Sunday, 17 September 2023

Caspian Gull, Wryneck

A quick look off Mudbank after dinner was rewarded with this beautiful first-winter Caspian Gull. It dropped in at around 630pm for a 'wash and brush-up' and was unceremoniously flushed by a big group of kids on bikes, about five minutes later.

A quick whiz around Orcombe first thing, before torrential rain stopped play. Five Balearic Shearwaters flew east (presumably the tail end of the flock that roosted off the Warren) as it was just getting light, and the Wryneck was seen briefly in scrub, having been flushed from the path just up from the Iron shelter. Otherwise, just 7 Yellow Wagtails and 1 Wheatear of note, along with a flock of 30+ Meadow Pipits heading high, out to sea.
A couple looks off Mudbank, during drier spells, produced 1 first-winter Caspian Gull, 69 Brent Geese (presumably mostly Pale-bellied birds but too distant to be sure), 2 Kingfishers, 2 Ringed Plovers, 1 Sandwich Tern, 16+ Teal and 2 Shoveler. The Wigeon weren't counted but I did pick out the returning Wigeon x Pintail hybrid. A flock of 100+ House Martins moved upriver as rain started to set in and 55 Great Black-backed Gulls were roosting on Bull Hill.

This is only my sixth Caspian Gull in Exmouth but following two young birds last year it wasn't entirely unexpected. 

Saturday, 16 September 2023

Returning Ruff

 I wasn't really expecting the Wryneck to still be present this morning. It was in exactly the same area as yesterday and thankfully a few more people were able to catch up with it. With the weather looking wet for the next few days I guess there's a chance it will linger...

Orcombe Point (from 0720) - 25+ Chiffchaffs, c75 Meadow Pipits, 3+ 'alba' wagtails, 34 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Wryneck, 3 Tree Pipits, 5 Siskins, 1 Snipe, 4+ Whitethroats, 5 Grey Wagtails, 1 Wheatear, 3 Blackcaps, c25 Swallows, 1+ House Martin, 1 Coal Tit and 1 Goldcrest. Offshore - 6+ Common Scoter.
Mudbank - 2 Yellow Wagtails over, 40 Knot, c40+ Turnstones, 1 Kingfisher, 3+ Bar-tailed Godwits, 59 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, c515 Wigeon, 21 Pintail, 13 Teal, 1 Sandwich Tern, 50+ Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Ruff, 52 Shelduck, 1 Redshank, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull, 4 Dunlin and the 3rd-winter Yellow-legged Gull. 

Up to 34 Yellow Wagtails this morning. Three fly-overs and a mobile flock of 31, with cattle.

Ruff with Black-tailed Godwits - Mudbank. This is the third year in a row that this individual (presumably male bird, based on size) has popped up off Mudbank. Always in exactly the same spot (off Lower Halsdon Farm) and always with a Black-tailed Godwit flock. I've photographed it each time from the cycle path. Last year I saw it on October 8th and in 2021 I saw it on October 25th, so it's a little earlier than expected. It's a bit of a Redshank look-alike that could be easily overlooked.

Friday, 15 September 2023


It was good to find a Wryneck this morning. I've put a fair few hours in, looking for one mind. It was in bushes along the coastal footpath, about 80 yards up from the Geoneedle. Generally flighty and elusive, it occasionally fed on the footpath but never looked settled. This is only my third on Orcombe Point and my fourth in Exmouth. The last one on Orcombe was on 31/8/15, and then of course there was the popular long-stayer, back in September 2014.

Orcombe Point from 0715 - 1 Wryneck, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Tree Pipit, c60 Meadow Pipits, 14+ Siskins, 1+ Sedge Warbler, 1 Ringed Plover (over), 1 Willow Warbler, 5+ Grey Wagtails, c30+ Swallows, 4 House Martins, 2 Blackcaps, 2+ Goldcrests and 30+ Chiffchaffs. Also 2 Clouded Yellows and stacks of Small Coppers, Speckled Woods and Red Admirals.
Mudbank - c470 Wigeon (a marked increase), 6 Pintail, 46 Pale-bellied Brent Geese (50% of which were juveniles), 25 Mute Swans, 2 Kingfishers, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull, 4 Common Gulls and 15 Black-tailed Godwits.

