Thursday 31 August 2023

Wet Orcombe Migrants

Seen first thing, in horrible weather, these Cattle Egrets didn't stick around.

I got pretty soaked this morning but you can't stay indoors when rain accompanies a south-easterly can you! I logged 2 Cattle Egrets, 2 Redstarts, 1 Whinchat, c20 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Tree Pipits, up to 8 Wheatears, 5 Willow Warblers, c10 Chiffchaffs, 1 juvenile Stonechat, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, c10 Swallows and 1 Blackcap. The 5 Red-legged Partridges were again in the top fields. On the insect front -  one Clouded Yellow noted.
Mudbank - The Osprey again on its favored perch, off Lympstone, from 1705 (when I arrived) - 1750 at least. Also - 3 Greenshank, 2 Pintails, 27 Shelducks, 25 Mute Swans, 1 Kingfisher, 5 Whimbrel, 9 Wigeon, 12+ Sandwich Terns, 1 Common Tern, 2 Common Sandpipers and 8+ Bar-tailed Godwits.

The first Redstart was looking a bit bedraggled and feeding low in a ditch, out of the wind and rain.

Redstart number two looked much smarter and posed out in the open, once it dried up a bit.

A flock of c20 Yellow Wagtails were in with cattle first thing.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Gropper, Green Sand

Tree Pipit - quite possibly the bird I photographed the other day. It was in pretty much the same spot.

Orcombe Point - 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 31 Yellow Wagtails, 1 alba wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Tree Pipits, c15 Chiffchaffs, 3 Whitethroats, 4 Blackcaps, 17+ House Martins, 9 Greenfinches, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, c20 Swallows and a single Knot that flew towards the river mouth
Off Mudbank - counts included 1 Green Sandpiper, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Whimbrel, 2 Redshank, 1 Turnstone, 20 Wigeon, 1 Grey Wagtail, 12 Mute Swans and 2 Sandwich Terns. The Osprey was off there at 0915 and again at 355 pm when it was perched on something midriver, and looked to be eating a fish. Eventually, pushed off by the rising water, it moved on to Cockle Sands and was still sat there when I left at 455pm. The only other snippet of news - the second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was again in the recycling centre first thing.

 Oystercatchers returning to roost after having been flushed by the Osprey this morning.

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Hobby, Knot Flock

 One of at least seven Wheatears on Orcombe today.

On Orcombe Point today - 1 Blackcap, 6 Grey Wagtails, 15+ Chiffchaffs, 23+ Yellow Wagtails, 1 Willow Warbler, 1+ Tree Pipit, 7+ Wheatears, 1 Sedge Warbler and c20+ Swallows.
Highlights at Mudbank were a juvenile Hobby that flew west, across the river, shortly after 1530, and a flock of 24 Knot. Additionally - 21 Wigeon, 3 Pintail, 5 Whimbrel, 2 Redshank, 1 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover, 4 Turnstones, 7 Bar-tailed Godwits, 40+ Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Wheatear, c15 House Martins, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull and 4 Yellow Wagtails over.
Also notable - a flock of c500+ Linnets in stubble fields between Sandy Bay and West Down Beacon. A very rough estimate which could be considerably higher. Also 1 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Wheatear there, along with a hunting juvenile Peregrine.

Monday 28 August 2023


 Tree Pipit - Orcombe Point.

Off Mudbank today - the first three returning Pintails along with 8 Teal, 5+ Wigeon, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Knot, 5 Whimbrel and the second-summer Yellow-legged Gull. The Osprey was hunting the river 'til 0630 at least.
Quieter on Orcombe Point, and a later visit than usual but 10+ Chiffchaffs, 2 Tree Pipits, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Yellow Wagtails, c20 Swallows, 4+ House Martins, 1+ Sand Martin, 2 Wheatears, 1 Whitethroat and 1 Sedge Warbler all made it into the notebook. Additionally - a flock of c40 Linnets, 1 Kestrel and 5 Red-legged Partridges (2 juveniles) were recorded.

Sunday 27 August 2023

Osprey, Crossbills

Mudbank - an Osprey caught a fish off Mudbank at 1255 and then flew to a post off Lympstone to consume it. Also off there - 8 Teal, 1 Common Tern, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot, 2 Ringed Plovers, 11 Whimbrel, 1 Wigeon, c180 Mallard  and 1 Grey Heron.
On Orcombe Point (0635 - 0850) - 25+ Swallows, 2+ Blackcaps, c25 Yellow Wagtails, 6+ Tree Pipits, 9 Grey Wagtails (including a family party of seven in the slurry pit), 12+ Chiffchaffs, 4 Whitethroats, 4 'alba' wagtails, 1 or 2 Wheatears, 1 Garden Warbler and 1 Willow Warbler.
The second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was asleep on a shed roof, in the Imperial rugby ground, over the high tide.
Yesterday, a family walk around Bystock resulted in a flock of 10 Crossbills - nice to see in what's been a lean year for this species.
A quick look on Orcombe, early on - 4 Whitethroats, 6+ Yellow Wagtails, c12+ Chiffchaffs, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 juv Willow Warblers and 3+ Tree Pipits.

