til dusk.
Maer Rocks first thing, in flat-calm conditions, produced 36 Brent Geese, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 4+ Turnstone and 48 Curlew over to feed in Maer Valley. Nearby on Orcombe Point - the female Cirl Bunting, 20+ Skylark, c20/30+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Linnet - the latter my first in Exmouth this year and a strong indication, along with an increase in Skylark and Meadow Pipit, that the cold weather has forced a few species to move. Really nice to meet John and Sally this morning.
The Littleham stubble fields held 25+ Snipe, 6 Skylark and c20+ Redwing.
There was a good number of waders on show today - totals from both Mudbank and Shelly Beach today included 98+ Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank, 45+ Turnstone, between 500 and 1000 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover, 16+ Sanderling, 6 Redshank, c80 Curlew and, best of all, a lone Lapwing! Also off Mudbank - 5 Goldeneye (2 males), 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Kingfisher and 60+ Shelduck.
At least three Firecrest were found along Madeira Walk this afternoon and the two Black Redstarts showed well in the Shelly Beach area.
Yesterday I found a flock of at least 15 Lesser Redpoll feeding with 4 Bullfinch on the Bystock reserve. Also 1 Snipe, 1 Firecrest and 3 Moorhen.
Off Mudbank yesterday - 8 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 male Goldeneye, 1 Greenshank, 38 Common Gull, 7 Grey Plover, 3 Redshank, 1 Peregrine, 8 Wigeon and 37 Mallard.
A last-ditch evening look at Woodbury Common yesterday revealed just 1 Brambling amongst several Chaffinch flying over to roost.

One of at least 15 Lesser Redpoll at Bystock yesterday. A pale-rumped individual but note the orange-buff wash to face. Pointed tail feathers indicate first-winter.

One of at least three Firecrests - Madeira Walk.

Black Redstart - Shelly Beach - the two birds again present this afternoon. If you want to see these birds you can't beat sunny, still conditions!

Friday 17 January 2020


The two Kingfishers that were getting off Mudbank at the end of last year seem to have vacated the area. Perhaps this bird, that was in the marina this afternoon, is one of them. Either way it's the first one I've seen in Exmouth this year.
Off Shelly Beach late this afternoon - a small grebe off Starcross, which was almost certainly the Slav, and at least twenty Cattle Egrets gathered on a mud-spit just north of Starcross. Otherwise this week has been a very busy one work-wise, though a Blackcap just down the road, on Monday as I walked to work, was noteworthy.

Sunday 12 January 2020


Two Mistle Thrushes, 5 Fieldfare and 11 Redwing on the Archery Club playing fields this morning. It's difficult to catch up with winter thrushes at the moment. Mild weather generally keeps them away. Also three Raven and a Stock Dove over but otherwise quiet.
Eleven Red-throated Divers flew in to the bay past Orcombe Point shortly after dawn this afternoon. Off Mudbank - 25 Pintail, 12 Great Crested Grebe and 41 Wigeon.

Adult Mediterranean Gull in with the cattle along Gore Lane this afternoon. Nearby - a single soggy stubble field in Littleham yielded 30+ Snipe and at least 4 Skylark. A single Kestrel was hunting over the very tip of Straight Point firing range.

Saturday 11 January 2020

Common Stuff

Three Bullfinches in hedges around West Lodge late yesterday afternoon. Also 1 Mistle Thrush there.

Maer Rocks just after dawn - 3 Red-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter and a Fulmar.
Off Mudbank - 34 Pintail, 54 Wigeon and a Greenshank.
Shelly Beach - 2 Mediterranean Gull, 5 Red-breasted Merganser, 15+ Shag, 1 Great Northern Diver and a probable Merlin low across the estuary towards Starcross, at one point perching on the back of a small boat.
Yesterday off Mudbank - 3 Goldeneye (2 males) and 2 Cattle Egrets distantly, just north of Starcross.
On Wednesday (8/1) at least 18 Cattle Egrets were perched on wrecks just north of Starcross, viewed from Mudbank, and 114 Wigeon, 9 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Teal, 6 Pintail, 1 Greenshank and a drake Goldeneye were logged.

Pale-collared Jackdaw - Littleham. Probably within variation of the local population.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Seven Firecrests

Firecrest - St John's Road. At least seven Firecrests present in the Bystock area today. I strongly suspect there are more. At least five were within the Bystock reserve itself and two more were not far outside it, at the top of St John's Road. Also at Bystock - 9+ Goldcrest, 5/10+ Lesser Redpoll, c10+ Redwing and 5+ Nuthatch amongst a load of the usual woodland stuff. Looking great up there at the moment!
Maer Rocks - 0820 - 0845 in flat-calm conditions - 55+ Brent Goose, 7 Turnstone, 6+ Purple Sandpiper, 6 Red-throated Diver, 1 female Eider (Pole Sands), 1 Knot, 3 Great Crested Grebe and ten Curlew.
A scan from the tip of Orcombe Point produced a further 6+ Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Common Scoter, 20+ auk sp, 1 Razorbill and 5+ Kittiwake. In the bushes - 9 Long-tailed Tit with 1 Goldcrest.
Selected Mudbank counts included 53 Mallard, 1 Teal, 25+ Pintail, 74 Wigeon, 121 Shelduck, 8 Great Crested Grebe, 10 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Greenshank, 1 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 54 Turnstone, 1 male Goldeneye and 108 Curlew.

