Friday, 23 December 2016

Masked Wagtail

Masked Wagtail, Pembrokeshire, 21/12/16(Copyright T D Wright)
Masked Wagtail,Pembrokeshire,21/12/16(Copyright T D Wright)
I chauffeured Kevin Hale to Derbyshire & Pembrokeshire this week(I've rented a car for a fortnight).We saw the Dusky Thrush at Beeley then detoured to Camrose on the way back for this stunning Masked Wagtail. I spoil him...
Masked Wagtail,Pembrokeshire,21/12/16(Copyright T D Wright)

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Cattle Egret Still

Having been missing for a bit, the Colcombe Farm Cattle Egret was back again today. Seen from the bench along the road to Shute & Honiton. A bit distant though...

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Seaton/Colyton News

A walk around Seaton Marshes today produced a pair of Bullfinch, several Goldcrest & 2 Chiffchaff. On North flood 3 Shoveler accompanied the Wigeon & Teal, whilst in the channel by the hide a Common Sandpiper was a mild surprise. Back in Colyton, 7 Fieldfare flew over me chacking away as I awaited the old 'boneshaker' AVMT bus. Maybe I'll add Cattle Egret to the bus stop list soon...

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Colyton News

Cattle Egrets, Portugal, 2015(Copyright T D Wright)
That's right, I didn't get a photograph of the Colyton Cattle Egret as it was too distant but it looked quite like these ones as they were photographed last November so in Winter Plumage. Well done to Steve Waite for putting the effort in up here and locating the bird at Colcombe Farm. I watched it late on yesterday with 'Corkhead' and saw it fly down the Coly at 16:12. Ian McLean saw it in flight this morning (Tuesday) but it must have flown off as between 11:30 and 13:00 all I saw was a flock of 20 Littles which then flew North. On Friday there were 20 Chiffchaff and 10 Goldcrest at Colyton WTW. On Sunday, I took a walk up to Ratshole Gate as people have told me they've seen Goosander up that way recently but no joy although I saw at least 20 Redwing and 7 Fieldfare up there. Also Kingfisher and Grey wagtails but still no Dippers (last Dipper sighting Sept.2014 sadly). On a more positive note, I'm still seeing Little Owl along the Coly and today I spoke to Martin Diplock(Chartered Surveyors) who told me that rumours of the imminent demolition of the old building the Owls use are unfounded. Apparently the Council have said that this must not happen as plans to clear the site for housing have been refused. I believe that river management is also an issue which has stifled development plans. So, for now at least, the owls will still have their 'roof space'. Hurrah!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Xmas Fieldfare

A quick look around Colyton before Wednesday's Christmas Fayre produced a single Fieldfare in the apple trees by the Garden Shop. Fantastic views though!

Deja Vu Birding Part 2

2016 has been a year of deja vu experiences for me. One of the best was the Montagu's Harrier which graced the Axe valley for 3 days in April. Cycling home along Cownhayne Lane on the 3rd day (Tuesday) of its stay, I noticed it being mobbed by corvids about 500m North of the A3052 bridge. After texting people to let them know it was ranging around up there I noticed it had perched on a telegraph pole. Suddenly, deja vu took me back to the 1990s when I had stood in exactly the same place and seen a female Montagu's perched in just the same spot! If only I were still in touch with my then birding pal from 'Plymouth Poly' as it was then he would be most amused to know that I'd now seen my second Montagu's on the same telegraph pole that we saw one on back in 1994/5( I think ). The neural pathways that I damaged in my car-crash in 1996 must be connecting back up I suppose...or, it's just that 20-year-old memories need a jolt sometimes. The same thing happened in 2014 when we had a Kumlien's Gull by the tramsheds. It jolted my memory of one I saw in the same place back in 1994/5 era. I wonder what else I'll remember about birding around Seaton in the 1990s during 2017? I know that I recall seeing a drake Garganey fly up the estuary from the farm gate back in the 1990s just as I did in March 2013. Perhaps, as the Buzzcocks once sang, I was spending my 1990s visits to the Axe estuary "surfing a wave of Nostalgia for an age yet to come"...

Monday, 5 December 2016

Axe in the Afternoon 02/12/16

On Friday I cycled up from the tramsheds to Coronation Corner and counted 57 Dunlin. A lone 1stWinter Shoveler was the other point of interest. Further up the valley I could see a pair of Gadwall on the Axe from the Farm Gate. We've done really well for Gadwall this Autumn/Winter so far, with 7 together on Black Hole Marsh the last Saturday in November being the peak. Around Colyton we still have Redwing, Fieldfare & Little Owl but not much else.

