Tuesday 29 November 2022

Blackhill Goosanders

This lone Goosander (with three Tufted Ducks) was on Blackhill Quarry pool when I arrived shortly after 4pm. By the time I left, at 1645, 19 birds (all redheads) had flown in to roost. The soundtrack to this evening's short vigil was mostly gunfire and shouting from the marines, interspersed with Dartford Warbler calls, the odd 'chack' from a Fieldfare and, latterly, several Snipe as they moved from daytime resting positions for their night-time feed.

A Bloxworth Snout, disturbed from our wood pile.

Saturday 26 November 2022

Little Gull, RNPs

Six Ring-necked Parakeets were roosting in a tree opposite the entrance to the Maer long-stay carpark earlier in the week.

A strong southerly has been blowing again today, so I had a couple looks at the sea from the raised beach huts - from 0730 - 0830 and again from 1050 - 1245, so almost 3 hours in total. Highlight was a beautiful adult Little Gull that headed towards the river, close offshore, at 1210. I'd probably had another go east at 1128 but it was very brief and hampered by shaky scope views. Otherwise - c130 Black-headed Gulls east shortly after first light, 45+ Kittiwakes, 45+ Gannets, 2 diver sp, 2 Red-throated Divers, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull, 11+ Common Scoters, 1 Shelduck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 8 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. At least 8 Turnstones and 2 Purple Sandpipers were on Maer Rocks but I didn't see the Eiders today, and only 8 auks whizzed by, too far out to identify.

Little else to report this week but late news for the 21st concerns the 2 Eider still off Maer Rocks and hundreds of Kittiwakes close past the seafront during the latter part of the morning, and amongst them an adult Little Gull. Counts from Mudbank included 14 Great Crested Grebes, a white-ringed, adult Mediterranean Gull, c30 Redshank, c300+ Dunlin, 2 Knot, 2 Greenshank and 2 Grey Plovers. Six Ring-necked Parakeets were opposite the Maer long-stay carpark.

Sunday 20 November 2022

Purple Sands

Ten Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks this morning.

Good to see 10 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks this morning. Also - 9 Turnstones and 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, with the 2 Eider still just off there. 
On Orcombe Point - 2 or 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Bullfinch, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Rock Pipits, 1 Stonechat, 1 Cirl Bunting and 1 Reed Bunting. Nine Common Scoters were in Sandy Bay.
A quick squiz off Mudbank was disappointing, the only counts made being 95 Shelduck and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers before football beckoned.
Yesterday - a very brief and surprisingly cold dawn walk around the top fields of Orcombe Point produced c2000 Woodpigeons west, c35 Chaffinches, c40 Goldfinches, 1 Bullfinch, 1+ Siskin, 1 Dartford Warbler and the juvenile Cirl Bunting. A relief to see the first frost of the autumn and quite nice to be scraping ice off the windscreen!
An evening search through the gull roost on Cockle Sands revealed at least 90 Common Gulls.

Rock Pipit - dung heap.

The juvenile Cirl Bunting seems set to winter in the turnip field.

West-bound Woodpigeons yesterday morning.

Eiders - Maer Rocks.

Thursday 17 November 2022

Two Eiders

Two Eiders off Maer Rocks this morning, following one off there yesterday. I think a female and an immature male but as you can see the light wasn't great.

A brief Orcombe stroll, shortly after dawn, saw c1000 Woodpigeons move west, 1 Reed Bunting and a juvenile Cirl Bunting in the turnip field. Nearby - 2 Eiders were off Maer Rocks.
Mudbank - c80 Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 4 Knot, c100+ Dunlin, 3 Grey Plovers, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose. A Mistle Thrush was in Carter Park.

This bird is pale-breasted and presumably the immature male that was in Sandy Bay a week or so ago.

Another thoroughly enjoyable cycle ride, alongside the river, into Exeter to spend a bit more time with the juvenile Glaucous Gull. I have to say it looked a little perkier today.

