Sunday 14 April 2024

Yellow Wagtail

I found this Tawny Pinion next to a light in the Bristol Schools camp this morning. Not an uncommon species but only the second one I've seen.

Highlight on Orcombe Point this morning was my first Yellow Wagtail of the year. It was feeding on the main dung heap before flying off high west. Also this morning - 1 Whitethroat, 7+ Wheatear, 1 Swallow, 8+ Blackcaps, 1+ Willow Warbler and 2 or 3 Collared Doves. The two resident Red-legged Partridges are still sneaking around the top fields.
Off Mudbank - 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 9 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, at least 19 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Knot, 7 Whimbrel, 1 Redshank and the returning leucistic Herring Gull.
Yesterday - c40/50 Sandwich Terns on Cockle Sands and a whiz round Bystock produced 7 Tufted Ducks, 1 Moorhen, 2 Siskins and a Firecrest.

One of six (3 pairs) of Shelduck in the main top field today.

Green-winged Orchid. One of several hundred spikes now in flower.

One of at least 7 Wheatear today.

 The leucistic Herring Gull made an unwelcome return today - off Mudbank on the dropping tide.

Two of seven Tufted Ducks on Bystock yesterday.

Friday 12 April 2024

Red Sword-grass

Red Sword-grass. A huge thanks to Nick who trapped this beauty in his Budleigh garden last night. A new one for both of us and one I've always hoped to see but never really expected to see.

Orcombe this morning - 7 Blackcaps, 12+ Chiffchaffs, 1 Swallow, 1 Stock Dove and 4 Willow Warblers. There appeared to be a light west-bound passage of Linnets and Goldfinches but no counts were made. A Wheatear was on the beach first thing and 3 'Greenland' Wheatears were on the Maer this afternoon - a nice bonus on a lovely spring stroll with Lu. 
Off Mudbank - c50 Sandwich Terns, 21 Bar-tailed Godwits and 4 Knot.

This whopping great 'leucorhoa'' Wheatear was one of three together on the Maer this afternoon.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Bits and Bobs

Little Egret - Mudbank.

Mudbank today, on the dropping tide - c70 Sandwich Terns, 7 or 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 14 Shelduck, 20 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Grey Plover, 5 Knot, 2 Redshank, 6 Whimbrel, 1 Black-headed Gull, 14+ Common Gulls, 1 Blackcap and 1 Willow Warbler. On Orcombe Point - just 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Swallows, 5 Blackcaps, 9 Chiffchaffs and a pair of Cirl Buntings.
A few Willow Warblers were singing along the cycle track to Topsham and in Topsham - the Black-throated Diver and a Marsh Harrier. Both Willow Warbler and Reed Warbler were in song there. I spent this afternoon with Chris on the Lower Otter Restoration Project. Wonderful to catch up as always but not too much about. Little Ringed Plover, Goosander, Greenshank, Redshank, Willow Warbler and a handful of House Martins the highlights.

Whimbrel - Mudbank. One of six off there today.


Drake Goosander - river Otter.

Orange-tip. Saw Holly Blues today too.

I cycled to Topsham this morning for this Black-throated Diver that is currently languishing off the recreation ground. An odd record anywhere on the river but particularly strange this far upstream.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Arctic and Little Terns

Two half-hour looks off Maer Rocks today - the first from 0655-0725 and the second from 330pm-4pm. This afternoon it felt like I'd had a better year for terns than the whole of last year, with c40 Sandwich Terns, 5 Little Terns and a beautiful Arctic Tern fishing not too far offshore. This morning - 2 Little Egrets, 2 Little Terns, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Whimbrel and 14+ Sandwich Terns.

Monday 8 April 2024

Grasshopper Warbler, Whitethroat

 As far as I'm aware, the tiny reedbed at West Lodge is the only place in Exmouth where Reed Bunting breeds. This fine male was in full song this morning, despite the rain.

