Wednesday 28 February 2024

Kumlien's Again

 The juvenile Kumlien's Gull was on Bull Hill this evening - viewed from Shelly Beach. The Great Northern Diver was off there too and 9 Eider were off the seafront, feeding around Pole Sands. Below - a neat version of some field notes I took when I first found it on the 23rd. I'd love to have a closer look as views so far have really only hinted at the degree of pigmentation in the primaries, which look different depending on the angle at which you're looking at it.

Sunday 25 February 2024

Black-tailed Godwits

A flock of c560+ Black-tailed Godwits was roosting below the railway line, at Mudbank, as the tide dropped this morning. It was fantastic to get such good views. We don't normally get any decent-sized flocks until the autumn so today's gathering must have been as a result of some displacement, possibly flooding related, from further upriver. My only previous Black-wit this year was a single bird on February 7th. Nearby off Shelly Beach - 9 Eider (distant, towards Cockwood Corner) and 7 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Off the seafront early this morning - a single Guillemot, 9+ Red-throated Divers past, 1 Common Scoter and 2 Fulmars. A flock of waders roosting close to the lifeboat station consisted of c375+ Oystercatchers, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Dunlin, 7 Knot and 9 Sanderling

 Black-tailed Godwits - Mudbank.

It's unusual to get any waders roosting on the beach and I was pleasantly surprised at how several dog-walkers gave them a deliberately wide berth. They had at least half and hour's peace whilst I was there but then this fool decided she needed some social media 'likes'  - ploughing straight into them, phone aloft...

Friday 23 February 2024

Kumlien's Gull

A juvenile Kumlien's Gull off Mudbank late this afternoon. Unfortunately it was never close and, as the tide raced in, it moved further out. A hefty individual - appearing longer legged and heavier billed than Iceland Gull. In fact, my main concern was ruling out a leucistic Herring Gull. It showed darker outer primaries and a pretty well-marked tail band as well as a pink-based, blackish bill, lightly-scalloped scaps and pale pink legs. It moved on to Cockle Sands, then fed off Shelly Beach and was last seen by Kev, flying out to sea. Also off there this afternoon - 2 Eider and a Greenshank. Three Cirl Buntings remain on the Imperial recreation ground.

Saturday 17 February 2024

Somerset Levels

A long overdue day out with my good friend Derek and a much needed change of scenery. It's only an hour up the road but it's like being on another planet as far as birds are concerned. We visited Stathe, Greylake, Shapwick Heath and Catcott Lows, walking a good few miles and absorbing the sights and sounds that included courting Cranes and booming Bitterns. The day's totals included Baikal Teal, 2 adult Whooper Swans, 4 Glossy Ibis, 6 Common Cranes, 10+ Marsh Harriers, 1 juv Spoonbill, 19 Golden Plovers, c3/4000+ Wigeon, c1000+ Pintail, 25+ Great White Egrets, 3 Kingfishers, c10+ Cattle Egrets, c20+ Little Egrets, c35 Fieldfares, c20+ Siskins, c30 Gadwall, c30 Greylag Geese, 2 Stonechats, 7+ Pochard and c90 Tufted Ducks.

Glastonbury Tor and Great White Egret - Catcott Lows.

Glossy Ibis - Noah's Lake, Shapwick Heath.

Marsh Harrier - Catcott Lows.

Juvenile Spoonbill - Catcott Lows. This bird also flew over us at Shapwick Heath.

Huge congregations of mostly Wigeon and Pintail at Noah's Lake.

Believe it or not, the last time I saw a Pochard was in 2021!

Tuesday 13 February 2024


One of three Tufted Ducks (2 males and a female) on Bystock yesterday. My first in Exmouth this year, thanks to a message from Roger Hamling.

A look at the sea between 8am and 9am produced hundreds of auks moving south along with 13 Red-throated Divers, 5 diver sp, 14 Common Scoter and 1 Fulmar. Also - small numbers of Gannets and Kittiwakes. At least 2 Razorbills were close enough to identify. 
Off Mudbank - 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull, 4 Greenshank, 103 Knot, 15+ Bar-tailed Godwits and 35+ Grey Plovers. Nearby, at West Lodge - 4+ Siskins feeding on Alders.
Yesterday - off the seafront- 22 Great Crested Grebes and 1 Red-throated Diver. Off Mudbank - 1 Great Northern Diver and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Bystock Pool - 3 Tufted Ducks and 1 Moorhen.

Male Siskin - West Lodge 13/2/24.

Sunday 11 February 2024

Lesser Scaup!