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat (Copyright T D Wright)
Lesser Whitethroat (Copyright T D Wright)
Lesser Whitethroat (Copyright T D Wright)
Lesser Whitethroat (Copyright T D Wright)
Lesser Whitethroat (Copyright T D Wright)
Can anyone tell me which race of Lesser Whitethroat this is? By the way, I did not take these pictures today!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Black Redstart

Black Redstart, Seaton, 30/11/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
Black Redstart,Seaton,30/11/16(Copyright T D Wright)
Black Redstart,Seaton,30/11/16(Copyright T D Wright)
I took a walk along the Chine today and just beyond the Hideaway(formerly Chine cafe) I saw this Black Redstart flitting about. Just the one so no stonking male but a chance to utilise my phonescoping skills. Why do they always turn their head away? The close-up shots were not intended to clip its wings and tail but at least they're in focus which is not easy to achieve when your scope has to be out of focus to rectify the discrepancy with your phone camera. I must return with my DSLR which I've not used for a month!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Frosty Throstles

Today was a Bank-shops-doctor's-pharmacy sort of day. Considering that, I actually saw quite a few birds. In Colyton Churchyard the Yews especially were alive with thrushes - Redwings, Mistles, Blackbirds and Songs (including some greyish 'continental' types). Sidmouth Road Cemetery added Blackcap to the list before a ride into Axminster produced the same throstly crew plus plenty of Goldcrests. Both town centres had lots of Greenfinch, Goldfinch & Chaffinch plus up to 4 Tit species. If the frost keeps up I'll be doing even more cemetery birding...

Freaky Fieldfare

Look out for a Fieldfare I saw along Cownhayne on Monday with white supercilia which meet at the back of its head like a Woodlark's! Presumably a case of partial albinism as often seen in Blackbirds.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Seaton Marshes 24/11/16

I walked around SM this afternoon and didn't see any phylloscs let alone the Dusky as the cold North wind was stronger than anticipated and hampered progress around Borrow Pit. In a sheltered spot by the car park there were several tits, finches and Blackbirds but nothing exciting. Sadly, the quartet of Great Spotted Woodpeckers that I've enjoyed around Borrow Pit & Merchants Lane lately seems to have been reduced to a trio as I found one moribund along the lane. From the hide I saw 4 Dunlin fly up the estuary but only the usual Wigeon, Teal, gulls etc otherwise. On my way back to the Underfleet a number of gulls had gathered in that corner of Sheep's Marsh and I managed an adult Mediterranean Gull which was as good as it got.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Colyton Stuff 19-22nd Nov.

With Cownhayne flooded and the A3052 closed I decided to look around Colyton the last few days. Lots of Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush & Redwing were nice to see and plenty of common birds about in the cemetery. The flooded areas along the Coly have had lots of gulls but nothing too exciting.

Seaton Stuff 22/11/16

The flooding subsided enough today for me to get to Bridge Marsh. I managed a pair of Gadwall and a Shoveler on the pool amongst the many Wigeon, Teal & Mallard. I then headed to Tower Hide where I saw another Gadwall on the temporary floods between BHM and SM. On the estuary the 2 Grey Plover were showing but other than that it was quiet out there. Most of the Canadas, Wigeon and Blackwits seemed to prefer those temporary floods. BHM was fairly quiet.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear, Nanjizal,Cornwall, Nov.2011(Copyright T D Wright)
I'm aware that there is currently a Desert Wheatear in Devon but I can't get the enthusiasm up to go and see it. Here's why. I saw my first UK DW in 1989 at Selsey Bill on a day out from Croydon in my first car which I'd recently purchased, having passed my driving test that year. Great day out as there was a Glaucous Gull there as well. This is the only DW I've ever 'twitched', yet I've seen several others since by chance. I was in Lincolnshire once when there happened to be one at Saltfleetby which was nice. Then, in 2011, I spent a few days in Cornwall and saw this cracking male at Nanjizal (pronounced Nan-jizz-al apparently) before returning to Dungeness where I was 'hanging out' at the time. My first morning back at Dunge, guess what? Yes, that's right. Another DW! This wasn't a male though so I told the Assistant Warden he'd have to do better. Only kidding though - it was very confiding and great to see yet another. Oh, maybe I'll give the Thurlestone one a visit if it stays long enough. I'm just 'playing it cool' again!                     
Desert Wheatear, Dungeness, Nov. 2011(Copyright T D Wright)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Seaton Stuff 17/11/16

Just had an enjoyable couple of hours' birding with IM. From Tower hide we saw the 2 Grey Plover plus an adult Med.Gull . From the A3052 the Brent Goose was still on Bridge Marsh. Nothing remarkable otherwise but plenty of usual gulls,ducks & waders about.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Seaton Sightings 9-15th Nov.

