Wednesday 29 April 2020

Today's Stuff

From the back garden - 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Swift, 1 Swallow and 12 Whimbrel north. Two Sand Martin went south as did c100/150+ Dunlin and c30+ Bar-tailed Godwit, presumably to roost at the Warren. Oddest sighting was a Bar-headed Goose that flew upriver, shortly after midday, with 2 goose sp (presumed hybrids) - presumably the trio seen on the Teign a few days ago. Other sightings included 1 Grey Plover, 3 Knot, 5 Sanderling, 4+ Whimbrel, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 17+ Sandwich Tern, 1 'commic' tern, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 5 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 1 fs Common Gull. A singing Willow Warbler, in bushes at the back of our house, was the first in a long while.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

After Rain

Quite busy with work today but popped out into the back garden when the rain wasn't too heavy. Waders evidently moving with small flocks of Dunlin probably totalling up to about 50 birds, assuming I was seeing different flocks. One flock at least contained a small number of Ringed Plover. Also 7+ Whimbrel with a high north-bound flock of 13 early evening. The tail end of one spell of rain saw a flock of 23 House Martin move upriver alongside 9 Swallow and a Swift. Otherwise just 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 or 5 Sandwich Tern 1+ Common Gull and 15+ Black-headed Gull. The party of 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 5 Dark-bellied Brent Goose still haven't moved on.

Monday 27 April 2020

Lesser Whitethroat

 Lesser Whitethroat. This male was in song on Orcombe Point this morning - a much appreciated sighting following a blank year in Exmouth, for me at least, last year. In fact the last Lesser Whitethroat I saw was the presumed Siberian bird that wintered in a local garden in 2018. I saw it on February 3rd. Quite why Lesser Whitethroat is so scarce in Exmouth (and Devon in general) is a mystery. They seem to be far more common further east. I can remember the days when a couple pairs bred on Orcombe Point, but for the past decade or so they've very much been a 'hit or miss' species in any given year.
Orcombe deserved more time this morning. Under normal circumstances, on a day like today, I'd try and give it another go later in the day. It wasn't exactly heaving with migrants but I managed to record singles of Yellow Wagtail, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Grey Wagtail. Good numbers of Whitethroat and Blackcap singing too.
Working most of today so not much garden-watching but 5 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 1 Meadow Pipit noted.
Moths were again disappointing with the following recorded: 1 Swallow Prominent, 1 Light Brown Apple Moth, 3 Muslin Moth, 2 Common Pug, 1 Brindled Beauty, 2 Double-striped Pug, 1 Least Black Arches, 1 Rusty Dot Pearl, 1 Knot Grass, 2 Brimstone Moth, 1 Silver Y, 1 Bright-line Brown-eye and 1 Ruddy Streak.

A very recently-fledged male Chaffinch gave me the run-around this morning - calling from an area of pines in a manner very reminiscent of a Crossbill - a repeated loud 'chup' or 'chip' that occasionally accelerated into an excited series of notes, further adding to the Crossbill appeal! Great to see this early success.

Double-striped Pug - until today one of only two of the 52 'lockdown' species not photographed. The other is Twenty-plume Moth.

My second Brindled Beauty of 2020 was just too smart not to photograph.

Sunday 26 April 2020

Yellow-faced Bell

Yellow-faced Bell Notocelia cynosbatella. This common 'micro' is one of the easier ones to identify with its orangey-yellow palps. There are a number of similar confusion species that I really struggle with.
A very disappointing catch last night with 6 Brimstone Moth, 1 Hebrew Character, 1 Yellow-faced Bell, 2 Common Quaker, 2 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Swallow Prominent, 3 Rusty Dot Pearl, 4 Muslin Moth, 1 Garden Carpet and 1 Narrow-winged Grey recorded. I was hoping for a few more moths, under overcast conditions, but I guess it wasn't particularly warm.
Birding from the garden was again very quiet but a Red Kite slowly east at 1112 was good. Otherwise just 2 Swift, 5 Sandwich Tern, 8 Black-headed Gull, 2 House Martin, 1 Mute Swan, 3 Mallard, 1 Grey Heron, 2+ Whimbrel, 7 Dunlin, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Dark-bellied Brent Goose and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose.

