Saturday, 17 June 2017

Demoiselles Galore

Banded Demoiselle, Colyton, 11/06/2017(Copyright T D Wright)
Last weekend I took a couple of walks along different stretches of the Coly and found a hotspot for Beautiful Demoiselles on Saturday with 8 or more performing for my binoculars only. On Sunday, I took my camera so when I came across my first Banded Demoiselle of the year I grabbed a few pictures before it flew off. On the bird front, the Grey Wagtails have fledged at least 4, possibly 5  young, but I struggled to get close enough for a good photo and decided to leave them alone after this one:-                                                       
Grey Wagtail, Colyton, 11/06/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
There were also lots of hirundines about, especially Sand Martins...          
Sand Martin, Colyton, 11/06/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Sorry that's all I've got but time has been limited lately. I did see a Green Woodpecker from the train and Peregrines over Exeter but no visits to the wetlands for a week or more now. VV Busy!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Estuarine Birds

Just when you think that it's not worth visiting Tower hide because it's June you suddenly get a surprise. I was delighted to spot 2 trios of ducks which qualify as 'goodies' (well, semi-goodies?) on the Axe. Firstly, 3 Gadwall swam past upriver. Nice. Then, I spotted a 1stSummer Med Gull flying down the estuary which landed just beyond 3 sawbills - which I think were all juvenile Goosander. (Bold, Italic & Underline all in one sentence; these IT lessons are paying off!) Anyhow, here's some video of the ducks plus a couple of snaps.                
Goosanders, Axe estuary, 04/06/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Gadwall, Axe estuary, 04/06/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Spot-the-barn-Owl, BHM, 04/06/17 (Copyright T D Wright)

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Riverine Birds

Dipper fledgling, undisclosed site nr. Colyton, Devon 29/05/2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Grey Wagtail male, undisclosed site nr. Colyton, Devon 29/05/2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Grey Wagtail (shame about ring!) Colyton area, Devon 29/05/2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
I got the old DSLR out of mothballs on Bank Holiday Monday and walked a couple of local Public Footpaths which often have wildlife close enough to photograph. I started with insects but then found a spot where these Grey Wags. were coming & going. I kept still and quiet so they weren't bothered by me. (Especially when you consider that this path is popular with dogwalkers. Some of those hounds hit the water so hard it sounds like a whale breaching!). A couple of Kingfisher flyovers were followed by one briefly perching on the rock that the wagtails seemed to like. Before I could swing my camera up however, an adult Dipper replaced the blue streak so I got some shots of that instead. Later, I came across a youngster from the nearby nest which was fantastic. We may not have had a great Spring for rarities & migrants here but it's great to see some scarce breeding birds doing so well.                                                               
Dipper (ringed again! They don't miss much round here, do they?), Colyton area, 29/05/2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Grey Wagtail, Colyton area, 29/05/2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Dipper, Colyton area, 29/05/2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Recently fledged Dipper, Colyton area, 29/05/2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Fledgling Dipper, Colyton area, 29/05/2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
It was getting dark by now but I like this wing-stretching shot even though it's blurry...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Colyton Catch-up with Added Axmouth

I've not seen the Cattle Egrets at Colcombe or Road Green this week so they may have changed their habits or gone completely. At Axe Cliff on Sunday the Lesser Whitethroat was still singing ( I've also had one regularly at Colyton WWTW) and groups of 9 Manx Shearwater and 9 Kittiwake flew West. Yes, that really was the correct number which only reminded me of the Poms I missed! At least I got some compensation along Stepps Lane where my first Spotted Flycatcher of 2017 showed high up in the canopy. On Wednesday, I had 2 redhead Goosander from Tower hide looking upriver at 7pm. They settled on the bank and rested there until I left. Today, all I could see from Tower was Whimbrel and 3 Dunlin on BHM. It's always good to see fledglings at this time of year though and I've seen Great , Blue and LT Tits already, plus Wren, Dunnock and Robin. The Shelduck, Canada geese and Mallard young have also been in evidence. But I'm not feeling so confident about Cattle Egret now...

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Uh? Reject Photos?

