Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Late November Whimbrel

       Having worked on Saturday I couldn't resist the opportunity of getting to Tower Hide on Sunday afternoon. It was well worth it too as the Whimbrel that Steve Waite reported the other day is still with us; a very late date for here. Amongst the throng of Curlew, Blackwit and Redshank there was also a lone Bar-tailed Godwit. Looking behind me onto Black Hole Marsh, I noticed that 4 Cattle Egrets were loitering with intent to roost nearby. It then got too dark which was a shame as we still had Dunlin and a good chance of more waders & ducks.
      Around Colyton, the Redwings, Mistle Thrushes and a lone Fieldfare were about today (Tuesday) but no Brambling among the Chaffinches yet. Still, we've got all winter for those now...

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Black Redstart 12/11/18

Black Redstart, West Walk (Seaton), 12/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Black Redstart, West Walk (Seaton) 12/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Black Redstart, Seaton 12/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Black Redstart, Seaton 12/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
I also managed a brief foray along West Walk in the strong winds on Monday and was rewarded with superb views of the cracking male Black Redstart. Rock Pipit and Grey Wagtail were there too. None at the Yacht Club but the wind might have been keeping them down as Dave Helliar had three around the harbour next day. Lots of low-flying Redwing and Chaffinch the last couple of mornings over Colyton picnic site and Harepath Road, Seaton. More Mistle Thrush about too.

Arctic Tern Pics 12/11/18

Arctic Tern , Seaton 12/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Arctic Tern + BH Gull, Seaton 12/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Arctic Tern, Seaton 12/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
I couldn't post these the other day but here's some of my Arctic Tern shots. This bird may have been present since the 6th as Mike Hill reported a 1st Winter tern on the estuary that day. He wasn't sure which 'Commic' it was though so it's great that Steve Waite caught up with it on Saturday (or another?!) as this is a rare treat around here. Sandwich, Common and even Black Tern are more common on the estuary than Arctic. I have seen Arctic on the Axe before but that bird wasn't such a stayer. It's great that a good number of locals got to enjoy and photograph this one. It's all about location sometimes, isn't it?

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Dippers + Cattles

Dippers, Colyton November 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Cattle Egrets + Little Egret, Colyton 13/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Cattle Egret, Colyton 13/11/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
I found time for a walk along the Coly today and although the Fieldfares weren't about I wasn't disappointed. A Green Woodpecker stopped me for a moment; then 2 Dippers flew in and performed beautifully on the rocks. One even quivered its wings at the other before they moved on. Out among the cows, a lone Cattle Egret took off to join 4 more which were heading back down to the wetlands. Exactly how many do we have?! It's double figures but possibly dozens!

Monday, 12 November 2018

Arctic Tern + Black Redstart

Just a quick update as I can't download pictures just now. The Arctic Tern is still present today - I saw it at lunchtime fly down the estuary and over the Yacht Club. It then joined the throng off Spot On for a while. At least one Black Redstart is still on the rocks toward Seaton Hole; I saw the stunning male today then turned back.
   On Saturday, I saw my first Fieldfares of the winter in Colyton then had 7 Cattle Egrets fly over Umborne Bridge. That's all I can do for now so good birding to you...

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Great White

Great White, Sheep's Marsh, Seaton 29/10/2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
I was in town wondering if I had time to walk up to Seaton Marshes before getting my bus when Tamara made my mind up for me by sending out news of a Great White moving about the Axe. Before I got to the hide I saw it fly across to Sheep's Marsh where it showed briefly then disappeared from view. Four Cattle Egrets were about so a nice - if brief - visit before dark.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Catbird Flit

Grey Catbird, Cornwall, October 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Grey Catbird, Cornwall, October 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Thanks to Charmouth Birder (who's not really a twitcher) I managed a very brief visit to Cornwall as I wanted to see at least one of the many rares that have visited Britain this Autumn. It eventually showed very well and I grabbed some pics before we made the most of our day by visiting PG and Hayle to boost our trip-meter. Shame I can't find time for a week down there but those days will return soon I hope. Here's a couple more snaps...
Grey Catbird, Cornwall, October 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Catbird Cornwall Oct' 18 ( Copyright TDW)
Catbird Cornwall 10/18 (Copyright TDW)

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Kite, Clouded Yellow & Egrets

      On Monday, I got a surprise from Seafield Gardens, Seaton looking North when a wheeling Red Kite drifted West at lunchtime. Earlier, I'd seen a Clouded Yellow butterfly along West Walk so not a bad non-birding day again!
      Over the weekend, four Cattle Egrets were about on the estuary as were three Greenshanks still. Sorry I can't supply photos but the computer's not allowing that. I've finally been offered a lift to Cornwall so I may see the Catbird after all!

