Melodious Warbler - Orcombe Point 23/8/23.
It's nice to find scarcities on your patch but I'd swap each one in a heartbeat to see a reverse in the decline of common species. No Goldeneyes wintering on the Exe so far this winter and just 10 Red-breasted Mergansers down from triple figures not too many years ago - just two examples of species in rapid decline, locally at least. I could continue with masses of other examples but I find it depressing just writing about it, and I'm pretty sure people don't want to read about it.
I recorded 173 species within the Exmouth parish boundary. It should have been in excess of 180 but I missed many traditionally 'easy' species like Arctic and Little Terns, Pomarine and Great Skuas, Gadwall and Greylag Goose. Additionally, I mistimed sea-watches, or was at work, when large shearwaters were passing, and I lucked out on every single influx species (Alpine Swift, Night Heron etc) that descended on what felt like every inch of the rest of the country. I cycled and walked more this year, drove less and stuck religiously to the Exmouth parish patch, in a bid to further reduce my carbon footprint.
Noteworthy (for Exmouth) sightings included 1 Scaup, 3 Spoonbills, 2+ Cetti's Warbler, 1 Goosander, at least 6 (possibly 8) Short-eared Owls, Eastern Lesser Whitethroat, Red-necked Grebe, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Little Ringed Plover, 2 Cuckoos, 1 Marsh Harrier, 3+ Little Gulls, 10 Yellow-legged Gulls, 1 Roseate Tern, 1 Storm Petrel, 3 Green Sandpipers, Melodious Warbler, Wryneck, Ruff, 2 Caspian Gulls, Richard's Pipit, Woodlark, 2 Ring Ouzels, Jack Snipe, 2 Great White Egrets, Merlin, Yellow-browed Warbler and Serin.
Autumn 'vis mig' on Orcombe Point was good value with up to 70 Tree Pipits, c2670 Meadow Pipits, c1125 Siskins, c1060 'alba' Wagtails, at least 2125 Chaffinches, 76 Reed Buntings, c1070 Goldfinches, 14 Bramblings and c80k Woodpigeons logged over a few early morning visits, during suitable, clear weather.
As always, a big THANK YOU to everyone who reads the blog and particular thanks to those of you who leave comments. If you're interested in previous bumper reviews, I always publish them on December 31st so that you can easily access them by clicking on the year in question, shown in the right hand margin of this page.
A check of a couple sites on January 1st revealed the continued presence of the female Scaup (it was present all month) and pair of Goldeneye off Mudbank. Two Egyptian Geese flew downriver and were subsequently seen at Dawlish Warren. The wintering Common Sandpiper was still in the brook, below Phear Park.
On the 2nd there were 3 Eider off the seafront and 8+ Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks. The wintering Spoonbill was off Mudbank along with a Sandwich Tern. A Cetti's Warbler was calling between Mudbank and Lower Halsdon Farm.
On the 5th there were 2 Cirl Buntings and 12 Lapwing on Orcombe Point.
On the 7th the male Black Redstart popped up in the 'Gut' and on the 8th, 4 Eider flew past Maer Rocks towards the Warren. Two Firecrests were found in Phear Park, along with a wintering male Blackcap.
At least three more Firecrests were located in the Bystock reserve on the 9th and 3 Goshawk were seen. A single Dartford Warbler was located on Withycombe Raleigh Common.
On the 14th the four Eiders again flew past Maer Rocks, along with a single Great Northern Diver, and the following day 25+ Cattle Egrets were resting on a wreck, north of Starcross.
Cold weather sightings on Orcombe, on the 19th, included 16 Golden Plovers, 11 Lapwing and 15 Snipe. On the 21st the Golden Plover flock had increased to 74 birds and a large flock of Skylarks numbered c190 birds - my highest count for years! Also present - the 2 wintering Cirl Buntings. Female-type Black Redstarts were on cliffs near Orcombe Point and in the brook, and off Mudbank - the female Scaup, 2 Great Northern Divers, 1 Goosander and an Avocet. A count of c190 Wigeon was high for January.
On the 23rd, the Cetti's Warbler was again in song between Mudbank and Lower Halsdon Farm.
On the 25th, I counted c320 Carrion Crows from Shelly Beach. The 2 wintering Spoonbills landed outside Cockwood Harbour and the male Black Redstart was feeding in the sailing club compound.
On the 28th, a large flock of Lapwing, on Orcombe, consisted of c190 birds. Three Chiffchaffs and a Cirl Bunting were feeding on the dung heap. Counts from Mudbank included c135 Grey Plovers, 64 Knot, and the 2 Goldeneyes.
On the 29th, the 2 Spoonbills were on Bull Hill and Mudbank counts included c215 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, and 17 Great Crested Grebes.