Friday 25 August 2023

More Migrants

Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher.

Nothing unusual but some nice variety on Orcombe Point this morning (0620 - 0830) - 8+ Chiffchaffs, 7 Tree Pipits, c20 Swallows, 2 Sand Martins, 35+ Yellow Wagtails, 5+ Willow Warblers, 1 Garden Warbler, 4+ Blackcaps, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Wheatear, 4 Whitethroats, 3 Greenshank, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Firecrest, 9 House Martins, 6+ Grey Wagtails and 3+ Sedge Warblers. Additionally - 1 Red-legged Partridge (a pair fledged at least two young this summer), 1 Peregrine 1 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawks and a flock of 12 Greenfinches.

The second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was again in the recycling centre and, off Mudbank - 1 Osprey, 11 Wigeon, 2 Egyptian Geese, 3 Teal, 27 Shelducks, 18 Whimbrel, 4 Grey Herons, 24 Little Egrets, 1 Lapwing, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 8 Ringed Plovers, 7+ Dunlin, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Wheatear, 3 Sandwich Terns, 225+ Mallard, 1 Common Gull, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Turnstones and c6/700 Oystercatchers - an exceptionally large roost, indicating significant disturbance at the Warren.

Firecrest - along the track to the Bristol Schools camp.

Two of at least three Sedge Warblers noted on Orcombe this morning.

Egyptian Geese - Mudbank.

This morning's Osprey. First seen at 1020, it hunted the middle of the river for some time afterwards.

 Yes, it's still here - the second-summer Yellow-legged Gull.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Melodious Warbler

Three shortish trips up to Orcombe Point today, with the clear highlight - a Melodious Warbler - picked up on its sparrow-like chattering call as I strolled along the coast path, first thing. Within a couple minutes it was showing quite well, feeding on Sloes and Blackberries, I think. It was so good to see so many migrants today, after weeks of pretty much nothing. Species logged included 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Garden Warbler, c30/40+ Yellow Wagtails, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Wheatears, c15 Chiffchaffs, 8+ Tree Pipits, 4 Whitethroats, 6+ Willow Warblers, 6 House Martins, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and c30 Swallows. Lovely to see so many familiar faces this morning - Dave Stone, Derek, Libby, Paul, Rob, Steph and Andy.
Yesterday on Orcombe - 10+ Yellow Wagtails and 2 Willow Warblers. Off Mudbank - 8 Wigeon and 16+ Whimbrel.
On the 21st - 17 Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Greenshank and 2 Wigeon.

Yellow Wagtail. Good numbers in with the cattle now, plus plenty moving through with Tree Pipits.

My first Garden Warbler of 2023. Was beginning to think I wasn't going to see one!

 Spotted Flycatcher

Saturday 19 August 2023

Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper - Mudbank. A surprisingly difficult species to see in Exmouth. After a blank year last year, I was chuffed to find this bird this morning. What's more, this is the first time I've photographed this species 'on the deck' in Exmouth. As far as I can remember, all my previous records of Green Sand have been very brief fly-overs. Good job their call is so loud and distinctive!

Mudbank - 2 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, c190 Curlew, just 3 Whimbrel, c50 Sandwich Terns and a fly-over Grey Wagtail
On a blown-out Orcombe Point - just 9 Wheatears.
Yesterday off Mudbank - 14+ Whimbrel, 4 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 21 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Common Terns, 14 Sandwich Terns and a single Teal (my first of the autumn). Late in the evening - 8+ 'commic' terns on Cockle Sands - probably all Commons. Orcombe Point - a quick look produced 4 Swifts (east) and 2 Wheatears.

Common Sandpiper - Mudbank

Thursday 17 August 2023

Cattle Egrets

Two Cattle Egrets in with about 25 Little Egrets off Mudbank, early this morning. Numbers building across the river apparently (and everywhere else for that matter) so wholly expected. Only managed a photo of one of them. Also off there - 1 Redshank, 15+ Whimbrel, c8 Ringed Plovers, 21 Shelduck, 345+ Mallard, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, c15/20 Sandwich Terns, 1 probable Arctic Tern and a Kingfisher.

Wednesday 16 August 2023

Y Wag

Juvenile Kestrel (note broad pale tips to primaries) - I think this is a female, showing coarsely barred upperparts and a sandy-brown tail.

A few migrants on Orcombe Point this morning - a pleasant surprise given the beautiful, clear conditions. The first Yellow Wagtail of the autumn was logged, along with 4+ Wheatears and c20 Swallows. Not having much luck with Willow Warblers! Also - 1 Blackcap, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Whitethroats, 6+ Chiffchaffs and 4 Skylarks.
The second-summer Yellow-legged Gull remains in the recycling centre and off Mudbank - 7 Sandwich Terns and 18 Whimbrel.
Yesterday on Orcombe - at least 1 (probably two) Cirl Buntings, 1 Reed Warbler, 10+ Swallows, 1 Wheatear and a Kestrel.

