Sunday 30 April 2023

Cuckoo, LRP

One of three Whinchats, together on Orcombe Point this morning. I was hoping for a shot of the pristine male that was present, but it was always one step ahead of me.

A thoroughly enjoyable spell of birding on Orcombe this morning, from 0620 - 0920. It's not often a spring morning produces any numbers or variety but it kind of happened today. Overnight rain, a warm, overcast dawn with a whiff of easterly wind are conditions I never usually experience at this time of year. Best bird was a Little Ringed Plover that flew over north, calling 'piu' at 8am. Additionally, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Redstarts, 3 Whinchats, 5 Wheatears, 3 Sedge Warblers, 12+ Whitethroats, 6 Willow Warblers, up to 14 Swallows, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 1 Reed Bunting and 4 Meadow Pipits were logged. Also noted - 3 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Bullfinches, 2 Shelducks, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Fulmar and 3 Red-legged Partridges.
The earlier Little Ringed Plover was, believe it or not, only my second ever in Exmouth, so imagine my surprise to find 2 Off Mudbank this afternoon. Also off there - 74 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Greenshank, 18 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 6 Turnstones, 6 Common Gulls, 1 Black-headed Gull, 1 Mediterranean Gull and 8 Mute Swans.
Orcombe yesterday, late morning - 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Snipe and 1 Willow Warbler. Offshore - 1 Common Tern, 6+ Sandwich Terns, 4+ Guillemots and a flock of 39 Shags.
On the 28/4 - a late look off the seafront produced 50+ Sandwich Terns and a drake Tufted Duck.

This smart, male Reed Bunting was a surprise on Orcombe this morning. It's a species I'm used to seeing in the autumn but not at this time of year.

This Cuckoo perched and showed well for a few seconds, down near Orcombe Point. Unfortunately it soon slipped away and I tracked it moving up the hill, dashing between trees, before it headed off, purposefully east. I was very lucky to get this shot for posterity. I later bumped into a couple locals who both said that a singing male had moved through Maer Valley early on. Later, Lu and I walked the dog around Bystock and we heard another singing, which I'm pretty sure is the one I had the other day. So at least three Cuckoos in Exmouth today which is just brilliant!

This 'rough' camper could have picked a better place to stay the night. I wonder how many flat Green-winged Orchids I'll find tomorrow?!

First-summer Mediterranean Gull - Mudbank.

I would love to have photographed today's LRPs but they were way out on the mud so I had to make do with a field sketch - keen to get some sort of record of what is an extremely difficult bird to see in Exmouth. Just one previous record before today.

Male Tufted Duck - Bystock. One of a pair on there today, which is not unprecedented at this time of year.

Sedge Warbler - West Lodge - yesterday.

Thursday 27 April 2023

Lesser Whitethroat

A job up in Hampshire, plus a load of other stuff to do meant I didn't make it out 'til late this afternoon. This bedraggled Lesser Whitethroat was worth getting a soaking for. I had no passage birds in Exmouth last year but of course there was the wintering individual. Otherwise just 3 'new' Whitethroats noted, in areas I've not seen them so far this year.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Arctic Skua

This pair of Whimbrel was feeding in the top fields yesterday, before flying off east. It's not often they touch ground on Orcombe but one of the big cow fields is still nice and attractively muddy.

A beautiful pale-phase Arctic Skua paused briefly off the seafront this afternoon, before heading out to sea. Also, on a very brief, post-work sea-watch, 3 Manx Shearwaters, c10/15+ Sandwich Terns, 1 Shelduck, 1 Great Crested Grebe and a flock of 14 Whimbrel 'in-off'.
Yesterday, after work, a quick scoot around the top fields of Orcombe revealed 1 Wheatear, 2 Whimbrel, 5 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, 6+ Swallows, 4 Whitethroats, 3 Willow Warblers and a surprise, non-reeling Grasshopper Warbler, briefly caught out in the open at the base of a hedge before creeping into cover. Also, a Silver Y moth of note.

Wheatear - a presumed 'Greenland' or Icelandic bird on Orcombe Point yesterday.

Monday 24 April 2023

Sandwich Terns

At least 95 Sandwich Terns off the seafront this evening. Most a little too far off to check for orange bills. Also a single Manx Shearwater off there. 
Otherwise today, off Mudbank - 27 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Redshank, 7 Grey Plovers, 65 Carrion Crows, 2 Dunlin, 29+ Sandwich Terns and 64+ Whimbrel.
A quick look at Orcombe produced the usual stuff with just 2 Willow Warblers and a singing Sedge Warbler of note. Nine Whimbrel flew past the point.

Sunday 23 April 2023


Sedge Warbler - Orcombe Point.

My first Cuckoo was singing in the Bystock reserve this morning. A very welcome sound! Also - a few Willow Warblers and Blackcaps on territory up there, as well as a Firecrest, though I didn't search the areas where I normally see them. A Tree Pipit singing just outside the reserve, on the edge of East Budleigh Common, was unexpected as they're no longer a regular fixture on the pebbled heaths.

