Tuesday 31 January 2023


Lu and I are both off work with Covid at the moment. Lu has the added pleasure of Shingles to contend with, so the house doesn't feel very healthy at the moment. As I write this, Joel is out in the kitchen, blowing his nose and coughing, so it's likely he's coming down with it too. After lunch, Lu and I wrapped up warm and took the dog round the block, in order to get some much-needed fresh air. I was a bit stunned to glance up (at 1338) and see a Short-eared Owl flying downriver, as we headed along the cycle path. I completely fluffed getting the camera out and switched on and, by the time I had, it had gone over Mudbank and was drifting towards town. I managed just a couple distant record shots as it was mobbed by crows, but at least you can see what it is. I failed to see SEO in Exmouth at all last year and I'm not aware of any birds locally, so goodness only knows where it's come from, or where it's going to! Otherwise off Mudbank - a quick scan revealed 1 Mediterranean Gull and 28 Wigeon.
Yesterday off Mudbank - selected counts included 15 Great Crested Grebes, the female Scaup, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers and 1 Siskin over. Three Eider were distantly off the seafront.

Comfortably the 'beefiest' Mediterranean Gull I've seen in a long while.

Little Egret - Mudbank.

Sunday 29 January 2023

Bull Hill Spoons

 The two Spoonbills were snoozing on Bull Hill early this morning. Viewed from Shelly Beach. Also off there - 5 Great Crested Grebes and 17 Lapwings, which is unusual.

Off Mudbank - c215 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 17 Great Crested Grebes and the female Scaup, which seems to be preferring things a bit further upriver of late.
Yesterday, counts included 170+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 64 Knot, c135 Grey Plovers, 23 Wigeon, 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, 42 Mallard, c130 Dunlin, 2 Goldeneyes and the female Scaup.
A quick look at the top fields, on Orcombe Point, revealed a sizeable flock 190+ Lapwings, and 3 Chiffchaffs were feeding on the dung heap, along with one of the Cirl Buntings.

Lapwings - Orcombe Point.

Cirl Bunting feeding on the dung heap.

Wednesday 25 January 2023


The male Black Redstart was feeding around the sailing club this evening and, off Shelly Beach, c320 Carrion Crows on the mudflats. The 2 Spoonbills flew out of the estuary corner, at 1645, and landed at the entrance to Cockwood Harbour. Late news for Monday (23/1) - the Cetti's Warbler was singing in the hedge, between Mudbank and Lower Halsdon Farm, whilst Lu and I walked the dog (late afternoon).

Saturday 21 January 2023

Goosander, Avocet

This Goosander was off Mudbank early this morning. Never an easy species to see in Exmouth.

Early morning and mid-afternoon birding today, with temperatures still  hovering not much above zero. Two looks off Mudbank (dawn and mid-afternoon) produced 1 Goosander, 1 Avocet, the female Scaup, 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Pintail, 1 Goldeneye, 12+ Great Crested Grebes, 5+ Red-breasted Mergansers, c190 Wigeon, c50 Mallard, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Greenshank, 110+ Curlew, 7 Grey Plovers and c60 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.
On an icy Orcombe Point - 2 Cirl Buntings, 2 Chiffchaffs, c190 Skylarks, 15+ Redwings, 9 Snipe, 11 Lapwing, 74 Golden Plovers, 13 Meadow Pipits and 2 Song Thrushes. Nearby, a Black Redstart was on cliffs near Sandy Bay whilst Lu and I walked the dog, and the brook provided 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Black Redstart and 2 Grey Wagtails.
A female Blackcap was in gardens along Belle Vue Road along with a couple Redwings and a Fieldfare.

Another difficult species to catch up with in Exmouth - this Avocet showed well off Mudbank this afternoon. 

I was pleased to see this flock of c190 Skylarks on Orcombe Point today. The highest count in years. 

Cirl Bunting - dung heap. One of two birds wintering on Orcombe.

One of 2 Chiffchaffs on the dung heap.

The Orcombe Point Golden Plover flock numbered 74 birds today.

One of two Black Redstarts seen in Exmouth today. This one was in the brook, near Park Road. The other was on the cliffs between Orcombe Point and Sandy Bay.

Fieldfare - Belle Vue Road.

Redwing - Belle Vue Road.

Thursday 19 January 2023


Golden Plovers - Orcombe Point.

Late this afternoon was the first chance I've had to check Orcombe since the cold snap started. Sixteen Golden Plovers were feeding in the top fields with 11 Lapwing, c75 Starlings and c100 Black-headed Gulls. Also noted - 1 Little Egret, 3 Stonechats, 15 Snipe, c25 Skylarks, c10+ Meadow Pipits,  1 Stock Dove, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Rock Pipit, 1 Peregrine, 1 Kestrel and the Cirl Bunting.

