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.


  1. Lovely result, Matt. It's quite a few years since I last saw a BH Wag, very briefly and unsatisfactorily on Colyford Marsh. I look forward to another!

  2. Hi Gav - many thanks - don't think you'll be picking Blue-h Wag up 'noc-migging' which, btw, I'm enjoying reading about on your blog. Stay safe. Matt