On the 30th, three Eider were distantly off the seafront. Ten Red-breasted Mergansers and the female Scaup were off Mudbank.
The 31st sprang a surprise in the shape of a Short-eared Owl which flew downriver and up over the town whilst Lu and I walked the dog. It was the 110th species recorded during the month.
Common Sandpiper 8/1/23. This wintering bird could be frequently found in the brook, below Phear Park. What is presumably the same bird was back for the second winter period.
Firecrest - Bystock 9/1/23. Wintering birds were also found in the Maer long-stay carpark, Phear Park, Belle Vue Road, Madeira Walk, and the community college. Firecrests continue to go from strength to strength, although only three migrants were logged on Orcombe Point during the autumn.
A female or immature Black Redstart moved through gardens, along Belle Vue Road, on February 1st and the following day one of the juvenile Spoonbills was off Mudbank. The female Scaup remained a little further upriver, towards Lympstone.
On the 4th, both juvenile Spoonbills were off Mudbank (and were seen on and off throughout the month) and a flock of c30 Black-tailed Godwits were the first of the year.
A pair of Yellowhammers was back on Withycombe Raleigh Common on the 5th, as were a couple Dartford Warblers, and at least 2 Crossbills were heard flying over. On the adjacent archery club playing fields - c140 Fieldfares and 25+ Redwings.
I paid a visit to the Hurst Spit Shore Lark whilst doing some work up in Hampshire on the 6th, and the following day a Firecrest was found in scrub, in the community college where I work.
On the 9th I was kindly invited to see the wintering Eastern Lesser Whitethroat on Halsdon Avenue. The female Scaup was upriver, towards Lympstone and the 2 juvenile Spoonbills were again off Mudbank. On Orcombe Point - the Dartford Warbler resurfaced and 3 Golden Plovers were with 17 Lapwings. Nearby, yet another Firecrest was in scrub bordering the Maer long-stay carpark.
A scan from the seafront on the11th produced c30 Great Crested Grebes but not the Warren's Red-necked Grebe. Additionally, c20 Common Scoters, 2 immature male Eiders and 3 Red-throated Divers were noted. A Firecrest passed through the front garden and my first Lesser Redpoll of the year was in the Castle Lane area.
On the 12th a Pale-bellied Brent Goose was off Mudbank along with c80 Bar-tailed Godwits.
Mudbank counts on the 13th included 150+ Grey Plovers and 80+ Knot, and on the 14th a flock of at least 60 Pied Wagtails was in with cattle on Maer Lane.
The Cetti's Warbler was again calling from Mudbank on the 15th and I was lucky enough to see the Eastern Lesser Whitethroat again. Eighty-five Shelduck were counted off Mudank and 2 immature drake Eiders were off Maer Rocks. The female Scaup was off the end of Cockle Sands for the first time in ages.
The Eastern Lesser Whitethroat was glimpsed again briefly on the 21st.
On the 23rd I had a job just north of Shepton Mallet, in Somerset, so took the opportunity to see the wintering Hume's Leaf Warbler at Compton Dando sewage works.
Counts from Mudbank on the 25th included 195 Curlew, 70 Turnstones and 50 Common Gulls. The wintering Cetti's Warbler was seen (for the first time in 2023) near the viewing screen.
A Firecrest was along Madeira Walk on the 26th along with a male Blackcap.
The 2 juvenile Spoonbills spent the morning off Mudbank on the 27th and 93 Black-tailed Godwits was the month's highest count. The wintering Common Sandpiper was off there and c25 Sanderling were on Cockle Sands along with 5 Ringed Plovers.
Meadow Pipit - Orcombe Point 1/2/23. Highest February count was 17 birds on 27/2.
Shorelark - Hurst Spit, Hampshire 6/2/23. I didn't twitch anything this year, unless you count this bird that was 5 minutes away from where I was working, in New Milton, or a Hume's Leaf Warbler that was five minutes away from where I was working in Shepton Mallet. Both very handily positioned!
Eastern Lesser Whitethroat - Halsdon Avenue 9/2/23. Almost certainly 'blythi'.
Features indicative of a more easterly origin include light, sandy-brown upperparts and nape, a light panel in the secondaries and an orangey-buff wash to the flanks.
Drake Red-breasted Merganser - Shelly Beach 15/2/23. Without wishing to sound too pessimistic, I genuinely don't think it'll be too long before this species disappears altogether from the Exe. I sincerely hope I'm proved wrong.
Hume's Leaf Warbler - Compton Dando, Somerset 23/2/23. So close to a survey site that I couldn't resist. My only previous Hume's was the 2005 Seaton bird that I saw for just seconds, and never managed to photograph.