Tuesday 15 November 2022

White Dots, GWE

With almost no time after work, and the tide right out, I focused on white dots in the gathering darkness. It proved quite good with Great White Egret finally making it onto the Exmouth year list. That's it, pretty much in the centre of the above photo. The white dot to its left is a Little Egret. I must have missed a load of 'fly-throughs' this year. Additionally - 38 Cattle Egrets were on two wrecks, north of Starcross, and 50+ Little Egrets were spread widely over the lower estuary.

Monday 14 November 2022

Cetti's, Four Black Reds

Looking across the river towards Shelly Beach, from Lower Halsdon Farm.

Today's best bird was a Cetti's Warbler, along the river below Lower Halsdon Farm. It called occasionally from a tangle of reeds and bramble. 
Nearby, off Mudbank - 125 Pintail, 3 Shoveler, 18+ Great Crested Grebes, 2 Teal and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.
A late stroll around Shelly Beach produced 3 Black Redstarts and a Kingfisher. The Bull Hill gull roost held 35+ Great Black-backed Gulls and 25+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, some of which were very dark and presumably intermedius birds.
Early Orcombe - 4 Stonechats, 20 Redwings, 1 Cirl Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting, 3 Song Thrushes, 13 Stock Doves, 65+ Skylarks, 18 Chaffinches, 3 Rock Pipits, 1 Black Redstart, 10+ Greenfinches, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Mistle Thrush, 3 Goldcrests, 3 Common Scoters and a Great Crested Grebe.

Today's Cettis's Warbler (found on a dog-walk) was calling occasionally from this small clump of reeds below the railway line, at Lower Halsdon Farm. It's only my third Exmouth record, believe it or not, which is surprising given their relative abundance just a couple miles upriver. The challenge now will be to get a photo of it. I don't fancy my chances.

Four Black Reds in a day is good for me in Exmouth. A single female-type was on cliffs below the Geoneedle and three birds (including the adult male) were together on Shelly Beach rooftops, before dark.

Today's Shoveler trio with Teal and Pintail.

Reed Bunting - Orcombe Point. Looks like the one I photographed yesterday.

Immature Shag - this bird showed brilliantly in the marina, but it doesn't look in great condition and may be recuperating after the recent stormy weather, or worse, a victim of avian flu.

Sunday 13 November 2022

Woodpigs, Cirls

Orcombe from first light - 7500+ Woodpigeons west with a couple massive flocks of 1000+ early on. The passage ended quite abruptly, early on and for no apparent reason as conditions were quite fine. Also this morning at least 2, probably 3 Cirl Buntings, including a nice adult male. Additionally - 4 Reed Buntings, 1 Dartford Warbler (still in the turnip field), 1 Golden Plover, 1 Dunlin, 3 or 4 Bullfinches, 4+ Fieldfares, 5+ Redwings, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Song Thrushes, 5 Blackbirds, 75 Starlings, 17+ Chaffinches, 19+ Stock Doves, c50+ Skylarks, 2 Grey Wagtails, c20+ Meadow Pipits, c30+ Goldfinches, 5 Goldcrests, 22+ Long-tailed Tits, small numbers of Linnets and Pied Wagtails, 3+ Redpoll, 2+ Siskins, 6+ Stonechats, 3 Chiffchaffs and 10+ Greenfinches.

A fraction of a much bigger 'ribbon' of Woodpigeons heading west.

Reed Bunting. One of 4 birds this morning - the best count of the autumn.

Saturday 12 November 2022


 It's always good to see the first, chunky and characterful December Moth of the year. Immigrants last night included 30+ Rusty Dot Pearl, 1 White-point, 1 Silver Y, 1 Turnip and 1 Pearly Underwing.

December Moth and Exeter Quay's Glaucous Gull today but it feels more like August. Can't wait for this warm weather to move over. It doesn't feel at all right. 
Orcombe early - 3 Stonechats, 2 Rock Pipits, 3 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests, 5+ Siskin, 1 Dartford Warbler, 16 Fieldfares, 19 Redwings, 15+ Chaffinches, c30 Goldfinches, c50/60+ Starlings, 1 Grey Wagtail, c50/100 Woodpigeons, 27+ Stock Doves and 5 Common Scoters.
A quick look off Mudbank, at high tide, produced 18 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Shoveler amongst numbers of Brent Geese, Pintail and Wigeon.
One Black Redstart was still on the dung heap on 10/11.

