Wednesday 31 March 2021

WW and Early Purple Orchid

My first Willow Warbler this afternoon, after work, on Orcombe Point.

Couldn't get out 'til after work but a few migrants on Orcombe this afternoon - Willow Warbler, 2 Wheatears, 1 White Wagtail, c20+ Linnet, 5 Swallows, 5 Chiffchaffs, 3 Sand Martins and 2 Blackcaps.
A quick look off Shelly Beach revealed 9 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese.

Just one Early Purple Orchid in flower, but several basal rosettes found in local woodland.

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage

Closer views of a White Wagtail this afternoon.

Lady's Smock - also known as Cuckooflower - Orange-tip foodplant.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Early Forget-me-not

Early Forget-me-not - The Maer - this beautiful little flower is absolutely tiny - just a couple of millimetres across. You'd probably never notice it if you weren't intentionally looking for it, but its intense blue colour helps with locating it.

A quick dawn whiz around Orcombe was disappointingly quiet, with a flyover Yellowhammer the highlight. Just 5 Chiffchaffs, a couple Blackcaps and a handful of Meadow Pipits otherwise. 
Yesterday evening was a little better with 3 White Wagtails and a Wheatear the pick of the bunch, although an ultra-brief fly-through hirundine would have been the star if I'd been able to confirm it as my first Swallow of the year!

Raven - Orcombe Point.

Two of yesterday's three White Wagtails - Orcombe Point.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Moschatel and Golden Plovers

Moschatel - the 'Town Hall Clock' flower - so called because it has four flowers facing outwards, back to back, with a fifth flower on top. None I saw today had all their flowers open, but I was just happy to see some opened up.

Some nice woodland flowers today, on a local dog-walk, but birding limited to early this morning. A sea-watch from the raised beach huts, from 0700 - 0900 (with a quick 20 minute break to look at the dung heap) produced 6 Fulmars, 8 Common Scoters, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Manx Shearwater, 9+ Sandwich Terns, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Guillemot, 1 Razorbill, several auk sp, 1 Great Northern Diver, a lingering flock of 85+ Kittiwakes (with many more south), several Gannets and, unexpectedly, 2 Golden Plovers low over the waves.
Nearby, off Mudbank, 1 Golden Plover, 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and 6 Sandwich Terns. A flock of at least 40 Cattle Egrets was in a cattle herd behind Starcross.

No sunshine today but plenty of Wood Anemones shining out from the dark forest floor.

I think this is Pignut?

A Cornsalad species - Exmouth seafront.

I think this must be Changing Forget-me-not. As always I'd appreciate confirmation or otherwise. This was on the grass bank beneath the raised beach huts.

Saturday 27 March 2021


I've been searching for this for ages. Butcher's-broom has these beautiful little flowers that appear to pop out of the leaf. I found this unusual plant at Mudbank this afternoon.

Orcombe was disappointingly quiet this morning (as usual). I recorded just 2 Wheatears, 4 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap. Very small numbers of Meadow Pipit and Linnet seemed to be on the move. Most unusual was 2 Red-legged Partridge in the Bristol Schools camp.
Off Mudbank just 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls of any note.

I think this might be Sticky Mouse-ear. Confirmation or otherwise would be appreciated. Five slightly notched petals which weren't fully open, low to the ground and hairy.

I'm assuming this is Common Water Crow-foot but I'm not sure it can be separated from similar species with any certainty. Lots of it at Bystock.

At least four Meadow Pipits were feeding in the Bystock meadow this afternoon. A nice distraction whilst searching for violets...

Common Dog-violet - Bystock. I've been really looking forward to these emerging.

Friday 26 March 2021


Osprey - off Mudbank from 0645 this morning. Quite possibly the bird seen by Chris and Helen, yesterday evening at Otterton. Two days later than last year's first bird that I had on the first day of lockdown (24/3).

I managed to squeeze in a quick sea-watch before work this morning. Forty minutes from the raised beach huts produced 14 Manx Shearwaters south, with good numbers of, but un-counted, Gannets and auks. A flock of at least 65 Kittiwakes lingered off Orcombe Point, with others moving south. Also 3 Brent Geese, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Great Northern Diver.
Nearby my first Osprey of the year scattered gulls and Oystercatchers as it hunted distantly off Mudbank.
On 24/3 - off Mudbank - 39 Wigeon, 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 4 Teal, 4 Sandwich Terns and 4 Grey Plovers.

The new sea defence wall, that skirts the Duckpond, is covered in masses of Large White pupae. This one seems ok but many have been parasatised. Beautiful things close-up.

Field Horsetail cones - Duckpond.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Pale-bellied Brents

At least 20 Pale-bellied Brent Geese in with Dark-bellied birds this evening, off Shelly Beach.

 Ring-necked Parakeet - one of four on the Maer this evening. The original group of nine seems to have split, with five birds frequenting the area around Prattshayes Farm, in Maer Valley.

Monday 22 March 2021

WTE tracking

Dr Tim Mackrill, from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, kindly contacted me today following my online submission of Saturday's White-tailed Eagle sighting. The bird I saw was G466 - a female released in 2020. It left the Isle of Wight on Friday afternoon and then took a very leisurely, 100 mile trip along the south coast before I picked it up over Blackhill Quarry, at around 2pm. I alerted birders on the Exe that it was heading their way, but unfortunately it landed shortly afterwards, just north-west of Blackhill where it roosted for the night. It then crossed the Exe on Sunday morning and spent some time at Dawlish Warren and subsequently the river Teign. I'm assuming a bird reported today, over Tamerton Foliot, was the same bird. Below are the maps sent to me by Tim which make for some interesting viewing. The yellow line is not necessarily the exact flight path because there are 15 minutes between each GPS fix.
I was stood at the very northern tip of the pool, on a footpath that skirts the perimeter of the quarry, alerted by the mayhem amongst the gulls that only a very big raptor could induce!

Ash - I think this is the male, petal-less flower, showing purple anthers.

This White Wagtail was with 8 Pied Wagtails on Orcombe this evening. Also recorded, on a brief visit, was 1 Wheatear, 1 Redwing, 1 Snipe, 1 Chiffchaff and a couple Meadow Pipits.
A single Sandwich Tern was off the seafront, shortly after dawn this morning, and 21 Wigeon were off Mudbank this evening.

Sunday 21 March 2021


The pair of Kestrels on Orcombe Point were full of the joys of spring this morning. Fingers crossed they have a good year.

Very little on Orcombe Point this morning but a Purple Sandpiper was with 7 Turnstones on Maer Rocks, and 2 or 3 Great Northern Divers were way off, out in the bay with at least 14 Great Crested Grebes again.

 My first Greater Stitchwort of the spring.

Saturday 20 March 2021


 One of the White-tailed Eagles from the Isle of Wight release scheme flew north over Blackhill Quarry this afternoon. Quite exciting!

Pale Pinion. also trapped last night - 1 Clouded Drab, 10 Common Quaker, 2 Hebrew Character and 6 Early Grey.

Clouded Drab

Variation in Common Quakers.

Hebrew Character

Early Grey

Little Ringed Plover

Four Pale-bellied Brent Geese joined 26 Dark-bellied birds on Maer Rocks. Offshore a count of 14 Great Crested Grebes was made easier by flat calm water.

My first Wheatear of the spring was on the dung heap, on Orcombe Point, this morning. Otherwise very quiet with just 2 Chiffchaffs and a few Pied Wagtails.