Greenshank - near Phear Park 25/2/23. A maximum count of 4 birds was off Mudbank during February, with this bird regularly choosing the brook in which to feed.
Spoonbills - the wintering juveniles - Mudbank 27/2/23.
My first Shovelers of the year were off Mudbank, late on March 3rd - two drakes and a female. The following day I watched the Red-necked Grebe from the seafront. It was always pretty distant. The female Scaup was again off Mudbank.
The Red-necked Grebe was again off the seafront on the 5th, along with 45 Great Crested Grebes, and the 2 immature drake Eiders were in Sandy Bay. At least 240 Kittiwakes were back on Straight Point ledges and a flock of c40 Shags was the largest I've seen for a while. My first Moorhen of the year was in the overgrown pond along Castle Lane and one of the juvenile Spoonbills was off Mudbank.
A juvenile Glaucous Gull, that had been seen around a week earlier, in Topsham, was scoped from the Imperial rec on the 6th, thanks to a timely text from Mark.
The 2 juvenile Spoonbills were off Mudbank on the 7th and on the 9th the Eastern Lesser Whitethroat was again seen. The Red-necked Grebe was again off the seafront and the 2 Eiders were still in Sandy Bay. The Cetti's Warbler was again seen at Mudbank and 5 Mediterranean Gulls were off there.
A group of 36 Common Scoters off Straight Point, on the 10th, was the biggest flock for a while, and the 2 immature drake Eiders were off the seafront.
Three Sandwich Terns were off Mudbank on the 11th and Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plovers numbered 73 and 72+ respectively. Eight Ring-necked Parakeets were making a racket around Prattshayes Farm and a Kestrel was hunting over the Maer.
On the 13th at least 12 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were distantly off Shelly Beach, in with a flock of c100 Dark-bellied birds. The Common Sandpiper was off Mudbank.
Two Pale-bellied Brent Geese were off Mudbank on the 17th.
My first 2 Wheatears of 2023 were on Orcombe Point on the 18th, along with 3 Cirl Buntings (2 males) and 8 Chiffchaffs. One of the juvenile Spoonbills was again off Mudbank with 1 Kingfisher, 6 Ringed Plovers and 31 Bar-tailed Godwits also of note.
A Cattle Egret flew in from the east whilst I was scanning from the back garden, on the 23rd and around the corner, in Halsdon Avenue, the Eastern Lesser Whitethroat remained. Just upriver, at West Lodge - a female Cirl Bunting (still present on the 25th) and 2 Redpolls over. Five Sandwich Terns were on Bull Hill.
The first Willow Warbler of the year was on Orcombe Point on the 26th and a juvenile Iceland Gull was watched over Dawlish Warren before it flew out to sea. Off Mudbank - a flock of 22 Sandwich Terns.
Juvenile Glaucous Gull - Cockle Sands (from Imperial rec) 6/3/23.
Golden Plover - Orcombe Point 9/3/23.
Second-winter Mediterranean Gull - Mudbank 13/3/23.
Six distant ducks were probably all Eiders, on April 3rd, but only three (including an adult drake) could be confirmed as such.
My first Osprey of the year was hunting the river on April 4th. At least 3 White Wagtails were on Orcombe and 7 freshly-arrived Pale-bellied Brent Geese were off Mudbank. The usual 2 immature drake Eiders were off the seafront.
Another Osprey was seen on the river on the 6th, along with the first 2 Whimbrel of the year, 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 2 Red Kites.
My first 2 House Martins were on Orcombe on the 7th and a trip over to Budleigh (on the bike) was made, in order to see the Lesser Yellowlegs.
On the 11th, a count of 75+ Sandwich Terns was made off Shelly Beach.
One, or possibly 2, Common Terns were off the seafront on the 12th, along with two or three Great Northern Divers.
An easterly wind and some rain on the 14th produced the first good migrant morning of the spring. A male Redstart and 2 or 3 Yellow Wagtails were amongst small numbers of more regular migrants.
On the 16th, Orcombe migrants included 3 reeling Grasshopper Warblers and a pair of Reed Buntings was discovered at West Lodge.
On the 17th, migrant totals on Orcombe included at least 15 Wheatears, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 11+ Willow warblers and 1 Whitethroat.
On the 20th the migrants were still coming, in the continuing easterly airflow, with 6 Whitethroats, 1 Sedge Warbler, 10+ Willow Warblers, 1 Redstart and 11 Blackcaps recorded on Orcombe. Singles of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler were at West Lodge.
On the 21st, 5 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and c35 Bar-tailed Godwits were off Mudbank.
On the 23rd a Cuckoo was singing in the Bystock reserve. Two reeling Grasshopper Warblers were on Orcombe and 72 Whimbrel were off Mudbank.