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Portland Principle

Shag, Portland, 04/10/2018 (Copyright T D Wright )
Bonxie, Portland, 04/10/2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Hoopoe, Portland, October 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Having failed to spot anything new on patch recently (despite rumours of Whooper Swan, Marsh Harrier and Long-billed Dowitcher!) I accepted the kind offer of a lift to Portland (from @CharmouthBirder) based on the principle that I would at least see some different species for a change. This we certainly did, including a couple of rares and some goodies at nearby Lodmoor to boot. (We didn't boot them, in fact no flushing was necessary). The highlight for me though was a relatively 'common' species - the Great Skua or Bonxie - which I rarely see from Seaton. It was Richard who picked it up but it came closer & closer in order to exploit one of those close-in fishing vessels which seem to be tacking a fine line between Portland Bill & the Portland Race. A cluster of gulls were feeding around this boat including a Great Black-back which must have been as gutted as the fish being thrown to it when the Bonxie robbed it of a beakful. Tremendous entertainment. A few auks and Common Scoters plus Kittiwake passing by kept us amused too.
    We also witnessed a bit of a Chiffchaff fall around the bill, with very meagre bits of cover holding absurd numbers of birds. Wheatears,Stonechats,Wagtails, Skylarks and Mipits were about plus a lone Spotted Flycatcher which performed nicely near the Obs. A Clouded Yellow butterfly flew through my bins as we looked at the Linnet flock. Further up the island, we enjoyed brief views of Turtle Dove and prolonged views of Hoopoe.
     At Lodmoor, 2 Great White Egrets were mobile and conspicuous. The Grey Phalarope showed well if distantly. A Hobby gave us a terrific flying display and a Marsh Harrier flushed most of the waders although we couldn't see the Yellowlegs among them. All-in-all a good visit to an area I don't get to so often nowadays. Pure Portland Pleasures...
Marsh Harrier, Lodmoor, October 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Marsh Harrier, Lodmoor, October 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Med Gulls, Lodmoor, October 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)

Friday, 28 September 2018

Spotshank & Wood Sand

     No time for downloading photos but just to update on news. There was yet another Spotted Redshank on Black Hole yesterday (which somebody had written as Stopped Redshank on the board! Fnarr!) and a Wood Sandpiper was a nice accompaniment. A bit like Bombay potatoes with your Jalfrezi.
     Two each of Green & Common Sandpiper plus Greenshank provided a varied diet (must have some greens) whilst the stodge was there in the form of 18 Dunlin and too many Blackwits plus Common Redshanks to count. More Curlew now on the estuary where 4 Wigeon for dessert were a nice taster of the kind of fayre we can expect in large portions for the next 6 months. Ooh, I'm feeling hungry now - time for some lunch I reckon...

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Cattle Egrets

Quick update to last post is that I tried again on Wednesday evening to see the Cattle Egrets from Coly Common hide and was rewarded when no less than SEVEN of the blighters flew low South across the scrape at 18:17 precisely. I believe they are roosting further down the valley but haven't heard anything more since Mark Dobinson had possibly double figures there. Will they overwinter again? Maybe but there's no guarantee of that.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Ruff Extra

Ruff, BHM, 16/09/2018 (Copyright T D Wright)

Apologies for absence

It's almost a month since I posted here which is unusual for this time of year. Unfortunately, the dreaded Toad (Work) has squatted upon my life and prevented me from birding, snapping and blogging to my usual extent. I have quickly thrown down some selected highlights from the last four weeks below but most of these birds have now moved on. Last night I managed a quick look from Coly Common hide but failed to see the Cattle Egrets. However, I managed a Greenshank and Ringed Plover there so moved to BHM where another Greenshank was present. Tower hide produced 2 Greenshanks on the estuary which may mean 4 in total (although the previous 2 may have both flown to the estuary and linked up I suppose!). Those of you who are on Twitter are more likely to see me post there these days but I will update the blog when I have time. Good luck to you!

Ruff, etc.

Ruff, BHM, 16/09/2018 (Copyright T D Wright)

Sanderling, BHM, Sept. 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Spotted Redshanks, BHM, Sept. 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
Wood Sandpiper, BHM, Sept.2018 (Copyright T D Wright)

Tuesday, 21 August 2018


I returned to BHM late last night but no further dragonfly sightings. However, a look from Tower hide revealed a Gadwall among the myriad Mallards so a late addition to the day-tally.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Little Ringed Plovers

I managed to get down to BHM before the tide came in this morning and was rewarded with 3 Little Ringed Plovers which weren't there yesterday. As the tide came in on the estuary at least 19 Ringed Plovers joined them as did 14 Dunlin. Several Green and Common Sandpipers were still around as were more than 20 Snipe. Lots of Blackwit, Redshank and other regulars too.
     On Friday, a juvenile Turnstone was on the estuary which others had seen before me, including Waitey's Dad. There are a few Common Darter dragonflies about but one which was smaller and blacker whizzed past me as I cycled back from Tower Hide. Possible Black Darter? Would be a first for me so I'll try again this evening...