A single Golden Plover was hiding among the Lapwing on Friday on BHM and was still present today (Tuesday) as was the Brent Goose on Bridge Marsh. The Little Stint was still on BHM on Sunday. A drake Pintail was on Bridge Marsh pool on Saturday as was the Brent Goose which had visited Seaton Marshes and the estuary on Thursday. Several Blackcaps were around Seaton Marshes on Monday (all males) also male Bullfinch; and adult Mediterranean Gull on the estuary seen from Tower today also. Maximum Dunlin count was 9 on Saturday. Last Weds.(9th) Colyton's Sidmouth Road Cemetery held 4 Mistle Thrush and 2 Redwings. 
Golden Plover, BHM, 15/11/16 (Copyright T D Wright)

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Elusive Spoonbills

Spoonbill, Portugal, 2015 (Copyright T D Wright)
This is a Spoonbill. We've had 2 in the last 6 days visit BHM and the Axe. For some reason, they're proving very elusive for yours truly. I missed Thursday's because I had been and gone already and wasn't limping back for it. Today, however, the 2nd bird came & went before I arrived. After Tower Hide I even went up to Coly Common Hide from which I saw 2 Grey Plover on the scrape and a Brent Goose still with the Canadas. Plenty of Stonechat about today even along track to Tower hide. Where's that Siberian? Also lots of Chiffs & Crests at Colyton WTW so Firecrest soon I hope...

Monday, 7 November 2016

Deja Vu Birding Part One

I keep seeing the same things locally. (After my last post I went to see a doctor and the Anti-inflammatories have made me less sedentary). Lots of Chiffs & Goldcrests, lots of Mipits & Linnets & Stonechats along Cownhayne Lane. From Tower Hide, the Little Stint, Grey Plovers and Dunlin plus Snipe and another jacking Jack Snipe were all great but I'd like something new please. The diving ducks were absent from Borrow Pit Sunday p.m. and SM was disappointing generally. A walk along the Chine today did produce Blackcap but nothing else except Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Tits, Finches...

Butterflies Extra

Clouded Yellow, Extremadura, June 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
Queen of Spain Fritillary, Extremadura, June 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
Queen of Spain Fritillary, Extremadura, June 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
I've finally gotten round to posting the rest of my Spanish haul for all you butterfly fans. I think the Clouded Yellow is the same one we get but there are some close relatives to it present in Spain I believe.Sorry the Lang's S.T.B. picture isn't better but it flew off...
Lang's Short-tailed Blue, Extremadura, May 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)

Thursday, 3 November 2016


It always feels like a juicy bonus to get good birds in November with so little daylight to look for them in. For me especially just now it's difficult getting about as I'm suffering back and abdominal pain caused by whacking into a sunken drain whilst cycling - Ouch! But today I just had to visit Borrow Pit to see my first patch Pochard in 5 years of intense birding around Seaton. I vaguely remember seeing one back in the 1990s when visiting the area but that wasn't the same as today's as this wasn't my patch back then. Steve Waite must have creamed his coffee when he stumbled upon it this morning! Also, Ian had a McSpoonbill from Tower Hide today. All I've managed is to notice Mistle Thrushes and Grey Wagtails much in evidence in Colyton Churchyard and Seaton Marshes (St. Leonard's? St. Michael's?) Churchyard which seemed quite a coincidence. At Seafield Gardens just now there was no sign of any Black Redstarts although Bun had 3 there earlier in the week. I'm now planning to look for Firecrest at various local haunts - if I can still manage to walk...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A Quick Gander

I popped down to Tower Hide late on but all that was there was this lonely goose...
Lone Goose, Seaton, 01/11/16 ( Copyright T D Wright)

