Sunday 29 November 2020


Blackcap - Manor Gardens. Another male was nearby, along Madeira Walk.

Pleased to find my first Thorn-apple plant this afternoon, alongside the estuary.

Black Redstart - Shelly Beach.

Saturday 28 November 2020

Bits and Pieces

Sunrise from Maer Rocks this morning.

Off Mudbank this afternoon - 4 Shoveler, 9 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Peregrine, 15 Ringed Plover, 3 Grey Plover and at least 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose amongst the usual fare.

Earlier - 2 Firecrest, 2 Ring-necked Parakeet, 6 Redwing and a Chiffchaff in Maer Valley. Nearby, 3 Ring-necked Parakeet in the Maer Long-stay carpark and a female-type Black Redstart on the roof of the United Reformed church (Exeter Road).

On Thursday the drake Eider was off Mudbank.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Close but no Cigar

I picked this Teal out, in near darkness, after work this evening, but what jumped out at me was the near-vertical white flank stripe! Sadly it's not quite in the right place for Green-winged Teal, but it's close! Other features, most notably the lateral white scapular stripe, confirm it's just a Teal. A small white mark is present on its left-hand side.

Sunday 22 November 2020

Selected Counts

Four of at least seventeen Great Crested Grebes off Mudbank this afternoon.

Off the seafront today - 2 Red-throated Divers, 1 Great Northern Diver and the drake Eider. On Maer Rocks - 7 Purple Sandpipers, 7+ Turnstones, and 17 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Nearby, in the Maer Long-stay carpark - 5 Ring-necked Parakeets.

Shelly Beach area - Slavonian Grebe and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers (off Cockwood), male and female-type Black Redstart plus a flock of c40 Black-tailed Godwit flying upriver.

Mudbank/Leisure Centre - 365+ Pintail, 1 Teal, 17 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Greenshank, 13 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Kingfishers, 60+ Shelduck, 290+ Dunlin, 6 Grey Plovers, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, and 90+ Redshank. Additionally, a Firecrest was in scrub at the Lympstone end of the cycle path and a Stonechat was at West Lodge.

Greenshank (with Wigeon and Common Gull) - Mudbank.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Marsh Tit!!

Well, it's only taken 11 years but, at last, I've seen a Marsh Tit in Exmouth! This bird was calling frequently but a devil to see, in dense undergrowth along Wright's Lane, which runs along the top of Bystock. It feels like it's been coming though. Back in the summer I heard a bird just outside the Exmouth boundary, at Squabmoor. Shortly afterwards, in conversation with Roger and Liz Hamling, I learned that they were occasionally seen on the Bystock Reserve. This afternoon I put a bit of time in and was rewarded. I should point out though that over the years I've searched Bystock thoroughly, without success, always perplexed by their absence in seemingly perfect habitat. Perhaps I've just been unlucky or maybe they're bouncing back!

This Firecrest was feeding in a Laurel hedge along Wright's Lane. I'm fairly confident that a thorough search of suitable habitat in the area would reveal many more. The Bystock area produced at least seven earlier in the year. Several Goldcrests, Coal Tits, Redwings, a Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Sparrowhawk were also noted along Wright's Lane.

Feathered Thorn. Also trapped last night - Beaded Chestnut, Silver Y, December Moth, Pearly Underwing, Mottled Umber, 3 Rusty Dot Pearl, c10 Southern Bell (Crocidosema plebejana) and 1 Light Brown Apple Moth.

Beaded Chestnut

Silver Y

Mottled Umber

Southern Bell

Pearly Underwing - a scarce immigrant species but one I've trapped a few times before.

A quick look at the top fields on Orcombe produced 2 Stonechat, c10 Meadow Pipit, c30+ Linnet, 4 Snipe, 2 Kestrel and 16+ Skylark.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Today's Stuff

Juvenile Mute Swans seem to have been very thin on the ground this autumn, so it was nice to see this one in the Duck Pond.

Again very little to report but nice to get out between the showers. Seven Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks and 2 Black Redstarts in the Shelly beach area, mainly in gardens bordering the 'Gut', were the highlights. Otherwise a decent wader flock off Mudbank late this afternoon contained 300+ Dunlin, 15+ Redshank and 90+ Turnstone. Other bits and bobs included 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese in the Duck Pond, adult Mediterranean Gull off Mudbank and 2 Ringed Plover off the Imperial.

Meadow Pipit - Imperial recreation ground.

Turnstone - Imperial recreation ground.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese - the Duck Pond.

Black Redstart - this female-type was flighty and mobile around the 'Gut', at one point getting on the roof of the Exe Cafe before whizzing over to the Imperial recreation ground.