A Grasshopper Warbler was this morning's highlight. It was reeling beside the first double gate at the top of Gore Lane. I stood and listened to it for ages but it never showed, as is typical for this species on spring passage. I flushed my first Whitethroat of the year along the coastal path but it too remained hidden thereafter. Not a lot else this morning with 10 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps, c20 Linnets, 2 Bullfinches and a single Swallow noted. Five Shelduck and a Mallard were in the large cattle field at the top of Gore Lane, which is more like a swamp than a field at the moment.
Otherwise today - a male Reed Bunting at West Lodge and off Mudbank - 21 Turnstones, 14 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Redshank and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Sunday 7 April 2024

Little Tern

A Little Tern flew close inshore, past Maer Rocks, at 0815 this morning. It was heading towards the river mouth. Good to see having missed this species completely last year. Otherwise, watching from 0650 - 0835 produced 2 Arctic Skuas, 8 Fulmars, 55+ Gannets, 5 Common Scoters, 4 Whimbrel, 7 wader sp (Whimbrel or Bar-tailed Godwits), 2 Red-throated Divers, 6 Great Northern Divers, 2 diver sp, 4+ auk sp, c50+ Kittiwakes, 2 Shelduck and 12+ Sandwich Terns.
The lingering, lonesome Dark-bellied Brent Goose was on the Imperial rugby ground and off Mudbank - 14 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and 1 Swallow through.
A short sea-watch yesterday morning, between 0700 and 0800, produced 11 Red-throated Divers, 1 Great Northern Diver, 12+ Sandwich Terns, c50 Gannets and 1 Shelduck. An Arctic Skua was seen off the seafront late in the afternoon.
Off Mudbank - 7 Great Crested Grebes.

Friday 5 April 2024


 A big thank you to John and Helen who live a few doors up the road. This gorgeous but tired-looking female Wheatear spent a considerable time on their garden fence this afternoon, and I was very kindly invited round to see it. There weren't any on Orcombe point first thing this morning. A Willow Warbler was the only migrant noted in windy conditions. Very little else to report but a Kestrel was again hunting the Mudbank area and yesterday c60 Sandwich Terns were resting on Cockle Sands before they were dive-bombed by a Peregrine.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Common Terns

One of Orcombe's singing male Blackcaps.

At least 5 Common Terns were off the seafront first thing this morning, along with a handful of Sandwich Terns, 2 Fulmars and a smart, second-summer Mediterranean Gull. A few Gannets, Kittiwakes and Common Gulls were also moving south. Not much on Orcombe Point but a Wheatear was new-in and 2 Red-legged Partridges are still knocking around. Off Mudbank - 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 5 Sandwich Terns, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Greenshank and 3 Redshank.

Yesterday off there - my first Swallow of the year, 13+ Sandwich Terns, c90 Curlew, 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 1 Redshank, 2 Turnstones, 14 Knot, c25 Common Gulls, c30 Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Canada Geese. On Orcombe Point - 1 male Cirl Bunting, 9+ Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackcap, 2 Shelduck, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Fulmar, 1 Meadow Pipit, 2 Little Egrets, 4 Song Thrushes and c30+ Linnets.

On 1/4 - Orcombe Point - 9 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps, 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Sandwich Tern, c30/40+ Linnets, 1 female Cirl Bunting, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Red-legged Partridge and 1 Siskin.

 Little Egret - Maer Lane.

Pied Wagtail - Orcombe Point.

Sunday 31 March 2024

Sandwich Terns, Manxies

Sandwich Tern off Mudbank (looking north towards Exeter). One of at least 32 off there today.

Pretty quiet in this neck of the woods still. Orcombe Point first thing - My first 6 Manx Shearwaters of the year (east), 3 Sandwich Terns, 11+ Common Scoters, 1 Blackcap, 5+ Chiffchaffs, 5 Mallard and 2 Shelduck. Off Mudbank - 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, 7 Pale-Bellied Brent Geese, 2 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, c30 Black-headed Gulls (east), 3 Great Crested Grebes and 32+ Sandwich Terns. A Willow Warbler was singing at the back of our garden throughout the morning..
30/3 - Orcombe Point - 10+ Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackcap, 3 Curlew (high east), 3 Meadow Pipits, 1 Little Egret (east), 1 Cirl Bunting (high west), 2 Sandwich Terns, 2 Mallards, 2 Shelducks and 2 Peregrines.
29/3 - Orcombe Point - 6 Common Scoters, 1 Sandwich Tern, 11 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, c25 Linnets and 1 Siskin.