Earlier, I'd spent the first couple hours of daylight covering Orcombe Point. Totals included 2 reeling Grasshopper Warblers, at least 1 Sedge Warbler, 6+ Blackcaps, 1 Meadow Pipit, 4 Swallows, 5 Whitethroats, 8+ Chiffchaffs and 9+ Willow Warblers. Also noted - 2 Sandwich Terns, 1 Fulmar, 1 Common Gull and 2 Red-legged Partridges.

Mudbank counts on the dropping tide, around midday - 72 Whimbrel, 16 Bar-tailed Godwits, 30+ Sandwich Terns, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Swallows and 1 Redshank. A male Whitethroat was back on territory a little further upriver and a Reed Warbler was singing from the West Lodge reedbed. It was in exactly the same spot as one a couple days ago so is presumably the same bird. Fingers crossed it stays to breed.


Green Long-horn Adela reaumurella - Bystock.

Chiffchaff - Bystock.

Saturday 22 April 2023

White G-w Orchid

Judging by the flattened grass around it, this pretty much perfect, white Green-winged Orchid has been attracting some attention. It's really beautiful.

Pretty quiet again on Orcombe this morning but great to catch up with Libby and Delia. Birdwise - just 4 Willow Warblers, 4 Whitethroats and 6 Blackcaps noted. A flock of 63 Whimbrel was roosting on the sea wall below Mudbank, along with a single Redshank.

Yesterday off Mudbank - 5 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 17 Whimbrel and c35 Bar-tailed Godwits. Orcombe was a bit livelier than today, even late in the afternoon, with 6 Wheatear, 2 Willow Warblers, 8+ Swallows, 8 Chiffchaffs, 6 Blackcaps and 3 Whitethroats recorded after work. A single Guillemot was not too far off the point, which is quite unusual these days.

A flock of 63 Whimbrels blends in rather well to the sea wall below Mudbank. I only realised they were there when a passing train put them up.

Thursday 20 April 2023

Pied Whitethroat

This aberrant Whitethroat provided the oddest sighting this morning.

I had to work up in Somerset first thing so I didn't get up to Orcombe until much later than I'd have liked. Once up there it was immediately apparent that a load more migrants were in. My totals included 6 Whitethroats, 5 Wheatears, 1 Sedge Warbler, at least 10 Willow Warblers, 1 Swallow, 1 Meadow Pipit, at least 11 Blackcaps, 7 Chiffchaffs and 3+ Redstarts. Good to see Tom again.
An afternoon stroll to West Lodge produced singles of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler. The pair of Reed Buntings was in the reedbed there. 

Almost impossible to photograph, this male Redstart was one of at least 2, probably three, along the track leading down to the Bristol Schools camp. I found a female in the top fields and Tom saw a female in the same area as the males. I'm guessing several moved through Orcombe today.

One of six Whitethroats this morning.

Monday 17 April 2023


Another good spell of birding on Orcombe this morning (though I couldn't get up there as early as I'd have liked). A clear fall of birds, in warm, windless and overcast conditions, included at least 15 Wheatears, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, at least 11 Willow Warblers, 10 Chiffchaffs, 5 Blackcaps, 1 Whitethroat, 4+ Swallows and 2 Sand Martins. Also recorded - 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Shelduck and 1 Bullfinch. Great to do some birding with Tom this morning.

Off Mudbank - 33 Bar-tailed Godwits, 28 Whimbrel, 16 Canada Geese, 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 27+ Sandwich Terns, 23 Black-headed Gulls and 21 Shelduck.

The Wheatears seemed quite large and richly-coloured so presumably Icelandic or Greenland birds.

Small White.

Sunday 16 April 2023


One of three Whimbrels off Mudbank this afternoon.

Three reeling Grasshopper Warblers (only one actually seen) in the top fields this morning. Other migrants on Orcombe included 6 Willow Warblers, 9 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Wheatears, 1 Swallow and 8 Black-headed Gulls. Two distant, offshore wader species were probably Whimbrels. Otherwise of minor note - 2 Collared Doves, 2 Red-legged Partridges, 1 Grey Wagtail and 1 Mallard.
A quick look off Mudbank, before Joel's football kicked off - 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 8 Redshank, 1 Turnstone, 3 Whimbrel and 1 Sandwich Tern. Earlier, around 11am whilst walking the dog, all gulls and Oystercatchers on the river took to the air. Only an Osprey (or something bigger) usually has that effect but I couldn't find the culprit. A pair of Reed Buntings at West Lodge are potential breeders - my first in Exmouth this year.
Just prior to dark, off Mudbank - 35 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Common Gulls and 25+ Sandwich Terns.

Green-winged Orchids - Orcombe Point.

 This very black-looking Lesser Black-backed Gull (compare with GBBG to the left) was off Mudbank this afternoon. Would have liked a closer look but it wasn't ringed.