Silver Y


I cycled to Exeter Quay to see the Glaucous Gull today. More for the exercise than the bird. I prefer to see Glaucous Gulls pointing their bills into an icy, finger-freezing, northerly blast, preferably on a sandbank in Exmouth, amongst a massive pre-roost flock of Great Black-backs. This bird didn't look at all right or at all well, loafing just feet away from a massive flock of feral pigeons, being fed by noisy kids and an old lady with one of those pull-along trollies. One of the weirdest birding experiences for a long time but a lovely bird despite the incongruous circumstances.

Monday 7 November 2022


I found a tiny bit of shelter from torrential rain first thing, from the raised beach huts. Hundreds of Gannets moved south along with a fair few Kittiwakes and several flocks of auks. Not a lot else recorded but 1 Arctic Skua, 1 skua sp, 1 Pomarine Skua, 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great Northern Divers and 5 Common Scoter made it into the notebook. Passage dried up quickly after the horizon cleared. Round the corner, in Sandy Bay - still 9 Common Scoter and the Eider. A quick, soggy walk around the top fields produced 1 Black Redstart, 2 Rock Pipits, 5 Stonechats and a handful of Meadow Pipits.

The male Black Redstart was in the Shelly Beach area, along with a Red-breasted Merganser, and off Mudbank - 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 14 Great Crested Grebes, 44 Redshank and 27 Common Gulls were the only things counted.

Family parties of Brent Geese were feeding in the 'Gut' this afternoon.

Sunday 6 November 2022


Immature male Eider in Sandy Bay.

Orcombe, early doors - 1 Eider, 9 Common Scoters, 1 Dartford Warbler, 1 Cirl Bunting, 5 Stonechats, 3 Song Thrushes, 2 Goldcrests, 3 Chiffchaffs, c350 Woodpigeons, 1 Mistle Thrush, 3+ Siskins, c50 Redwings and c60 Chaffinches (west). In the top fields - c50+ Skylarks and a small number of Meadow Pipits.

A limited number of counts from Mudbank included 37 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, c40+ Black-tailed Godwits, c140 Dunlin, 62 Turnstones, an adult Mediterranean Gull and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese. Other wildfowl were not counted. Nearby - 2 Cirl Buntings were along the cycle path near West Lodge, when Lu and I walked the dog, before lunch.

Yesterday, a short spell on Orcombe, in poor weather, produced c50+ Redwing, 1 Eider (Sandy Bay), 1 adult Mediterranean Gull and c275 Kittiwakes, about 175 of which were on the Straight Point ledges.

A flock of 25 Fieldfares was feeding on Rowan berries at the back of our house, on the Warren View pitches, and 2 Mediterranean Gulls were noted off Mudbank (adult and second-winter).

Olive-tree Pearl - Palpita vitrealis. Other immigrant species, trapped last night, included 1 Silver Y, 1 Turnip, 1 Rush Veneer and 1 Vestal.

A common species but one I don't often see, mainly because I rarely run the trap at this time of year - Large Wainscot.


One of two Red-green Carpets in the trap this morning.

This may be a new arrival or it could be the Cirl Bunting last seen on Orcombe on 27/10. They're pretty good at hiding. Another two birds were found at West Lodge today.

Friday 4 November 2022

Late Orcombe

Rock Pipit - dung heap.

Top fields - late pm.

Dave texted with news of two Black Redstarts on the dung heap this morning (many thanks Dave). Every Black Red in Exmouth is like a little nugget of gold to me, so I was a bit gripped by this. Luckily I had an hour after work, before dark, so I scooted round the top fields and enjoyed watching both birds feeding together, flashing red tails in the evening sun. Fantastic. Also this evening - 1 Dartford Warbler (turnips) and a good count of 18 Stonechats.