Monday 29 November 2021


Pleased to catch up with the 2 Black-necked Grebes off Shelly Beach this evening. Off a work 'Teams' meeting at 415pm and watching them, in virtual darkness, at 420pm - please excuse the terrible photo but I do like to get a record shot! This pair was first reported yesterday (thanks for the texts Mark and Rupert) and again this morning, but I missed them on a lightning lunch-break trip. Hopefully they'll stick around so that I can enjoy better views. Also in the estuary - 2 Goldeneyes and at least 17 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Cattle Egrets

Dawn - Orcombe Point from the lifeboat station.

A look at Maer Rocks first thing was worth it for the sunrise alone but 2 Great Northern Divers, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 diver sp, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Shelduck, 37 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Dunlin, 2 Turnstones and 8 Purple Sandpipers were logged.
Nearby on Orcombe - just 1 Snipe, 6+ Meadow Pipits and 20 Skylarks. The male Black Redstart was in the Shelly Beach area and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose was in with a group of Dark-bellied birds off there.
It was uncomfortably cold off Mudbank early on but c40 Redshank, 1 Knot, 4+ Grey Plovers, 1 or 2 Ringed Plovers and 110+ Teal were among the species logged. Later this afternoon my first returning Goldeneye was off there (a female type) with at least 6 Red-breasted Mergansers. Yesterday c200 Pintail were off there but I didn't count them today.
At least 1 Cattle Egret was inadvertently flushed from Maer Valley this afternoon and two were subsequently located in the cattle field that borders Maer Lane water treatment works. Hopefully they'll hang around. Also in Maer Valley - c80 Curlew, 3 Little Egrets, 3+ Ring-necked Parakeets, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff and a Mistle Thrush.

Cattle Egret. I've seen a number of Cattle Egrets in Exmouth over the years but, believe it or not, today's pair were the first I've had in with cattle and the first for my Orcombe patch. Birds are frequently scoped across the river but birds within the parish boundary are far more highly prized.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Shelly Beach.

Black Redstart - the 'Gut'.

Large numbers of Dunlin have been off Mudbank the last couple of days.

I photographed this Purple Sandpiper on yesterday's dog-walk with Lu. It was one of eight birds, with 12 Turnstones, on rocks below Orcombe Point. Today all eight were on Maer Rocks.

Thursday 25 November 2021

Short Visits

Only a thin sliver of time between work and dark means that birding is very much limited at this time of year. This evening a quick look at the top fields, as the sun set, revealed 8 Chaffinches, 25+ Meadow Pipits and 7+ Song Thrushes. The Meadow Pipit count is way up on recent visits and the wintering Skylark flock is around the 20 mark. The three Red-legged Partridges, or the three amigos as like to call them, remain faithful to the dung heap/turnip field area.
Yesterday evening at least 2 Purple Sandpipers were creeping around Maer Rocks, and offshore singles of both Great Northern Diver and Red-throated Diver were present. The first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was in the coastal waste recycling centre and a male Black Redstart was feeding on apartment rooves, around the Shelly Beach area.

A group of eight Chaffinches around the slurry pit constitutes a flock in Exmouth. The optimistic part of me hopes this group will seed a bigger flock and may even bring in some Brambling. The realistic part of me, that knows Exmouth only too well, suspects they'll soon move on and find a far more bird-friendly site before long.

 This Song Thrush was one of  at least seven birds in the top fields this evening.

Saturday 20 November 2021

Woodlark and Redpoll Flock

It felt almost eerily quiet in Exmouth today, with overcast, flat calm conditions and mild temperatures. I recorded 7 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks along with at least 11 Turnstones and 17 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. A lone Lapwing was the highlight on nearby Orcombe Point and at least 1 male Black Redstart was again in the Shelly Beach area, favouring gardens backing on to the 'Gut'.
Not much off Mudbank but 100+ Black-tailed Godwits, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers and 24 Teal were of note.
A morning 'yomp' on Colaton Raleigh Common produced 5 Crossbills, 1 Woodlark (west at 10am), 4 Fieldfares, 4+ Redwings, 3 Goldcrests, 7+ Dartford Warblers, 1 Grey Wagtail, 20+ Reed Buntings and an impressive flock of c70+ Lesser Redpolls. Disappointingly, no raptors.

Juvenile Dark-bellied Brent Geese - Maer Rocks.

A finch flock, noticed from the car as I drove down from Woodbury Park towards Woodbury, contained c50 Linnets, c20 Chaffinches and this female Brambling. The birds were dropping down to feed in a game cover crop.

Looking towards Woodbury Fort from Colaton Raleigh Common.

Milkwort is still in flower on the pebbled heaths.

Reed Bunting - one of at least twenty on Colaton Raleigh Common this morning.

The view looking east from Colaton Raleigh Common.

An estimated 70+ Lesser Redpolls is by far the biggest flock I've seen in a while. I reckon there are around 65 in this photo. The flock was mobile, ranging from open heath just below the grenade range to the wood edge, where they were feeding in the Birch trees.

Dartford Warbler - one of at least 7 on Colaton Raleigh Common.

Saturday 13 November 2021

Bits and Bobs

With both kids working all day and Lu at her sister's, I managed to check a few Exmouth sites. Orcombe was quiet first thing but my second Cirl Bunting of the year flew west and up to 8 Song Thrushes, 1 Redwing, 1 Chiffchaff and small numbers of finches were noted.
Nearby a short look off Maer Rocks produced 3 Purple Sandpipers, 10 Turnstones, 16 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 2 Common Scoters. A Chiffchaff was in the Maer long-stay carpark and 5 Ring-necked Parakeets were making a racket, getting in trees on the Maer itself (another two flew out of the water treatment works along Maer Lane, spooked by a Buzzard). 
Selected Mudbank counts included c350/400 Black-tailed Godwits, 9+ Bar-tailed Godwits, 29 Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 105+ Turnstones, 138 Shelducks, 6 Grey Plovers, c50 Dunlin, 230+ Pintail, 270+ Teal, 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 20+ Great Crested Grebes, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Kingfisher, and the first-winter Yellow-legged Gull. At least 1 Brambling and 2 Redpolls passed overhead.
In Duckpond - 13 Bar-tailed Godwits and 33 Common Gulls.
A brief spell in the Shelly Beach area revealed some Woodpigeon movement with c300 heading west. At least 2 Stock Doves were in with them and 9 Ravens headed in the same direction. A male Black Redstart showed well. The first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was as reliable as ever around the coastal recycling depot and a Firecrest was along Madeira Walk, behind the cricket club. Otherwise just a Jay the only other bird of note there.

One of the six Grey Plovers off Mudbank today was sporting colour rings. Bet Lee knows where this one is from...

This was by far the closest of 270+ Teal off Mudbank today. Teal are pretty infrequent off Mudbank but when they do turn up it can often be in numbers - the assumption being that they've been  disturbed en masse from the opposite side of the river. They always stay further out than the Wigeon and often gravitate to the edges of Cockle Sands.

The first-winter Yellow-legged Gull remains faithful to the Imperial rugby ground area.

 It doesn't seem too bothered by the scary clown mask!

I could only find one of the two male Black Redstarts today.

A Firecrest in the usual bushes behind the cricket club.

Blackbird - Imperial rugby ground.