Eastern Black Redstarts

Eastern Black Redstart, Kent, 2011 (Copyright T D Wright)
Eastern Black Redstart, Kent, 2011(Copyright T D Wright)
Eastern Black Redstart, Kent, 2011(Copyright T D Wright)
Eastern Black Redstart, Kent, 2011 (Copyright T D Wright)
With so many E.B.R.s in the country this Autumn we must have a chance of one of these in the SW. I saw this one near Margate in November 2011 (if memory serves me well) and the beach/cliffs it was frequenting reminded me of Seaton Hole or Beer Beach! Wouldn't that be nice...Anyhow, I looked at Seaton Marshes yesterday and had Blackcap, Chiffchaff & Goldcrest plus I heard a single call which I think was a YBW. Not much from hide although apparently further up the estuary there was an Arctic Skua from Tower which is extraordinary. Poor thing was not in great shape by all accounts and was taken into care so not a happy ending (and not seen by me). Hope it gets set free soon...

Yellow-browed Pix

Yellow-browed Warbler, Dungeness, Oct. 2011 (Copyright T D Wright)
Yellow-browed Warbler, Dungeness, Oct. 2011 (Copyright T D Wright)
I'm sad to say I failed to photograph Friday's YBW. It was seen by others on Saturday & Sunday but frustrated a lot of people as it was in dense foliage a lot of the time. Here's a couple of pix I took a few years back just to break up the text! I also failed to photograph a Black Redstart which was being hassled by Pied Wagtails along Church Street, Colyton on Saturday. I last saw it on the roof of the Town Hall...

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Yellow-browed Warbler Black Hole Marsh

Yesterday (Friday 28th) I had a Yellow-browed with Goldcrests, Chiffs etc. along the track to Tower Hide. It was in the long clump of trees just before the bend but mobile. I'll look for it again today.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Day-trip to Cornwall

I finally decided to stop 'playing it cool' and go to see the Dalmatian Pelican which has graced Devon & Cornwall since May. My old 'Twitching' associates from years ago used to argue for a separate competition to 'listing' which would be to see who could leave it the longest before successfully twitching a bird - I think I would have won the 2016 'playing it cool' stakes, wouldn't I?! The bird is easy enough to find at the moment, being along the Camel Trail less than a kilometre North of Wadebridge. If it's escaped from somewhere that's too bad; it's still a magnificent Pelican...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


I forgot to include in yesterday's posts that Clive Williams had 4 Crossbills over Seaton Hole on Saturday. I'm gripped by that as I've yet to see any there so well done C.W. !

Monday, 17 October 2016

YL Gull Video

Here's that YL Gull video I was having trouble with. In the bathing footage you will see 3 birds. The one on the left is too big for YL Gull. The one on the right is too small for YL Gull. But the one in the middle is juuuuust right...

Yellow-legged Brightens Wet Weekend

Grass Snake, Colyton, 16/10/16(Copyright T D Wright)
Grass Snake, Colyton, 16/10/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
Grass Snake,Colyton, 16/10/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
This very small snake held me up on my way down to Cownhayne on Sunday. On Saturday I'd given Colyton's Sidmouth Road Cemetery a go but without much success so I spent Sunday at Seaton Marshes and Black Hole Tower. SM produced little of note but Tower Hide was excellent with all of Friday's waders still present (Little Stint, Curlew Sand., Ruff, 2 Grey Plover and 8 Dunlin). Among the gulls were 2 Commons and quite a few LBBs plus a decent number of GBBs. Just before dusk, I noticed an adult YL Gull bathing which I presume was SW's one from Saturday. I took some phonescoped video but I'm having trouble downloading again! After the YLG flew off with all the gulls the estuary, swamped by the incoming tide, was suddenly swarming with Pied Wagtails all over the islands; at least 200 I'd say. Nice end to the day...

Bird Joke Punchline No.1

Because it's a 'Collie-biter'! HaHa! Geddit? Phylloscopus Collybita ... Oh well, suit yourselves.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Friday 14th Part One

A McMessage at lunchtime (Cheers Ian!) saw me visit BHM Friday afternoon to check on 3 juvenile waders fresh in. A Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper & Grey Plover. Later from Tower a second Grey Plover called repeatedly until the 'newbie' joined it for a stroll. The Barnacle Goose flew to the estuary where the Ruff was still present. A Water Rail & Common Snipe showed nicely on the estuary as did a 1st Winter Common Gull. Seaton Marshes was very quiet so nothing to report from there.

