Sunday 26 November 2023

Grey Again

Kittiwake - Mudbank. A very irregular species off here.

Dismal weather today after yesterday's sunshine. Orcombe Point - 2 Red-throated Divers, 1 Great Northern Diver, 14+ Common Scoters, 1 female Eider, 1 Turnstone, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 or 2 Cirl Buntings, 1+ Snipe, c35 Skylarks, 1 Rock Pipit and 42+ Pied Wagtails. A female Black Redstart was in the Shelly Beach area and Mudbank counts included 1 Kittiwake, the female-type Common Scoter, 13+ Great Crested Grebes, c70 Redshank and at least 10, possibly 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, which is a bit of a relief after yesterday's negative post.

Kingfisher - Mudbank.

Female-type Black Red in the drizzle. No sign of the adult male but it's presumably still in the area.

Saturday 25 November 2023

First Frost

An early trip up to an icy Orcombe Point, hoping for a bit of cold weather movement. In the event a little disappointing with just 7 Lapwing, 1 Snipe, 1+ Brambling and 23+ Chaffinches on the move. Also recorded - 3 Cirl Buntings, c10 Blackbirds, 6+ Song Thrushes (a couple singing), 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests and 4 Red-legged Partridges.
Still only 3 Red-breasted Mergansers (utterly depressing) off Mudbank along with 8 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Chiffchaff and 9 Great Crested Grebes. Other stuff not counted. 
I made a little more effort yesterday with c225 Pintail (my highest count of the autumn/winter so far but 100 short of what I've had in the past), 10+ Bar-tailed Godwits, 10 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Snipe, 5 Teal, 3 Ringed Plovers, c1000+ Dunlin, 21+ Knot, 10+ Grey Plovers, 6 Black-tailed Godwits and 17+ Redshank logged on the incoming tide. Eight Fieldfares on Orcombe the only thing of note.
Only other news - 50+ Common Gulls off Mudbank on the 23/11.


Male Cirl Bunting. Just three on Orcombe this morning.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Kitts and Ducks

Stonechat - Orcombe Point. A couple of these by the dung heap in the weedy field with 2 or 3 Rock Pipits there now too. Otherwise c60/70+ Starlings and small numbers of Linnets, Skylarks, Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits.

A look at the sea, from the raised beach huts, from 0715 - 0815 revealed numbers of Gannets and auks south, but otherwise c180 Kittiwakes, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose and a drake Eider.
Off Mudbank - c120 Pintail and the Kestrel again hunting over there.
Yesterday morning - an hour's look at the sea, from 0730, produced 1 Curlew, 8 Common Scoters, just 10 Kittiwakes, 1 first-winter Mediterranean Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Red-throated Diver and a female-type Goldeneye that flew in towards the river mouth. A flock of c70 Gannets had amassed in the bay by the time I left at 0830.
Off Mudbank yesterday - c115+ Pintail, 34+ Teal, 1 Shoveler, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and, best of all,  a pair of Tufted Ducks. Also 2 Kingfishers.

Drake Tufted Duck off Mudbank yesterday. A female was off there too. Very infrequent off Mudbank.

Dunlin - Duckpond.

Friday 17 November 2023

Cirl Flock

Although I frequently encounter Exmouth Cirl Buntings these days, this morning's eight on Orcombe Point was unprecedented. A single bird was in scrub along the coast path and a flock of 7 was in the hedge close to the slurry pit. There's a chance they'll winter and, if they do, there's a chance their numbers will increase.
Also this morning, between 0730 and 10am - c5000+ Woodpigeons, 260+ Chaffinches, 3 Bramblings, 3 Siskins, 2 Reed Buntings, 1 Redwing, 2 Blackcaps, 17+ Blackbirds, 12+ Song Thrushes, c60 Goldfinches, 1+ Bullfinch, 8 Goldcrests, c15/20+ Meadow Pipits, c15/20+ Skylarks, 1 Chiffchaff, 5 Ring-necked Parakeets, 4 Stock Doves, 1 Stonechat, c10 Pied Wagtails and 8 Jackdaws.
Off Mudbank - c130 Pintails and nearby, at West Lodge, a Nuthatch and 2 Jays.