Sandwich Tern off the Imperial rec - 28/3.

Willow Warbler - Orcombe Point 29/3.

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Early G-w Orchids

The first Green-winged Orchid spikes are now appearing on Orcombe Point.

No evidence of any new migrants on Orcombe this afternoon. Probably too late in the day. Off Mudbank - 9 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Yesterday off there - 12 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Greenshank and c60 Turnstones.
Late news for the 23rd on Orcombe Point - 10+ Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler. Some overhead movement included 9 Meadow Pipits, 17 Woodpigeons, 24+ Linnets and 5 Stock Doves.

Knot - Mudbank.

Friday 22 March 2024

Sandwich Tern, WW

Female Wheatear - Orcombe Point.

My first Sandwich Tern of the year flew past Orcombe Point early on and my first Willow Warbler was singing very softly from the hedgerow bordering the dung heap. Also today - a female Wheatear, 9+ Chiffchaffs, 2 Shelduck, 9 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 4 Common Scoters, 1 Blackcap and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Off the seafront - 1 Eider and c90 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Thursday 21 March 2024

Reed Bunting

A migrant Reed Bunting on Orcombe Point late this afternoon - hiding pretty effectively in hedgerow next to the dung heap. Also - a female Wheatear, 4+ Chiffchaffs, a male Stonechat and c10/15+ Meadow Pipits.
Off Mudbank - c90 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Yesterday afternoon on Orcombe - a male Wheatear and a pair of Cirl Buntings. Seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese were off Mudbank.
On the 19th, Mudbank counts included 13 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, c100 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Greenshank, 26 Shelducks and 10 Redshank. a flock of 32 Cattle Egrets flew from north of Starcross to somewhere in the Cockwood/Cofton area.

A pair of Cirl Buntings on Orcombe Point. Surely a good chance they'll breed up there this year?

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Mudbank. One of seven yesterday. Two off there late this afternoon and 13 off there on Monday.

Male Wheatear on the dung heap yesterday. There was a female there this afternoon.

Sunday 17 March 2024


My first Wheatear of the year was on a foggy Orcombe Point first thing this morning. Also - a small fall of Chiffchaffs totaling at least 7 birds, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Meadow Pipit and c50 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Two Ring-necked Parakeets were flying around over the top fields. Off Mudbank - 2 Greenshank and 76 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.
Yesterday on Orcombe Point - 6 Chiffchaffs, 58 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Cirl Bunting, 1 Siskin over, 1 Firecrest, 5 drake Mallards and 2 Shelducks. Off Mudbank - 56 Turnstones, 81 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Greenshank and 66+ Carrion Crows.

Male Ring-necked Parakeet outside a potential nest hole on Maer Lane yesterday. Two birds were flying noisily around the top fields this morning.

Friday 15 March 2024

Little Bunting

A big thank you to Tom who drove us down to Broadsands, in his very lovely EV, for this delightful Little Bunting. As good as a new bird for me as the last one I saw was at Slapton Ley on April 2nd 1989, way back when I was still just a spotty teenager! In the intervening thirty-five years I've resisted the urge to twitch a number of relatively close birds, in favour of trying to find my own. Well that strategy so far hasn't worked, but I remain hopeful. Many thanks to Mike for picking this bird up. All that seed eventually paid off!

Tuesday 12 March 2024


A quick post-work trip to Cranbrook for this gorgeous Waxwing. This is my first in twelve years (so the first time this species has featured on this blog) and was barely twelve miles outside the Exmouth boundary. Too close to resist and very much appreciated.

Monday 11 March 2024

White Wag

No Wheatears for me on Orcombe Point yet but this smart White Wagtail was feeding around the dung heap. Otherwise just 5 Chiffchaffs, c40 Linnets, 1 Goldcrest, 5+ Meadow Pipits and a couple Cirl Buntings (a male near the point and a female near the slurry pit).