Friday 14 April 2023

Redstart, Yellow Wags

Heavy rain and a cold, driving easterly forced me indoors this morning. Family time with Lu and the kids, cooked breakfast, lots of tea and a bit of painting was all very nice. I had to wrap up and force myself out into the miserableness but the prospect of some 'downed' migrants was too much to ignore. Crap by most birders' standards but quite good for Orcombe - 1 male Redstart, up to 3 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 phyllosc sp, 9+ Chiffchaffs, 2+ Wheatears, up to 11 Meadow Pipits, 4+ Rock Pipits, 5+ Swallows, 3 House Martins and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


Wednesday 12 April 2023

Common Terns

A quick look off the seafront this morning, from Maer Rocks, revealed 1 or 2 Common Terns, 2 or 3 Great Northern Divers, 6 Sandwich Terns, 3 Common Gulls and 4 Fulmars, along with small numbers of Gannets and Kittiwakes.
On Cockle Sands, as the tide dropped - 10 Sandwich Terns, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and 5 Whimbrel.

Tuesday 11 April 2023

So Quiet Still

Quite a few Green-winged Orchids are now out. Yippee!

Disappointingly quiet still. The only noteworthy snippet from today - 75+ Sandwich Terns and 1 Black-headed Gull off Shelly Beach. Otherwise - off Mudbank - 2 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 21 Bar-tailed Godwits and 1 Swallow. Also, a singing Willow Warbler there. Off Orcombe - the 2 immature drake Eiders still.
Yesterday off Mudbank - 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 6 Redshank.
9/4 - Orcombe Point - 1 female-type Cirl Bunting, 1 Willow Warbler and 2 Meadow Pipits.

 Little Egret - Maer Valley.

Saturday 8 April 2023

G-w Orchids

Sarah and Libby found a couple early-flowering Green-winged Orchids on Orcombe Point yesterday. This is the best I could do but it won't be too long before the fields of Orcombe are once again purple and pink with hundreds of this stunning flower. Again very few birds with just 6 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Cirl Buntings, 1 Swallow, 8 Sandwich Terns, 9 Woodpigeons, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Meadow Pipit, 2 Shelduck and 1+ Goldcrest noted. 

Mudbank - 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 6 Sandwich Terns, 1 Black-headed Gull, 7 Little Egrets, 13 Shelduck and 4 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Continuing the recent run of sightings, this male Cirl Bunting sang for a bit and then, after a quick feed, flew off inland. The second bird, a female-type, was seen briefly some distance away, before flying east. There's still some hope that they may breed this year but both birds may well have just been on route to somewhere else...

Friday 7 April 2023


A beautiful day today but very few birds around locally so, with Lu and the kids at her sister's, I hopped on the bike and pootled over to Budleigh.  Interesting to see how the Lower Otter Restoration Project is coming along. The Lesser Yellowlegs was easily picked up as it was one of  few birds on the marsh, but was never terribly close. A really nice find Chris - many thanks! Great to bump into Ag there this afternoon. Also great to see Carl and Jane on Orcombe Point. Very few birds up there but 2 House Martins were my first this year and at least 1 Swallow passed through. The only other snippet from today - 14 Bar-tailed Godwits off Mudbank on the dropping tide.

Thursday 6 April 2023

Whimbrels and Kites

Whimbrel - Mudbank. One of two this morning.

Orcombe was again really quiet this morning - just the 2 immature male Eiders and a couple Blackcaps of note.
Mudbank was better with my first 2 Whimbrels of the year, 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Sandwich Terns, 5 Little Egrets, 2 Red Kites and an Osprey. Otherwise today - a single Swallow through West Lodge whilst Lu and I walked the dog.
Yesterday off Mudbank - c250 Oystercatchers, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 7 Turnstones, 4 Redshank, 11 Bar-tailed Godwits and 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.
Orcombe - the 2 immature drake Eiders, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Swallow and 2+ White Wagtails
A quick look along Courtlands Lane (which is officially Lympstone, not Exmouth) revealed a flock of at least 70 Linnets in stubble fields, and at least 3 Willow Warblers.

The first Red Kite flew upriver just before 9am. Seen from the back garden.

The second Red Kite came across the river and continued east shortly after 1115.

At least 2, probably 3, White Wagtails are still knocking around the dung heap. This one photographed yesterday.

Bloxworth Snout. This first materialised in our dining room a couple nights ago but managed to evade capture. It appeared again last night and I was able to catch it and photograph it.

Tuesday 4 April 2023

Tundra Bean? Edit - Swan Goose!

A big thank you to Steve for getting in touch. He pointed out that  Bean Goose is perhaps a better fit for this morning's goose. I initially thought there was too much white in the tail but I may have been a bit hasty in this assumption. The dark underwing, dark rear flank patch, longer-looking bill and apparently orangey feet do indeed look promising. Steve suggested doing some further 'digging' so if anyone has any suggestions please do let me know.

Edit - a big thank you to Chris Townend for solving the puzzle. An immature Swan Goose turned up on the LORP shortly after this flew over. I don't think I'd ever have arrived at that identification!