Monday 29 April 2024


A 'Pebbled Heath' Little Ringed Plover.

The wind has switched round to a brisk south-westerly so I had a look off Maer Rocks - three looks in fact. Two hour-long watches early on and just 20 minutes late pm. Totals included 2 Arctic Skuas (a dark bird east and a lingering pale phase, seen several times. Also - reasonable numbers of Gannet, Kittiwake and auk sp, along with 5 Great Northern Divers, 6 Red-throated Divers, 4 diver sp, 7 Fulmars, 9 Common Scoters, 67+ Manx Shearwaters, 3 Whimbrel and 10 Pale-bellied Brent Geese. At least 24 Whimbrel were off Mudbank on the dropping tide but very little else.
I saw my first Swift of the year from the back garden yesterday, and off Mudbank - 6 Eider (two fine drakes and four females) and 5 Cattle Egrets (in flight over Starcross). An early morning scoot round Orcombe was disappointing with a lingering (and singing) Garden Warbler, 1 Wheatear and a fly-over Whimbrel the only notable records.

Nuthatch - Bystock. Five Tufted Ducks (including two pairs) still on the pool plus 1 singing Firecrest and 4 Swallows on a very brief visit today. Yesterday - 2 singing Firecrests and a Yellowhammer of note.

Saturday 27 April 2024

More Migrants

Male Whinchat - Orcombe Point.

With rain and a north-easterly breeze it was a no-brainer to bird Orcombe first thing. Bit cold though! Not quite the numbers I was hoping for but some nice variety. Two visits (dawn and early pm) produced 1 Whinchat, at least 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Hobby, 4 Willow Warblers, 3+ Wheatears, c10 Swallows, 1 House Martin, 2+ Sand Martins (my first this year in Exmouth), 7 Blackcaps, 6 Whitethroats and c40 Linnets. Also - 1 Fulmar, 4 Shelduck and 2 Sandwich Terns. In Sandy Bay - a singing Reed Warbler, 4 Swallows and 2 Willow Warblers.
Off Mudbank - 1 first-summer Mediterranean Gull and 6 Great Crested Grebes. Nearby the male Reed Bunting still singing from West Lodge reedbed. 
Bystock - 3 Tufted Ducks, 2 Firecrests, singing, 1 Jay and a Grasshopper Warbler (meadow). This afternoon - a Cuckoo - audible from Withycombe Raleigh Common but singing on East Budleigh Common. Many thanks to both Chris and Paul for the texts. 

First-summer Mediterranean Gull. My first for a few weeks.

Green-veined White. Lots of Orange-tips on the wing today too.

Finally the Whitethroat numbers are building! Six singing on Orcombe this morning. More to come...

Friday 26 April 2024

Common Tern, Canary

Whimbrel - one of c40 off Mudbank today. Would normally expect to see more than double that number at this time of year.

Mudbank today - 8 Knot, 30 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1 Greenshank, c40 Whimbrel and 4 Great Crested Grebes. Nearby, on Bull Hill as the tide dropped - 53+ Sandwich Terns and 1 Common Tern.
Bystock reserve - 5 Tufted Ducks (3 males, 2 females), 1 Moorhen, 1 Crossbill (over the meadow), 15 drake Mallards and 1 Wheatear (meadow). Good to hear a Tree Pipit in full flow in exactly the same spot as last year - just outside the meadow (and therefore outside Exmouth), on East Budleigh Common.
Yesterday - Orcombe Point, late afternoon - 10 Swallows, 7 Wheatears, 1 Willow Warbler and the 2 Red-legged Partridges. Off Mudbank - c45 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 9 Bar-tailed Godwits and c10+ Sandwich Terns.
23/4 - Mudbank - 20+ Sandwich Terns, 48 Whimbrel, 3 Mute Swans and an escaped Canary!

Initially picked by its annoyingly Serin-like trill, this Canary was feeding by the viewing screen on Tuesday afternoon.

Monday 22 April 2024

Orcombe Migrants

The first of today's Whinchats, taken in dull, early morning light.

Good by Orcombe standards today - cool and overcast with less wind than yesterday - 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Snipe, 2 Whinchats, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (a reeling bird that actually showed itself briefly), 2 Wheatears, at least 1 Redstart, just 1 Whitethroat, 13+ Chiffchaffs (but no Willow Warblers), 4+ Blackcaps, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 10+ Swallows and 1 Sedge Warbler. Also - a singing male Cirl Bunting still on territory, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine and 2 Shelduck.

Mudbank on the incoming tide this afternoon - 58 Whimbrel, 20 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, c20 Sandwich Terns, 5 Black-headed Gulls and 1 Common Gull.

This fine male Redstart was on the far side of the massive cattle field. A laughable record shot but at least you can see what it is - my first this year captured for posterity!

Even today's Wheatears refused to come any closer.

An afternoon stroll around Bystock, in the rain - 5 Tufted Ducks, 4 Canada Geese, 1 Moorhen, 2 Willow Warblers, 6 Nuthatches, 3+ Siskins and a pair of Firecrests.

Sunday 21 April 2024

Lesser Whitethroats, Red Kite

Two Lesser Whitethroats today - both singing males - the first along the cycle track between West Lodge and Courtlands, the second on Orcombe Point. Additional Orcombe records - 3 Willow Warblers, 3+ Wheatears, 8 House Martins, 9+ Swallows, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Little Egret, 5+ Blackcaps, 2 Shelduck, 1 Kestrel and 8+ Chiffchaffs.

A Red Kite flew east over Halsdon Farm (viewed from the back garden) at 1225pm. Also - a single House Martin and a couple Swallows.

Saturday 20 April 2024

White-tailed Eagle

Was sat chatting to Glyn when I picked up a White-tailed Eagle, way upriver, towards or over Topsham at 1530. It was relatively low but gained height quite quickly and headed downriver. It was extremely high and being mobbed by another raptor (possibly a Gos) when I lost it in the brilliant blue sky. It was heading west/southwest by then. In view for about 15 minutes in total and looking distinctly brownish on the upperparts, so perhaps an older bird? Otherwise off there - 19+ Whimbrel and earlier this morning - 20 Brent Geese - very distant but probably 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 12 Dark-bellied birds. Really nice to meet Dan and his parents this afternoon.
Orcombe was disappointingly quiet yet again but 2 Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler of note in crystal clear conditions.
A mid-morning look at Orcombe yesterday produced 10+ 'Greenland' Wheatears, 6 Shelduck, 2 Bullfinches and a Willow Warbler. Off Mudbank - c20 Whimbrel late on.

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.