Five of the seven Cirl Buntings in this photo.

Thursday 16 November 2023

Purple Sands Shifting Sands

Just 2 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks this evening but a relief to see any at all. Maer Rocks has been largely covered in sand, so a low tide visit is necessary, and even then, there are far fewer rocks exposed than there used to be. This makes it much more prone to disturbance. It will be interesting to see if we get more than just a couple. Here's hoping...
Otherwise this evening - a lone Sandwich Tern off Shelly Beach and a small, male Sparrowhawk hunting the apartment rooftops.
Other snippets of news - a Cetti's Warbler by the Mudbank viewing screen yesterday evening.
On the 12th - 50 Black-tailed Godwits and 50 Pintail off Mudbank and a/the Cetti's Warbler between Mudbank and West Lodge, along the railway line.

I took this photo close to low tide the other day. Not many rocks for Purple Sandpipers to feed on. The beach is far  wider and deeper here than it's been for a long time. This also means that the end of the lifeboat ramp is nowhere near the sea!

Saturday 11 November 2023


A Great White Egret flies west with a large flock of  Woodpigeons, seconds after a phone call from Mark, alerting me to its presence over Exmouth! Fantastic communication there, although I'd like to think I'd have picked it up anyway, being deep in 'pigeon-count' mode.

Another fabulous morning on Orcombe. No wind and clear skies meant many birds passed too high to see, but I still managed to log c18000 Woodpigeons, c300 Chaffinches, 1 Swallow, c50 Goldfinches, 1 Great White Egret, 5 Bramblings, 2 Redpolls, 8 Rooks, 7 Reed Buntings, 11 Skylarks, 2 Siskins, 17+ Stock Doves and 1 Dunlin. Also - 12+ Blackbirds, 12+ Song Thrushes, 12+ Greenfinches, 2 Bullfinches, 3 Stonechats, 1 Grey Wagtail, 30+ Pied Wagtails, 2 Chiffchaffs, c45 Starlings, 5 Ring-necked Parakeets, c20 Linnets, c20 Meadow Pipits and 1 Tawny Owl (located by alarm-calling Blackbirds in scrub not far from the Geoneedle).
A Yellow-browed Warbler was a surprise find at Mudbank. It showed well all afternoon. Also there - 1 Goldcrest, 5+ Bar-tailed Godwits, 70+ Redshank, c500+ Dunlin, 3 Greenshank, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 15 Great Crested Grebes, 6+ Knot, 12 Teal, and 15+ Pintail. Wigeon, Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Turnstones weren't counted but a few Pale-bellied Brent Geese are still present.

This morning's GWE, not done any justice by my terrible photos!

Too windy yesterday but a male Eider flew past Orcombe Point and a Cirl Bunting was near the slurry pit. Otherwise just 13 Knot off Mudbank worthy of a mention.

November 6th (from 0705) - c11000 Woodpigeons, at least 23 Stock Doves, c430 Chaffinches, 105+ Goldfinches, 1 Brambling, 1 Redpoll, 3 Reed Buntings, 1 Cirl Bunting, c45 Pied Wagtails (in with cattle) and 10+ Siskins.
Off Mudbank - the female Common Scoter, 2 Kingfishers, 17 Pintail, 1 Bullfinch, c160 Turnstones and the regular Kestrel.

Picked up on a single call, this Yellow-browed Warbler spent the afternoon feeding in a very small area of Oaks behind the bench, near the viewing screen, at Mudbank. It repeatedly returned to a Hawthorn directly behind the bench and often showed very well. Having said that it, it was typically hyperactive and unusually quiet.

Sunday 5 November 2023

Chaffinches, Woodies

Woodpigeons started moving at dawn and were still moving when I left at 1015. Counting them was quite overwhelming. My minimum of 17000 I'm pretty sure is some way short. One of the problems of counting from the clifftop is you miss birds moving further inland. All species seem to pass on a broad front over Orcombe, so my totals won't reflect the true scale of what passes over.

