Friday 30 April 2021


Good numbers of Sandwich Terns have been off the seafront, and in the estuary, the last three days.

A quick look at Orcombe after work, this afternoon, produced 4 Wheatears and a handful of Swallows, but the clear highlight was my first Grasshopper Warbler of the year, inadvertently flushed from lush vegetation at the base of a hedge, and showing briefly in the hedge before nervously dropping back down into cover.
First thing this morning, from Maer Rocks, 1 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 8 Whimbrel, 2 Canada Geese, 16 Sandwich Terns, 1 Shelduck, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 24 Shag.
Yesterday - Maer Rocks - 45+ Sandwich Terns and 1 Whimbrel. Mudbank - 26 Sandwich Terns, 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 3 Dunlin, 20 Whimbrel and a Willow Warbler. Orcombe - 5 Wheatear and 12+ Swallow.
On 28/4 - No luck with the Little Terns, after a long day at work, but 65+ Sandwich Terns and 4 Black-headed Gulls off Mudbank, at dusk.

The Green-winged Orchids are about at their best at the moment. Not a huge amount of variation in colour but both pink and white forms photographed this afternoon.

First-summer Lesser Black-backed Gull - Mudbank.

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Y Wag and Swifts

Orcombe first thing - my first Yellow Wagtail flew north. Otherwise - 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Wheatears, 2 Meadow Pipits and 7 Whitethroats (six singing males on territory).
Off Mudbank - 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 9 Great Crested Grebes. Also saw my first 2 Swifts in Exmouth (had one over Broadclyst yesterday evening, watching Joel play football) from the back garden.

Thrift - Orcombe Point

Kidney Vetch

Bird Cherry - I think...

This male Reed Bunting, at West Lodge, was in suitable breeding habitat. Having said that there was no sign of a female, and despite passing the reedbed several times in recent weeks I've not heard singing. Reckon it's just passing through...

I've no clue what this stunning little flower is. I found it on the Maer. Leaves look Restharrow'ish but the flower doesn't seem right for that. Presumably a member of the Pea family but I can't place it.

Horse Chestnut flowers are starting to come out just now and they look gorgeous.

Orange-tip on Greater Stitchwort.

Fiery sky last night - looking across the Exe from the back garden.

Sunday 25 April 2021

Common Tern

Linnets are normally a devil to get close to on Orcombe, but three birds kept landing close to me this morning, making them impossible to ignore...

Today's most notable sighting was my first Common Tern of the year. It was offshore with at least 15 Sandwich Terns. A thirty-five minute sea-watch (0605 - 0640) also yielded 3 Great Northern Divers, 1 Whimbrel, 3 Shelduck and a Fulmar.
Nearby on Orcombe - just 2 Wheatear, 3 Whitethroats and my first House Martin of the year (east).
A quick look off Mudbank, before returning home for breakfast, produced 30+ Whimbrel, 16 Sandwich Terns, 6 Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, 1 Mallard, 1 Black-headed Gull, 3 Swallows and 12 House Martins, across the river, north-east.

I took mum for a drive up on Dartmoor today. We couldn't have asked for better weather.

These little round flowers look more like berries, but this is the flower of the Bilberry!


Holly Blue - lots of these around the garden today.


Bitter Vetch - I've been looking for this for a little while now. Also known as Heath Pea, I knew I was in with a chance on the local pebbled heaths. I eventually found a few plants near Woodbury Park.

Bush Vetch - had to look at a lot of this before I found the similar Bitter Vetch...

Saturday 24 April 2021

Skuas and Waders

Hairy Tare

Given the short time-span, today's two brief looks at the sea were quite productive. Following a dawn bird survey in Exeter, I got to the raised beach huts to watch a fabulous, fully-spooned, pale-phase Pomarine Skua beat its way purposefully eastwards (0758). A dark Arctic Skua was clearly Lee's bird from yesterday, sporting an odd pale patch on the right forewing at least. Also noted were 12 Common Scoter, 15 Sandwich Tern, 5 Fulmar and a Swallow. A similarly short look at 5pm, before picking Maisie up from work, produced 12 Manx Shearwaters, 11 Sandwich Terns and a pale-phase skua, seen only briefly and back-on before it rounded Orcombe Point - almost certainly an Arctic.
Orcombe Point itself yielded just 1 Wheatear, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Swallows and 4 Whitethroats.
Off Mudbank - 90+ Whimbrel, 1 Ringed Plover, c30 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 1 first-summer Mediterranean Gull and 14 Sandwich Terns.
Yesterday off Mudbank, before work - a flock of 64 Bar-tailed Godwits, 10 Dunlin, 16 Whimbrel, 2 or 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Hundreds of Green-winged Orchids now in flower on Orcombe - a wonderful spectacle.

Wednesday 21 April 2021


Combined an evening trip to mum's with a quick look at the five White Storks at Matford. Two Short-eared Owls were hunting nearby, on Exminster Marshes.

These ringed birds are from the Knepp reintroduction project, but nevertheless provided a very impressive sight, particularly when airborne.

I wasn't expecting to find my first Crosswort at Matford - a really smart plant.

Tuesday 20 April 2021


It feels like it's been an awful long time coming, but there are finally Whitethroats back on Orcombe. I had a single, very skulking male yesterday evening, and first thing this morning there were two males, singing and chasing each other around cliff-top Blackthorns. Also today - 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Wheatear, 2 Willow Warblers and one or two Swallows.
Off Mudbank yesterday - 23 Whimbrel, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and a Dark-bellied Brent Goose.

Lots of Germander Speedwell appearing now...

Speckled Wood. Numbers of butterflies have increased notably over the last few days, with Orange-tip, Holly Blue, Small White, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell all on the wing.

One of two Willow Warblers seen on Orcombe today.

Saturday 17 April 2021


This male Redstart was typically flighty and camera-shy, but a very welcome sight in what has been a very poor spring on Orcombe. Still no House Martin, Whitethroat or Yellow Wagtail, but there's still time...

Orcombe Point - 0630, in clear conditions, with yet another ground frost. Highlight was a male Redstart but also 1 Siskin, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Snipe, 3 Wheatears and at least 15 Linnets.
Off Mudbank - 3+ Whimbrel, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Dark-bellied Brent Goose.

Small White and Greater Stitchwort.

The Green-winged Orchids are emerging in numbers now.

Lousewort is starting to flower on the local heaths.

I think this small plant is a type of Sorrel but the leaves don't look right for Sheep's Sorrel. I'd really appreciate any suggestions.

A Whimbrel almost 'melts' into the background off Mudbank this morning.