Tuesday 29 March 2022

Spring Spot Crake

Spotted Crake - Exminster Marshes. I felt the urge to see this bird as I've only ever seen August/September birds in the past. See here for a potted history of my previous Spot Crakes. It was never very close but it showed in the open quite a bit. Unfortunately too far off for my camera. I'm really not very keen on twitches so I didn't stay long - keen to get back to birding in Exmouth. I guess it's not beyond the realms of possibility that Spotted Crakes could breed on Exminster Marshes before too long. Otherwise - just a Marsh Harrier of note. Wow. Just a Marsh harrier! How times have changed!

Back in Exmouth - 3 Sandwich Terns off the lifeboat station - each on a yellow buoy.

Monday 28 March 2022

RND Back

A drake Ring-necked Duck was back on Blackhill Quarry today. I popped up to see it late this afternoon. Also up there - 2+ Redwing, 2 Tufted Ducks and a single Coot.
Off Mudbank this evening - 1 Peregrine, 1 Greenshank, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Redshank and a drake Wigeon.

Beautifully calm and still off Mudbank this evening. Few birds.

Sunday 27 March 2022

Another WTE

Joel had a football match out the back this afternoon. With kick-off at 130pm, Lu and I walked down the road to watch, but just before we got to Warren View the gulls kicked off! I glanced up to see another White-tailed Eagle lazily circling, some way between Mudbank and Lympstone. It seemed to be drifting slightly north, upriver, but I didn't track it any further, keen to see Joel in action. Little else to report this weekend but it has been lovely weather-wise.

Small Tortoiseshell.




Nuthatch collecting mud to line nest hole.


Little Ringed Plover.

Bog Beacon.

Friday 25 March 2022

Sandwich Tern

An early morning look off Maer Rocks produced 54 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 1 Turnstone, 1 Sandwich Tern and 2 Great Northern Divers
On Orcombe, after work this afternoon - just three Stonechats and 3 Chiffchaffs
A Spoonbill off Mudbank this afternoon was presumably the (previously regular) juvenile bird.

A 'first of the year' Sandwich Tern - off Maer Rocks this morning.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Maer Rocks.

 One of three Stonechats on Orcombe this afternoon. Migrant birds.

Tuesday 22 March 2022


I popped home for lunch and checked my phone to see a text from Mark, about an Osprey off Turf at 12pm. Grabbing a cup of tea I went out into the garden, and after a couple scans, picked up a distant 'blob' with the unmistakable silhouette of White-tailed Eagle! I hoped it would head towards me but it moved off in a north-easterly (ish) direction, from somewhere way north of Lympstone. I needed to head back to work but fired off a text to Mark with words to the effect of 'no sign of an Osprey but a WTE going north-east'. I picked the bins back up and quickly picked the bird up again, this time heading back in a more south-easterly direction. Always too distant for a photo unfortunately (though of course I tried!), but it later transpired it had been seen going over the Warren at 120pm, and was over Beer at 330-430pm. It's one of the Isle of Wight release bird and it'll be interesting to find out its exact movements. If follows hot on the heels of an immature female I had almost exactly a year ago, over Blackhill Quarry - see here. With high pressure and clear conditions it's probably more productive to be looking skywards than for grounded migrants at the moment...

Monday 21 March 2022


I 'pinged' awake just before 6am and decided to have a quick look off Mudbank, before getting ready for work. In the early morning gloom, I was chuffed to pick out two drake Garganeys - a rare sight in Exmouth, although autumn juveniles are relatively frequent, with one or two records a year as a rule. Having said that, last year was a blank one. 
As the tide pushed in the birds got closer and, to my delight, started to display to a female Mallard. This involved lots of Corncrake-like 'rattling' and lots of rapid head-popping between short, excitable flights. I was gutted to have to leave for work but I understand a number of people got down to see them and photos were taken that put mine to shame. One drake disappeared, but one remained and was still present when I checked later this afternoon. Also off there - 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, 9 Mallard, 4 Pintail and 3 Wigeon.
A quick late afternoon check of Orcombe revealed my first Wheatear of the year and c30+ grounded Meadow Pipits.


Sunday 20 March 2022

Herps Local Heath

Common Lizard - loads of these soaking up the early morning sunshine.

LRP. Not much birding today but a bit of 'herping' done. On Bystock - 2 Firecrest (including a singing male) and a singing Redwing. Fourteen Red-breasted Mergansers off Mudbank.

Female Adder.

Slow Worm.

A podgy, tail-less Common Lizard.