My best efforts - 615+ Chaffinches (with 130+ finch sp likely to be largely this species), 175+ Goldfinches, 10+ Siskins, 17000+ Woodpigeons, 1 Golden Plover, 2 Bramblings, 1 Reed Bunting, 4 Cirl Buntings (2 west, 2 grounded), 2 Short-eared Owls, 1 Redwing, c40 Meadow Pipits, c10 Pied Wagtails, 2 Snipe, 1+ Bullfinch, c50 Starlings, 2+ Stonechats, 6 Goldcrests, 8 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Coal Tit, 5 Blackbirds, 7 Chiffchaffs, 17 Stock Doves, c30+ Skylarks, c30/40+ Linnets and c30 Black-headed Gulls.

Woodpigeons - at times way too hard to count - big flocks suddenly appearing over the cliff-top and passing out over the sea. As I was trying to get my head around the above flock more birds came streaming over...

 This Short-eared Owl spent the entire morning sitting on this post. Another flipped over the same hedge and disappeared. It's tempting to think this is two 'new' birds as there was no sign of either yesterday. It's probably a bit more prudent however to assume they're the same birds that I saw a couple days ago. Who knows?

Saturday 4 November 2023

Mudbank SEO

Orcombe wasn't as good today. A strong westerly forced many of the 3000+ Woodpigeons down to hedge height, but seemed to stop other species moving. Other sightings included 7 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (see above photo), 2 Little Egrets, 1 Snipe and a late Painted Lady butterfly. A look at the sea revealed 3 Great Northern Divers, 1 Common Scoter, a handful of Gannets and a smart drake Eider.

A Short-eared Owl flushed from scrub down at Mudbank, shortly before midday - my sixth so far this year in Exmouth. I would never had found it, had it not been for all the attention it was receiving from four dive-bombing Carrion Crows. A Great Northern Diver was off there too, along with the usual stuff, although 6 Knot and 2 Grey Plovers are perhaps worthy of a mention.

 Little Egret - Shelly Beach.

Friday 3 November 2023

SEOs, Goldeneye

Short-eared Owl - the first one found this morning, before it moved to a post at the edge of the field. See below.

Much calmer today, and quite clear, so a much-appreciated resumption in overhead movement. The following totals recorded between 0710 and 1005 - 2 Short-eared Owls, 1 Ring Ouzel (probably the long-stayer), 1 Brambling, 120+ Chaffinches, 5000+ Woodpigeons, 1 Cirl Bunting, 3 Redwings, 7+ Song Thrushes, 6 Blackbirds, 3+ Bullfinches, 7+ Goldcrests, 3 Chiffchaffs, c10 Pied Wagtails, c40 Goldfinches, 4+ Stock Doves, c20+ Meadow Pipits, 1 Reed Bunting, 10+ Siskins, 1 Curlew, c20+ Linnets, c20/30 Starlings, c30+ Skylarks, 4 Stonechats, 1 Sparrowhawk (high west), 1 Kestrel and 5 Buzzards.
Mudbank - 8 Greenshank, c100 Turnstones, 20 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 female Common Scoter and the first returning Goldeneye.
A male Black Redstart was on apartment rooves in the Shelly Beach area.

The second of this morning's Short-eared Owls - flushed from the same field as the first but from the opposite side. It ended up in the same hedge as the first one though. 

Goldeneye - Mudbank

Black Redstart - Shelly beach. Presumably the returning male.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Storm Ciaran Cachinnans

Nothing seabird-wise today but as I scanned from the seafront I paused to check the beach and there was one gull on it - a first-winter Caspian Gull! I fired off a couple photos, in awful conditions, and contemplated moving onto the beach to get closer, but it took off . Initially it headed towards the river mouth but was soon swept back over the town and I couldn't relocate it anywhere. Otherwise - just a male Common Scoter off there and a single Sanderling on the beach, up by the lifeboat station.

Mudbank was blown out too but 2 Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plovers, c50+ Turnstones and 17 Bar-tailed Godwits were logged.

Looking across to Langstone Rock. It looks as if Dawlish Warren received another battering.

Just one gull on the beach and it's a first-winter Caspian Gull.

 Greenshank - Mudbank