Whimbrel, Axe Estuary, April 2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Colyton, April 2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Colyton, April 2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
Avocet, BHM, April '17(Copyright T D Wright)
Recently, I've not been taking many pictures and have therefore not posted many either. Please offer me your opinion as to whether I ought to post 'reject' pictures such as those above - taken with old camera phone - or just post text to save you from too much visual 'dross'. By the way, I saw our long-staying Goosander fly down the valley from Coly Common hide Tuesday evening. Have a good evening.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

3052 Bridge

The bridge over the Axe along the A3052 is a spot I occasionally check. Last night there were both Cetti's & Sedge Warbler singing there plus a Common Sandpiper flew downriver. Nearby, a Lesser Whitethroat sang at the substation. I scanned Bridge Marsh close to dusk but couldn't see anything out there except Canada Geese. On Sunday, I was amazed by the number of Whimbrel from Tower hide. 25+ is pretty good going for us. They called so much I could still hear them from Colyton! Ringed Plovers still feature on Coly scrape at high tide and on Saturday there were 3 Greenshank on the estuary which I've not seen since. Nor have I seen the Grey Plover again since Friday. Swifts & Sand Martins now rival the Swallows in numbers but I'm still waiting for the final arrival of the Colyton House Martins. I think that's it...

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Ringos About

Avocet + Oystercatcher, B.H.M. 29/05/17(Copyright T D Wright)
I'll not say too much about Bank Holiday weekend as I only saw the same waders that Steve Waite had despite extensive soakings. Yesterday, I had to go to Exeter for an interview and realised after we were done that I could use my Devon Ranger ticket to pay a quick visit to Dawlish Warren. From the train I had an astonishing 16 Turnstone together. Once you leave East Devon and cross the Exe it's like a different birding continent, isn't it? Once at the Warren all I had was 5 Whitethroat and my first Small Copper of the year, plus Skylark & Swallows. A Great Crested Grebe was all I could see on the ocean side of the wall (I only had bins though). Today (3rd) I had a look from Tower Hide at high tide and the Blackwit & Barwit count was even at four apiece. The same could be said for the Dunlin & Ringed Plover count which was 3-all. However, I then checked Coly Common hide and had 5 more Ringos on the scrape. Yes, it's possible 3 of them could be the same ones but my hunch tells me the final score is 8 - and my hunch has rarely let me down in the past. A Sparrowhawk flashing past the Lookout is always good to see as was the pretty girl typing inside it. They seemed to be ringing at the Discovery Hut - wonder if they've mis-identified any Dusky Warblers today?

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Barwit Thursday

An evening visit to Tower hide on Thursday produced a new Bar-tailed Godwit with just 2 Blackwit. At least 6 Whimbrel were visible but IM had 15 at Stedcombe earlier in the day! Common Sandpiper & Dunlin both numbered 2 and the Greenshank was still present.On the way home, I managed to catch the Little Owls mating again which bodes well for the summer plus I caught a glimpse of one of the Tawny Owls which have been very vocal around Colyton. A Dipper also afforded brief flight views on the Coly as did the 7 Cattle Egrets the previous evening. Hirundines have been more numerous although 90% of them seem to be Swallows. Finally, a very brief visit to Seaton Marshes Friday afternoon yielded 3 Common Sandpiper from the hide. If you like Blackcaps we've got plenty of those!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Lesser Whitethroats

I joined Ian MacLean for a look at Axe Cliff at 8am this morning and although 'Bun' had already told us that Beer Head was very quiet we didn't do too badly. Two Lesser Whitethroat were singing simultaneously from the coast path and several Common Whitethroat were also singing. Blackcap & Chiffchaff were singing constantly and a Yellowhammer also gave us a brief flurry. A Wall Brown posed in the morning Sun, my first of the year. We also noticed a decent number of Sand Martin over the Axe from Farm Gate. Let's hope the Northerly wind today has the same effect on the valley as it did last year...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Greenshank, Etc.