Bird Joke of the Week No.1

In order to show that some of us do have a sense of humour regarding our obsessions and to increase the entertainment value of this blog I thought I'd introduce a weekly ornithological wheezesnorter. Here is a prototype BirdJoke..."Why do sheepdogs fear the British Chiffchaff?" Punchline on Monday...

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Jack Snipe & Turtle Dove 13/10/16

Turtle Dove, Colyton, 12/10/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
Turtle Dove, Colyton, 12/10/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
After finally breaking my Turtle Dove duck last Wednesday I was amazed to see another along Cownhayne farm track yesterday. A different bird I reckon as its tertials were much more rufous than last week's 1st Winter bird so at a more advanced stage although still classed as 1st Winter due to pale fringing on scapulars/wing-coverts I think. Today from Tower Hide I was looking at a Common Snipe way upriver when it was joined by a Jack Snipe. Unusual to see one bobbing up 'n' down on the Axe as usually only seen during midwinter organised flushes for recording/year-listing! Nice comparison beside Common was not an everyday sight either; probably just arrived on the back of these prolonged Easterly & North-Easterly winds. The Ruff and Grey Plover were still about as were 7 Common Gulls. Goldcrests & Chiffchaffs are more in evidence now including a weird Chiff which called 'stirrup' instead of 'hooeet'!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Twilight Zone

Barnacle Goose, Coly Common, 11/10/16(Copyright TD Wright)
I'm hotfoot from Coly Common hide where all I saw was the Barnacle Goose. Earlier, Tower Hide was more fruitful with Ruff, Grey Plover, 2ndWinter Med Gull & 6 Common Gulls. Last evening, just before dusk, I saw a distant wader from Tower hide which looked very like a Long-billed Dowitcher! It disappeared into vegetation and despite looking for it today I couldn't find it again. Maybe when the tides get bigger it will be pushed onto BHM or Coly Common. Otherwise, Ian Mc reported a YB Warbler from Seaton Hole today so I need to find my own one soon. Come on Colyton...

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Great White 07/10/2016

Great White Egret, Axe Estuary, 07/10/2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
The lucky run continues! I stopped by Black Hole Marsh late yesterday and was amazed to see a G.W.Egret flying about. It went down on the estuary so I rushed to Tower Hide where 'Commie' Chris told me there was nothing about! "Well, there's a Great White Egret behind you" I said. I shan't type all of his swearwords but he was pleased to see it eventually, along with the Barnacle Goose, Grey Plover, Ruff and Barwit. For once, I had my camera with me but the light was terrible so these hastily grabbed shots (it flew off towards the sea) will have to do. I also took some phonescoped video which I'm having trouble transferring to here...                                                                
Great White Egret, Axe Estuary, 07/10/2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
Great White Egret, Axe Estuary, 07/10/2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
I've noticed an increase in Chiffs, Crests and small birds generally along the lanes so it's got to be likely we'll get a more interesting waif quite soon. Keep Birding!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove,Colyford, 05/10/2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
Who says these Easterly winds are unbirdable? Old 'South-Easterly Steve' of Axe Birding fame, that's who! All I had to do was cycle from Colyton to Colyford along Cownhayne Lane yesterday and I found my first Coly area Turtle Dove by the A3052 at 'Cow and Gate'. Phil Abbot was the only local birder free to join me before the bird flew off over Colyford but I think he got some good pictures. Along the lane I had Chiffchaff, Mipits and my first Redwings of the Autumn, flying up the Axe valley. Easterly winds? I love 'em!

Monday, 3 October 2016

False Ilex Hairstreak

False Ilex Hairstreak, Monfrague, May'16 (Copyright T D Wright)
False Ilex Hairstreak, Monfrague, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
It was a fairly quiet weekend locally so I thought I'd refer back to Spain again. People have asked me did I see any butterflies and the answer is a definite yes! I saw Lang's Short-tailed Blue, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Swallowtail and Scarce Swallowtail to name but 4...I also saw this False Ilex Hairstreak which was a first for me. Unless any butterfly experts think I got this one wrong...

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Seaton Sightings 29-30th Sept.

On Thursday evening 2 Grey Plover and a Knot were on BHM at dusk. A Whinchat was on the Cownhayne fence. On Friday, there were suddenly 50+ Meadow Pipits along Cownhayne and 3 Grey Wags. at Colyton Water Treatment Works, also 3 Stonechat on posts. At BHM 2 Grey Plover still but no sign of Knot although still at least 8 Barwits. From Tower hide at high tide, a fine drake Gadwall was the best of the day! Still, we've got Yellow-broweds and Firecrests to look for now...