Green Woodpecker calls are audible throughout the day from the back garden but the source of all the calls only makes occasional appearances.

Rusty Dot Pearl. For an immigrant species this little micro isn't half regular! Surely established as a breeding species now?

Saturday 25 April 2020

Pale Prominent, Tree Pipit and Sedgie

Pale Prominent

A quick whiz around Orcombe Point, early doors, produced very little but single Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler and Sedge Warbler were noted, along with 3 Whitethroat and about half a dozen Swallow.
Back home it was another non-eventful day with just 5 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Sandwich Tern, 8 Whimbrel, 1 or 2 House Martin and a fly-over Yellow Wagtail noted.
Mothing produced 6 Rusty Dot Pearl, 6 Brimstone Moth, 2 Garden Carpet, 1 Powdered Quaker, 1 Early Grey, 7 Muslin Moth, 3 Early Thorn, 1 Double-striped Pug, 3 Oak-tree Pug, 1 Swallow Prominent, 1 Knot Grass, 4 Light Brown Apple Moth, 1 Pale Prominent, 3 Common Pug, 2 Silver Y, 2 Bright-line Brown-eye, 1 Common Carpet, 1 Lunar Marbled Brown, 1 Narrow-winged Grey, 3 Least Black Arches, 2 Hebrew Character and 1 Nut-tree Tussock.
As the 'new for the year' moths appear I'm photographing them and sticking them on here. I never normally have the time to record all the moths I trap, never mind photograph them. The only new species for me so far this year is Lichen Button Acleris literana. The fifty-one recorded so far during this lockdown period are as follows:
Common Quaker
Small Quaker
Early Grey
Double-striped Pug
Brimstone Moth
Hebrew Character
Lunar Marbled Brown
Muslin Moth
Flame Shoulder
Powdered Quaker
Shuttle-shaped Dart
Narrow-winged Grey (Eeudonia angustea)
Brindled Pug
Early Thorn,
Brown-spot Flatbody (Agnopterix alstromeriana)
Clouded Drab
Pale Mottled Willow
Oak-tree Pug
Water Carpet
Swallow Prominent
Frosted Green
Angle Shades
Brindled Flat-body (Agnopterix arenella
Pine Beauty
Rusty Dot Pearl
Silver Y
Sulphur Tubic (Esperia sulphurella)
Lichen Button (Acleris literana)
Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla)
Lime-speck Pug
Red Twin-spot Carpet
Ruddy Streak (Acroxantha tachystola)
Nut-tree Tussock
Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)
Least Black Arches
Brindled Beauty
Common Slender (Gracillaria syringella)
Iron Prominent
Knot Grass
Bird's-nest Moth (Tinea trinotella)
Bright-line Brown-eye
White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)
Common Marbled Carpet
Common Carpet
Garden Carpet
Pale Prominent
Common Pug

Common Pug above and a different individual below showing variation.

Garden Carpet

Friday 24 April 2020


Last night's moths - 1 Least Black Arches, 5 Hebrew Character, 5 Rusty Dot Pearl, 5 Common Quaker, 1 Clouded Drab, 1 Flame Shoulder, 6 Muslin Moth, 1 Streamer, 2 White-shouldered House Moth, 1 Common Marbled Carpet, 1 Silver Y, 2 Oak-tree Pug, 1 Common Carpet, 1 Ruddy Streak, 1 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 1 Double-striped Pug and 2 Brimstone Moth.