Tuesday evening I was pleased to see a Whinchat and 7 Wheatear in the ploughed field along Cownhayne lane at dusk. On Wednesday they were absent. At BHM it was fairly quiet but a Greenshank flew up the river. Also Common Sandpiper. On BHM a female Wheatear spent some time on an island whilst 6 Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plover loitered at low tide. At Seaton Marshes a couple of House Martin showed well and there were more over the town. A lone Common Scoter was diving beyond a cluster of Shelduck off Fisherman's Gap. And that's about it.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Cattle Egret Update!

Cattle Egret, Colyton, April 2017(Copyright T D Wright)
Only a phonescoped shot as it's impossible to get close enough for a DSLR photo. Having seen 7 Cattle Egret from Tower Hide on Good Friday I thought I'd check their Colyton haunts as people had expressed concern that they'd left us. Pleased to say all 7 were about Easter Sunday but using different areas to feed as there are now more cows outside plus the growing/insect season is now getting going. (Apparently they like grasshoppers). Yesterday (B.H. Monday) I decided to avoid the crowds on Coly Common watching the Whinchat and 20 Wheatears (as per I.McLean) and head down to Seaton Marshes. I had 3 Common Sandpipers in the channel from the hide plus 4 Wheatear (2 rusty roller, 2 by lagoon). There were also 3 Sedge Warbler there. Whimbrel were still about, the most I've seen is 4. Reed Warblers are also in along track to Tower hide. This morning (18th) IMc finally got some reward up Beer Head with Pied Flycatcher and several Redstart. At last - but too late for Easter!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

More Cattle Egrets

The Saga continues! At 17:55 (approx.) I picked up a flock of 7 egrets flying down the valley from Tower hide. As they got closer, I realised that they all had yellow bills. No sign of a black, long-billed Little in there. They gained height over Axmouth and disappeared behind some trees as they headed for the high ground of Axe Cliff/Dowlands area. Wonder if that's the last of them; or, maybe they were 7 from somewhere else? Anyway, 4 Whimbrel then flew up the estuary. Perhaps 3 of them were the same ones I'd seen earlier from Seaton Marshes hide. I also saw 2 Common Sands on BHM plus at least 8 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin. Along Cownhayne I saw 2 Wheatear on the ploughed field fence at lunchtime, then at dusk I found a massive flock of hirundines around Colyton WWTW. About 50 Swallow and 6 Sand Martin but no House that I could see. Does this constitute a Good Friday? Perhaps Could-be-worse Friday is more apt.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Sandwich Terns

Just a quick update to say that 2 Sandwich Terns were feeding close in off WestWalk at lunchtime today. Also 2 Swallows flew over the bowling club. Last evening, I had 2 Wheatears in the ploughed field along Cownhayne Lane plus a single Greylag on Bridge Marsh at dusk. Here's a picture of me feeling the worse for wear this morning after yesterday's cycling acrobatics...                      
Nasal Roadrash, 13/04/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
As you can see, I landed on my face. Not a pretty sight but couldn't resist sharing this with you all. Back to the bird pics next time.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Spoonbills & stuff

Wheatear, Seaton Marshes, April 2017(Copyright T D Wright)
Wheatear,Seaton Marshes, April 2017(Copyright T D Wright)
The rusty roller/trailer has been a good Wheatear perch for many years now. Since I last posted I've had several new migrants for the year but couldn't waste limited computing time blogging them all. I usually message people to get any news out so blogging seems superfluous sometimes. I've got Swallows over Colyton now plus all 6 Cattle Egrets at Road Green Farm. I've seen and heard my first 2 Whimbrel of the Spring (estuary/ColyCommon) and am hearing Willow Warbler song at various locations. Tuesday evening I paid a late visit to BHM and was stunned to look through the screen and see 2 Spoonbill feeding there. I moved to the Island hide to find that others were already watching/photographing them. My camera was with me so I tried a couple of shots...             
Spoonbills, BHM, 11/04/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Spoonbills, BHM, 11/04/17(Copyright T D Wright)
A Pintail was on BHM as was the Knot but darkness was approaching so that's all  I managed to see. Today, I just had a personal disaster by crashing my bicycle and damaging myself but - far worse - damaging my scope & tripod! I've a horrible feeling they can't be repaired so I'm looking for a cheap/ 2nd Hand tripod and a genius who can fix a Kowa telescope when it's been broken in two! Any suggestions?