Delicate. Also trapped last night, along with the usual common stuff - 1 Rush Veneer, 7 Box-tree Moth, 1 Centre-barred Sallow, 7 Rusty Dot Pearl, 3 L-album Wainscot and 1 Pale Mottled Willow.

Clouded Yellow

Good views of Pale-bellied Brent Geese off Mudbank today.

Willow Warblers become a lot less frequent once August has passed, so I was really pleased to see this juvenile this morning.

Thursday, 14 September 2023

Pale-bellied Brents

 Three of 49 Pale-bellied Brent Geese off Mudbank this evening. At least 34 were present on Cockle Sands yesterday evening, but it was really difficult to rule out the presence of a few dark-bellied birds, as the light was awful.

Mudbank late pm, on the incoming tide - 49 Pale-bellied Brent Geese (including a high proportion of juvenile birds), 16+ Wigeon, 10 Black-tailed Godwits, 11 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Common Gulls and 34 Shelducks. Good to see Spencer back out and about this evening.
Yesterday evening - 34 Brent Geese (probably all pale-bellied birds), 13 Black-tailed Godwits, the third-winter Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Wigeon, 35+ Shelducks, 2 Kingfishers and a juvenile Common Tern.

I'm pretty sure this is a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull, but I didn't get enough on it to be 100% happy. Getting good flight views is key, but a good view of its tertials might well have sealed it too.

Vapourer Moth (male) - found resting on a wall along Carter Avenue.

Monday, 11 September 2023

Another Dewick's Plusia

I trapped a second (for the garden, here in Exmouth) Dewick's Plusia last night. Also of note - 6 Rusty Dot Pearl, 3 Box-tree Moth, 1 Vestal, 6 Portland Ribbon Wave, 1 Silver Y, 1 Pale Mottled Willow, 6 L-album Wainscot, 1 White Point, 2 Old Lady, 1 Centre-barred Sallow and 1 Gold Triangle.

Mudbank - two quick visits (early am and mid pm) - totals included 60 Wigeon, 47+ Pintail, 3 Teal, 2 Greenshank, 3 Redshank, 13 Black-tailed Godwits, 11 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Sandwich Terns, 7 Knot, 2 Common Gulls and the Yellow-legged Gull. Also 3 Stock Doves.
Orcombe Point - pretty quiet with just 13+ Chiffchaffs, 12+ Meadow Pipits, 3 Grey Wagtails, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Tree Pipits, c20+ Swallows and 2 Kestrels. A flock of c30 Yellow Wagtails is still moving around the cattle herds.

Yesterday's Orcombe totals included 1 Spotted Flycatcher, c50+ Swallows, c30 Yellow Wagtails, 23+ Meadow Pipits, c25 Chiffchaffs, 5 Blackcaps, 7 Tree Pipits, 3 Grey Wagtails, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Wheatears, 1+ Siskin and 1 Goldcrest.
Mudbank - c340 Canada Geese, 1 Snow Goose, 4 Sandwich Terns, 13 Black-tailed Godwits, 7 Bar-tailed Godwits, the second-summer/third-winter Yellow-legged Gull and 1 adult Mediterranean Gull. A juvenile Peregrine put in a brief appearance  and a Garden Warbler was in the bushes by the viewing screen.


 Centre-barred Sallow

The second-summer/third winter Yellow-legged Gull was again off Mudbank this afternoon, having earlier been in the recycling centre.

Saturday, 9 September 2023

Way Too Hot

A Tree Pipit shares a fence with a Chiffchaff and a juvenile Robin.

Another baking hot day with not a breath of wind. Really not enjoying it. Samey weather but some changes in the mix of species being recorded. Orcombe totals, from 0655, included 1 Green Sandpiper over, 1 Firecrest, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Sedge Warbler, c15 Chiffchaffs, c30+ Swallows, 3 Sand Martins, c30 Meadow Pipits, 6 Blackcaps, 1 Grey Heron (east), 5 Tree Pipits, 5 Grey Wagtails, 2+ Whitethroats, up to 30 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 5+ Siskins and 2 Wheatears.
Mudbank - an Osprey flew through and disturbed pretty much everything at 1035. Otherwise - 1 Snow Goose, 2 Sandwich Terns, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Teal, 4 Pintail, 1 Shoveler and 6 Great Crested Grebes.