Common Carpet

Common Marbled Carpet

White-shouldered House Moth

Thursday 23 April 2020

Geese and Moths

Four Greylag Geese flew upriver and veered off north-east when they reached Powderham. I recorded a dozen birds off Mudbank back on January 23rd but didn't see a single one in Exmouth last year.
All about the geese today with 5 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 4 Greylag Goose recorded from the back garden. Otherwise disappointingly few migrants after a decent day yesterday - 17+ Sandwich Tern, 2 Dunlin and 2+ Whimbrel making up a very meagre selection for mid-April, though not a great deal of time spent watching today.
Moth numbers were up on the previous night with 6 Brimstone Moth, 1 Early Grey, 1 Early Thorn, 1 Mullein, 3 Common Quaker, 2 Rusty Dot Pearl, 4 Double-striped Pug, 5 Light Brown Apple Moth, 1 Iron Prominent, 1 Cinnabar, 1 Silver Y, 1 Knot Grass, 3 Oak-tree Pug, 2 Hebrew Character, 5 Muslin Moth, 4 Ruddy Streak, 1 Least Black Arches, 1 Bird's-nest Moth (Tinea trinotella), 2 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 1 Bright-line Brown-eye and 1 Flame Shoulder.

Cinnabar Moth

Iron Prominent

Bird's-nest Moth Tinea trinotella

Knot Grass

Bright-line Brown-eye

Male Holly Blue - high numbers of this species around today. Our two Holly bushes proving very popular.

Female Holly Blue - lots of creeping around on the Holly presumably meant this female was looking for suitable places to lay eggs.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Common Slender and Migrants

 Common Slender Gracillaria syringella - a miniscule 'micro' and the most common member of this family (Gracillariidae) that I see.
Scanning from the back garden today produced 3 Hobby (all east on the same line at 1002, 1300 and 1648), 1 Red Kite, 9 Brent Goose, 1 Yellow Wagtail (north), 4 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 2 Linnet, 1 Rook, 7 Mute Swan, 3 Common Gull, just one or two Sandwich Tern and a trickle of hirundines, mostly east, comprising c20+ Swallow and 7 House Martin.
The moth trap contained 2 Double-striped Pug, 4 Light Brown Apple Moth, 1 Silver Y, 1 Rusty Dot Pearl, 1 Common Slender, 2 Nut-tree Tussock, 3 Muslin Moth, 3 Brimstone Moth, 8 Hebrew Character, 1 Angle Shades, 1 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Common Quaker, 1 Ruddy Streak and 1 Early Grey.

Male Light Brown Apple Moth - a common species, originally accidentally introduced from Australia where it is considered a pest.

This Red Kite circled slowly eastwards at 1155 - my first since April 13th. It took pretty much the same line as the Hobbies (today's trio and the previous two) - crossing the river and heading east over open countryside between Lympstone and Exmouth, skirting the northern edge of the town and tracking up towards the East Devon Commons. Where they head once past Exmouth is, of course, anyone's guess.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Little Tern

Spot the Little Tern. I'm very lucky to be able to see species like Little Tern from the back garden but I crave good views and, under normal circumstances, would have shot down to Mudbank to gain a few hundred yards. Actually I'd normally have been looking from Mudbank in the first place, but even from there the birds on Cockle Sands are always pretty distant. Need to get a boat really.
First Little Tern of 2020 for me today. Other migrants included 13 Bar-tailed Godwit (including a number of breeding-plumaged birds), 3 Whimbrel, 25+ Sandwich Tern and another Swift. Also seen were c30+ Black-headed Gull and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull.

Speckled Wood

Monday 20 April 2020

Brindled Beauty and Swift

Brindled Beauty
Migrants from the back garden today included my first Swift (east at 1103) and Common Sandpiper of the year. Also recorded - 25+ Sandwich Tern, 1 Common Tern and 8 Whimbrel. Additionally - 2 Rook, 2 Linnet, 30+ Black-headed Gull, 1 Common Gull, 2 Peregrine and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull.
The moth trap contained 1 Red Twin-spot Carpet, 3 Double-striped Pug, 5 Common Quaker, 6 Hebrew Character, 9 Brimstone Moth, 1 Muslin Moth, 3 Ruddy Streak, 1 V-Pug, 2 Nut-tree Tussock, 4 Early Grey, 1 Narrow-winged Grey, 3 Light Brown Apple Moth, 1 Rusty Dot Pearl, 1 Least Black Arches, 1 Brindled Beauty, 1 Brown-spot Flat-body, and 1 Twenty-plume Moth.

