Saturday 30 September 2023

Shoveler, Skuas, Little Gulls

Whilst the twitchers are chasing the latest American rarities, stressing out over booking ferries (or not) or jumping on to islands to look at other peoples' local patches, some of us are getting their kicks from finding Shovelers in places where they're normally not! 

Counts on Orcombe were messed up because I was distracted by hundreds of gulls feeding in the bay. Amongst them were 10+ Arctic Skuas, at least 9 Balearic Shearwaters, 1+ adult Mediterranean Gull and just the one Sandwich Tern, though I could easily have missed others. I scrutinised each immature Gannet as it wheeled into the bay, in the vain hope that the Brown Booby might catch a whiff of whatever bait was drawing in the masses. Overhead stuff that did make it into the notebook included 150 Meadow Pipits (I would have missed/neglected many more), c50 'alba' wagtails, 8 Siskins (I didn't see a single one so again, under-counted), 55+ Linnets, a few Skylarks, 3 Swallows, 1 Redpoll, 1 Tree Pipit, 3 Chaffinches, 2+ Reed Buntings and a handful of Greenfinches and Goldfinches. Also - 4 Common Scoters past the point, 1+ Goldcrest, 1 Wheatear, 1 Rock Pipit, 5 Stonechats, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and the 5 Red-legged Partridges.

Off Mudbank, on the dropping tide - 2 first-winter Little Gulls (together on the tip of Cockle Sands), 165+ Brent Geese (at least 35 Pale-bellieds, so the majority are now Dark-bellied birds), 1 Shoveler, 1 Teal, 1 Knot, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 40+ Pintail, 1 Kingfisher and 88+ Shelduck. Overhead - 1 Redpoll, a couple Siskins and small numbers of Meadow Pipit.

Friday 29 September 2023

Lateish WW

Willow Warbler - Orcombe Point.

Orcombe Point this morning - 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Stonechats, c25 Chiffchaffs, c150 Meadow Pipits, 3 Grey Wagtails, 35+ Pied Wagtails, 20+ Goldfinches, 30/40+ Linnets, 9 Swallows, 7 House Martins, 7+ Siskins and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Offshore - an Arctic Skua chasing Kittiwakes. Also today - 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Kestrel, 2 Ravens and an adult Peregrine.
Mudbank - 1 first-winter Little Gull, 1 Osprey, 70+ Pintail, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, c20 Knot, 28 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 11 Grey Herons, c40 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 43 Mallard, 1 juvenile Peregrine and 1 raptor sp, presumably just a Buzzard, that kept ditching in the river before finally making it onto the back of a yacht. 
Yesterday - just a single Wheatear on Orcombe on a late visit and off Mudbank - c95 Brent Geese (guessing c70 Pale-bellied and the rest Darks), the Snow Goose, 81 Shelduck, 5 Black-tailed Godwits and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits.
27/9 - Orcombe Point, late pm - 9 Sandwich Terns and 2 Arctic Skuas. Duckpond - 4 Swallows, 1 or 2 Sand Martins, 2 Common Terns and 9 Sandwich Terns.
26/9 - Orcombe Point - 5 Yellow Wagtails.

Grey Herons are not infrequent off Mudbank but a flock this size is most unusual.

Two juvenile Swallows hunker down from the wind at the Imperial recreation ground.

One of two Common Terns that flew out of Duckpond - 27/9.

One of 5 Yellow Wagtails in with cattle on Orcombe Point - 26/9/23.

Monday 25 September 2023

Reed Buntings

The Osprey was again hunting the lower estuary from 1230 - 1pm at least. At one point it drifted over Exmouth, before flying directly overhead at some height.

Orcombe Point from 0655 - The first 3 Reed Buntings of the autumn, c200 Meadow Pipits over, c25 Chiffchaffs, 1+ Yellow Wagtail, c30 Siskins, 3 Grey Wagtails, 1 Wheatear, c50 Swallows, 4+ House Martins, 1 Goldcrest and a single Mute Swan (east) amongst a few other bits and bobs.
Mudbank - c75 Brent Geese (presumably mostly pale-bellied), 4 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Knot, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Kestrel 1 Osprey and 35 Little Egrets. Still waiting for the bulk of Wigeon and the Dark-bellied Brent Geese to arrive, although the current mild weather doesn't feel conducive for any sort of arrival.

