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).

Saturday 9 March 2024


Grey Plover - Mudbank.

A general drop-off in numbers over the last few days. This morning - 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, 65+ Common Gulls, 2 Teal, a male Wigeon and a Chiffchaff.
Off the seafront - 6 Common Scoters and 3+ Great Crested Grebes. Again, a few flocks of waders flying round the bay, apparently aimlessly.
Yesterday off Mudbank - 5 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, the male Wigeon, 2 Grey Plovers, 1 Greenshank, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 112 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 30 Common Gulls and 6 Great Crested Grebes.
A scoot around Orcombe Point early on produced 3 Siskins over, a flock of c15 Woodpigeons, 3 Chiffchaffs and a couple Stonechats.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese - Mudbank. Three of five yesterday.

 Redshank - Mudbank.

Monday 4 March 2024

Listen to the Niggle

I should be old enough to know better. If something about a bird is niggling you you there's probably a very good reason for it! For the first time today I was able to watch the 'Kumlien's' in good, flat light. Still very distant but I just couldn't see anything other than a Herring Gull. The head and bill had always bothered me but I always convinced myself that it was just the angle or artefact of the light and/or long distance. The truth is it rarely looked long-winged, always looked too long in the leg and mostly looked too long in the bill. The plumage always looked pretty spot on for Kumlien's to my eye but I always knew I was making judgements based on long-range photos and long-range views in mostly poor light. A dangerous game to play with gulls and, as I said at the start,  at my age I should know better. So for me it's now a 99.9% Herring Gull, albeit a very leucistic one. I'd really love to be proved wrong.
Otherwise - c230+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese plus a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose off Mudbank with a newly-arrived flock of 15+ Pale-bellied Brent Geese on the far side of Cockle Sands.

Saturday 2 March 2024

Fly-by KG

One of at least four Chiffchaffs that have wintered on Orcombe Point, beside the dung heap.

Mudbank first thing - 1 female Goldeneye, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 7 Eider. A quick look at Orcombe's dung heap produced 4+ Chiffchaffs along with a couple Redwings, and off the seafront this afternoon - 7 Eider, 1 Great Northern Diver and 29 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.
Shelly beach - 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Eider and 9 Ringed Plovers - late pm.

It's unusual to see the Eider over this side of the estuary. Seven of the nine were present this morning.

Kingfisher - Exmouth seafront 29/4.

You can't park there mate.

Lovely to see Steph and Rob Murphy yesterday afternoon. The Juvenile/first-winter Kumlien's Gull kept us waiting 'til nearly dark but it eventually flew past us to land on Bull Hill, after Steph had expertly spotted it miles away, off Mudbank. Many thanks to Steph for letting me use her photographs which of course put mine in the shade! Also off Shelly Beach - 8 Eider, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and 1 Great Crested Grebe. Earlier - c60 Cattle Egrets on two wrecks, north of Starcross and the Common Sandpiper was in the brook between Highland Motors and Mudbank.

Steph's photos show some interesting detail that you normally just don't see as the bird is usually miles away!. It was almost dark when they were taken so some of the more dark-pigmented areas look much darker than they actually are, particularly the secondaries and primary coverts. Remember this bird is essentially very pale, cream-white in coloration. Never the less  - note the pattern of dark vs light and the smooth, velvety-textured underparts. I'm not sure what's happened to the primaries but they look to have been damaged. The tail is a little tatty too. The bird was getting pecked at and harangued by Herring Gulls so perhaps they're responsible?