Saturday 4 January 2020

Black Red

The male Black Redstart was still in the Shelly Beach area today. Off Mudbank - two drake Goldeneye, 1 Greenshank, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 13 Teal, c100 Wigeon and 25+ Pintail. Just after first light I scoped 13 or 14 Cattle Egrets perched on a wreck, just north of Starcross. Later this afternoon, from Shelly Beach, a small number of birds was again watched amongst the cattle herd between Cockwood and Starcross .

Friday 3 January 2020


Spent quite a bit of time out and about today and walked miles, but didn't stray beyond the Exmouth boundary. First thing off Maer Rocks - 2 Red-throated Divers, 6 Wigeon, 29 Curlew and 8 Brent Geese.
Off Mudbank - 59 Mallard, 11 Pintail, 7 Wigeon, 6 Redshank and 2 Peregrine.
Bystock - 2 Firecrest, 1+ Lesser Redpoll, 1+ Siskin, 7 Nuthatch, c10+ Coal Tit, 2+ Jay, 2 Green Woodpecker, 3 Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Moorhen, 7 Mallard, 1+ Redwing and a Bullfinch amongst other stuff.
The Cirl Bunting was with 4 Rock Pipits on the dung heap at the top of Gore Lane, and nearby in Maer Valley - at least 3 Ring-necked Parakeets, c40 Pied Wagtail and 3 Little Egret.
Finally, at least nine Cattle Egrets in the usual cow field between Starcross and Cockwood, viewed from Shelly Beach late afternoon.

One of two or three Jays - Bystock.

One of two Firecrests showing well in Holly bushes beside Bystock Pool.

Stonechat - Sandy Bay.

Thursday 2 January 2020

Bearded Tits

Ten of sixteen Redshank off Mudbank this morning.
Today's highlight came late on. A text from Dave Boult (thanks again Dave) was enough to encourage me out of Exmouth for the first time this year! Five Bearded Tits in reeds beside Topsham Lock were visible from the slipway in Topsham. It has been a good few years since I've seen this species, so it was a joy to watch three males and two females energetically bending the reeds as the afternoon light faded.
Nearby - Bowling Green was heaving with wildfowl but neither Dave, Kev nor I could pick out the LBD, though it was apparently present earlier in the day. Best birds were drake and female Pochard. Great to spend a bit of time with Dave and Kev though.
I had a 25 minute look off Maer Rocks from first light. Six Red-throated Divers flew in to the bay but apart from 2 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a handful of Gannets and 6 Kittiwakes it was quiet.
Mudbank was considerably busier with 16 Redshank, 170 Dunlin, 7 Canada Geese, 1 Peregrine, 3 Pintail, 33 Wigeon, 380+ Brent Geese, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 112 Shelduck, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 39 Mallard and 2 Mediterranean Gulls recorded. At least 8 Cattle Egret were scoped in the cattle herd between Starcross and Cockwood.

Second-winter Mediterranean Gull - Mudbank.

Red-ringed (Polish?) Mediterranean Gull - PNJ2 - Mudbank.

Yes I know it's an appalling shot but it's the first time a photo of a Bearded Tit has appeared on this blog so it's a bit of a novelty for me. It was photographed from across the river in fading light. Scope views were of course better!

Blackbird - Littleham. Walked the dog along the cycle track with Maisie this afternoon. Very little about in dull and windy conditions.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

New Year's Day

Grey Wagtail - Maer Valley - feeding in a muddy patch at the entrance to a field, along with 12 Pied Wagtail, 5 Meadow Pipit, 1 Chiffchaff and 3 Little Egret. Also in Maer Valley this afternoon - c30/40+ Redwing, 1 Jay and a second Chiffchaff.
A little bit of birding today when not taxiing the kids around in the fog. A single Firecrest in Liverton Copse, 9 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks, the Cirl Bunting around the dung heap and the Slavonian Grebe from Shelly Beach were the highlights . Otherwise 50+ Dunlin, 5 Grey Plover, 6 Redshank, 42 Mallard and 26 Wigeon off Mudbank.

My highest 2019 Purple Sandpiper count was seven, so it was a very pleasant surprise to get nine this afternoon.

Cormorant, Shag and Paddle-boarders - Maer Rocks.