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Waders About

Greenshank, BHM, 07/04/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
L.R.P., BHM, 06/04/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Little Ringed Plover, BHM, 06/04/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
A late visit to BHM on Thursday saw a new LRP by Island hide. Looking North, I saw another 2 at the same time showing their bright yellow eye-rings off so at least 3. On Friday, all 3 were missing but 2 Ringed Plover had replaced them. Also fresh-in were 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, one in near summer plumage. The Greenshank and Knot were still present, and a pair of Peregrines skimmed the top of Tower hide to entertain us. I forgot to mention on my last post that I had 2 Common Sandpiper together from SM hide on Wednesday.So, lots of waders now that BHM has some mud exposed but not a hirundine to be seen the last 2 evenings.That will change soon...

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Another Quickie

I'm in Axminster today but amazingly was stopped in my tracks at Lyme Close by that old friend, the song of your actual Willow Warbler mate. Spring is great!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Wheatear at last!

Thanks to IM for providing the wheels to get me up Beer Head at 8:30 this morning. The Northerly 'wind' I spoke of yesterday was more of a gentle zephyr so no major fall of birds. For Beer head, the date is just ever-so-slightly early too. Even though one can see Portland from it the birds making landfall there rarely visit us. I think Sunday onwards ought to produce more variety. Having said all that, I did see a single Wheatear which Ian picked up as I unpacked my scope so I pointed it at the 'Bird on a Wire' as it afforded us prolonged views with the Sun behind us. It was all downhill from there - or possibly slightly undulating - as we noted a dearth of phylloscs or hirundines. We did see and hear about 8 Blackcaps and enjoyed several Stonechat and other resident birds, plus some friendly dogs. It will all happen soon, Igor, soon...

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Borrowed Egrets

Pintails, BHM, 30/03/17(Copyright T D Wright)
Pintails, BHM, 30/03/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Managed to get all 4 drake Pintails in one frame before they left. Had to share that with somebody. After I'd already posted yesterday I walked around Borrow Pit and, at 5pm, saw 3 Cattle Egrets fly over toward the estuary. I know people are getting bored with hearing about them but it was just the location that made this interesting. I know they've been roosting at this site but dusk is now at 8pm. I'm expecting them to be gone quite soon...unless they decide to breed! Today I popped down to BHM at lunchtime which now has more mud exposed. All I could see however were the Knot, Grey Plover and the usual Blackwits & Redshanks. The wind here is now Northerly though, so tonight or tomorrow I'm expecting a migrant or two.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Colyton Update

Just when I thought they might have dispersed I checked Colcombe farm (viewed from public footpath) and counted 5 Cattle Egrets along with 12 Littles at 3pm Sunday afternoon. So they're still around, as are Little Owl and Dipper whose precise location I shan't blog.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Meds but no Little

A midday visit to Coly Common yesterday failed to produce either Little Gull or Water Pipit but an evening visit to Tower hide produced 2 Med Gulls (a 1stSummer/2ndcy & a 2ndSummer/3rdcy), the Knot & Grey Plover plus the Pintails still present. I also counted 40 Lesser Black-backs at lunchtime. I've got to get luckier soon...

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Swan Goose & Greylag

Swan Goose, Coly Common 28/03/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Pintails, BHM, March '17 (Copyright T D Wright)
I visited Coly Common today and the Swan Goose was still present. This could prove to be a real blocker for Steve in the patch self-found listing stakes! But what a day - the Greylag was also present making this a 3 goose species day on Coly marsh. We've never known days like this! I also saw several Meadow Pipit but no Watery ones.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Colyton Update

I only managed 2 Cattle Egrets at Colcombe this weekend so they must be dispersing during the day. Still 2 there Sunday afternoon. At Colyton Waste Water Treatment Works there was also a large flock of 30+ Linnets along the 'Chiffchaff hedge' which tied in with the sighting of 20+ from Tower hide on Friday suggests a bit of movement of that species. Still no hirundines over Colyton but a few Chiffchaffs singing, especially along the Coly and the Umborne brook.