Red Twin-spot Carpet

Nut-tree Tussock

Brown-spot Flat-body Agnopterix alstromeriana


Least Black Arches

Ruddy Streak Tachystola acroxantha

Looking across to Haldon Belvedere late yesterday evening.

Sunday 19 April 2020

White Wags, Hobbys and Lichen Button

White Wagtail
Another quick Orcombe trip early-on produced 4 Wheatear, 1+ Yellow Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 2+ Willow Warbler, 3+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Black-headed Gull, 10+ Swallow, 1 House Martin, 8+ Blackcap, 6+ Chiffchaff and 5+ Whitethroat.
Not much seen from the back garden but 2 Hobbys were the obvious highlight with one high east at 1220 and another following pretty much the same line, but at slightly lower altitude, at 1433. The first bird at least had brown-tinged upperparts so was presumably a first-summer. Both circled a few times as they progressed eastwards.
Overnight mothing produced 2 Rusty Dot Pearl, 3 Early Grey, 9 Brimstone Moth, 4 Double-striped Pug, 4 Hebrew Character, 1 Clouded Drab, 3 Oak-tree Pug, 9 Common Quaker, 1 Mullein, 1 Flame Shoulder, 1 Lichen Button Acleris literana, 1 Twenty-plume Moth, 1 Narrow-winged Grey and 1 Lime-speck Pug.

Presumed female with diffuse border between black nape and grey mantle.

Presumed male - more sharply-demarcated black on nape. The mantle colour is a shade darker than the female's.

Lime-speck Pug

Silver Y - my first this year and, along with two Rusty Dot Pearl, a sign of some moth immigration in progress.

Sulpur Tubic Esperia sulphurella - a hatch of these in the garden today. The larvae feed on dead wood which might explain why they were congregating around our log pile.

Lichen Button Acleris literana. This is a poorly-marked individual of what can be a truly stunning species. The slight greenish hue is a clue to its identity, but I don't think I'd have got there without Barry Henwood's help!

Saturday 18 April 2020

Spring Fall

Male Blue-headed Wagtail.
I'm very fortunate to be able to cycle up to my local patch, Orcombe Point, in about 10 minutes but since lockdown I've largely resisted the urge. Conditions (low cloud and rain) looked too good to ignore this morning though, so I popped up there really early and made zooming around the area today's exercise. A mini fall of migrants included Blue-headed Wagtail, Cuckoo, Garden Warbler, 3 Willow Warbler and 2 Wheatear. I also recorded 5 singing Blackcap, 5 singing Chiffchaff, 1 Meadow Pipit, 35+ Swallow, 5 singing Whitethroat and 3 Sandwich Tern.
Later, from the back garden - 1 Yellow Wagtail, 30+ Swallow and a House Martin went north, and 3 Common Gull, 5+ Black-headed Gull, 15+ Sandwich Tern, 2+ Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot and 1 female Red-breasted Merganser were recorded.
I had to do a shift in college yesterday but managed a scan from the back garden late afternoon which revealed 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gull, 6 Common Gull, 10+ Black-headed Gull, c15+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Grey Plover (sum plum), 6+ Whimbrel, 12 Dunlin, 12+ Sandwich Tern, 3 Mallard, 1 Swallow and a female Red-breasted Merganser.

This is my third Blue-headed Wagtail on Orcombe but the smartest by far. I've seen bluer-headed individuals over the years but I guess the intensity of colour depends to a degree on light conditions, and this morning's murkiness didn't exactly do anything to enhance matters. Nevertheless it was a gorgeous bird that really brightened up my day.

Garden Warbler is one of a long list of migrants that I wasn't sure I'd record this year. This male was in full song when I first picked it up. Shortly afterwards a Cuckoo landed on a fence post before being instantly harangued by a crow. I should check old records but I'm pretty sure it's only the third one I've ever seen within the Exmouth parish boundary!

At least 5 male Whitethroats back on territory this morning. None cooperating fully for the camera but they tend to get much more bold as the spring progresses.

Tonnes of Green-winged Orchids are in bloom at the moment.