On the 24th, 95 Sandwich Terns were counted off the seafront along with my first Manx Shearwater of the year.
A non-reeling Grasshopper Warbler was seen on Orcombe on the 25th and the following day an Arctic Skua was off the seafront - another first for the year.
A wet day on the 27th produced a Lesser Whitethroat on Orcombe and the following day a drake Tufted Duck was flying around off the seafront.
Notable birds on the 29th included both Yellow Wagtail and Snipe on Orcombe and a single Common Tern offshore.
The 30th provided my best birding of the spring with Orcombe totals including a fly-over Little Ringed Plover, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Redstarts, 3 Whinchats, 3 Sedge Warblers and a Reed Bunting. Off Mudbank - 2 probable Little Ringed Plovers, 18 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull.
Whimbrel - Mudbank 6/4/23. The first two of the year was seen on this date and the peak April count was 72 on the 23rd.
Cirl Bunting - Orcombe Point 8/4/23. Another great year for this species in Exmouth. Birds were recorded on multiple dates in the spring and autumn and on November 17th a flock of 7 birds was discovered near the slurry pit, with an 8th individual in clifftop scrub. On the 23rd there were eight birds together in scrub surrounding the slurry pit and on December 30th I found four more on the Imperial recreation ground, beside the river.
Lesser Whitethroat - Orcombe Point 27/4/23. The first of 2 spring migrants on Orcombe.
Reed Bunting - Orcombe Point 30/4/23. An unusual spring record. At least 76 were recorded passing through in the autumn making it a much better than average year.
A singing Lesser Whitethroat, my second of the spring, was on Orcombe on May 1st and a Marsh Harrier was high over the river, from Mudbank.
The spring's first Common Sandpiper was off Mudbank on the 2nd and I caught up with a Little Grebe on Bystock Pool.
On the 4th a second-summer Little Gull was off Mudbank and wader counts included 19 Sanderlings, 29+ Bar-tailed Godwits, c50 Dunlin and 5 Grey Plovers. My first Swift of the year flew over north. An early morning sea-watch produced 7 Great Northern Divers, and a/the pale phase Arctic Skua amongst a few other bits and pieces.
On the 7th a first-summer Little Gull was off Mudbank (seen again on the 8th) and the Reed Warbler was still singing from the West Lodge reedbed.
A dark Arctic Skua was off the seafront on the 11th and 6 Tufted Ducks were on Bystock pool.
On the 13th a Red Kite was seen heading east, from the back garden, and on the 15th 6 Eiders (including 2 males) were off the seafront. A count of c250 Oystercatchers was made from Mudbank.
On the 21st the Eider count had risen to seven and c80 Kittiwakes were counted off the seafront.
Single Red Kites were noted from the back garden on the 22nd and 27th and on the 28th 5 Sanderlings were on Maer Rocks.
On the 29th I was chuffed to find the returning Yellow-legged Gull in the Coastal Waste recycling centre - now in second-summer plumage. Another Red Kite was watched heading across the river and 8 Grey Plovers were off Mudbank.
Second-summer Little Gull - Mudbank 4/5/23.
Yellowhammer - Withycombe Raleigh Common 21/5/23.
Tufted Duck - Bystock 21/5/23. Six birds were on Bystock Pond on the 11th - a high count for Exmouth. Otherwise, my only record away from Bystock was of a male and female off Mudbank on November 18th.
Sword-leaved Helleborine - Hampshire 25/5/23.
Sanderling - Maer Rocks 28/5/23.
A predictably quiet start to June but 2 Reed Warblers and the Sedge Warbler were singing on Orcombe Point on the 3rd. On the 4th a Cuckoo was a lovely surprise on Orcombe Point. It moved off quickly. A flock of c60 Sanderlings were off Mudbank.
On the 8th a Nuthatch was moving along Halsdon Avenue.
The only bird of note on the 22nd was the summering Dark-bellied Brent Goose which made an appearance off Mudbank, having been spending all its time at the Warren.
On the 26th 2 Sand Martins off Mudbank were of minor note. Another very poor month for birds but at least the second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was present throughout.
Aethes deaurana - netted on the Maer 1/6/23. A very recent UK colonist. I trapped my first for the garden shortly afterwards.
Swallow - Halsdon Avenue 4/6/23.
Second-summer Yellow-legged Gull - Coastal Waste Recycling Centre 08/6/23.
So thrilled to finally find Sundew Plume - Bicton Common 10/6/23. Dragged Lu through a bog for this one!
Heath Fragrant Orchid - New Forest 15/6/23. Another perfectly-positioned 'tick' within minutes of a survey site, and one of two new Orchids in 2023.