 The 2s Yellow-legged Gull flinches as a Great Black-back lands alongside it.


Monday 14 August 2023


 First-winter Yellow-legged Gull - Exmouth cricket pitch. Not a particularly stand-out individual but lots of newly-moulted scapulars drew attention and flight views confirmed identity. The long-staying second-summer was on the Imperial rugby ground, over the morning high tide.

An early morning sea-watch from the raised beach huts, from 0600 - 0710, was again pretty uneventful. Spells of poor visibility didn't help. Just 2 Arctic Skuas, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 1 shearwater sp (probably another Manxie), 11 Common Scoters and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull headed south, along with a steady trickle of Kittiwakes and Gannets.
A first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was on the cricket pitch and the second-summer bird was on the rugby pitch.
Off Mudbank - c220 Mallard, 12 Little Egrets, 22 Whimbrel and 1 Kingfisher.

Sunday 13 August 2023

Storm Petrel

These two juvenile Peregrines were feeding on a Feral Pigeon, off Mudbank this afternoon. A fantastic spectacle. Great to catch up with Derek and to see Andrew and Penny.

An early morning sea-watch was largely uneventful, but I was thrilled to pick up a Storm Petrel heading slowly south at 0640. My first in over 5 years! Otherwise just a handful of Gannets, 4 Sandwich Terns and c35 Kittiwakes. Nearby, on Orcombe Point - c10 Chiffchaffs and 3 Sedge Warblers. The Sedgies were a very pleasant surprise. A male was on territory up there all spring and todays sightings included a juvenile calling to an adult in exactly the same stretch of hedge. As far as I'm aware this is the first ever confirmed breeding for Orcombe Point. Had it not been so wet up there, earlier in the year, I doubt breeding would ever have occurred. 
The second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was in the recycling centre first thing and this afternoon it was off Mudbank, where 2 juvenile Peregines, 1 juvenile Mediterranean Gull and 335+ Mallard were also recorded.

Saturday 12 August 2023

YLG Still

The second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was back in the recycling centre over the high tide. Off Mudbank - 215 Mallard, c150 Oystercatchers, 4 Canada Geese, 24 Whimbrel, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Common Gulls and the Dark-bellied Brent Goose.

Tuesday 8 August 2023


Cuban Green Woodpecker (male) - a Cuban endemic.

Some highlights from a trip to Cuba. The first time that Lu and I have been away without the kids in over twenty years. The main aim was to visit Havana, so we based ourselves about an hour away, in Villa Jibacoa. No attempt to 'clean up' the many endemic Cuban species - I just explored the hotel area, venturing no further than half a mile away whenever Lu was sleeping or reading by the pool. I've heard both good and not so good things about Cuba as a holiday destination, but I can honestly say we both thought it was wonderful.

Cuban Pygmy Owl - another endemic species.

Ashy Gecko - juvenile.

Scorpion species.

Little Blue Heron

Cuban Tody - the endemic species I most wanted to see. Several of this tiny species found but usually quite tricky to photograph. 

White-crowned Pigeon - male.


Mangrove Warbler (Setophaga petechia gundlachi) This species breeds on Cuba. Other warblers seen included Black-and-White Warbler and the endemic Yellow-headed Warbler.

first-summer female?

Yellow-faced Grassquit - singing male.

Phaon Crescent Phyciodes phaon

Black-whiskered Vireo

Orthemis sp - possibly schmidti?

Presumed Purple Bluet Enallagma cardenium - many thanks John!

Carribean Banner Lucinia sida - one of 20 species photographed on the trip. Masses of other butterfly species observed. Cuba's clearly a great country for butterflies.

Great Lizard-Cuckoo - a very strange species, running around and jumping from perch to perch, more than it flys. It's massive too.

White Peacock Anartia jatrophae

Loggerhead Kingbird

Female Cuban Emerald

Male Cuban Emerald

Western Stripe-headed Tanager - male.

Magnificent Frigatebird

Common Ground Dove

Adult Green Heron

Smooth-billed Ani

Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae

Baracoa Skipper Polites baracoa

Red-legged Honeycreeper - female.

Louisiana Waterthrush

Flambeau (male) Dryas julia

Red-legged Thrush - western race T.p.rubripes with reddish belly.

American Kestrel - the Cuban race Falco sparverius sparveroides, which exists in two colour morphs.

Cuban Peewee

Gray Kingbird - ridiculously common everywhere we went.

Cuban Blackbird - endemic.

West Indian Woodpecker

Cuban Trogon - endemic to Cuba and the national bird of Cuba. I only saw this thanks to some local expert knowledge - a lovely chap called Julio..

If you stay at Memories Hotel, Jibacoa, you'll bump into Julio walking his dog. He has brilliant knowledge of the local wildlife.