Yesterday's male Black Redstart was again present in exactly the same spot as yesterday but the light was a bit better.

Saturday 14 November 2020

Black Redstart

Maisie's 18th birthday today! Happy birthday Mais! She won't read this. Snuck out for a few minutes but the weather was horrendous. Highlight was a smart male Black Redstart in gardens around Shelly Beach - picked up on call, and at least 3 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks. Otherwise an adult Mediterranean Gull off Mudbank and the Great Northern Diver was off there yesterday.

Yellow-line Quaker. I set the trap earlier in the week - on 9th/10th - 1 Feathered Ranunculus, 2 Red-green Carpet, 16 Rusty Dot Pearl, 3 Light Brown Apple, 1 Common Plume, 1 Olive-tree Pearl (Palpita vitrealis), 8 Crocidosema plebejana, 2 Silver Y, 1 Autumnal Moth agg, 1 Double-striped Pug, 2 Yellow-line Quaker and 1 Spruce Carpet.
On 10th/11th - 2 Light Brown Apple, 7 Rusty Dot Pearl, 1 Angle Shades, 1 Red-line Quaker, 5 Crocidosema plebejana, 2 Silver Y, 1 Feathered Thorn, 1 Yellow-line Quaker, 1 Feathered Ranunculus, 1 Vine's Rustic, 2 Autumnal Moth agg and 1 Double-striped Pug.

Brent Goose - Imperial Rugby Club.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Radford's Flame Shoulder

Radford's Flame Shoulder - trapped last night in Budleigh by Nick. I've been hoping to see this species for some time now. The place to see them is Portland but over the last few years they've been expanding their range, so it felt like it was only a matter of time, and I predicted that Nick would be the first to strike gold! Many thanks Nick!

Three hours walking around Orcombe, from dawn, produced at least 19 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare, 9+ Song Thrush, c20 Blackbird, 16+ Chaffinch, just 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Lapwing, 2 Siskin, 12 Goldfinch, 8 Snipe, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 12+ Goldcrest, 4 Stonechat, 10+ Pied Wagtail, c70 Starling, 1 Redpoll, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Brent Goose, 8 Curlew, 1 Jay and 1 Ring-necked Parakeet.

Off Mudbank - 2 Avocet (very scarce this end of the river), 1 Great Northern Diver, 60 Redshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 8 Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 10 Teal amongst the usual stuff.

A clear little arrival of thrushes overnight included at least 9 Song Thrushes. All were typically skulking but this one perched up for a few seconds. Even then it wasn't easy to see.

Saturday 7 November 2020


Some good Exmouth birds off Mudbank today. This Lapwing headlined but the autumn's first Goldeneye, 2 drake Tufted Ducks, 3 Shoveler, at least 5 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Teal, 9 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 8 Sanderling were all noteworthy. Also today - 50+ Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Kingfisher, small numbers of Dunlin and good numbers of Turnstone, Pintail, Wigeon and Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Great Northern Diver - Mudbank

Two Kingfishers showed exceptionally well between the leisure centre and Mudbank today. At one point both birds flew inches above the pavement and inches from me as I stood with the scope.

Thursday 5 November 2020

Large Pipit sp x 3

Twice on this same date (2019 and 2017) I've recorded Richard's Pipit on Orcombe Point. With just an hour of daylight to spare I headed up there after work, this afternoon, figuring that statistically it was highly unlikely I'd ever see this species again on this date. It was therefore a bit of a shock, within minutes of getting out of the car, to hear the House Sparrow-like 'Bzeeip' of a Richard's Pipit! I picked the source of the call up very quickly and was astonished to see not one but three birds flying around. I photographed them in the few seconds they were on view before they flew off towards Maer Valley, and I couldn't relocate them before dark.
On reviewing the photos I'm pretty confident they are just Richard's Pipits but I don't think I can 100% rule out the much rarer Blyth's Pipit (however unlikely that may be), especially as in some of the photos the birds don't appear terribly long-tailed. The call was very House Sparrow-like and described in my notebook as a fairly hard, clipped 'bzeeip', but it concerns me that it didn't instantly register as Richard's (like previous birds have) so I think I have to be cautious. I would of course welcome any opinions if anything at all can be gleaned from my rubbish photos.

The three birds together.

 It looks quite long-tailed in this photo, perhaps more suggestive of Richard's Pipit?

The last three mornings have seen big numbers of Woodpigeon on the move. I haven't counted them but have enjoyed the spectacle, from the back garden with a cuppa, before work.

Rook, Lapwing, Mistle Thrushes and Siskins have all been noted whilst watching the Woodpigeons.