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.


  1. Nice comparison! Seems to have been a bumper season for Lesser Scaup. I've seen 4 or 5 now, the last at Staines Reservoirs this time last year.

    Always nice to see a Common Sandpiper. I had a couple on the Thames a couple of weekends back when I was leading a walk between Kew & Richmond. Seems to be a good wintering area as we had 2 on a similar walk last winter.

  2. Hi Neil - Thank you. Would have preferred a better shot but glad to get anything to be honest! There certainly have been lots of Lesser Scaup knocking around. This little group not only provided an unexpected Exmouth tick but the three Greater Scaup too - a species that has become increasingly scarce in Devon and very tricky in Exmouth. It's weird to see so many people travelling to year-tick the Common Sandpiper - another indication of how scarce some formerly common species have become. All the best. Matt.

  3. Gutted I missed these! Thems the breaks..... Well done mate.

  4. Hi Tom - I'm sure you'll get Lesser Scaup before too long but it may not be in Exmouth. Hope your Scottish trip went well. See you soon. Matt.