Sunday 30 January 2022

Velvet Scoter

The view from the Pavillions carpark late this afternoon. The Velvet Scoter was very distant.

A late afternoon text from Mark and I managed to get distant views of the Warren's Velvet Scoter. I'd tried earlier this morning but a thick bank of mist, creeping out from the river, meant my plans were scuppered. Thank you Mark. 
Otherwise today - Maer Rocks - 7+ Purple Sandpipers, 5+ Turnstones, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoters and 31 Brent Geese. The Common Scoters were my first in Exmouth, this year - a bit shocking for a species that's normally quite hard to miss!
Douglas Avenue - 7 Ring-necked Parakeets and 1 Blackcap.
Orcombe Point - the female Cirl Bunting, 3 Song Thrushes, 3 Snipe and 2 Little Egrets.
Shelly Beach - the male Black Redstart still, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Withycombe Raleigh Common - 2+ Yellowhammers, 3+ Dartford Warblers, 1 Redpoll, 8+ Redwings and 37+ Fieldfares. The thrushes were feeding on the archery club football pitches.
Mudbank - 13 Wigeon, 3 Pintail, 85 Mallard, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Greenshank, 6 Redshank, 40+ Dunlin, 30+ Turnstones and 1 Sanderling.

 One of two or three Yellowhammers, feeding unobtrusively on the edge of WRC - their presence betrayed by some quiet calls.

The female Cirl Bunting is still beside the dung heap.

Thursday 27 January 2022

Late Birding Again

Having not seen it the last two afternoons/evenings, the Spoonbill was again off Mudbank, after work this evening. Not a lot else but I counted 56 Mallard, 1 Pintail and 6 Wigeon, and an adult Mediterranean Gull was present. 
Yesterday at least 18 Fieldfares were with a small number of Redwing, up at the Archery club, and off Mudbank - 100 Grey Plovers and a Greenshank as well as good numbers of Dunlin. Nice to see Libby, Deliah and Gordon yesterday.
The only thing of note on Tuesday evening was a Chiffchaff, moving between gardens in the Shelly Beach area. Looking forward to the evenings getting lighter.

Fieldfares have proved difficult to catch up with this winter. Eighteen plus birds at the archery club yesterday, were my first in 2022. Redwings have been comparatively easy with regular flocks in Maer Valley and around the edges of the heaths. Big numbers only occur when we get really cold weather.

Sunday 23 January 2022


Not a lot to report this weekend. Counts from Mudbank today included the juvenile Spoonbill, 3 Goldeneye (drake and 2 females), a flock of 22 Red-breasted Mergansers (the sum total of birds on the Exe, I think), 125+ Grey Plovers on Cockle Sands, with c90 Knot and hundreds of Dunlin. Additionally - 74 Mallard, 6 Wigeon, 2 female Pintails, 1 Kingfisher and 15+ Great Crested Grebes. Good to see John today and really nice to catch up with Leigh who I haven't seen in ages.
Yesterday I went to Mum's for lunch and popped over to Starcross in the vain hope of getting better views of the Black-necked Grebes. Frustratingly they were miles off, and still nowhere near Exmouth. They Exe is deceptively wide! I also had a quick look at Powderham Sawmills, where the highlight was a single Marsh Tit. No luck tracking down the Bystock individual so far this year.


Looking across the Exe to Shelly Beach, Exmouth, from Starcross.

Not too many birds at Powderham Sawmills yesterday, but the dead trees there always provide some interest.

Friday 21 January 2022

Dusk Egrets


Looking across the Exe towards Cockwood, from Mudbank.

I managed to squeeze in an hour's birding after work. Another nice sunset and 80+ Cattle Egrets in to roost, north of Starcross. Distant but distinctive in their tightly-packed pre-roost flocks. Also off Mudbank - the juvenile Spoonbill, 50+ Mallard, 6 Wigeon, just 1 drake Pintail and a flock of 22 Pied Wagtails. The 2 Black-necked Grebes were again scoped from Shelly Beach but they were feeding off Starcross. Great to catch up with Neil as always. 

Thursday 20 January 2022

Late pm

The Spoonbill was still off Mudbank at dusk this evening. Nearby the 2 Black-necked Grebes were distantly off Shelly Beach (towards Starcross) and the Black Redstart was in the area too. Also - a couple Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Great Crested Grebe and a single Raven. Really good to meet Tom this afternoon.
On the Imperial rugby club pitch - c70 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose.

Greenshank - Mudbank 17/1.

The Wolf Moon - 17/1.

Saturday 15 January 2022

Woodcock, Crossbills

Shag - Maer Rocks. Twelve Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks was my highest count so far this winter.

A few Exmouth sites looked at today between doing other stuff. Maer Rocks this morning - 12 Purple Sandpipers, a couple Turnstones and a Great Northern Diver further over towards the Warren. On a glass-like sea - a number of auks scoped but only 8 Razorbill and 1 Guillemot close enough to be identified with certainty
Mudbank - Spoonbill, 300+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 46+ Mallard, 22 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Kingfisher, 4 Wigeon and 23 Great Crested Grebes.
Shelly Beach - 1 male Black Redstart, 2 Ravens, 3+ Red-breasted Mergansers and the 2 Black-necked Grebes - distantly between Cockwood and Starcross.
Withycombe Raleigh Common - 3 Lesser Redpolls, 1 Woodcock, 15 Redwing, at least 1 Dartford Warbler, 1 Treecreeper and 3 Crossbills.

Three Crossbills were on Withycombe Raleigh Common this morning.