Jersey Tiger

The birding's been a bit quiet this week although the Green sandpiper count reached at least 7 on Coly Common and the Whimbrel count 4 minimum. I was pleasantly surprised however by a Jersey Tiger moth on the windows of Colyton library! I think it must have been attracted by the plantlife in the big tub of soil  which sits outside on the pavement.Blogger is not allowing me to post photographs for some reason so you will have to go to Facebook or Twitter for those.

Monday, 13 August 2018


"We've got water on Colyford Common LNR again." This is what's known as a classic case of British understatement. By the time I bailed out from the hide last night the boardwalk back to Pope's Lane was in danger of being overtopped. It probably was after I'd gone. Many birds were now behind the hide on rarely-flooded parts of the reserve. Blackwits, Curlews, Little Egrets, BH Gulls, 3 Green sandpipers, 2 Greenshanks, Teal x20, 3 Whimbrels in front of the hide and many Herons & Corvids cashing in on the feeding opportunity. Snipe flying and calling.Remarkable scenes.
    Earlier on, I'd been watching a Southern Hawker at Stafford Marsh when Phil Abbot messaged me from Tower Hide so I joined him to see the Sanderling he'd picked out from the large mixed flock of Dunlin & Ringed Plover on the estuary. We had a couple of Greenshank which flew to Coly Common but couldn't see much on BHM other than the usual. I had a Sparrowhawk fly across the cycle path plus a Barn Owl that looked at me then turned away before I could get my camera out.
    I missed Ian Mac's Curlew Sandpiper on Saturday but let's be optimistic and expect more of those. IM also had a Bonxie (Great Skua) from Seaton which is no mean feat. I think that brings us up to date unless you fancy giving Beer Head a go as it's done OK for migrants lately...

Friday, 3 August 2018

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper, BHM 02/08/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Wood sandpiper, BHM 02/08/18 ( Copyright T D Wright)
Just one Wood Sandpiper still present last night but Turnstone was another new bird in - an adult too - spotted by Phil Abbot. I paid Coly Common a visit but no joy there. Yet...

Thursday, 2 August 2018

August Off To A Flier

       Having been inland all day I could only get to BHM late on yesterday but it was well worth the effort. The only shank species I could see was Common Redshank from Tower Hide (although the Green Sandpipers were still present) but very late on (one of those final scan moments!) I noticed that 2 Wood Sandpipers had joined the throng. Fortunately there were several people still about and some of them managed to see and even photograph them. Too dark for my camera though and my attempt to phonescope failed miserably. I'm told by IM & SW that there's at least one still present this morning.
       Also from Tower hide before this was one juvenile YL Gull which flew down the estuary and 2 Whimbrel, one of which headed for Coly Common which I didn't have time to check as it was dark by the time I finally quitted BHM. Several Barn Owls were entertaining us all and Charmouth birder had a close encounter with a Sparrowhawk along the track. The very white Common Buzzard was about but apparently an Osprey was also seen. I missed that but I'm not worried as we'll get more I'm sure. Another splendid evening on the Axe...

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

ColyCom Addendum

Just to bring this blog bang up to date the Spotshank was still present last evening as were 2 Greenshank and 2 Green Sands on BHM. A massive turnout at BHM of birders and toggers flushed me out of Island Hide and I checked in to Coly Common hide where I've been monitoring the return of water to the recently parched scrape. My scant reward was one Whimbrel among the 78 Curlew, 2 Teal, 4 Lapwing and 3 Oystercatcher. However, I still believe that CC hide will strike back before the returning Sun forces us all to concentrate on BHM again. Watch this space...

Seaton Stuff

Yellow-legged Gull, Axe Estuary, 28/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Spotted Redshank, BHM, 29/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Peregrine, Axe Estuary,29/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Barn Owl,BHM, 29/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Apart from a distant calidrid spotted by Ian McLean on the estuary which wouldn't come close to Tower hide but looked like a Sanderling to me, the best birds were the same gaggle as recently over the weekend. The predators put the throng into the air but when they settled it was still the YL Gulls, Spotted Redshank, Greenshanks and Green Sands that caught the eye. Dunlin & Common Sand have remained plentiful, and Med Gulls are still about ( I had a nice assortment of plumages off Spot On). Numbers of House Martin were very high at Colyford Common, Stafford Marsh, Black Hole and Seaton Marshes; also along the beach! So a bit of movement took place but numbers of Sand Martin and Swallow remained low by comparison. Plenty of Swifts about though. Once August arrives tomorrow we'll be expecting a gradual increase in wader species. I hope we don't get another rarity this year as the throng of twitchers tends to fill all the hides up. Just kidding!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