Drake Lesser Scaup (left) with 3 Greater Scaup (male and 2 females) off Shelly beach this morning. Originally found from Dawlish Warren, by Ivan, right over in the corner of the estuary off the saltmarsh. Lee phoned me and I shot down to Shelly Beach where all four birds were just 'dots', probably over a mile away. After a while they all took off and very fortuitously pitched down in true Exmouth waters, just this side of Bull Hill, before again taking off and flying upriver. A most unexpected Exmouth tick! Views were never great but the drake Lesser Scaup was fairly easy to  pick out on head-shape as you can see in the above photo. Also off there this morning - 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 7 Eider (asleep on Bull Hill). Good to bump in to Steph, Rob and Bob this morning and many thanks to Ivan and Lee.
This afternoon - the wintering Common Sandpiper again in the brook, viewed from the Highland Garage.

Common Sandpiper - the brook.

Saturday 10 February 2024

Moving Meds

Adult Mediterranean Gull - Mudbank yesterday.

Off Mudbank today - 3 Mediterranean Gulls (adult and two second-winters), c350 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Greenshank and 10 Great Crested Grebes.
Yesterday - 3 Mediterranean Gulls (two flew high upriver early on and an adult later in the day), 4 Canada Geese, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 6 Pintail, 14 Great Crested Grebes, 14 Wigeon, 1 female Goldeneye and 55 Shelducks.
Some time spent on local heathland over the last couple of days produced 7 Crossbills, c30 Snipe, 4 Dartford Warblers (including 2 singing males), 16 Lapwing distantly over, 1 Kestrel, 2 Yellowhammers, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Grey Herons over and 1 Goshawk.

One of today's Meds with increased numbers of Black-headed Gulls.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose on the Imperial rugby ground yesterday. In with c90 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Also - 14 Pied Wagtails there.

This strikingly pale Buzzard flew over Bystock yesterday. Not a bird I've seen locally before.

Linnet - one of c40+ on Orcombe Point today. Pretty quiet up there otherwise.

It's that time of year when the local Yellowhammers return to their breeding sites. This male was singing this morning, on Withycombe Raleigh Common.

Dartford Warbler - Withycombe Raleigh Common.

Wednesday 7 February 2024

First Black-wit

 My first Black-tailed Godwit of 2024 was off Mudbank on 5/2.

Feb 6th - c160 Wigeon, 13 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and an adult Mediterranean Gull late in the afternoon, over high tide.
Feb 5th - 1 Black-tailed Godwit and c1000+ Dunlin off Mudbank. Shelly Beach late on - 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Canada Goose, 1 Kingfisher, c30 Great Black-backed Gulls, 15 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 50+ Common Gulls.

Sunday 4 February 2024

City Birding

Little Egret beneath the motorway bridge.

Just occasionally I get the urge to stray beyond this Exmouth boundary. This usually happens when it gets a bit 'samey' and it's definitely very samey at the moment. A very quick look at Bowling Green (I really don't like hides) was unsuccessful in that I couldn't find any Pochard, but Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier and 7 Greylag Geese were amongst the birds on show.
A little further up the road, at Ludwell Valley Park, were 2 Green Sandpipers, 8 Chiffchaffs and 6 Goldcrests. I couldn't find any Dippers.
Otherwise, back in Exmouth - 2 Red-throated Divers, 43 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull off Orcombe Point (from Foxholes).
Mudbank - a second-winter Mediterranean Gull, c330 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, a flock of 64 Carrion Crows, 15 Common Gulls, 2 Greenshank, 20 Redshank, c125 Wigeon and just 1 Pintail.
Early yesterday morning off Orcombe - lots of auks past but only 4 Razorbills were close enough to positively identify. Also - 2 Red-throated Divers, 4+ Great Crested Grebes and 2 Harbour Porpoises.
2/2 - Mudbank - 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Goldeneyes (male and female), 93 Wigeon, 1 Peregrine, 3 Greenshank and a female Pintail. Just east of Sandy Bay - c40 Linnets, 1 Kestrel, 1 Bullfinch and 2 Snipe in an area I hadn't yet checked this winter.

Spoonbill - Bowling Green. Popped in hoping to see a Pochard can you believe. Not something I would imagined myself saying a few years ago but I haven't seen one since 2021!

Marsh Harrier - Bowling Green.

Another species I struggle to see in Exmouth - Greylag Goose.

The northern corner of Ludwell Park, Exeter.

One of two Green Sandpipers in the brook at Ludwell Valley Park.

 This narrow stretch of the brook is the area favored by the Green Sandpipers - no footpath and thick bramble edges ensures the birds aren't disturbed. The area is good for Chiffchaffs too. I was hoping for Sibe Chiff (I had one in this exact spot a couple years ago) but no luck today.

Second-winter Mediterranean Gull - Mudbank.