Monday 27 February 2023


The two immature Spoonbills spent this morning just below the railway line, off Mudbank. Much more regular that they ever used to be, I still get a lot of enjoyment from seeing this species, as I'm sure do most birders. Other counts from Mudbank included 300+ Dunlin, 43 Wigeon, 188 Curlew, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Greenshank, 93 Black-tailed Godwits and 1 Common Sandpiper. Amongst the many waders on Cockle Sands - 5 Ringed Plovers and c25 Sanderling

Just upriver - the female Scaup was still off Sowden Lane along with another 90 Black-tailed Godwits and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Orcombe Point - 4 Lapwing, 1 Chiffchaff and 17 Meadow Pipits. Nearby - 6 Ring-necked Parakeets opposite the Maer long-stay carpark, at first light, and 92 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on Maer Rocks.

A late afternoon look of Shelly Beach revealed c260 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, c15 Teal and 16 Cattle Egrets over Starcross, to roost.

Sunday 26 February 2023


Joel was playing football at Heavitree Social Club, Exeter this afternoon so, during the warm-up, Lu and I did our usual little stroll along Northbrook to look for the Green Sandpipers. Only two were seen but at least 8 Chiffchaffs were feeding along the short stretch that we walked. One bird look really good for a Sibe Chiff but it disappeared before I could get decent views.

Very little news from Exmouth but Peregrines were seen over Shelly Beach and Mudbank, and a sunny stroll along Madeira Walk produced 1 Blackcap, 1 Firecrest and 2 Chiffchaffs.

Saturday 25 February 2023



Mudbank today - 42 Wigeon, 23 Redshank, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, c125 Grey Plovers, 195 Curlew, 30+  Bar-tailed Godwits, 27 Knot, 3 Greenshank, 70 Turnstones, 45 Black-tailed Godwits and 50 Common Gulls. Additionally, I actually caught a glimpse of the wintering Cetti's Warbler (beside the bench) and a Chiffchaff was nearby. The 2 juvenile Spoonbills were present late in the afternoon. Just upriver, off, Sowden Lane - the female Scaup, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Great Crested Grebes, c200 Common Gulls, c25 Teal and 28 Cattle Egrets (on a wreck north of Starcross).
In the brook - 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and a male Blackcap
A very brief, early morning look at Orcombe Point produced just 3 Lapwing, c20 Pied Wagtails and 2 Grey Wagtails.

 Common Sandpiper.

Thursday 23 February 2023

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Had a job north of Shepton Mallet today so made the short drive up the road, to Compton Dando, to see the long-staying Hume's Leaf Warbler. Only my second ever but great views this time and, best of all, the Pied Wagtail-like 'tulip' call was heard on several occasions. I was pleased to watch it in good, flat light which allowed a good assessment of the colour tones - greyer and more washed out than Yellow-browed Warbler. Many thanks to Mark for site details.

Tuesday 21 February 2023


 The Eastern Lesser Whitethroat is still going strong.

Have been less mobile since 'pinging' my back last week but I'm gradually getting back into it. The Eastern Lesser Whitethroat is still round the corner and although the tide was out, after work this evening, I managed to record c30 Cattle Egrets from Mudbank - on a wreck across the other side of the river.
Yesterday off Mudbank - 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 62 Wigeon, c40+ Common Gulls and the Cetti's Warbler, calling from dense bramble. A flock of 50 Jackdaws flew over Halsdon Avenue late on, as I walked home.
On the 19th I walked (gingerly) around Phear Park with Lu. A Firecrest was in the Holm Oaks next to Bumble and Tee.
On the 16th (pre-'ping') - the female Scaup was off Mudbank (off the end of Cockle Sands for the first time in ages) along with 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Black-tailed Godwits - Mudbank.

An interesting post on the Portland Bird Obs website - see here. I'm leaning towards blythi (Siberian L W) with this bird, based on plumage tones and structure. A DNA sample would be good...

Wednesday 15 February 2023

R-b Merg

Drake Red-breasted Merganser off Shelly Beach this afternoon.

Off Mudbank today - counts included c270 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 30+ Common Gulls, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 20 Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 65+ Wigeon, c70 Bar-tailed Godwits, c145 Curlew, c150 Grey Plovers, 85 Shelduck, c75 Knot, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Chiffchaff and the Cetti's Warbler. Great to catch up with Rupert and Derek.
A short distance upriver, off Sowden Lane - 1 drake Goldeneye, the female Scaup and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Maer Rocks, early on - the 2 immature drake Eiders, 3 Common Scoters, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 86 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (14 juveniles) and just 2 Purple Sandpipers.
The Eastern Lesser Whitethroat continues its residence in Halsdon Avenue gardens (thanks once again Richard) and, off Shelly Beach late on - 2 Ravens, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, c175 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 1 Sparrowhawk. Great to bump into Hilary.
Yesterday, off Maer Rocks  - the 2 immature male Eiders, 4 Shelduck, 40 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 2 Great Crested Grebes.
Mudbank - 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Ringed Plover, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, and 16 Common Gulls.
Maer Lane - 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Little Egrets, 60+ Pied Wagtails and at least 2 Ring-necked Parakeets.

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat.

Four Greenshank (with a couple Redshank) - Mudbank.

Male Ring-necked Parakeet - Maer Valley.

 Second-winter Mediterranean Gull - in cattle fields yesterday. The same bird was one of three off Mudbank today. A little upsurge in numbers over the last couple of days.