On July 1st the Dark-bellied Brent Goose was again off Mudbank, as were 2 Sand Martins.
Sea-watching on the 10th produced 14+ Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Arctic Skuas and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. Another look off the seafront, in the evening, produced another juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and off Mudbank - 1 Roseate Tern and 4 Common Terns.
At least 12 Arctic Skuas were lingering off the seafront on the 15th.
On the 17th a Kingfisher was off the Imperial recreation ground and off Mudbank - c220 Curlew, 1 Cattle Egret and 3 Greenshank.
On the 18th there were at least 4 juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls with a sizeable gull aggregation off Orcombe Point, and an early migrant Common Sandpiper was on rocks off there.
On the 19th another Arctic Skua was off the seafront and another juvenile Yellow-legged Gull showed well on the beach.
Three juvenile Peregrines were play-fighting over the house on the 23rd.
Two more Arctic Skuas were off the seafront on the 24th and 115 Mallard were off Mudbank.
Arctic Skua - Exmouth seafront 19/7/23.
Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull - Exmouth beach 19/7/23.
Tree-lichen Beauty - trapped in the garden 24/7/23. A long-awaited first garden record.
We were away, in Cuba, at the start of August. Off Mudbank, on the 12th, counts of 215 Mallard and c150 Oystercatchers were made. The summering Dark-bellied Brent Goose was on Cockle Sands.
My first European Storm Petrel in years flew south, past Orcombe Point, on the 13th. The following day - 3 Sedge Warblers were on Orcombe Point, possibly indicating a successful breeding attempt. Off Mudbank - 2 juvenile Peregrines on a Feral Pigeon kill and 335+ Mallard.
On the 14th, 2 Arctic Skuas flew south past Orcombe Point and a Kingfisher was off Mudbbank. On the cricket pitch - a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull.
On the 15th, at least 1 Cirl Bunting was on Orcombe Point and a migrant Reed Warbler was sunbathing on the edge of a Bramble patch.
My first Yellow Wagtail was on Orcombe on the 16th and the summering second-summer Yellow-legged Gull again appeared in the recycling centre. On the 17th, 2 Cattle Egrets joined a flock of Little Egrets roosting off Mudbank, and on the 18th a Green Sandpiper dropped into the brook at Mudbank. A flock of c50 Sandwich Terns were off there too and 9+ Wheatears were in a sheltered spot on Orcombe Point.
Two Black-tailed Godwits were off Mudbank on the 21st, along with the first 2 Wigeon of the autumn.
The following day 8 Wigeon were off there and at least 10 Yellow Wagtails were on Orcombe Point.
The 23rd was the best day in ages, topped with the discovery of my first Exmouth Melodious Warbler - frequenting bushes along the coast path towards Sandy bay. The pick of the other migrants unearthed were 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 8+ Tree Pipits, 1 Garden Warbler and c30/40+ Yellow Wagtails.
The following day a late'ish Swift was on Orcombe, and on the 25th I recorded my first Osprey of the autumn - fishing off Mudbank. Also off there - 2 Egyptian Geese, 3 Teal, 8 Ringed Plovers, c6/700+ Oystercatchers and 11 Wigeon amongst a few other bits and pieces. On Orcombe Point - 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Firecrest, 3 Greenshank, 2 Sand Martins, 35+ Yellow Wagtails, 7 Tree Pipits and 3+ Sedge Warblers. The second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was again in the recycling centre and remained until the end of the month.
On the 26th a flock of 10 Crossbills was seen in the Bystock reserve. The 28th was notable for the first three returning Pintails off Mudbank and less so for a party of five Red-legged Partridges (2 juveniles) on Orcombe.
My first Exmouth Hobby of the year, a juvenile, was over Mudbank on the 29th and noteworthy counts off there included 24 Knot, 21 Wigeon and 40+ Black-tailed Godwits. A massive Linnet flock, between Sandy Bay and West Down Beacon, was thought to contain a minimum of 500 birds.
On the 30th a Grasshopper Warbler was on Orcombe and a Green Sandpiper was calling somewhere off Mudbank.
The last day of the month was very wet but 2 Cattle Egrets, 2 Redstarts and a Whinchat were amongst a selection of migrants on Orcombe Point.
Green Sandpiper - Mudbank 19/8/23.
Melodious Warbler - Orcombe Point 23/8/23. The first record for Exmouth. The above photo captures the moment the bird appeared in the bushes, minutes after I'd heard its sparrow-like chattering call.
Yellow Wagtail - Orcombe Point 23/8/23.
Cattle Egrets - Orcombe Point 31/8/23.
Redstart - Orcombe Point 31/8/23. One of two found on Orcombe Point, following heavy rain and a south-easterly breeze.