Wheatear - Orcombe Point.

Sunday 24 September 2023

Balearics, Osprey

Osprey - distantly from Mudbank.

A sea-watch from Orcombe Point, from shortly after 7am - 9am produced 32 Balearic Shearwaters, 17+ Common Scoters, 1 Great Northern Diver and 1 Arctic Skua.
Off Mudbank - 1 Osprey, 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 8 Sandwich Terns, 1 Dunlin, 2 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 or 2 Greenshank, 70 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and at least 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Also, 72 Shelducks on Cockle Sands.

Black-tailed Godwit - Mudbank.

Saturday 23 September 2023

Mipits, Little Gull


Meadow Pipit - Orcombe Point. Most of this morning's birds were flying west. Only small numbers were grounded.

Orcombe Point from 0655 - c600 Meadow Pipits, c30 Siskins (an absolute minimum as most were too high to see, so I recorded a call as just one bird), c30 Chiffchaffs, 3 Wheatears, 1+ Yellow Wagtail, 1+ Tree Pipit, 16+ 'alba' wagtails, c50+ Linnets, 1 Chaffinch, 3 Grey Wagtails, c25 Swallows, c40 House Martins, 3 Goldcrests, 1 Starling, up to 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Coal Tit and 1 Blackcap. Also - 3 Clouded Yellows and a Painted Lady.

Mudbank - highlight was a lovely first-winter Little Gull, flushed off Cockle Sands by a juvenile Osprey which it then proceeded to mob, before flying upriver, at 1350. The Osprey was seen on and off until 1450 at least. Also off there - 525+ Wigeon, 7 Teal, 17 Pintail, 9 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Black-tailed Godwits, 14 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Knot, 5 Sandwich Terns, c75 Brent Geese (distant but presumably mostly Pale-bellied birds), 1 juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, the Pintail x Wigeon hybrid, 1 Kingfisher and a Redpoll over - my first of the autumn.

Friday 22 September 2023

Siskins and Catch-up

This morning's single Wheatear - Orcombe Point.

Wigeon flock, looking upriver from Mudbank.

Orcombe Point was great this morning. A cool north-westerly and clear skies got stuff moving, almost exclusively in a westerly direction although most of the Linnets seemed to be going east. Totals from 0650 included 130+ Siskins, c355+ Meadow Pipits, 18+ Chiffchaffs, 1+ Yellow Wagtail, 1 Tree Pipit, 10+ 'alba' wagtails, 4 Grey Wagtails, c70 Linnets, 1 Blackcap, 1 Wheatear, 1 Stonechat, 1 Sand Martin, c30+ House Martins, c20/30+ Swallows, 6 Skylarks (with another 11 in the top fields), 2 Peregrines (ad + juv), 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 1 Kestrel
Off Mudbank - 1 Greenshank, 8 Knot, 9 Bar-tailed Godwits, 62+ Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 4+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 495+ Wigeon, 1 Teal, 8 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Siskins over, along with a few Meadow Pipits.

Sandwich Terns - Exmouth beach 20/9.

20/9 - Orcombe Point late afternoon, having missed all the seabirds whilst being stuck at work - c25 Meadow Pipits, 1 Wheatear, c10+ Swallows, c10/15+ House Martins and 1 Yellow Wagtail.
19/9 - a flock of c20 Siskins flew down our road, as I walked home for lunch.
18/9 - a short sea-watch from the beach huts, first thing, produced 12 Shearwater sp (probably all Balearics), 1 Common Scoter and 1 Sandwich Tern.
Orcombe Point - 18+ Chiffchaffs, 16+ Siskins, 40+ Meadow Pipits, 5 Grey Wagtails, 1 first-winter Common Gull, c80+ hirundine sp, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps and 1 Yellow Wagtail.
A Wheatear was on the Imperial recreation ground along with a flock of c250 Starlings. Nearby, off Mudbank - 68 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Redshank, 13 Pintail, 3 Knot, 1 Osprey (over Powderham corner), 2 Meadow Pipits, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Kestrel and the Pintail x Wigeon hybrid.

One of three Clouded Yellows on Orcombe on the 18th. A probable Red-veined Darter was seen briefly before a gust of wind swept it away.

Wheatear - Imperial recreation ground 18/9/23.

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.