Yesterday, a flock of 10 Fieldfares flew over Belle Vue Road.


Cirl Bunting - dung field.

Sunday 15 January 2023


Dark-bellied Brent Geese moving from the Imperial rugby ground onto the river. That's Starcross in the background.

Mudbank today - the female Scaup early on, 2 Goldeneye, c190 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 7 Mallard, 1 Greenshank and 1 Kingfisher. At least 25 Cattle Egrets were resting on one of the wrecks, north of Starcross.
Yesterday, an early morning look off Maer Rocks (from the raised beach huts) produced 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 4 Eider (2 immature males and 2 females), 3 Dunlin, 3 Kittiwakes, c25 Gannets, 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls, c40 Black-headed Gulls and at least 10 Common Gulls.

Turnstones - Exmouth marina.

Redshanks - Duckpond.

The pair of Goldeneye were on the Duckpond this morning.

First-winter Lesser Black-backed Gull (right) with Herring Gull - Mudbank.

Thursday 12 January 2023

Wet 'n' Windy

A young Gannet passes Maer Rocks - one of at least 110 moving south during this morning's sea-watch.

The weather's been mostly horrible today but I managed to cover a fair bit of ground by foot. A look at the sea, from 0840 - 0955, produced 110+ Gannets, 5 Kittiwakes, 2 Red-throated Divers, 14 auk sp, 1 Guillemot, 1 Razorbill, 1 Fulmar, 10 Common Scoters, 24 Black-headed Gulls and 11 Common Gulls. An afternoon visit, once the tide had dropped, revealed 7 Purple Sandpipers, 1 Turnstone and 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on Maer Rocks.

Otherwise, not a lot to report but a female Blackcap was an odd sight in a tightly-manicured  shrub on the seafront and c170 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were on the Imperial rugby ground, along with 2 Redshank. An adult Mediterranean Gull was on the adjacent recreation ground. On Cockle Sands - 17+ Bar-tailed Godwits, 110+ Grey Plovers and c45 Knot. No sign of the Scaup off Mudbank but 125 Dunlin were feeding off there, and a Cetti's Warbler was calling from brambles behind the viewing screen.

Common Scoters whizzing past Maer Rocks.

Purple Sandpiper. Just seven counted this afternoon.

 Dawlish Warren with Langstone Rock behind.

Exmouth Beach.

Shelly Beach - looking across to Starcross...

...and north to Exeter.

Adult Mediterranean Gull - Imperial rec.

One of two Red-breasted Mergansers off Shelly Beach.

Little Egret - Shelly Beach.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Imperial rugby ground.

Monday 9 January 2023

Curlew Count

You can just about make out the Curlew flock in the above photo. Maer Valley is a nice spot for the time being but the ever-expanding edges of the town are creeping closer and closer. This Curlew flock has been utilising the valley for years. Fingers crossed it continues.

Had some time today so checked some very muddy sites around Exmouth. A stroll around Maer Valley produced 101 Curlew, c30 Redwings, c20 Meadow Pipits, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Grey Wagtails, c140 Starling (feeding in cattle fields with c300+ Black-headed Gulls), 2 Ring-necked Parakeets and 2 Mistle Thrushes. Nearby, on Orcombe Point - 1 Cirl Bunting near the dung heap still.
A blasting westerly meant it was very difficult to look off Mudbank but the female Scaup was still present and 36 Common Gulls were counted, which is a marked increase. A flock of 110 Dark-bellied Brent Geese was on the Imperial rugby pitch.
The afternoon was spent mooching around heathland within the Exmouth parish boundary. A strong wind and some sunshine encouraged 3 Goshawk to perform, and other species logged included c10/20+ Coal Tits, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 10+ Siskins, at least 3 Firecrests, 4 Goldcrests, 1+ Nuthatch,  1+ Treecreeper, 1 or 2 Sparrowhawks and a Dartford Warbler.

Part of the 101-strong Curlew flock.

I could only find 2 Ring-necked Parakeets this morning. This pair (male above, female below) were at Prattshayes Farm - a pretty reliable site for them. The eight birds that were frequenting the Maer long-stay carpark seemed to have moved. I've checked it two or three times recently without seeing them.

Starlings and Black-headed Gulls - Maer Valley.

One of today's three Goshawks. Conditions were clearly ideal today.

Firecrest. I'd love to know how many birds are wintering in Exmouth. It's got to be pretty big numbers as I'm bumping into them all over the place.