Seaton Update

Popped down to BHM Friday evening but just the Grey Plover & Pintails still, although the lateness of my visit meant I saw Barn Owl and Sparrowhawk at dusk. On Saturday, Phil & Ian both reported LRP on BHM so I returned to Tower hide and saw that. Then, I looked upriver at a distant cluster of Dunlin and had a second LRP. As the tide came in, it flew and I checked the BHM bird to see if it had joined it - in fact there were suddenly three of them! On Sunday, I looked at Bridge Marsh and saw a couple of Sand Martin out there. The 3 LRP were still at BHM but nothing else new in.

Friday, 17 March 2017

House Martins 16/03/17

A 10-minute walk from Seaton town along the path to Seaton Marshes with bins only is not what you'd expect to produce very much. Yet, at 17:30 Thursday evening I saw my first 2 House Martins of the year, a full 11 days earlier than last year - and I thought that was early! I'm not sure if they're the same 2 SW had earlier in the day; they were suddenly joined by 30 Sand Martin which appeared from nowhere so these diurnal migrants keep pushing through. A cluster of 6 egrets on Sheep's Marsh looked suspicious but without my scope I couldn't be sure if they were Cattles...but Steve had 6 going to roost about 20 mins. later after I'd hopped on my bus so maybe they were. IM had a Wheatear and a Black Redstart at Branscombe this morning plus 4 RT Diver so things are getting going. I checked on Colcombe near Colyton this morning at 10a.m. from Rosemary Lane and could see 3 Cattle Egrets but in order to get an exact count I need to try a better vantage point. Would be nice to see 6 together there...

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Spring Begins

Short-eared Owl, Seaton Marshes 11/03/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Grey Plover, Black Hole Marsh 11/03/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Avocet, Black Hole Marsh 11/03/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
On a foggy Friday (10th) I was disappointed to see little at Seaton Marshes. Still 2 Shoveler on North Flood but no signs of Spring except more Chiffchaffs about. After I left, I then got a text saying "4 Sand Martins at Seaton Marshes" from KH! Typical...but Saturday was better. IMc sent me messages that SEO & Avocet were about. I picked up both of these plus the long-staying Grey Plover but nothing of my own sadly. On Sunday I decided to give Bruckland Ponds a look and was rewarded with 8 Sand Martin, my first of the year. Cycling home, I stopped at Rosemary Lane and could see at least 3 Cattle Egret still at Colcombe. Yesterday ( Tues. 14th) I bumped into CW and we noted the Avocet & Grey Plover still present from Tower hide plus a stunning breeding-plumaged Mediterranean Gull . Coly Common hide produced some distant Sand Martins but not much else. Hopefully more migrants to talk about on next, I had a scan of the sea off Spot On and just had 6 distant Razorbill diving and surfacing.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Birding by Whale-Way

Humpback Whale, Slapton, Devon 09/03/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Humpback Whale, Slapton, Devon 09/03/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Not Another Whaling Birder! Four and a half hours it took me to get to Slapton monument but it was well worth it. (Financially too - a £10 Devon Ranger ticket got me from Axminster to Totnes, then a £7.70 Stagecoach Explorer covered buses to Dartmouth and on to Slapton). Arriving at 2pm, all seemed quiet except for harbour porpoises and the odd plunge-diving Gannet. Then, away to my right, I thought I saw a distant 'blow'. Was it just something else splashing? No, it was the whale! I forgot to shout out "Thar She Blows" but other people compensated by exclaiming "Oooh ennit big!" and whooping it up. None of this bothered the great Leviathan which I'm pleased to say was unmolested by boats and unconcerned by hordes of humans on the beach. I saw 3 species of marine mammal if you include Domestic Dog Canis Marinus several of which clearly wanted to swim with the porpoises and whale. They got the chance too when 'Humpy' decided to give us a close pass. I could hear it blow now as it swam straight towards me. Fantastic stuff - it showed repeatedly for an hour before seeming to double back in the direction of Start Point. I didn't get home until 9:30pm but it was well worth spending a long day travelling to see this special cetacean. Some more pics?
Humpback Whale,Slapton, Devon 09/03/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Humpback Whale, Slapton, Devon (Copyright T D Wright)
Fluking Away...

