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.


  1. Good to see records for WRC. Last few weeks we have removed silver birch, Turkey Oak and small Douglas Firs. Removed tree boundary with Dalditch Common to blend the two areas. Opening up for lowland heath species acting as extinct large herbivores to prevent woodland encroachment. Whilst it is important to manage heath it still leaves you with a twinge of guilt cutting down trees. Your records hopefully demonstrate that what we are doing helps the specialists that thrive on open heathland. Also hope silver studded blues will increase and others such as Grayling. The big firs which the nightjars display from are being left.

  2. Hi John - can see you've been busy up there - lots of nice opened-up habitat. A good variety of species seen, including Bullfinches and at least one Green Woodpecker. The Redpolls and Crossbills were particularly notable for me. WRC seems to be good for Woodcock too. Look forward to looking for the butterflies in the summer. I'm sure all your hard work will pay off. All the best and hopefully will bump into you out and about soon. Matt

  3. Matt. I guess John W, is John Wilding - top bloke. John is a mate of mine - we both fish the Teign. Saw a few purple sandpipers while fishing at Hinkley Point today.

    1. Hi Neil - no it's John Wokersien - another top bloke who does a lot of important conservation work up on the pebbled heaths. Hope you had a successful trip up to Hinckley - didn't know they had Purple Sands up there. See you soon. Matt