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Seaton quieter than Colyton!

An early afternoon visit to BHM produced some ringed GBBGs on the estuary but just Barwits, Common Sand. etc. waderwise. I might give Colyton cemetery a go! A Whinchat was on posts along Cownhayne this lunchtime...

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Barwits Revisited

Referring back to my March 2015 post - 'Which One's the Barwit?' - I thought that the current Autumnal prescence of up to 20 Barwits on the Axe estuary might be the right time to answer the questions which people have since posited regarding this 'issue'! As I said at the time, that blog post was simply to do with one Barwit in particular - the overwintering individual of Winter 2014-15. Thus, I didn't complicate that post by talking about Summer or Juvenile plumages. Today, I thought I'd deal with the Juvenile Blackwit scenario, as this seems to be the greatest cause of consternation and confusion; mainly because, in March 2015, there obviously weren't any juvenile birds about. The main difficulty seems to be that Black-tailed Godwits of juvenile age can often show a streaky mantle, as do all Bar-taileds. This, however, should not be a problem as juvenile Blackwits can easily be separated by their rusty-red neck and breast Autumn colouration which only occurs on Barwits in Spring females, and is lost by July.Even the male Barwit's extensive Spring red is lost by the time of its Southward migration, so it's extremely unlikely we'll get a reddish male on the Axe in the Autumn with anything like the strong red colour of a juvenile Blackwit. Also, the streaking on Barwits continues across the mantle, scapulars, wing-coverts and tertials which never happens in Blackwits. Even juvenile Blackwits have a very different pattern of spotting, not streaking, on the wing-coverts especially; I liken the patterning of Juv. Blackwit's wing-coverts to a 'Bar-of-Chocolate' as the spots often look like squares of chocolate arranged in a grid pattern, separated by pale criss-crossing lines. At various stages of immaturity a Blackwit's wing-coverts can also look quite plain or very finely spotted but never streaked like a Barwit's. Add to all of this the differences already discussed in March 2015, and you can't go wrong! Happy Birding, y'all!

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Patch tick! I finally saw my first ever Colyton Hummingbird Hawkmoth today at approximately 14:15 GMT. It was briefly on Honeysuckle but didn't linger long enough for a photograph which is a shame. I'll be checking that honeysuckle again though...

Monday, 26 September 2016

Calandra Larks

Calandra Lark, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Compared to anywhere else that I've visited, Extremadura was easily the best for Calandras. Short-toed, Thekla and Crested were also about in similar areas but Calandras were most co-operative when the camera was out...

Quiet Weekend 24th -25th Sept.

Three Grey Plovers were still visible from Tower Hide Sunday evening, as was a Peregrine hunting repeatedly. It failed to catch a Woodpigeon with an impressive burst of acceleration but later caught a Redshank which it was forced to drop by mobbing crows. What a waste of effort! Oh by the way at least 4 Wheatears were at Seaton Marshes on Saturday (new ones I reckon as different plumages to last week's birds).

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Grey Plovers

I'd just decided not to return to BHM on Thursday when I had my mind changed by a message from Phil-a-roony-oony-o that he'd got 9 Grey Plover from Tower hide. I cycled hard and managed to get this phonescoped vid at dusk. Poor quality but only 3 could still be seen Friday evening which is a more usual count for us. Nine is/was unprecedented! Well done Mr. Abbot...

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker,Branscombe,21/09/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Southern Hawker, Branscombe, 21/09/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Having not been to Branscombe for a while due to my lack of a car, the kind offer from Kris Gray of a lift down was too much to refuse. With Yellow-browed Warbler being reported from Charmouth, I wondered if our local Phyllosc. sites might have something of interest too. Unfortunately, Branscombe sewage works seemed completely devoid of anything even Chiffy or Cresty! Still, this Southern Hawker dragonfly was some compensation. To jump back to Tuesday evening, no less than 3 Goosander were upriver from Tower Hide at dusk, as was a Pintail which hopped across to BHM with the Mallards. Otherwise, Wednesday was disappointing with just Barwits and other 'old news' to enjoy. But the Yellow-broweds are coming...

