Lu and I are immensely proud of the resilience shown by Maisie and Joel, who have lost two dearly-loved grandparents in just over two years, and endured all the crap heaped upon their social lives and education by the pandemic. Maisie has secured a place at Cardiff University, starting next September, and has chosen to spend her gap year doing something worthwhile, rather than just polluting the atmosphere with travel. She works long shifts in a dementia home and is saving up for when she moves out. Joel works at 'Ocean' and is studying 'A' levels. They're great kids.
Covid-19 continued to make work more unpleasant and challenging, and the birding never really lived up to any sort of expectation, although September was probably a better than average month for me. Both spring and autumn passage were poor, and low numbers of many common species continued to highlight their inexorable decline. For the first time in a long time I failed to see a Tufted Duck in Exmouth, but the absence of (or at least my failure to see) species like Storm Petrel, Green Sandpiper, Water Rail and Goosander weren't terribly surprising. In contrast to previous years, I only saw one Red Kite and one Balearic Shearwater in Exmouth, but four species (Northern Mockingbird, Goshawk, Coot and Glossy Ibis) were new to my beloved Exmouth list.
In total, I personally recorded 171 species within Exmouth, which, I reckon, is about average. Highlights included Black Brant, Siberian Chiffchaff, 40+ Cattle Egrets, at least 10 Yellow-legged Gulls, Northern Mockingbird, Goshawk, 2 Cirl Buntings, 2 Cuckoos, 3 Roseate Terns, 8 Spoonbills, Marsh Harrier, Little Stint, Spotted Redshank, Coot, Black Tern, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, 2 Woodlarks, Short-eared Owl, 2 Merlins, 4 Little Gulls, Ruff, 2 Black-necked Grebes, Iceland Gull and Pochard.
As always, I'd like to thank everybody who contacted me with bird info (especially Mark, who forever keeps me in the loop) and everyone who reads this blog. All comments are genuinely appreciated. I'd also like to thank Lu, who puts up with my frequent 'just popping down the river' shouts, followed by a total lack of communication as I sit in front of a screen, stone-faced, writing this blog!
January started back in Covid-19 lockdown, so it was back to working from home and teaching online lessons all day, but with a bit more flexibility than is afforded in school. Despite the short daylight hours the birding was surprisingly good, with a succession of scarce Exmouth birds, many of which are by no means guaranteed in any given year.
On the 2nd I popped in to see the Matford Green-winged Teal and on the 3rd I recorded 2-300 Razorbills, as well as 2 or 3 Great Northern Divers off Orcombe Point. A good count of 130+ Grey Plovers was off Mudbank - the entire Exe, wintering population I think.
Black Brant - this adult was a surprise find off Mudbank on January 6th. I relocated it three days later at Darts Farm, from where it moved to Exminster Marshes. I saw it again at Darts Farm on the 23/1.