On September 1st I recorded 12 Black-tailed Godwits, 21 Knot, the feral Snow Goose and the lingering Osprey off Mudbank. The autumn's first Snipe and first Goldcrest were on Orcombe Point.
On the 2nd, 7+ Siskins and 7+ Meadow Pipits were recorded on Orcombe. At least 30 Yellow Wagtails were still with cattle and singles of Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart was noted. Three Grey Herons migrated south, calling to one another.
On the 3rd a Grasshopper Warbler was photographed on Orcombe Point, and Mudbank counts included 43 Mute Swans, 35 Shelduck and 6 Great Crested Grebes.
A late Swift was over Orcombe on the 8th and Reed Warbler was noteworthy.
Orcombe notables, on the 9th, included a fly-over Green Sandpiper, 1 Firecrest and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Off Mudbank - 1 Osprey and 1 Shoveler.
A Garden Warbler was in bushes at Mudbank on the 10th and on the estuary there - a high count of c340 Canada Geese (along with the Snow Goose).
On the 11th, Mudbank duck counts included 60 Wigeon and 47 Pintails.
Thirty-four Pale-bellied Brent Geese, the first of the autumn, were off Mudbank on the 13th, along with a juvenile Common Tern.
The following day the number of Pale-bellied Brent Geese had risen to 49.
The 15th was a good day with a Wryneck discovered on Orcombe Point, along with c60 Meadow Pipits, c30 Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warblers amongst some other bits and pieces. The Wryneck was again present on the 16th and up to 34 Yellow Wagtails were in the top fields. Off Mudbank, a Ruff turned up with c50 Black-tailed Godwits - very likely the bird that I've recorded off there each autumn for the last couple of years. Also - c515 Wigeon and 40 Knot.
On the 17th, a day of torrential rain and thunder storms, 5 Balearic Shearwaters flew east past Orcombe Point and the Wryneck was seen very briefly. Best bird was a first-winter Caspian Gull off Mudbank, but 2 Shoveler and a flock of c100+ House Martins off there were also of note.
An Osprey was watched from Mudbank, circling over Powderham, on the 18th - the first seen in over a week.
September 'vis mig' totals included c1770 Meadow Pipits, c475 Siskins, c120 'alba' wagtails and up to 40 Tree Pipits.
Grasshopper Warbler - Orcombe Point 3/9/23.
Tree Pipit - Orcombe Point 9/9/23. A good autumn for this species with up to 40 recorded in September.
Wryneck - Orcombe Point 15/9/23.
Juvenile Willow Warbler - Orcombe Point 15/9/23.
First-winter Caspian Gull - Mudbank 17/9/23. The first of two seen in 2023. This species is now expected every year.
Sandwich Tern - Exmouth beach 20/9/23. Another terrible year for terns on the Exe.
A Spotted Flycatcher was on Orcombe Point on October 1st and at least 2 Yellow Wagtails lingered. A sudden increase in terns saw 71+ Sandwich Terns and 4 Common Terns resting on Cockle Sands.
Ten Arctic Skuas were marauding off Orcombe Point on the 2nd, and a first-winter Little Gull was off there too. The Osprey flew from the river, up towards Courtlands Cross in thick fog, and 100+ Swallows flew south over West Lodge. The 3rd-winter Yellow-legged Gull was on the Imperial rugby ground.
A Richard's Pipit was a real surprise on the 5th. It was flushed from the large weedy field at the top of Gore Lane, late in the afternoon, after work.
Highlight on the 7th was a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull on the Imperial rugby ground.
On the 8th, 1 Woodlark, 1 Cirl Bunting, 1 Golden Plover, 9+ Coal Tits and an Egyptian Goose were recorded on Orcombe Point.
Some good 'vis mig' on the 9th included 2 Red Kites, 380+ Pied Wagtails, 315+ Siskins, 210+ Goldfinches, 57 Chaffinches, 9+ Redpolls and 260+ Meadow Pipits. I also recorded my first 3 Redwings of the autumn.
A Tree Pipit was on Orcombe Point, late in the day, on the 12th.
Sea-watching on the 13th revealed hundreds of Gannets heading south, along with up to 11 Arctic Skuas, 6 Balearic Shearwaters and 2 drake Eiders.
A Ring Ouzel was on Orcombe on the 14th and 17+ Reed Buntings passed overhead.
On the 15th, the first Brambling of the autumn was logged on Orcombe. Also a Firecrest.
A Short-eared Owl was on Orcombe Point on the 19th and one Spoonbill was still off Mudbank having separated from three others that I missed.