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Roller, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Trujillo area was the best place I've been to yet for the much-lusted-after Roller. I saw one in Devon in 1989 at East Budleigh Common which was fantastic, but to see them in large numbers on the Spanish steppes was pure gluttony. The provision of nest-boxes in some areas has clearly helped and even whilst driving I would spot one on wires here and there. Outstanding...

Another Drenching

Well I got saturated cycling to/from BHM last night (Monday) so to see Little Stint for the 4th day running didn't seem like much reward. However, close views of Yellow Wagtails for the 30th day running made it all worthwhile! They are such gorgeous things; I'll never get bored with them...

Monday, 19 September 2016

Colyton/Seaton Stuff 15-18th Sept.

After my last post I had a Greenshank on BHM late in the day. On Friday 16th a new Little Stint plus 3 Knot( 1 in Winter plumage) were on BHM. On Saturday 17th, a juvenile Hobby was feeding on one of the massive swarm of Swallows along Cownhayne Lane, where the occasional white rump of a House Martin interspersed the Swallowage. No less than 3 Whinchat, 4 Wheatear & 3 Stonechat lined the Cownhayne fenceposts. At Coly Common the Little Stint (or another ) was on the scrape from the hide with 8 Ringos and 7 Dunlin. On BHM, 1 each of Yellow Wagtail & White Wagtail accompanied 40 Pied Wagtails plus 18 Bar-tailed Godwits. On Sunday 18th, Little Stint was still on BHM, then just before dusk 2 Goosander flew down the Axe then over Seaton Marshes towards the sea. A new week begins...

Thursday, 15 September 2016

RB Shrike Stills

Red-backed Shrike, Beer Head, 15/09/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Red-backed Shrike, Beer Head, 15/09/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Not bad for a 5-year-old phone and a 25-year-old scope!

Red-backed Shrike Beer Head

Well that Son-of-a-Bun struck birding gold this morning by unblocking RB Shrike for Beer Head and the Patch area to boot. A 1st Winter bird but a really nice one, strong markings and colouration plus it showed brilliantly well. A long journey for me with no car- 2 buses then a long uphill walk from Beer Underleys! I thought my heart would give out but I survived the climb and was distracted by at least 7 Yellow Wagtails before locating the Shrike. After watching it grab a big ol' cricket I grabbed some phonescoped video and here's a couple of clips. I also thought some people might like the clip of Shags and Cormorants as it provides a nice comparison between the two. I couldn't carry my DSLR up there today but if it's there tomorrow I may substitute my scope for the camera ensemble thus producing better quality images!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Seaton Sightings 14th Sept.

At Seaton Marshes just now all I had was 6 Wigeon, 6 Barwits and 4 Wheatear plus a Chiffchaff. Earlier on, I caught up with Steve's Avocet on the estuary before it flew to BHM. A 1stW YL Gull was flushed with 300 other gulls by a low-flying chopper so no video. The Curlew Sandpiper was still present and there were 2 Ruff. A new Knot, not as peachy as Sunday's bird, hid among the throng of Barwits, Blackwits and Redshanks. Apparently, a Great White Egret was reported belatedly for yesterday but I couldn't find it this afternoon.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Rock Buntings

Rock Bunting, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Before going to Spain, I couldn't find any mention of this cracking Bunting species for the Extremaduran sites I planned to visit in the birdwatching guides to the region. I can only suppose that they assume that everyone is more interested in the big birds- Bustards, Eagles & Vultures- therefore passerines are not worthy of attention?! I thought I might have to travel to Andalusia to see Rock Bunts! However, whilst waiting for the Swifts to show, I noticed them hopping around just below me. Brilliaaant! I saw more of them at several locations without going out of my way to see them. Cheesy-peasy...                                               
Rock Bunting, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )

Monday, 12 September 2016

White-rumped Swift

White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May 2016 ( Copyright T D Wright )
White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May 2016 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Some people have asked me why I've not posted more of my Springy Spanish trip so, as the only interesting birds on patch over the weekend were Knot, Green Sand. plus Barwits still on BHM & a stunning male Wheatear plus several others at Seaton Marshes, I thought I'd take you back to Spain. One of the advantages of visiting Extremadura after the migrants have passed through is that the late-arriving White-rumpers are in. I had to endure that intense Sun in order to get these photos after climbing a steep path so I hope you appreciate all the effort. It was "T.F.H.", as one of my wheelchair-using friends used to say!        
White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
The rump and especially the white trailing edge to the secondaries aren't always easy to see...