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.


  1. Just catching up with some of your recent posts Matt. Think Lesser Whitethroat is more common in the south-east & certainly an arrival in the London area last weekend. I had 3 singing birds on my patch on Sunday- the first two well hidden but the last singing in the open on a dead branch in a tall hedge. Magical day with my first patch Nightingale in full song (not seen but hidden about 3 metres in dense cover) while a Cuckoo was calling in the distance.

    Your pug looks pretty faded but smart Brindled Beauty. I'm missing the mothing due to the lockdown.

  2. Hi Neil - good to hear from you. Hope you're keeping well. It's strange that Lesser Whitethroats are so much more common your way. Envious of the Nightingale too - they're a really scarce bird in the south-west nowadays although I'm old enough to remember them being regular breeders at Chudleigh Knighton Heath and even a couple sites on the outskirts of Exeter. Cuckoos are pretty much confined to high ground such as Dartmoor in Devon although we had birds on the East Devon Commons last year and they're generally not as difficult to see as Lesser Whitethroats! All the best. Matt