On the 20th a Jack Snipe was flushed from the weedy field on Orcombe Point. Also - 2 Cirl Buntings and my first Fieldfare of the autumn. The autumn's first Red-breasted Merganser and a female Common Scoter were the best of it off Mudbank.
Orcombe Point was good again on the 22nd with another Short-eared Owl, another Ring Ouzel, 1 Brambling, 1 Golden Plover, 13+ Reed Buntings and c3500 Woodpigeons. A Great White Egret flew upriver, viewed from Mudbank.
On the 24th the highlight was a late Whitethroat on Orcombe Point.
The Whitethroat was again present on the 25th (and still there on the 30th) along with the Ring Ouzel. The juvenile Spoonbill was again off Mudbank and the first Black Redstart of the autumn was on Halsdon Avenue.
At least 10,000 Woodpigeons moved west over Orcombe on the 26th, along with c70 Chaffinches. The Ring Ouzel remained (and was again there on the 27th) and 2 Cirl Buntings were located (and seen again on the 28th).
Best Orcombe bird on the 29th was a Firecrest and off Mudbank - a Red-throated Diver that was also scoped from the back garden.
A fly-over Yellowhammer was the only bird of note on Orcombe on the 30th, although the Whitethroat remained. The Red-throated Diver and a female Common Scoter were again both off Mudbank.
The final day of the month, in fact the final hour of daylight in October produced a juvenile Merlin, in foul weather, on Orcombe Point.
Some October 'vis mig' totals included 615+ Siskins, c900+ Meadow Pipits, 400+ Chaffinches, 940+ Pied Wagtails, 62+ Reed Buntings, c640 Goldfinches and c23,350+ Woodpigeons.
Spotted Flycatcher - Orcombe Point 1/10/23.
Arctic Skua - 2/10/23. One of ten lingering just off Orcombe Point on this date. This bird swept over the beach, below me, during one of its pursuits. It was a pretty good year for Arctic Skuas in Exmouth, but sadly the same cannot be said for other skua species. For the second year in a row I failed to record a Bonxie and I saw no Poms, largely due to poorly-timed sea-watches and, of course, work.
Richard's Pipit - Orcombe Point 5/10/23.
Dunlin - Duckpond 16/10/23.
Oleander Hawkmoth - found by a pupil at Exeter Road primary school on 17/10/23, and identified by Paul Gosling, head of the school, who very kindly let me take it home to photograph!.
Crimson Speckled - Orcombe Point 19/10/23. The second 'flushed' in two years.
A late Whitethroat - Orcombe Point 25/10/23. First discovered on the 24th and still present on the 30/10. It may well have lingered had cattle not been moved to feed on its favored patch of weeds.
Male Ring Ouzel - Orcombe Point 25/10/23. Present in the Bristol School lane area from 22/10 - 27/10 at least but very hard to see well. What was presumably the same bird was again present on 3/11 but I couldn't rule out it being a different individual.
Ringed Plover - Duckpond 29/10/23.
Merlin - Orcombe Point 31/10/23.
November started with the arrival of Storm Ciaran. The school was closed on the 2nd so I checked the seafront and the estuary. A First-winter Caspian Gull was the only exciting discovery - briefly on the beach opposite the Pavillions.
Overhead movement got going again on the 3rd with c5000 Woodpigeons and 120+ Chaffinches logged. Also - 1 Brambling, 2 Short-eared Owls and the presumed long-staying Ring Ouzel. The first returning Goldeneye was off Mudbank and a male Black Redstart was in the Shelly Beach area.
A Short-eared Owl and a Great Northern Diver were notable sightings at Mudbank on the 4th. Off Maer Rocks - 3 Great Northern Divers and the drake Eider.
Some good 'vis mig' on the 5th with 615+ Chaffinches, 2 Brambling, c175 Goldfinches and 1 Golden Plover amongst the species logged. Also 2 Short-eared Owls and 4 Cirl Buntings.
Lesser totals on the 6th but still c11000 Woodpigeons moving along with c430 Chaffinches. A good count of c160 Turnstones off Mudbank.
A/the drake Eider flew past Orcombe Point on the 10th.
The 11th was a good day with a Great White Egret, c18000 Woodpigeons, c300 Chaffinches and 5 Bramblings over Orcombe, and a showy Yellow-browed Warbler at Mudbank.
A Cetti's Warbler was between Mudbank and West Lodge, along the railway line, on the 12th.
The same or another Cetti's Warbler was at Mudbank on the 15th and the following day, 2 Purple Sandpipers were on Maer Rocks. Nearby, a late Sandwich Tern was off Shelly Beach.
