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)