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...

Monday, 9 January 2017

Colyton News & Views

Cattle Egret, Colyton,08/01/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
Cattle Egret, Colyton, 08/01/17 (Copyright T D Wright)
I have to say that I'm revisiting the Cattle Egret at Colcombe Farm at least twice a week (still present on Sunday 8th) partly because I'm expecting it to be joined by one or two more at some point. Four together at Exminster today and recently the record count for Guernsey was broken 3 times in as many days - the last estimate I heard was an incredible 15 there! What with 18 on the Gannel in Cornwall too 2017 will surely be the year that Cattle Egret breeds in the South West of England. (I've probably just jinxed it!). Otherwise the main point of interest on the Coly is the continued presence of Dippers near the White Hart pub one of which I saw on Sunday from the gate over the road from the pub. (I don't use the pub as I'm virtually Teetotal Tim these days. My total number of alcohol units for 2016 was less than 10. Not even one a month! But I did enjoy a single pint of celebratory ale with KH after the Dusky Thrush. It was Xmas and one unit of alcohol for the whole of December is not much compared to most people!). Anyway, here's a few seconds of phonescoped video I took about 200m upstream from there. Plus some Egret footage. You'll notice that Cattles have yellow bills and black feet whereas the reverse is true of Littles. At long range and in bad light the shortness of a Cattle bill has also been helpful when the colour is not apparent. Its overall compactness too especially its shorter and thicker neck have been helpful at long range. I got closer to take these pictures by cycling and walking along the farmer's track but please don't take cars along there. It's possible to view the bird from Rosemary Lane with a scope at times or from the bench along the Shute/Honiton road.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017


Dipper, Colyton, December 2016 (Copyright T D Wright)
At last! And well done to Steve Waite for being the first among us to find Dippers back on the Coly again. Over the last 2 years I've walked this stretch of the Coly a number of times, especially in the Spring, and they were worringly absent. It's great to have a full complement of riverine birds plus adjacent owls and passerines to enjoy. Up the Coly!
Redwing, Colyton, December 2016 (Copyright T D Wright )
Dipper, Colyton, December 2016 (Copyright T D Wright )
Dipper, Colyton, December 2016 (Copyright T D Wright )

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush, Stow-on-the-Wold, 29/12/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
Blue Rock Thrush, Stow-on-the-Wold, 29/12/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
As I think I already mentioned I rented a car for the Xmas/New Year period. Partly because the bus service at that time of year is often non-existent. The other reason of course was to enjoy some days out and a change-of-scene break from my local area. News of a BR Thrush got KH texting me again and as it was only in Gloucestershire I agreed to a day out up there. The bird showed well enough for photographs and we wondered why the bird looked like it might be an immature as the Birdguides website seems to be calling it an adult male. The ones I've seen in Spain and Greece were certainly brighter blue and not obviously barred on the breast like this one. However, they were Spring birds so maybe this one's just in winter plumage. Looks like a 1st Winter male though...
Blue Rock Thrush,Stow-on-the-Wold,29/12/16(Copyright T D Wright)
Blue Rock Thrush, Stow-on-the-Wold, 29/12/16 (Copyright T D Wright)

Deja Vu Birding Part the Third

Least Sandpiper & Wood Sandpiper, Black Hole Marsh, 03/08/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
Least Sandpiper, Black Hole Marsh, 03/08/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
Least Sandpiper, Black Hole Marsh, 03/08/16 (Copyright T D Wright)
Bird of the year has to be my Least Sandpiper on BHM. Having predicted a rarity on Patch it's always very satisfying to be proven correct one day. When a few 'know-it-alls' told you "No, that's a freshwater species we won't get that here" it's especially pleasing to see it spending lots of time on your local very salty 'brackish' lagoon as well! The feelings of Deja Vu I get whenever one of these 'experts' pours scorn on what I'm saying merely motivates me to keep birding; so "it's all good" as the young folks say. Our next American 'peep'? I suppose that could be Western Sandpiper - but when?