More waders & gulls

Yellow-legged Gull, Axe estuary, July '18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Since my last post I've shared a YL Gull with Corkhead which he shared on Twitter and the response was again positive from the Devon Gulling Luminaries so that cheered me up. I failed to see the Curlew Sandpiper that was reported but was compensated with 2 Green Sandpipers instead. Ian Waite spotted a summer plumaged Knot on BHM which performed nicely last evening. We also had at least 22 Dunlin and 11 Common Sandpipers. This morning Clive had a Spotted Redshank too so the wader tally is doing OK for July. On the gull front, another Common Gull - an adult this time - was a nice addition to the flock of 200+ BHG which still contained at least 2 juv. Mediterranean Gull. Unfortunately I had to travel inland today for an important appointment so missed the SpotRed and also the Risso's Dolphins.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Yellow-legged Weekend

Yellow-legged Gull with GBB & Herring Gulls 22/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Presumed Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Stafford Marsh, 22/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
A few interesting birds about this weekend but the insects too are performing well with lots of damselfly species keeping the Emperors well-fed! These Small Red-eyeds were more abundant than ever. A nice Wood Sandpiper found by Clive was distant but very welcome what with the lack of Greens just lately. Plenty of Commons and more Dunlin about plus the odd Whimbrel. On the gull front, we've had several Meds and a lone Common plus a brief YLG juv. which I had from Tower hide on Saturday but which flew to Coronation Corner where others managed to twitch it. However, the stars were certainly the 2 juvenile Yellow-leggeds which were on show together from Tower hide on Sunday. I put the news out quickly so several photographers will have better pics than me but here goes anyway with my distant shots...
Yellow-legged Gull, Axe Estuary, 22/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Yellow-legged Gull, Axe Estuary, 22/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Yellow-legged Gull, Axe Estuary, 22/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Yellow-legged Gull, Axe Estuary, 22/07/18 (Copyright T D Wright)
The top 2 pics are of the first bird and the bottom 2 of the second. The first bird was clearly smaller but is OK as bird 2 was massive - as big as the GBBs almost! Let's keep tabs on them and see just how many we can add to SW's initial bird last week, eh?

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Greenshank etc.

Greenshank, Axe Estuary, 18th July 2018 (Copyright TDW)
Kingfisher, BHM, 18th July 2018 (Copyright T D Wright)
A lone Greenshank joined the throng of Redshank last night. Otherwise the wader selection was much as it has been for a week now. A lone 2nd Cal. Common Gull and a similarly-aged Med Gull were also nice to see. Barn Owl and Kingfisher showed nicely too...
Greenshank (Copyright TDW)
Greenshank (Copyright TDW)

Monday, 16 July 2018

Back in Black Hole

Over the weekend I made several visits to BHM and there were good numbers of Common Sandpiper, Redshank and a few Blackwit. 4 was the peak count for both Little Ringed Plover & Dunlin. Several Mediterranean Gulls were about with juveniles outnumbering adults. Water Rails and Barn Owl showed from Coly Common hide where three Whimbrel loitered among 40+ Curlew. Fair numbers of hirundines & Swifts too. Autumn's getting going so an interesting few weeks ahead we hope...

Monday, 9 July 2018

Dorset Stuff:Portland

Bee Orchid, Portland, June '18 (Copyright T D Wright)
The first time I saw Bee Orchids (many years ago) I was surprised that they were so small (see comparison with human hand). "What's all the fuss about?" may have been my response back then. But now I get it; there were loads of people walking by, completely oblivious to their presence. Even for the experienced amateur naturalist they take a bit of effort to spot. But when you get your eye in, you start to find several in a small area and marvel at the fact that they are smaller than most of the bees they imitate. I don't often feature plants on this blog (that's Karen Woolley's territory!) but these turned out to be exceptional.
Rock Pipit, Portland, June '18 (Copyright T D Wright)
I've also become a bit of a Rock Pipit fan. They are more co-operative for photography than Water, Tree or Meadow and will often feed within yards of us humans. They almost rival Robins for being confiding.

Rock Pipit, Portland, June '18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Rock Pipit, Portland, June '18 (Copyright T D Wright)
Even the Jackdaws were friendly...
Jackdaw, Portland, June '18 (Copyright T D Wright)
AND there was a plant that doesn't photosynthesise. Broomrape I believe...
Broomrape, Portland, June '18 (Copyright T D Wright)
So it's not dead; it just parasitises other plants and therefore lacks chlorophyll. But what am I doing?! The plants and insects are taking over my blog! Better get back down to Black Hole Marsh I reckon. We did have a seawatch off the bill that day and enjoyed decent views of Manxies, Razorbills, Guillemots and Kittiwakes. I've probably forgotten one or two species it's taken so long to post this. At least the photographs give us a record of past bird-days, don't they?