A monochrome, grey afternoon transformed into quite a pleasant early evening, with a little bit of blue sky and sunshine. That's Berry Head in the distance.

The nearest Razorbills were still bloody miles out today. I used to see Guillemots and Razorbills close in from Exmouth, fairly regularly in the past, but in recent years it has become increasingly difficult to get good views of them. The feeding habits of auks, divers and grebes has definitely changed a lot in the last decade.

The Spoonbill was off Mudbank this morning but it wasn't there later this afternoon. This photo was taken late, yesterday afternoon.

Thursday 13 January 2022


A huge thank you to my neighbour John who, very kindly, let me photograph this magnificent Locust that he discovered in the grill of his campervan, parked just a few doors up the road. John hasn't recently returned from a trip abroad so the origins of this insect can only be speculated upon. It's possibly an escape from the pet trade, or just possibly a migrant. Either way it's an interesting record and not one I was expecting when I woke up this morning! Kev and I have done a little preliminary research and think it could possibly be an Egyptian Locust, but we'll await confirmation or otherwise from the Orthoptera experts. Egyptian Locust is a common eastern European species. Great to see Kev, as always, and thank you again to John!

Possible identification pointers to this being an Egyptian Locust include a vertically-striped eye, a peg between the front legs and a protonum, which has three furrows. The protonum on Egyptian should be keeled, which I think this one is. Any comments on the identification would be hugely welcomed. That's a medium-sized Banana behind it. It's a whopping great insect.

Tuesday 11 January 2022


Another evening spell at Shelly Beach, watching the gull flock on Bull Hill. Good to catch up with John as always. Two Ravens were tearing around at apartment roof-top height and the male Black Redstart showed quite well. Otherwise just 6 Red-breasted Mergansers off there, along with an adult Mediterranean Gull.

I haven't personally seen the Spoonbill since 6/1 so it was good to see it back off Mudbank this evening.

Monday 10 January 2022

Evening Shelly

A lovely evening visit to Shelly Beach. The Black Redstart was again on apartment buildings and c400+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese flew onto the river from Starcross. Otherwise just 3 Red-breasted Mergansers. A quick look at Bystock, just prior to Shelly, produced healthy numbers of Lesser Redpoll with 50+ mobile around the Birch stands. Also 3 Green Woodpeckers just above the pool.

Black-headed Gulls flying into roost.

Sunday 9 January 2022

Grey Heron

Grey Heron - Countess Wear.

Off Mudbank today - 3 Goldeneye (1 male, 2 females), 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 16 Pintail, 200+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 2 Greenshank. On Cockle Sands - 62 Grey Plovers and 6 Knot. Nearby off Shelly Beach - the 2 Black-necked Grebes (over towards Cockwood Corner) and 11+ Red-breasted Mergansers.
A mooch around Countess Wear this morning was pretty quiet but 10+ Gadwall, 3 Wigeon, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and a Marsh Harrier were logged. Couldn't find the Sibe Chiffs.

 Dark-bellied Brent Geese - the 'Gut'.

Marsh Harrier - Exe Reedbed.

Saturday 8 January 2022

Baikal Teal

Not the views I was hoping for but over a period of time I managed to piece together some notes on Greylake's drake Baikal Teal. Another dreadful day weather-wise but at least the hides afforded a modicum of shelter. The Baikal Teal spent most of the time I was there, fast asleep. It occasionally raised its beautifully-patterned head but soon tucked it away. If it weren't for the vertical white flank stripe it would have been impossibly difficult to pick out amongst the estimated 1000+ Teal.

Friday 7 January 2022


This bleak picture pretty much sums up the weather in Exmouth this evening - cold, grey and wet. I wasn't really feeling up to nipping out after work, and rather wish I hadn't. Four Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks and a soaking.

Grey Wagtail - Maer Valley 5/1.

Yesterday evening in filthy, cold, wet and windy conditions, the Spoonbill was off Mudbank and there were 5 adult Mediterranean Gulls in with a flock of 650+ Black-headed Gulls. Nearby, on the Imperial rugby ground, 109 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were counted.

On the 5th the Spoonbill was still off Mudbank at lunch time, and the 2 Black-necked Grebes were scoped from Shelly Beach late afternoon, after work. Otherwise, a quick check of Maer Valley revealed 4 Ring-necked Parakeets, c20+ Redwings and at least 3 Chiffchaffs.

This nice dark Lesser Black-backed Gull was on Cockle Sands on Wednesday evening. Pity gulls are always so distant on this sandbar. 

Redwings - Maer Valley 5/1.

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Egyptian Geese

Five Egyptian Geese flew east past Orcombe Point early this morning. This is only my third Exmouth record following a single bird, south past Orcombe on 26/1/17 and a flock of 7, off Mudbank on 27/10/17.

A look off Maer Rocks, shortly after dawn, produced 5 Egyptian Geese, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Turnstones and 1+ Great Crested Grebe.
A female Goldeneye was in the Duckpond, and off Mudbank - 77 Shelduck and the juvenile Spoonbill. Really good to catch up with Libby today.
Off Shelly Beach - 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 37 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose. A flock off 55+ Cattle Egrets was picked up flying upriver, over Starcross.

At least 2 Jays were at the top end of Bystock this afternoon. Also recorded - 1 Firecrest, 4 Goldcrests, 1 Treecreeper, 2 Redwings, several Coal Tits, 1 Redpoll and 2 Nuthatches.

Red-breasted Mergansers - Shelly Beach.