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Seaton Update

Bullfinch (old picture) Copyright T D Wright

Bullfinch (old picture) Copyright T D Wright
I thought I'd insert these Bullfinch pictures as I've been seeing them a lot around Seaton and I've not had many pix to post lately. I had a pair along the path to the viewing ramp at Seaton Marshes from which I saw 2 drake and 1 female Shoveler on Monday. A few Redwing and a Chiffchaff around there too. The hide was disappointing but hey-ho we ought to get some migrants soon with reports of them from other counties already on the Birdguides birdmap...

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Colyton Update

Checked on Colcombe Farm yesterday and still 5 Cattle Egrets there.Three of them were in an egret flock which flew down the Coly at 17:35 so not necessarily staying at Colcombe until dusk now. Not so many Redwings now just small groups moving about. A Dipper flew down the Coly at 17:42.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Gulls Galore

I decided to cycle to Tower hide yesterday as I've neglected it in recent weeks and there seemed to be the possibility of some interesting gulls what with strong SSW winds and rain approaching from that direction. From 14:30 to 15:30 it seemed as if the gulls were determined to prove my theory wrong as often happens. Just a few were loitering about but no white-wingers; not even a Med about. Then, at 15:30, just when I was thinking about leaving, a large flock of B.H. Gulls flew downriver and landed between the hide and Coronation Corner. As they landed, I saw 2 adult Mediterranean Gull among them. Looking North again, I realised that more flocks were approaching and decided to keep checking them for more Meds. Very soon I was in double figures and a few texts to local birders tempted Ian McLean to abandon the rugby and join me. In just an hour, at least 6,000 gulls flew in from the North. I counted at least 18 Meds ( 15 adults, 2 2ndWinter & 1 1stWinter) but may have missed one or two as from 16:00 to 16:30 the stream of gulls was so huge and incessant that it was impossible to check them all. Then, at 16:30, it stopped as suddenly as it had started! I would say that 5,000 BHG and 300 Common Gull were involved with this 'swarm'. Herrings were at their normal level and just a few of each black-back were about (although a couple of Lessers looked like intermedius types). I wouldn't be surprised if the true number of Meds was 20+ - an exceptional occurrence for the Axe - as my breakdown of the definite 18 seems a little 'adult-heavy'. Being overwhelmed by the sheer number of birds in a short time I suppose it's easier to pick out the adults and even 2nd Winters quickly whereas 1st Winters require decent views to eliminate Commons for sure. All in all, an exciting hour or so if you enjoy witnessing dramatic movements of large numbers of birds. Can't help wondering if there was a rarity in there somewhere though...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Another Day, Another Black Redstart

Walked along seafront today only a couple of G.C.Grebes until I got to Spot On. Along Burrow Road a 1stWinter male Black Redstart was on the roof of a bungalow. Different bird to yesterday's female type by the clocktower. I walked on to the tramsheds but nothing notable there at 3:30pm. Yesterday evening the 5 Cattle Egrets plus 17 Little Egrets flew over Umborne Bridge, Colyton at 17:38 precisely.

Monday, 20 February 2017

East Devon Update 20/02/17

I've just seen a Black Redstart on a roof by the bowling club at Seafield Gardens (Seaton) but only G.C. Grebe on the sea off there. Yesterday I took a walk along the Coly West from Chantry bridge but only more Treecreepers up there of note. On the way back I checked on the Cattle Egrets and all 5 flew off together at 17:25. On Saturday I walked the Umbrook Public Footpath all the way to Lexhayne so the 2 Green Woodpecker sightings may have been 'Off Patch' for other Axe birders as were the 50 Redwing and 10 Fieldfare up there. Last Friday (17th) I got the bus up to Raymond's Hill and walked down to Trinity Hill but failed to get a decent view of the Little Bunting again.