Small Coppers - West Lodge.

Lots of Small Coppers on Orcombe at the moment. Clouded Yellows too, and I've been seeing Hummingbird Hawkmoths, Silver Ys and Rush Veneers as well.

Friday, 8 September 2023

Late Swift

Orcombe Point (0640 - 0850) - 1 Swift (east), 1 Willow Warbler, c20 Chiffchaffs, 1 Reed Warbler, 7 Meadow Pipits, 4 Tree Pipits, 4 Grey Wagtails, 1+ Yellow Wagtail, 1 Whitethroat, 1+ Siskin, 22 Canada Geese, 18+ Linnet, 10+ Greenfinch, 12+ Swallows, 4 House Martins, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Goldcrest and 1 Blackcap. Just beyond my usual Orcombe route, at Sandy Bay - 2 Sand Martins, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Wheatears, 35 Starlings and c500+ Linnets.
A quick look off Mudbank produced 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Sandwich Terns and the resident Yellow-legged Gull.
Derek and I did a walk from Blackhill Quarry to Woodbury Common, recording up to 3 Redstarts, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Wheatears, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Meadow Pipit, c10/15+ Stonechats and c10 Dartford Warblers.

Spot Fly


Second-summer/third winter YLG - Mudbank.

Sunday, 3 September 2023

Grasshopper Warbler

 For once, a Grasshopper Warbler that perched long enough for a photo! I've been lucky enough to see all this autumn's Groppers quite clearly, but all have been fleeting and camera-shy. My last one gave a Cetti's Warbler-like 'chick' call which threw me for a bit, until it revealed itself. I've always thought the call was a harder 'zick'. The slurry pit has been the spot to see this species this autumn, but historically, any patch of rough grass and bramble, at the base of a hedge, has produced them. Below is a photo of the slurry pit.

Orcombe Point - a bit quieter today with 25+ Yellow Wagtails, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 10+ Chiffchaffs, 5+ Meadow Pipits, 4 Tree Pipits, 3 'alba' wagtails, c20+ Swallows, 2+ Siskins, 1+ Blackcap, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Grey Wagtails finding their way into the notebook.
Mudbank, on the ebb tide - 43 Mute Swans, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 15+ Sandwich Terns, 35 Shelduck and the Osprey.

Saturday, 2 September 2023

Mere Wainscot?

Many thanks to Nick who invited me over to Budleigh to see this beauty. It looks really good for Mere Wainscot but, such is its rarity in Devon, it needs to be checked to be sure. Hard to see what else it could be. It's certainly not Small Wainscot, but I guess a very oddly and plainly marked Flounced Rustic needs to be ruled out...

Orcombe Point (from 0645) - 7+ Siskins, 7+ Meadow Pipits, 6+ Tree Pipits, c30+ Yellow Wagtails, 1 Redstart, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Sand Martin, 2 late Swifts, 2 Grey Wagtails, c10 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Mute Swans (east), 3 Whitethroats, 3 'alba' wagtails, c35+ Swallows, 3 Grey Herons (south), 1 House Martin, 1+ Blackcap, 1 Coal Tit and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Didn't do Mudbank today.

I suspect only dedicated patch-workers will relate to the enjoyment and satisfaction you get from seeing common species like Mute Swans (above) and Grey Herons (below) 'on the move'. The Mute Swans flew east and, shortly after, the Grey Herons flew south. I'm sure I'd have missed them if they hadn't been calling to one another. Would love to know where they started their journey and where it will end...


Yellow Wagtails - at least 30 in with cattle, early this morning. Several birds were getting up and sitting in the hedge, looking fantastic in the early morning sun. Always a bit distant though, unfortunately.

 Spotted Flycatcher. I'm pretty sure I had a Pied as well this morning but it was distant and very brief, in bushes surrounding the slurry pit. Frustrating.