Saturday 19 March 2022


Dawn over Straight Point, from just above Orcombe Point, in a nice, bracing easterly.

Not a lot today. Still waiting for first Wheatears and Sand Martins here in Exmouth, where migrants seem to be going straight through without stopping (or they're stopping while I'm at work). Just 1 Chiffchaff, 17+ Pied Wagtails and a handful of Meadow Pipits recorded, with 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Common Scoters and a couple Fulmars offshore.
Off Mudbank - 2 Greenshank, 26 Turnstones, 5 Little Egrets, 1 Red Kite, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Wigeon, 6 Pintail, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 27 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 23 Common Gulls, 1 Redshank, 7 Black-tailed Godwits, c25+ Bar-tailed Godwits,  and a nice, brown immature Peregrine. The Black-tailed Godwits were my first in Exmouth this year. I don't normally record them until August. Weird how they shun this corner of the estuary for months on end.
Otherwise it has been another quiet week with 4 Chiffchaffs on Orcombe on Tuesday (15/3) evening and the immature Spoonbill off Mudbank on Monday evening, along with 41 Wigeon and 18 Pintail.

Red Kite - this bird dropped down over Mudbank at 1110, from an easterly direction, before continuing upriver.

Eleven Tufted Ducks on Blackhill Quarry. Not a lot else on this afternoon's dog walk.

The immature Spoonbill put in another appearance at the beginning of the week.

Sunday 13 March 2022

Little Gulls

Martin called with news of a Little Gull in the estuary, that Ivan was watching from the Warren (cheers Martin and Ivan). I finished lunch and chipped down to Shelly Beach to see if I could see it. No sign at first but after a few minutes a smart first-winter bird flew downriver and started feeding around some moored fishing boats. At 1245 it flew out to sea, and I thought it may have gone. A couple minutes later, I watched a lovely pink-flushed adult bird sail into the estuary, and with it the first-winter. Both birds then fed in the estuary but were mostly pretty distant. I managed a couple record shots of the adult bird before heavy rain set in. Otherwise today, off Mudbank - 19 Great Crested Grebes, 24 Wigeon, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and 19 Pintail.

Saturday 12 March 2022

Not Happening

It's not really happening in Exmouth at the moment. Counts off Mudbank today included 400 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 12 Pintail, 14 Wigeon, 105 Curlew, 67 Bar-tailed Godwits, 16 Sanderling, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Greenshank and 14 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. At least 10 Cattle Egrets were in with a cattle herd behind Starcross. A Chiffchaff moving between gardens on Belle Vue road was likely a migrant.
Lu, Maisie and I walked the dog around the perimeter of Blackhill Quarry this afternoon. Two Chiffchaffs were singing but otherwise, just 4 Tufted Ducks and 3 Little Grebes recorded.
Yesterday evening - 50 Great Black-backed Gulls, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 180+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese off Shelly Beach, and on 8/3 - 1 adult summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gull off Mudbank, along with 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Adult summer Mediterranean Gull - Mudbank 8//3.

Sunday 6 March 2022


Ring-necked Parakeets are full of the joys of spring, around Prattshayes Farm, at the moment.

Again, not much to report but sightings from local heathland, over the last couple of days, include 5 Tufted Ducks, 1 Teal, 1 Jack Snipe, c10 Snipe, at least 4 Crossbills, at least 2 GoshawksFirecrest, Brambling, 5 Bullfinches, 3+ Redwing, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel and small numbers of Siskin, Stonechat, Greenfinch, Yellowhammer and Dartford Warbler. Additionally, a Brimstone butterfly was on the wing up at Bystock. Great to do some birding with Tom yesterday.
Otherwise  - a flock of c30 Pied Wagtails in cattle fields on Orcombe Point this morning, and off Mudbank - 18 Pintail, 3 Wigeon, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Great Crested Grebes and c50 Common Gulls.
Earlier in the week, on 2/3, a summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gull on Warren View playing fields, and on 3/3 - a female Blackcap in a garden at the end of our road and an adult winter Mediterranean Gull, 26 Pintail and c60 Common Gulls off Mudbank.

Buzzard - Maer Farm.

Male Goshawk.

This big female Goshawk drew some unwanted attention from a couple Carrion Crows, but never appeared too perturbed. She appears to have a full crop...

It's true what they say - if you think you've seen a Goshawk, you probably haven't. Their flight silhouette is quite unlike that of Sparrowhawk.

 Female House Sparrow - Mudbank.