The 17th provided some more good birding on Orcombe. Eight Cirl Buntings included an impressive flock of seven and overhead passage included c5000+ Woodpigeons, 260+ Chaffinches and at least 3 Bramblings. Pintails numbered c130 off Mudbank and 2 Jays and a Nuthatch were at West Lodge.
A female-type Goldeneye flew past Maer Rocks towards the river on the 18th and a Shoveler was with a pair of Tufted Ducks and other wildfowl off Mudbank.
A/the drake Eider and c180 Kittiwakes (heading south) were seen from the raised beach huts, early morning on the 19th.
On the 20th there were 3 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks and a short walk around Bystock revealed 3 Crossbills and c50/60+ Redwing. A flock of 24 Knot was on Cockle Sands and 50 Mallard were off Mudbank.
On the 23rd there were c50 Common Gulls off Mudbank and on the 25th, Mudbank counts included c225 Pintail, c1000+ Dunlin, 2 Snipe and 10 Pale-bellied Brent Geese.
The first frost of the winter, on the 25th, got 7 Lapwings, and at least 1 Brambling moving over Orcombe.
On the 26th a female Eider was off Maer Rocks, a female-type Black Redstart was at Shelly Beach and at least 10 (possibly 12) Red-breasted Mergansers were off Mudbank, along with c70 Redshank and a lone Kittiwake.
Some cold weather crept in at the end of the month but work hours kept me indoors and not out.
Orcombe 'vis mig' during November, across 6 morning visits, returned totals of c1750 Chaffinches, at least 13 Bramblings, c430 Goldfinches, c35 Siskins and c56000 Woodpigeons amongst small numbers of other species.
First-winter Caspian Gull - Exmouth beach 2/11/23.
Short-eared Owl - 3/11/23. One of two found on Orcombe on this date.
Kingfisher - Mudbank 6/11/23. One of two wintering in the Mudbank area.
Yellow-browed Warbler - Mudbank 11/11/23. Present for just one afternoon. This is the twelfth YBW I've found in Exmouth but the first Mudbank record. The most notable record was a singing bird that spent almost three weeks in our neighbour's garden, in the early spring of 2017.
Redwing - Bystock 20/11/23. One of c50/60+ drawn to the Holly berries at the top of the reserve.
Brent Geese - Mudbank 23/11/23. Low flying helicopters are just one of many causes of disturbance on the estuary.
December started chilly but there was little change in the birding. At least one Cetti's Warbler was knocking around the brambles at Mudbank and on the 2nd there were 3 Shoveler off there. Seven Cirl Buntings were still up on Orcombe Point and the niumber of Skylarks in the top fields reached c100+.
On the 4th I counted c220 Pintail and 134 Shelduck off Mudbank, and the 5th sprang a surprise in the shape of a Serin on Orcombe Point.
Species on Orcombe on the 8th included a Firecrest and a fly-over Redshank.
On the 10th, my first Woodcock of the year was flushed from wet woodland off Castle Lane. The following day a Common Sandpiper was in the brook next to Phear Park - presumably a returning bird. Also in Phear Park - 1 Firecrest and a Treecreeper with a mobile tit flock.
On the 15th a Firecrest was found on Orcombe Point and off Mudbank there were 200+ Pintail and at least 72 Common Gulls - a jump in numbers.
On the 16th I caught up with the flock of 8 Eiders, just inside the estuary. They'd been around a while, often reported off Warren Point.
A lingering party of 10 Pale-bellied Brent Geese (two family groups of five) were frequenting the rugby ground on the 21st. They were seen on a number of occasions at this site, up until the month's end.
A Firecrest was in the usual spot along Madeira Walk, behind the cricket club, on the 22nd and on the 23rd I visited the Cirl Bunting flock that numbered 8 birds, in scrub surrounding the slurry pit on Orcombe. The eight Eider were again off the seafront.
Six Great Northern Divers flew south past Orcombe Point on the 28th. Eleven Pale-bellied Brent Geese fed alongside 125 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Imperial rugby ground.
Two Mediterranean Gulls were off Mudbank on the 29th and, on the 30th a flock of 4 Cirl Buntings was on the Imperial recreation ground. Nearby - a Great Northern Diver off Shelly Beach and counts of 75+ Grey Plovers, c115 Pintail and 90 Shelduck off Mudbank. A flock of c25+ Avocets was seen in flight, way across the other side of the river, somewhere off Powderham Park.
Grey Plover - Mudbank 4/12/23.
Stonechat - The Maer 8/12/23.
Curlew - Mudbank 19/12/23.
Two family groups of five Pale-bellied Brent Geese on the Imperial rugby ground - 21/12/23. This flock spent a lot of time on the rugby ground at the month's end, occasionally joined by an eleventh bird and up to 125 Dark-bellied birds.
Happy New Year and good birding to all in 2024!