Adult Mediterranean Gull - Maer Farm.

Monday 13 February 2023


Redpolls have been really thin on the ground in Exmouth this year. I was hoping to find some numbers in the Castle lane area but ended up with just this one - a typically ochre-washed Lesser Redpoll.

Off Sowden Lane first thing - the female Scaup, 2 Goldeneye, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers and at least 9 Great Crested Grebes. Mudbank counts included 20 Redshank, 3 Greenshank, c380 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 70 Wigeon, 150+ Grey Plovers, 80+ Knot, 55+ Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Mediterranean Gulls (adult and first-winter). The Cetti's Warbler was heard calling at dusk.
Otherwise, a flock of 53+ Pied Wagtails fed amongst cattle on Maer Lane, along with 4 Little Egrets. The only sightings of note on Orcome Point were 2 Chiffchaffs and a flock of 12 Lapwing. A Lesser Redpoll was in woodland along Castle Lane and c170 Carrion Crows were off Shelly Beach late afternoon. Really lovely to catch up with Sarah and Clare this afternoon.
The top end of Bystock was pretty busy with birds - the best being several Siskins, a couple Firecrests and a Peregrine.
Yesterday off Mudank - 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 52 Wigeon, 1 juvenile Spoonbill and c80 Bar-tailed Godwits.

An adult, summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gull was off Mudbank late this afternoon. Earlier, a first-winter bird was present - my first of this age group in 2023.

Hundreds of Dunlin were off Mudbank today. I just couldn't face counting them as the majority were feeding on Cockle Sands amongst Knot, Grey Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwits.

A single Pale-bellied Brent Goose was off Mudbank yesterday.

Saturday 11 February 2023

Usual Suspects

The female Scaup remains upriver. Best viewed from Sowden Lane, Lympstone.

Little change today. Off Mudbank - the 2 juvenile Spoonbills, 3 Greenshank, 38 Wigeon, 33 Mallard and 2 Goldeneye (male and female). The female Scaup was, as usual, a bit further upriver.
I had a look off the seafront but couldn't pick up the RNG. On a flat calm sea - c30 Great Crested Grebes, c20 Common Scoters, small numbers of auks (probably Razorbills) and 2 immature, male Eiders. Three Red-throated Divers flew out of the bay and 2, even more distant diver sp were probably Great Northerns. Nearby, a single Ring-necked Parakeet was in the Maer long-stay carpark and, a little further up the valley, a single Firecrest.
Another Firecrest passed swiftly through our front garden, pausing just seconds to feed in the Yew tree. A garden first.
My first Redpoll of the year was at the end of Castle Lane this afternoon and I spent the last hour of daylight looking off Shelly Beach - a drake Teal, c340 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and c30 Cattle Egrets (to roost) the only sightings of any note.

One of two juvenile Spoonbills off Mudbank this afternoon. Photographed whilst Lu and I were walking the dog.

Thursday 9 February 2023

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat

Richard very kindly invited me over to see the Eastern Lesser Whitethroat today. It has been frequenting his back garden, just around the corner from us, on Halsdon Avenue, since early December. I bumped into it, on Belle Vue Road, on December 10th 2022 and haven't (until today) seen it since! It's a very interesting looking bird - very pale in the field, with lovely sandy-brown upperparts  and nice peachy buff-washed flanks. Many thanks Richard.
Otherwise today - 2 juvenile Spoonbills, c185 Grey Plovers, c90 Knot and 42 Wigeon off Mudbank. The female Scaup was a little further upriver, towards Lympstone - and in the top fields, Orcombe Point - 1 Dartford Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 17 Lapwings, 3 Golden Plovers, 150+ Skylarks and c50 Starlings. Nearby, a Firecrest in the Maer long-stay carpark.

Looks like a wholly white outer tail feather. This bird is presumably blythi or possibly halimodendri?

The two juvenile Spoonbills were again off Mudbank this afternoon. That's Starcross' Atmospheric Railway pumping station in the background.

A little bit of sunshine tempted the turnip field Dartford Warbler to resurface this afternoon.

Two of three Golden Plovers on Orcombe Point this afternoon.

Monday 6 February 2023


 Looking along Hurst Spit towards Hurst Castle, with Keyhaven Marshes on the left. A lovely part of the world and one I'm very unfamiliar with.

I was working up in Hampshire today. One of the sites (at New Milton) was just 5 minutes away from Milford-on-Sea, so I popped over to see the wintering Shore Lark - a fabulous bird and a species I've not seen in over 21 years! My last was at Holkham Gap on 29/12/01 - a snowy north Norfolk trip with my brother. I think the main target was Coue's Arctic Redpoll. Prior to that I'd seen just 5, at Benacre Broad, Suffolk, on 30/12/99 (a day-trip from London, primarily for the Aldeburgh Ivory Gull), and a pair of  'Horned Larks' on Bolivar Flats, Texas, on 14/4/98 (with Tom Whiley).
Today's bird has been on Hurst Spit for a few weeks now and was present on my arrival, just a short walk from where I parked. Creeping around unobtrusively, I was extremely glad I didn't have to locate it on my own!

Looking back towards Milford-on-Sea.

Looking across to the Needles (Isle of Wight).

Dung heap with a difference. I've never see one Egyptian Goose on Orcombe's dung heap, never mind 62! This rather smart Ruddy Shelduck was with them. Ripley (Hants).

The Moon at dawn this morning. Hants.