Thursday, 16 February 2017


Visited wood at end of Jobble's lane with IM this morning. As David Coleman once said - "anything can happen in 90 minutes" - so we trudged about from 9 until 10:30 trying to bag a couple of goals. Unfortunately, what we got was the birding equivalent of a goalless draw. No Woodcock or Crossbill. Not even Redpoll or Siskin. We did see the currently ubiquitous Treecreeper which only adds to what I felt was the case on the last post. Nuthatch, Mistle Thrush and Coal Tits all entertained us but seemed scant reward for all our approach-work. This afternoon I looked by the tramsheds in case Steve's Iceland Gull was still about but no joy. However, I did manage a Common Sandpiper there with the last kick of the game deep into injury time. OK that's enough football talk...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Seaton/Colyton Update

Joined Ian McLean for his WeBs count Sunday morning. We caught up with the overwintering Grey Plover plus the Brent Goose which I believe Phil had first was still about. Also a drake Gadwall on the river. Otherwise normal stuff although not as many dabbling duck as I expected. Perhaps they were on the sea as is often the case here. On Saturday I finally managed to convince myself that there were 5 rather than 4 Cattle Egrets at Colcombe Farm. Around there and along the Umbrook were 100 Redwing and 30 Fieldfare plus Treecreeper. It's really been a Treecreeper winter as I keep seeing them everywhere I go. Anybody agree with that?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Murmur Nation

We used to call them Starling Roosts. Or Starling Flocks. Then, one day in the early 21st Century people who were non-birders started to watch Springwatch, Autumnwatch & Winterwatch. ( Why no Summerwatch?) This led to a surge in the numbers of people turning up on the Somerset Levels and even now the Axe Estuary Wetlands (Seaton Wetlands). "What time does the Murmuration start?" they ask you. "When do they all start murmurating?" "We're here to see the Murmur-urmur-atoring...". Never before has such an obscure word been transferred into the National Lexicon so brutally as this one. Even the absurd ubiquity of metatarsal when Beckham and then Rooney both broke said bone before successive World Cups cannot eclipse the now incessant chattering of old biddies muttering Murmuration all around the valley. It's almost become a kind of 'Dusk Chorus' to those of us who are still around at that time of day looking for owls and birds flying to roost.  "Ooooh...murmurmurmur...ohhh...murmurations....Whoooh..."

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Colyton Update 07/02/17

I've had a stinking cold for 5 days now so have felt less motivated to keep birding every day. Having said that, I've ventured down to Colyton Allotments where one of the Cattle Egrets was with the cows there and not with the other 3 at Colcombe. On Friday there were 2 adult Med Gulls at Colcombe but today only one was visible. A large flock of Redwing is still in that area but ranges around a lot. On Sunday, I cycled all the way to Tritchayne area and there were lots of passerines about but nothing unusual. I hope that Tower hide is being utilised in my absence as this is probably the longest I've gone without visiting it for 5 years!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Egrets Yes Bunting No

Cattle Egret and Little Egrets, Colyton, 01/02/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Ian McLean joined me in Colyton at 8:30 this morning to see if all four Cattle Egrets were still present and we got onto them right away. One seemed to prefer the company of 6 Little Egrets in the bottom field whilst the other 3 were close to each other in the top field with 6 more Little Egrets. Still couldn't get more than 2 in one photograph though as vegetation got in the way. Afterwards we tried for the Trinity Hill Little Bunting from 9:30 - 11:00a.m. but no joy. Apparently it was seen by others at lunchtime though so I may have to give that another go sometime. I've seen several in Britain but it's about 7 years since the last one. Hanging around at Trinity Hill might even produce some other interesting sightings. Not today though - only 30 Reed Buntings and 20 Mipits (approx.)

Cattle Egrets Still

Cattle & Little Egrets, Colyton, 01/02/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Cattle & Little Egrets, Colyton, 01/02/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Cattle & Little Egrets, Colyton, 01/02/17 (Copyright T D Wright)


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Cattle Egrets!

Cattle Egret, Colyton, January 2017 (Copyright T D Wright)
With the rain almost incessant just now and even worse forecast for the rest of the week I decided to cycle along the road to Tritchayne just to check on the Cattle Egret at Colcombe farm. Its field was very full of birds so I decided to scan it carefully with the old Kowa 'blunderbuss'. Immediately, I picked up 'the bird' or so I thought. Right behind it was another! Yes, I thought. It's finally been joined by that Chard bird. I continued to scan across 200 BH Gulls, 20 Common Gulls, 24 Herring Gulls, 30 Pied Wags, 2 Grey Wags, myriad corvids and then, at the opposite end of the field, the 2 Cattle Egrets hove back into view. "Oh, they must have flown across whilst I had my eye to my scope" I thought. Just to make sure, I swung my battered and weather-beaten old lens-machine with my battered and weather-beaten old limbs back to 'Square One'. Flaming Heck, I exclaimed; and persisted in repeating a double-take until I was satisfied that there definitely were no less than FOUR Cattle Egrets in the one field. Where they all came from is open to much speculation. Channel Islands? Teigngrace? Hampshire? Who cares?! We've now got Cattle Egrets (plural) at Colcombe Farm...

Monday, 23 January 2017

Seaton/Colyton Snippets

Nothing too surprising this weekend although at least 6 Shovelers at Seaton Marshes on Sunday and possibly double figures in the valley with 4 earlier on BHM. A bit of cycling effort past Cadhayne Farm and on to Ratshole Gate area produced nothing much but earlier on Saturday I saw the Cattle Egret still present at Colcombe Farm from Road Green. Today, the G.C.Grebe count was up to 12 from West Walk, Seaton and adult Med & Kitt were off there too. No sign of any Waxwing yet though...

Monday, 16 January 2017

Seafront Sightings

I didn't look for the Colyton Cattle Egret today (last seen Friday 13th) or yesterday as I visited Tower hide on Sunday having neglected it for a week or two. A couple of adult Med Gulls were the most interesting from there. Today (Monday) I saw another adult Med fly across the bay and up the estuary. From Fisherman's Gap 5 Great Crested Grebes were visible, 4 sleeping together and another feeding off Seaton Hole. On Saturday, Cownhayne area was busy with 50 each of Fieldfare and Redwing, 100 Pied Wagtail, 20 Meadow Pipit and 30 Linnet. I also had a likely Siberian Chiffchaff at Colyton WWTW which really stood out from 20 Chiffs by being very pale and greyish with a hint of green in the wings. Didn't hear it call though...

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Bearded Tits

Bearded Tit, Alkborough, Lincs. October 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
Bearded Tits, Lincs. October '16 (Copyright T D Wright)
People who complain about mild winters seem to forget that many birds decline during hard ones. Beardies have recovered well and had an excellent breeding year in 2016 according to the latest RSPB bulletins. It's no coincidence that we've also had Dartford Warbler at Seaton Marshes recently and that Cetti's had a resurgence last year. Long live the mild winter!
Bearded Tits, Lincs. Oct '16 (Copyright T D Wright)
Phwooaaarr! Look at that lot!


Bearded Tit, Alkborough, Lincs. October 2016 (Copyright T D Wright )
Tree Sparrows, Blacktoft RSPB, Lincs. October 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
Three times I rented a car in 2016. Not too much considering the cracking birds I saw both locally and further afield. Local goodies are great but I ventured up to Lincolnshire in October for 4 days and saw a number of species I don't usually see around East Devon. Western Purple Swamphen showed well at Alkborough flats as did these Beardies. Then Blacktoft RSPB was excellent for Tree Sparrows and Spotshanks.
Bearded Tit, Alkborough, Lincs. October 2016(Copyright T D Wright)

Western Purple Swamphen, Alkborough,Lincs. October 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
Spotted Redshank, Blacktoft RSPB, October 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
Bearded Tits, Alkborough, Lincs. October 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
At one time, people tried to change the name of Beardies to Reedlings but in typical British fashion we've refused that suggestion and stuck with Tits, even though they're not tits but babblers. (What about 'Bearded Babbler'?) However, the Alkborough ones spent so much time in bushes and trees, and even on the gravel paths, that Reedling almost seemed a misnomer. Call them what you like, they don't care...